4th Annual Harvest Festival at Rodgers Ranch
Nov 13, 2019 09:55PM
● By Dominike Tambazidis
4thAnnual Harvest Festival at Rodgers Ranch
By Dominike Tambazidis
One group of kids runs to the pumpkin painting booth as fall leaves crunch beneath their feet while other kids get their fingers dirty planting their own succulents to take home. Parents accompany their young ones while stopping at an array of booths offering information about local organizations and activities for all to enjoy. The smell of freshly fertilized vegetable gardens, the sound of soothing, sweet folk music, and the colorful sights of autumn leaves surround the beautiful setting. This is Rodger’s Ranch annual Harvest Festival.
Full of life, with a plethora of Pleasant Hill history, Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center is a hidden gem tucked away at the end of Cortsen Road in Pleasant Hill. Once a 149-acre wheat farm and then a 38-acre fruit and nut orchard, Rodger’s Ranch is home to a fantastic piece of local history and was a fully functioning ranch from 1867 until the mid 1970s.
The Harvest Festival has been an annual fall tradition since 2016. Rodger’s Ranch Heritage Center’s interim president and chair of the festival, Aloma Levine, sought to bring a historical part of Pleasant Hill’s once reputable farming lifestyle back into existence. While pointing out the many events that happen around the ranch, Levine said, “We decided we would like to do something that would bring organizations in from around town as well as the community and join them together.”
The Harvest Festival has grown every year and continues to gain popularity. The festival brings in community partners to provide information on their organizations as well as free family activities, including pumpkin painting, a DIY with the Succulent Garden Club, farm-garden exploration with Rodgers Ranch Urban Farm, leaf rubbing with The Herb Society, and a visit with 4-H goats, among others. Pleasant Hill Rec & Park offered prizes through a spin-the-wheel, Rotary Club provided an old-fashioned jump rope making activity, and Librarian Patrick Remer provided a high-energy story time presentation with his guitar. Lion’s Club brought their grill and provided food, and Aqotango provided local craft ales. Honorable mentions go to Stay Pleasant Hill, Pleasant Hill Community Foundation, Sustainable Contra Costa, Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library, and more.
With an abundance of smiles and laughter, people were there to celebrate the culture of a fall harvest. Patrick Remer, Pleasant Hill Library’s beloved librarian, has attended the homegrown Harvest Festival since it began and connects the ranch’s importance to the library in preserving local knowledge. “The library and the ranch are the anchors of history,” Remer said. “I like the spirit of it. It’s a time of year to enjoy friends and family as well as the bounty of all the yummy harvested vegetables!” Remer embraces the community gathering and bringing history back to life, and he delightedly confirms he will be attending every year.
Currently a property of the Pleasant Hill Rec and Park District, Rodgers Ranch is now over a hundred and fifty years old. A big thank you goes to the Pleasant Hill Historical Society for recognizing the need to conserve the site and to Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center for continuously raising funds for its restoration and maintenance. Although the ranch house has remained standing, the old iconic granary barn had to be taken down, but the board is continually raising funds to build a replica of the original. Chair of the Site Committee Christian Rousset said, “It will be near the same location as before, and salvageable wood from the original barn will be used for the new infrastructure.” With the construction of a striking new rustic barn, Rodgers Ranch will be able to continue and expand events at the ranch.
As an historical non-profit, Rodger’s Ranch seeks ongoing support from the community and continues to offer amazing events in the future, including the Holiday Boutique on December 7 and the Rodger’s Ranch Urban Farm Expo sometime in April 2020. Check the website regularly for programs and events: www.rodgersranch.org.