Have you heard of the term Farm-to-table? According to Wikipedia, “Farm-to-table (or farm-to-fork) refers to the stages of the production of food which includes harvesting, storage, processing, packaging, sales and consumption. Farm-to-table also refers to a movement concerned with producing food locally and delivering that food to local consumers.”
Do your children know where their food comes from? In a desire to teach my own, I have taken my children to a couple of local farms to take a tour. The purpose of a farm tour is to connect people with the farmers and land that grow their food. During a tour, you get a behind-the-scenes look at how a variety of food is grown and meet farmers who grow crops and raise livestock. In fact, the food your family eats may in fact come from one of Southern California’s family farms.
So take a peak at this list of local farms in our area and schedule a tour today!
THE INLAND EMPIRE:
Amy’s Farms, Ontario – Amy’s Farm is a real working poly culture farm that provides hands-on, guided tours to students of all ages. We went on a field trip to the farm in October 2013 and plan to write a blog post about it soon! In the meantime, you should know that they offer elementary, middle and high school tours.
During an elementary school tour children get to:
- Take a walk through the garden and learn about fruits and vegetables.
- Harvest one item in the garden.
- View a mother cow and learn the “Story of Milk”
- Pet goats and sheep in the petting zoo.
- Feed the pigs vegetables picked from the garden.
- See chickens, roosters, turkeys, geese, and ducks.
- Milk a cow (this is super fun!)
- Pet and visit horses
Peltzer Farms, Temecula – Peltzer Farms offers group tours during the months of September and October. Teachers can bring their classes out to see what thousands of children experience each year on the live farm. A minimum of 20 people for a group tour.
The tour includes:
- Corn Maze Visit.
- Petting farm fun and educational visit.
- Educational tour through our garden featuring all kinds of pumpkins, gourds, sunflowers, specialty squash, fruits and vegetables.
- Rare glimpse at our antique John Deere Tractor collection.
- Jack-O-Lantern size pumpkin to take home . (kids only)
- 16-page informational and fun book to take home.
- Shaded picnic area for snacks and lunch.
Oasis Date Gardens, Thermal – Oasis Date Gardens offers date tasting’s, gift and bulk dates on a 175-acre working date ranch. You can take a tour of the date gardens and packing house and check out their antique farm implement display.
LOS ANGELES AREA:
Bennett’s Honey Farm, Fillmore – Every June, Bennett’s Honey Farm offers 3 daily train tours to visit their farm during the Annual California Honey Festival. The honey festival is an educational and tasty experience held in conjunction with the Fillmore & Western Railway. However, their tasting room is open year round!
The AGRIscapes Facilities @ Cal State Pomona, Pomona – The AGRIscapes facilities serve as a community resource where people can come and learn about issues relating to food production and the environment. The farm hosts a pumpkin patch in the fall and strawberry picking in the spring.
The Center for Garden-Based Education at AGRIscapes, Pomona – The purpose is to support schools and teachers in their efforts to incorporate garden-based themes in their classrooms and curricula. Field trips feature our life cycle garden and oat planting with topics encompassing transportation methods used to bring food to our grocery store, video presentation on grains and making flour for bread, the food pyramid and composting garden waste. There is a hands-on planting exercise where each child will plant flower seeds and an herb to take home. Each child receives a healthy snack and take-home materials to share with the family about lessons learned on the field trip. The cost is $3 per child.
The Farm @ The Los Angeles County Fair, Los Angeles – The Farm’s mission is to teach all ages lessons about sustainability, healthy eating, crop growing and the basics of how food is produced, grown, gathered and delivered. The Farm also encompasses traditional favorites like the Big Red Barn, with milking demonstrations, the largest petting zoo in the state and agricultural exhibits. You might get lucky and find a new baby animal being born as well!
Earthworks Farm, San Dimas – Earthworks Farm is a 4.9-acre work-training and educational urban farm. The farm facilitates multiple education programs benefiting the surrounding communities. Earthworks Farm invites schools to visit the farm, to enjoy educational farm demonstrations, pick your own harvest, learn about nature science or biology, and digging your hands into the dirt!
The Gentle Barn, Santa Clarita – The Gentle Barn’s mission is to “Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.” A visit to barn provides children from any background a great opportunity to learn about farm animals with their unique features and personalities. They host field trips for scout troops, home school groups, school classrooms and church groups.
Centennial Farm, Costa Mesa – Centennial Farm is a three-acre working farm at the OC Fair & Event Center created to educate youth about agriculture and its importance to daily life. We have been to this farm numerous times. The Farm is home to fruit and vegetable gardens, livestock, and the Millennium Barn. You can either visit the farm freely on your own to view the pigs, chickens, cattle, goats and gardens or set up a tour. Our family has done both. Their FREE school tours book up months in advance, so if you want to schedule one, I would say jump on it soon! And if you want to visit on your own, note that Centennial Farm is closed weekday mornings to accommodate school tours.
Tanaka Farms, Irvine – Tanaka Farms has been educating children about where fruits and vegetables come from and how they grow since 1998. They offer strawberry, watermelon, pumpkin, and u-pick tours.
The Crean Family Farm @ The Santa Ana Zoo, Santa Ana – At the Crean Family Farm, you can peek into the barn doors and experience a farmyard adventure. Learn about life on an Orange County farm while you feed goats and sheep and milk a replica cow. Learn what it’s like to care for farm animals, and learn about the roles rare breeds of animals play on a farm. Feeding and milking activities not available all days. Please call to check if these activities will be available on the day of your visit.
The Ecology Center, San Juan Capistrano – The Eco-Labs at The Ecology Center are outdoor interpretive stations with tools and activities provide systems-thinking, ecologically relevant, hands-on education through interactive explorations of what our ecosystems are and how we can live to improve them. Focusing in the areas of Water, Food, Waste, Energy, and Shelter, The Ecology Center offers tours, field trips, content, and curriculum toolkits. Educators and students can engage with ecology in fun, hands-on ways that also satisfy the California State Standards for Science.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY:
Bates Nut Farm, Escondido- Bates Nut Farm got its start as a walnut farm, but now brings in nuts from all over the world. Pistachios, pecans, cashews, peanuts, pignolias, sunflower seeds and much more can be purchased on the farm. Our Farm Zoo is open daily from 9am – 5pm. Visit with mini-donkeys, goats, sheep, llamas, pigs, emus, chickens, peacocks, ducks, geese & more! The animals love visitors, and will eat from your hands. Bags of animal feed can be purchased for $0.50; admission is free. They are also well-known for their amazing pumpkin patch farm tours.
Key Creek Lavender Farm, San Diego – Keys Creek Lavender Farm is San Diego’s counties only USDA certified organic lavender farm. About two dozen varieties of lavender are grown on the 8 acres lavender farm. After harvesting the lavender is processed into a variety of products which are available for purchase at the farm gift store. During the summer blooming season (May and June) Keys Creek Lavender Farm is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00am – 3:00pm. Their entrance fee is $5.00 per person. The rest of the year the farm is open for events and tours (call ahead to see what’s going on at the Lavender farm). Field trips start at $15 per person.
Seabreeze Organic Farm, San Diego – Seabreeze Organic Farm offers a farm stand, cooking and nutrition classes, a U-pick operation, organic fruits/vegetables and farm tours by reservation only.
Suzie Farms, San Diego – Suzie Farms offer a variety of ways to experience their beautiful 140-acre farm, located just south of Imperial Beach. The farm is ever-changing and can be visited at any time during the year as a way to deepen your connection to your food, broaden your understanding of how a farm works, or simply enjoy a day out of the city. School tours take a 90 minute exploration of our fields while tasting crops and learning about organic agriculture. Identify various plants, visit the chickens and discuss farming as we walk among flowers and crops.
Wild Willow Farm & Education Center, San Diego – Wild Willow Farm & Education Center is a six-acre working farm located less than three miles from the Pacific Ocean and two-thirds mile north of the Mexican Border. The farm is nestled along the banks of the scenic Tijuana River, and borders the river’s stunningly beautiful estuary nature preserve. Wild Willow Farm field trips are offered on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings and typically last from 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your needs. Visitors will be split into groups and rotate through three to four hands-on activities, including light and easy farming and interactive lessons. Our farm tasks you include be planting, weeding, watering, bed-building, composting, mulching, etc.
The following is a list of possible activities beyond farm work that you can select from:
- Sustainability Scavenger Hunt
- Sensory Exploration
- Human Cameras
- Brown Bag Botany
- Homes for Seeds
- Recycling with Worms
- Meet the Chickens
- Farm Insects: Friend and Foe
- Soil and Water: Beyond Mud!
- Watering and the “Goldilocks Priniciple”: What is “just right?”
- Irrigation Methods: The Tinker Toys of Gardening!
- Plan a Farm
Little Creek Acres Farm, Valley Center – At Little Creek Acres Farm there are dairy goats and sheep who know their names, chickens you can visit, cats that talk to you, farm dogs who love attention, as well as a veggie garden and an orchard to explore and learn in! A two and a half hour experiential learning tour for youth groups of 5 to 90, ages 6 and up, scheduled March through November.
SANTA BARBARA / VENTURA COUNTIES:
Fairview Gardens, Goleta – Fairview Gardens has more than 100 different kinds of fruits and vegetables, fresh bread and grocery items. For school tours the garden incorporates experiential learning opportunities like digging up a carrot and tasting its sweetness or studying the strawberry with all five senses. Students investigate soil, complete farm chores and even collect warm eggs. Fun!
Underwood Family Farms, Moorpark – Underwood Family Farms welcomes schools and groups to visit their family farm to enjoy the beauty of Ventura County and to gain a positive farm experience. They offer strawberry, vegetable, pumpkin, animal, & combination tours which are very educational and lots of fun!
The Barnyard @ The Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara – The barnyard is home to domestic sheep, which you can feed with specially formulated pellets available for purchase at the Explore Store adjacent to the barnyard. Food cost: $3/cup. Visiting the barnyard is free, with the price of admission.
OstrichLand USA, Solvang – Ostrich Land is a fun side trip while visiting Solvang. There are about 50 these flightless birds at the ranch and their main purpose in life is to attract visitors. For $1.00 you can buy a bowl of food to feed the birds. OstrichLand USA is a great place for family fun, photography, field trips, and bus tours. Groups are welcome and guided tours are available.
Happy Field Tripping,
Disclosure: This post is for information purposes only. All points of view are 100% my own!