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Have a happy PlacerGROWN holiday season

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Food is definitely at the core of our holiday traditions. In the foothills, we are blessed with year-round harvests from family farms, inspiring us to create colorful and tasty holiday treats for family and friends. In addition to fresh produce, fruit and meat, many of our PlacerGROWN producers offer jams, jellies, relishes, sauces, spices, cookies and dried fruit that are perfect for gift baskets. The Foothill Farmers Markets will once again offer free gift basket packaging for items purchased at the Auburn, Rocklin and Roseville markets. They also offer farmers’ market gift certificates, a great way to introduce your friends to the seasonal wonders of the market. Have you discovered PlacerGROWN meat? Grass-fed meat is a taste treat as well as being healthful as there are no added antibiotics. Local lamb, beef, pork and chicken is available at the Foothills Farmers Markets in Auburn, Rocklin and Roseville, Newcastle Produce, Blue Goose Produce as well as direct from the farm. Don’t want to cook holiday dinner? Newcastle Produce offers a large variety of prepared soups, side dishes, desserts and full meals. Drooling Dog BarBQ offers pre-cooked smoked turkeys and prime rib to heat and serve at home, and recommend ordering one week in advance. You’ll also want to take home a mandarin sweet potato pie or some of their delicious bottled sauces. Many farms and ranches invite you to visit and purchase direct. It’s become a local tradition to take a drive in the country and purchase mandarins for gifts or just eating at home. Most mandarin growers are open daily through Dec. 23. Follow the “Mandarin Trail” signs, or visit www.placergrown.com, search by mandarins, and call to check hours. Enjoy Holidays in the Hills on Saturday and Sunday at five member wineries of the Placer County Vintners Association — Dono dal Cielo, Fawnridge, Lone Buffalo, Mt. Vernon and Vina Castellano. Admission is free with the donation of a new, unwrapped toy for the Shriner’s Toy Drive. For details of the weekend events, see www.placerwine.com. Most other local wineries will be open for tasting on December weekends, too. Pescatore Winery’s Open House on Saturday and Sunday features a holiday gift boutique, music and wine tasting by the fireplace. Our best wishes to you and your family as you celebrate Placer County’s local bounty this holiday season! Karen Killebrew is the board president for PlacerGROWN, Placer County’s Agricultural Marketing Organization.