SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Local farmers are preparing for the first Santa Barbara County Farm Day Saturday, September 28. On Farm Day, ranches, wineries and nurseries in Santa Maria Valley will open their doors to the public so visitors can see how their food is grown. Farm Day is free.
“We are excited to participate in Santa Barbara County Farm Day as we see this as an excellent opportunity for farmers and ranchers to share their stories while also allowing the public to learn about the origins of their food,” says Andrew Rice, vice president of production, Southern District, Reiter Affiliated Companies (RAC). RAC’s Union Valley Ranch will be open for tours where it grows organic Driscoll’s blackberries and blueberries.
“On Farm Day, we’ll be explaining how we grow Driscoll’s berries, from the research and genetics that Driscoll’s utilizes in developing new varieties, to the cultural growing practices we useto care for and harvest the fruit that you eat, from our farms to your families,” says Rice.
Tour hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Farm Day visitors travel at their own pace since they drive themselves to the farms they select. Each location is unique, but all feature a number ofactivities such as educational tours and free produce sampling. A barbecue lunch is available for purchase at Engel & Gray, Inc.
“Farm Day is a chance for the public to see firsthand how their food is produced; there is a lot of misinformation out there, and this gives us the opportunity to help people see for themselveshow it actually works. We are very confident that they will like what they see,” says Alexandra Allen, co-owner, with her husband Paul, of Main Street Produce, a Farm Day participant that grows strawberries, raspberries and vegetables on over 1,000 acres in Santa Maria Valley.
“As time moves on, the general public is farther and farther removed from the farm, and yet more interested than ever in where their food comes from,” says Allen. “Farm Day can bridgethat gap and help people learn firsthand how commercial agriculture really works.”
Besides Reiter and Main Street Produce, participating agricultural organizations include Allan Hancock College’s Agriculture Program, Babé Farms, Bonipak Produce Company, InnovativeProduce, Engel & Gray, Inc., L&G Chavez Family Farms, Plantel Nurseries, Primus Labs, Rancho Laguna Farms, Riverbench Vineyard & Winery and Tres Hermanas Vineyard & Winery. More are expected to be added.
Santa Barbara County Farm Day officially kicks off the night before, Friday, September 27 at Tres Hermanas Vineyard & Winery. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the public can enjoy live music, a”Farm-to-Table” Santa Maria-style barbeque dinner and a Tres Hermanas wine flight. Local produce will be used from some of the participating Farm Day locations.
Santa Barbara County Farm Day is organized by the nonprofit Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG). SEEAG’s mission is to help children understand the farm origins oftheir food through classroom agricultural and nutrition education and free farm field trips. SEEAG has been hosting Ventura County Farm Day for six years (the seventh takes place November 9). The Ventura County version attracts over 5,000 visitors each year.
“We’re thrilled that so many agricultural operations are part of the first Santa Barbara County Farm Day,” says Mary Maranville, SEEAG CEO and founder. “It shows that there is a strong desire by the ag community to connect with the public. We’re hoping Farm Day will grow to become a treasured annual community event.”
–Santa Barbara County Farm Day
Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture
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