Last weekend, our family paid our first visit to Ardenwood Farm in Newark. What I should be asking myself with a critical finger wag is, “What took us so long!? ” Ardenwood is a not-to-be-missed outdoor family destination. Just across the road from several big-time offender fast food chains, this pristine property is truly a century’s leap back in time. It stands in stark contrast to the modern world surrounding it.
The farm was originally owned by the Patterson family from the 1850s and continues to grow the same kind of produce that was farmed in the region in the last 100 years, utilizing agricultural practices from that time. The centerpiece of the property is a grand and well cared for Victorian home (not pictured), which housed the family for three generations. They have since bequeathed the farm to the City of Fremont and it has been operated by the East Bay Regional Park District since the 1970’s.
We didn’t have a chance to tour the home on our first visit, but we traversed the grounds and attended a Monarch butterfly puppet show, followed by a walk to the Eucalyptus grove on the property. There, we were surrounded by a colony of deep orange and black winged beauties. Our group, made up mostly of families with young children, stepped tenderly through dark green clover in the cool shade. Occasionally, we would pick up a shivering butterfly and walk it carefully over to a sunny patch where it would be lovingly released. Overhead, hanging from the Eucalyptus canopy, we spotted clusters of Monarchs with the help of telescopes provided by the guides.
We will return to Ardenwood in spring when the property is sure to be flourishing with new growth. We’ll also get a chance to ride the train — currently in hibernation — through the property. In the depths of winter, our family needed a day like this to connect with nature and with each other.