In its early years, Tehachapi was a hub for a cattle ranching region and also saw huge herds of sheep moved through its pastures in the spring and early summer.

Grain, potatoes, pears, apples and other fruit were grown commercially through the years, with agriculture being a major part of the local economy at least through the 1960s.

But by the early 1970s, many large ranches were subdivided to become the communities we know today as Bear Valley Springs, Golden Hills and Stallion Springs. And because of climate and water challenges, most large-scale agriculture disappeared from Tehachapi Valley years ago — although for now organic vegetable farming continues in the Cummings Valley (in the ground and in greenhouses).

Despite the challenges, Tehachapi is a great place for growing food — and wine grapes, as evidenced by four tasting rooms now open in the area. Flowers are still grown commercially here, too, including lilacs harvested and shipped to Southern California — or brought to farmers markets.

In addition to the large companies that farm in the Cummings Valley, smaller farmers are still growing food in the Greater Tehachapi area. Weiser Family Farms supplies farm products grown in Tehachapi and elsewhere to the Southern California market and others sell directly to consumers locally. Some also welcome visitors to their farms and host special events.

Brite Creek Farm, for instance, is part of a revitalized direct farm movement intent on serving local and regional communities with seasonal and year-round foods.

And Sunergeo Biological Farming is even developing a trade school to teach others about biological farming methods.

Finding produce

A good place to find small farmers and their produce is on Thursdays between June and September when the city of Tehachapi hosts a Farmers Market in downtown Tehachapi.

And during harvest season (late summer to early fall), drive rural roads in Tehachapi and you’re sure to find signs offering something locally grown for sale — including offerings from major grower Grimmway.

The farming company opened its Cal-Organic Farms produce stand for the 15th season in June. Open through the summer at 23968 Bear Valley Road, the stand offers a wide variety of farm fresh options, including beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, corn, carrots, cauliflower, chard, daikon, dill, fennel, green onions, leeks, lettuce (butter, leaf, iceberg, romaine), mustard greens, potatoes and radishes. Some are grown in Tehachapi and others are brought from other locations.

Local farms

Other Tehachapi area farms selling direct to consumers locally include:

Brite Creek Farm, corner of Highline and Banducci, is a farmers market open Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Specialty vegetables, organic grass-fed beef and free range chicken and eggs are available. www.britecreekfarm.com.

Dries Farms, 22455 Lumas Lane, offerings include pumpkins and lavender. More information: www.facebook.com/DriesFarms/

Ha’s Apple Farm, sells jams, jellies and dried apples online and sometimes at farmers markets. More information: hasapplefarm.com/

Moessner Farms, 25000 Bear Valley Road, sells fresh produce, jams, jellies, pastries and more at the farm.

Old Town Flower Farm currently sells at the Tehachapi Farmers Market. More information at oldtownflowerfarm.com.

Sunergeo Biological Farming, 16529 Highline Road, raises organically grown vegetables and pasture raised eggs using deep organic growing methods. The farm sells at farmers markets and has at the farm. More information: www.sunergeofarm.com.

Tangleweed Farms, 21192 Old Town Road, current offerings include succulents and pumpkins. More information: https://www.facebook.com/tangleweedfarms/