‘Meet the Hands That Feed You’ theme for third annual event
“Meet the Hands That Feed You” is the theme for the third annual Santa Barbara County Farm Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 18.
Visitors can use a new online Farm Day Trail Map to build a custom itinerary to travel between growers and curated tour routes throughout the Santa Maria Valley.
Participating growers and agricultural partners include Allan Hancock College, Babé Farms, Bonipak Produce, Buttonwood Winery & Vineyards, Driscoll’s, Engel & Gray/Harvest Blend Compost, Gold Coast Packing, Innovative Produce, Main Street Produce, Plantel Nurseries, Primus Labs, Rancho Laguna Farms, Reiter Affiliated Companies and Riverbench Vineyard & Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery (offering a free flight tasting).
“Farm Day is the one day a year for the public to experience working farms,” said Mary Maranville, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture, which puts on Farm Day each year.
SEEAG’s mission is to help children understand the farm origins of their food through classroom agricultural and nutrition education and free farm field trips.
“So much goes into producing the foods we eat every day — the lettuce, celery, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, onions and herbs — the variety of food that grows in the Santa Maria Valley is enormous,” Ms. Maranville said. “Growing a single strawberry literally requires more than 100 workers, from prepping the soil, planting, caring for, harvesting and packaging to finally shipping the fruit to market.”
Included in the free, in-person event for all ages are agricultural activities, farm tours, tastings and fruit and produce giveaways, plus interaction with the local farmers, ranchers and growers who produce the food.
Visitors can learn about seed science, see the newest and most advanced farming technology including the Ferrari transplanting machine at Plantel Nursery, learn how compost is created and used on farms and hear about the seed-to-table journey.
“We look forward to participating in Santa Barbara County Farm Day 2021 for the third year,” said Christine Reade of Bonipak/Betteravia Farms, where visitors will participate in a field trip through the cooling and shipping facility, see some of what is done at the soils lab and the equipment used in the fields, as well as meet some of the employees who make it all happen on a daily basis.
Organizers and high school students from “The Patch” will be on hand to provide some education and pumpkin activities for children. A farmer’s market will be available and shared with all before they leave.
“By supporting SEEAG through Farm Day, we wish to inspire future generations to understand what farmers are currently doing to be sustainable while keeping up with innovations in technology, environmental and labor issues as well as providing food and jobs for so many,” added Ms. Reade.
For more than 89 years, Bonipak/Betteravia Farms has been growing, harvesting, cooling, processing and shipping cartons of fresh vegetables to retailers, wholesalers and food service customers all over the world.
Andrew Rice, a fifth-generation Santa Maria Valley farmer, is vice president of operations for Reiter Affiliated Companies and a SEEAG board member.
“Reiter Berry Farms is proud to be a part of Santa Barbara County Farm Day, opening our ranch doors to the community so they have an opportunity to learn, explore and experience the art of growing fresh berries from our local farmers. Santa Barbara County has a rich history of farming that goes back for generations, and SEEAG continues to ensure that the community has a chance to experience and appreciate the hands and land that feed them, firsthand,” he said.
Main Street Produce grows strawberries, raspberries, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower on several ranches across the Santa Maria Valley, totaling a little more than 1,000 acres.
Alexandra and Paul Allen, co-owners, are looking forward to giving tours of their cooling facility and explaining how they prepare their fruits and vegetables to make their way to families all over the United States.
“Agriculture is an important part of the Santa Barbara County economy. It is a $1.6 billion a year industry,” said Ms. Maranville. “Many of the farms are run by third- and fourth-generation farmers. We are fortunate to have so many local growers excited to share their knowledge.”