Why Not A National Day of the Farm?

By Sheryl Hamlin

Speaking to a sold out audience at the 2015 Ventura County Farm Day barbecue, Mary Maranville thanked her team which included the farmers who opened their operations to the public, the sponsors, the volunteers and the institution of farming itself saying we need to thank the 1% who provide food for the 99%. If we have a National Teacher Day, National Cowboy Day, why not establish a National Day of the Farm? This is a bold idea from a bold individual.

Farming is nurture and nature, but above all, it is entrepreneurial, a fact evident in all of the farms we visited. Starting with Chivas Goat farm whose goat hobby has grown into a local icon for agricultural education, agriculturally derived products (soap, body cremes, yogurt, milk), health and even farm art, all of which can be found in the farm boutique.

The walkway under the canopy of a grand tree says welcome and nearby a perfectly manicured Airstream has become the water station. A well-trained, loyal staff takes care of all details around the farm seven days a week. Goats must be milked twice a day 365 days a year.

Chgvas Farm Art

Chivas Farm Art

chivas_farm

Chivas Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children are seen petting a giant tortoise. This tortoise is very active and wanders around the property rapidly, not socializing with the other tortoises, evidently preferring people. The two tortoises on the left happily come running when a carrot falls down the chute. Treats!

Tortioise Feeding

Tortioise Feeding

Tortoise Petting

Tortoise Petting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who wouldn’t like one of these French Alpine goats? The little darlings are quite prolific, so there are usually goats for sale, too. Check the site for farm events, including a Spring birthing party.

Take Me HOme

Take Me Home

White Goat

White Goat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After goats, we enjoyed delicious oranges at Bartels Ranch. Here Mary Maranville interviews the owner, Marjorie Bartels, who fought the trend and continues with Valencias. She grew up on the farm, went to college, learned business and fruit science and came back to manage the farm. A true family business, Marjorie is one of the few women in agriculture management.

Near Bartels is Otto & Sons Nursery, a feast for the eyes as rows of roses stretch against a backdrop of the mountains. Otto also sells fruit trees and berries, garden supplies and more. The store is open to the public several days of the week. Both Bartels and Otto & Sons are in Bardsdale, the town that never was, and is actually considered Fillmore. While in the area, we stopped by the historic Bardsdale United Methodist Church to buy tickets for the November 7th home tour. What a treat to see homes in this idyllic area.

Otto Nursery

Otto Nursery

Limoneira Ranch hosted three agriculture booths, in addition to their own tour. These were Agromin, Calavo Growers and Foodforward.

Food Forward is a volunteer gleaning group, whose members gather food from the farms left after the seasonal picking. Such food is boxed and delivered to various food distribution organizations. Gleaning is an ancient practice with biblical references, where the poor were allowed to gather leftover food in the fields. Volunteers are always needed. What a great way to help and share the bounties of Ventura County. Many of the gleaning is also done in private homes with surplus fruit.

Agromin provides organic mulch which is recycled locally. Agromin is embarking on a new expansion project in Ventura County near Santa Paula, which was just approved by the Board of Supervisors. Not only does organic mulch help retain soil moisture, reduce weeds and control grass, there may be opportunities to create biofuel from organic mulch. This business dovetails perfectly with the county’s goals in the General Plan to promote agricultural businesses. Click here for a list of agricultural focused economic topics which could be considered in the General Plan.

Limoneira provided a hayride tour of the farm, where many of the historic buildings still stand, juxtaposed against many modern farming techniques. The solar farm produces 850 kilowatts of energy which can be sent back to the grid if not used by the new, automated sorting and packing facility. As each piece of fruit rolls along the conveyor belt, a camera photographs a 360 degree shot of it, which is then analyzed instantly as to color. The color determines the state of ripeness, which then determines into which bin the fruit is dropped. A century ago, humans inspected and sorted each fruit manually. Now Limoneira will process millions of cartons from fields around California and Arizona. As high tech as it gets, a touch of nature is still involved. Our guide explained that Limoneira employs sheep to manage the weeds in the solar farm. Seen here is the solar farm from the hayride tour.

solar_farm

Solar Farm

How appropriate that we celebrate farming during the visit of Pope Francis to the United States who has brought the subject of global poverty before the world.

Why not establish a National Farm Day to celebrate the 1% who feed the 99%? Mary Maranville might just be able to make this happen.

Photo Credits: Sheryl Hamlin

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For more information about the author, visit sheryhamlin.com

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