Agriculture is the largest industry in Ventura County but most of us know little about how the food we eat is grown. Now you can find out at the 9th Annual Ventura County Farm Day taking place Saturday, November 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at farms throughout the county. Each fall, Ventura County farms, ranches, nurseries and other agricultural operations open their doors to the public, enabling visitors to learn about the food-growing process.
This year's theme is "Meet the Hands That Feed You." Visitors can use an online Farm Day Trail Map to build a custom itinerary to navigate between growers throughout the day. Expect to visit about three farms (more if you're adventurous).
The public will experience a day of agricultural activities, farm tours, tastings and fruit and produce giveaways, plus hear from local farmers.
Participating agricultural-related venues include Reiter Affiliated Companies in Oxnard, one of the largest berry producers in the country; Alpacas At Windy Hills in Somis with its more than 200 alpacas producing fleece to create yarn products’ Blue Ridge Honey in Ventura, a small family owned apiary providing hive-to-table raw honey; Good Farms in Oxnard where visitors will learn the art of growing strawberries and Oxnard Historic Farm Park featuring antique tractors, vegetable crops and where visitors will hear about the agricultural heritage of the Oxnard plains. Over 20 farm venues will participate.
Ventura County Farm Day is free and for the entire family. It is organized by the nonprofit Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture, whose mission it is to help children understand the farm origins of their food through classroom agricultural and nutrition education and free farm field trips.
"SEEAG has always been very kid-focused," says Mary Maranville, SEEAG's founder and CEO. "We soon realized that parents who attended our farm field trips had just as many questions about farms and farming as their children. That's why Farm Day was created. It gives everyone the opportunity to understand how our food is grown, how it gets from farms to grocery stores and to appreciate all those who plant, grow, harvest and distribute the foods we eat. It's eye-opening. The strawberries we buy at the store, for example, takes hundreds of workers to produce."
Top crops in Ventura County are strawberries, lemons, nursery stock, avocados, raspberries and celery.
Jeff Maulhardt, manager of the Oxnard Historic Farm Park, always looks forward to Farm Day. "Many people don't realize how important agriculture is to Ventura County," says Maulhardt. "It's a good indicator of the health of our local economy and the health of the nation's food supply. The Farm Park's role for the day is to connect the past farming practices with the present and to give the public an opportunity to see how deep the county's agricultural roots are. We'll also be offering a BBQ meal and music.
For more information about Ventura County Farm Day and a list of participating farms, visit VenturaCountyFarmDay.com or call 805.901.0213.