At its heart California really is all about agriculture. Yes, places like San Francisco and Los Angeles get a lot of attention and can be fun to visit (despite the traffic). Yosemite and old-growth redwood forests are downright magical. It takes a knowledgeable eye though to recognize the beauty and magnitude of California’s agriculture industry. If you look closely enough, you can find a piece of it at the California State Fair.
Well, that may be an exaggeration, because 3.5 acres of farmland shouldn’t be hard to miss. If you have missed it, intentionally or not, here are 10 reasons why The Farm is #TheBest attraction:
1. Feel like a treasure hunter:
Like a hidden jewel, The Farm is tucked away toward the back of Cal Expo, home of the California State Fair. There is even a “treasure map” to find it (See! It’s right here!) At The Farm you can find a sample of the bounty of crops grown in California: grapevines, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, hops (yes, one of the key ingredients for beer), strawberries, and more.
2. Get in the dirt:
The Farm is an interactive place where people can get their hands dirty and really learn about California’s agriculture industry, which is the largest in the country and provides nearly 3 million jobs.
3. Face-to-face time with animals
The Farm is also a place where children can interact with baby animals or pet a live sturgeon. The Farmyard Follies program is set up to allow children and adults a chance to get close to farmyard animals and also learn about them.
4. Go from hands-on to in-your-mouth
After getting hands-on (and washing your hands), now it’s time to eat. The Farm has an outdoor grill where Official California State Fair Chef Keith Breedlove takes produce grown on site and does live cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and education. Seriously, these live demos are incredible and a lot of it has to do with Chef Keith. If nothing else, you should just go to see him in action. He has a love for and creativity with California produce that is an experience your belly will thank you for.
5. Jump start a healthy lifestyle:
Children can learn a lot on a Farm Tour. There are five separate learning stations: Grow it!, See it!, Save it!, Plant it!, Taste it! Through these stations, children can see how a seed turns into food. Studies show when children have a part in growing healthy food they are more likely to eat fresh veggies.
6. Meet a master:
A Master Gardener that is. Every day of the Fair, Master Gardeners are on hand to answer questions and provide knowledge about native plants and growing techniques. Take that knowledge to transform your garden at home.
7. Learn about taming metal and fire:
A blacksmith sets up shop in The Farm and holds live demonstrations throughout the day. Watch as the blacksmith uses fire to mold metal, and learn how blacksmithing is used in the world today.
8. Save water and money:
NEW exhibit alert! The Department of Water resources is setting up an exhibit to teach Fair-goers about turf removal. You will also learn how to plant your yard to save water and money.
9. Get creeped-out:
I know this doesn’t seem like a good reason, but hear me out. The Farm is also home to the Insect Pavilion. Inside are creatures found in our California backyard and as far away as tropical rainforests. There are beautiful butterflies and even helpful insects that hunt garden pests.
10. The fun doesn’t stop:
When the Fair is over, that’s when the Farm really starts cooking. During the fall and spring seasons, there are Farm Tours for about six weeks each. The tours are 1.5-2 hours and designed for third and fourth grade curriculums, but the outdoor classroom works for grades K-6.
The location makes Farm Tours a convenient field trip for Sacramento-area schools. Fall 2016 tours (September 1 – October 18) are now being booked. Tours happen on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.