Videos to feature behind-the-scenes views of local food producers
Santa Barbara County Farm Day is going virtual this year.
As part of the online experience, Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG), the organizer, is creating “Farm Day Features” — short, 10-minute videos featuring farmers in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
In-person Farm Days tours, which were to take place in September in Santa Barbara County and in November in Ventura County, have been canceled due to the continuing pandemic.
” ‘Farm Day Features’ will take viewers to some of the Central Coast’s largest and most interesting food producers,” said Mary Maranville, SEEAG founder and CEO. “Most of us drive by their fields and orchards but never think about what goes into growing the food we eat.”
The first video will feature farmers from Main Street Produce, Innovative Produce and Plantel Nurseries and will discuss food and employee safety. The second video will include growers from Western Onion, Duda Farm Fresh Foods and Innovative Produce talking about how Central Coast agriculture is marketed and shipped throughout the world.
“People are hyper-sensitive about food safety because of COVID-19. As growers, ensuring that the food we harvest is safe is something we do 365 days a year,” said Alexandra Allen, co-owner with her husband Paul Allen and compliance counsel of Freshway Farms, which grows strawberries, raspberries and vegetables on more than 1,000 acres in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
“When the new COVID-19 safety procedures came out, we at Freshway Farms only had to make a few adjustments. Many of our workers were wearing face coverings before the pandemic hit, and because the rows of produce are about six feet apart, we were already practicing social distancing. Our workers understand that when they go out into the fields each day, they have a tremendous responsibility to the public and to their families,” she added.
Lacy Litten is director of food safety and field operations manager for Innovative Produce in Santa Maria. A member of the United Fresh Food Safety and Technology Council, Ms. Litten oversees the food safety and leadership programs at the farm.
“It is important for the public to learn about farming and food safety so that when presented with limited information through media reports, people can make an educated analysis. Whether it be about regulation, outbreak, recall or pandemic, it is easy to jump to conclusions on what could have or should have happened,” she said.
Also participating in the food safety video will be Tony Ramirez, safety and compliance manager for Plantel Nurseries, an industry leader in vegetable transplants in Santa Maria.
This year, Mr. Ramirez received the AllWays Safe Award honoring individuals who have committed themselves to ensure the health and safety of employees in the agriculture industry.
“Central Coast Agriculture on a Global Stage” is the title of the second video, which will feature Greg Lewis, senior director of western operations for Duda Farm Fresh Foods in Oxnard, producers of 33% of the nation’s celery.
“One of the foremost opportunities we have in the production of agriculture is to bridge the gap between what people think they know about where their food comes from and where it actually comes from. This is important because food is our lifeline, and we are a product of what we consume,” said Mr. Lewis.
“There are more people on this planet today than there have ever been. People are eating healthier today than they ever have. The produce we farm is shipped to consumers around the world, and we take pride in our responsibility to deliver the highest quality fruits and vegetables.”
Gerry Valois, founder and owner for Western Onion in Camarillo, will also participate in the video along with Ms. Litten.
Creating the features is videographer Anthony Plascencia. The farm bureaus from Ventura and Santa Barbara County will provide video narration.
“We also plan to host day-of virtual tours on Facebook Live with lots of Farm Day giveaways,” said Ms. Maranville. “These will take place Sept. 19 (Santa Barbara County Farm Day) and Nov. 7 (Ventura County Farm Day).”
Sponsors for “Farm Day Features” include the Edwin and Jeanne Woods Foundation, Plantel Nurseries, Santa Maria Community Bank, Coastal Ag Services, TriCal and Driscoll’s in Santa Barbara County; and Farm Credit West, Good Farms and Red Blossom in Ventura County.
Founded in 2008, Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) is a nonprofit organization that helps young students understand the origins of their food by bridging the gap between agriculture and consumption through its agricultural education programming.
SEEAG’s “The Farm Lab” program, based in Ventura County, teaches school children about the origins of their food and the importance of local farmland by providing schools with classroom agricultural education and free field trips to farms.
“Through this and other SEEAG programs, including Farm Day in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, over 65,000 elementary school students and community members in Southern California have increased their understanding of the food journey,” said Ms. Maranville.