In the coming weeks, harvest season will begin in the valley for apricots, figs, peaches, plums and tomatoes. Nut crops and sweet potatoes are harvested in late summer and through the fall.
For those who wanted to try some early-season fruit right off the tree, the ninth annual Pick and Gather Festival at Riverdance Farms and the Merced River Fair took place on June 1.
Riverdance Farms is located at 12230 Livingston Cressey Road in Livingston. Camping was available. For more information, go to www.riverdancefarms.com.
Visitors could pick organic cherries and blueberries to the sounds of local bluegrass musicians, and enjoy a tour of the farm and other activities.
There were hay rides, farm and garden activities for kids, food, artwork, an American Indian powwow, three stages with live entertainment, and farm tours.
The event was more than just picking berries and riding kayaks down the river. Organizers stressed there was a lot of emphasis on learning about the river and surrounding environment.
Thomas Harmon, a UC Merced professor of engineering and scientist with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, contributed to the annual festival by spearheading and organizing the Merced River Fair.
As part of that effort, Harmon brought his classroom to the outdoors, demonstrating the importance of the river and wetlands to the public.
During the event, Harmon hadmicroscopes on hand for kids to look at fairy shrimp.
He also demonstrated the scientific instruments scientists use to monitor the river and snowpack levels.