SAN RAMON -- Summertime at a farm may sound like a lot of work, but at Forest Home Farms it means lots of fun for area youth.
Between the morning and afternoon camps, story time, tours, gardening and tending to the farm animals, the variety of events continues to attract more and more residents and visitors to the historic 16-acre park in the heart of the San Ramon Valley.
Sharon Peterson, recreation technician for San Ramon's historic properties, says the summer programs at Forest Home have expanded this year to include six weeks of nature day camps plus two weeks of camps for preschoolers.
Sienna Ranch at Forest Home Farms is a new program designed and staffed by the Sienna Ranch crew in collaboration with the city of San Ramon. It will include morning nature camps, afternoon archery and art camps for 5- to 10-year-olds.
Sienna Ranch is a privately owned 21-acre ranch in Lafayette. Family-owned, the ranch focuses on families, the environment and the community and provides many opportunities for young children to interact with farm animals.
Day camps will include "Discovering the Natural World," during which the children will explore the hills and valleys, gardens and even the chicken coop around the farm and also includes crafts and skills.
A hands-on art class will expose budding artists to clay work, making bows and arrows and using nature-based paints and brushes. Archery skills will be the focus of "Forest Archers" at the Farm's archery range. These campers will also make archery-related crafts.
After the morning session of camp, all the campers will be treated to some Forest playtime, supervised free playtime to play games, make crafts and spend time with new friends.
Ruth Quayle Boone bequeathed the land called Forest Home Farms and its buildings to the city of San Ramon in 1997, in memory of her husband, Travis Moore Boone. When Ruth died a year later at the age of 94, the city expanded the memorial to honor Ruth as well, along with her generous contribution to the city and its residents.
Today, the 22-room Dutch colonial built in 1900 -- along with the barn, farm equipment, automobile storage structure and walnut processing plant, plus the Victorian Glass House Museum -- have been carefully restored and preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come. It is the ideal place to come and learn about life on a farm from processing walnuts to shearing sheep.
San Ramon's longest running summer camp, the Nature Day Camp, will move to Forest Home Farms this summer. There, the children will learn what life was like on a farm and about Native American culture. The "Forces of Nature" camp will explore weather and the power of water. The "Let's Fly" day camp will teach the campers about flying animals, how to build a kite and model airplanes.
Group tours of the Glass House and farmland continue to also be popular throughout the year for all ages. You will often see docents dressed in period clothing leading tours the second Saturday of each month, and the annual Sheep Shearing Days just this past month attracted more than 1,300 people to the farm, added Peterson.
Designed to meet the California State Content Standards for history and social science, tours are scheduled for third-graders in the San Ramon Valley School District each year, says Peterson, including tours of the tractor museum and visits to activity stations like "Grandma's Trunk and Grandpa's Toolbox," where they get a peek at some of the tools used on the farm in the early 1900s. Hands-on practice at juicing, darning, drilling and corn planting are always favorites.
Other stations the third-graders visit will include "Canning and Food Preservation," where they can design their own canning label, and the popular organic garden where the students turn compost, learn about bees and taste fresh vegetables.
The monthly "Story time with the Farmer" will continue through the summer month with one scheduled for 10 to 11 a.m. June 18. Forest Home Farms is located at 19953 San Ramon Valley Blvd. at Pine Valley Road. Check out the full schedule of camps and register early at www.SanRamonRecGuide.com.