Adults flock to Pescadero's Pie Ranch for farming, barn dancing

PESCADERO, Calif. (KGO) -- Some of the hottest tickets in the Bay Area now are for parties at local farms and ranches. Many focus on high-end gourmet meals, but for people on a tight budget, another kind of farm party is packing in crowds every month. It's an event that combines a social scene with a serious message.

The third Saturday of every month, an old fashioned tradition is making a big comeback.

Pie Ranch hosts barn dances in Pescadero along the San Mateo County coast.

"This is a whole new experience for me," Santa Cruz resident Kimberly Rivera said.

"I only recently found out about it, just through a friend who knew a friend who knew a friend," Half Moon Bay resident Niki Waltz said.

All those friends have turned the dance into a major happening. The barn holds 150 people, but twice that number have been showing up. So many people are starting to show up, they can't all fit on the dance floor at once.

Pie Ranch also hosts a potluck dinner outside without alcohol. Then, when guests finish they wash their own dishes.

It's a formula drawing people from all over the Bay Area.

"To bring people together of all ages and dance and eat good food together and do the work day," Santa Cruz resident Heather Odegard said.

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The work day is actually at the core of the Pie Ranch mission. It's run as an educational farm and these people are all volunteers who come to work and learn before the dance.

"It's a beautiful Saturday. I didn't have anything going on, why not," one woman said.

They come from all walks of life; on man told us he works at a software company, while a woman said she works as a political consultant. Sharif Musaji is a former film maker who is in his second year as an apprentice farmer at Pie Ranch.

Musaji told ABC7 News, "Our generation is starting to think about where their food comes from."

Pie Ranch runs programs for school kids during the week, but this a chance for adults to learn more about sustainable farming.

"Not just thinking about organic food, but how was that organic food grown, by whom was it grown, how were those farm workers treated," Pie Ranch Co-Director Nancy Vail said.

If you are not up to working, you can just tour the farm and find out why people keep coming back for more.

"It's a way to make friends, a way to get exercise. They've made it a really nice experience," Eric Williams said.

It's a nice experience, but if you're going to be dancing, then be prepared for a serious workout.

"Sweaty, hot and if you are not moving, you better get out of my way. Yeah, it's fun," Williams added.

The fee for the barn dance is roughly $10 to $20 because you can pay what you can afford.

The work day and barn dance are held the third Saturday of every month. They are so popular that Pie Ranch now requires you sign up in advance.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.
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