"Ventura--The Ventura County Farm Day combined entertainment and a learning experience

by Joe Hilbers

The recent 4th annual Ventura County Farm Day and BBQ proved to be both interesting and a most informative learning experience. It was originally founded by the non profit Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture to educate Ventura County school children on the important role farming plays in the County.

But for this Writer it is equally effective in exposing adults to the farms, ranches and large processing plants all involved in the County's agriculture. Total crop value is at $2.1 billion while the largest cash crops in order are Strawberries, Lemons, Raspberries, Nursery Stock and Celery. This agriculture employs 36,000 workers.

The recent Farm Day allowed individual Farms to host visitors and the opportunity to show exactly what they grow and how they do it. We toured three during the afternoon including Deardorff Family Farms where fourth generation Scott Deardorff acted as our guide. Deardorff are farmers, packers and shippers with distribution throughout the U.S and Canada. This from their 110,000 square foot Oxnard facility. Next it was to Gills Onions, again family owned, which has pioneered, over 30 years, the harvesting of fresh onions for packaging or fresh cut processing. Gills Onions also enjoys distribution in all of the U.S. and into Canada and boosts of the longest shelf life in the industry.

Some of the Farms, on this day, allow visitors to carry away some of the produce grown and we were soon in possession of some of the largest red and yellow onions we had ever seen. At Deardorff we took away some organic parsley and an interesting red kale.

We also stopped by Cresalida Farms where the major crops are strawberries, blueberries and brussels sprouts and it was pointed out to us that the sprouts were due to be harvested the coming week.

Twenty three farms hosted visitors throughout the day and this is free to visitors. The hosting farms and ranches locations ranged throughout the entire County and the website provided a map on where to find the farms.

Then it was off to the Ventura Fairgrounds for the festivities that started at four p.m. and included the country western Coldwater Canyon ensemble for entertainment. Tickets are required for the feast of foods, all prepared by young Farmers and Ranchers, as well as culinary arts students from Pacifica High School in Oxnard. We had the opportunity to meet with Kristen Ofeldt, Pacifica Chef Instructor, and complemented her on the success of the culinary arts program at the school. Served as a buffet there were so many booths for the food that there was never a wait. And of course to go back as often as wished for seconds.

We thought our visit most rewarding and the weather cooperated with a perfect autumn day.

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Last Update:11/7/16

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