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Ag-tour steps off to bright future

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The first Colusa County Grown agri-tourism bus pulled away from Colusa Industrial Properties on Thursday under sunny skies, despite an initial call for rain.

“It turned out to be a pretty interesting day,” said new Colusa County Supervisor Kent Boes, the only elected official on the maiden tour.

About a dozen people, including a number of specialty-crop producers, participated in the daylong excursion that took them to some of the most popular, sustainable, and interesting niche agriculture operations in Colusa County, which officials say may be worth buying a ticket to see.

“Every bit of this is important, because it is a model of what we want to do in the future,” said Patti Turner, of the Colusa County Resource Conservation District (RCD). “It’s basically a think-tank to see what works.”

Colusa County Grown is a program through the Colusa County RCD that promotes locally grown specialty crops.

Turner said Colusa County Grown hopes to offer a public bus tour next year, similar to those held in other counties that get people to pay to visit a working farm or ranch.

The group toured some of Colusa County’s most well-known and successful specialty-crop operations, including Premier Mushrooms, whose commercial growing facility is located at Colusa Industrial Properties, and Barb’s Produce Stand on Brown Road, which is famous for its succulent peaches, Asian pears, and other summer and fall produce.

The group also stopped and toured Organic Roots, in Maxwell, producer of three award-winning organic olive oils.

While there, the group learned about the olive pressing business and received a taste of Organic Roots’ buttery Arbosana Olive Oil. They were also given a bottle of the company’s popular Arbequina Olive Oil to take home.

“Our goal is to eventually have a tasting room,” said Olive Roots’ owner Sherry Polit.

The group then traveled to Jeffreys Ranch Pecans in Arbuckle, where they had a prepared lunch, received a sample of the product, and heard a presentation from Ralph Newlin on specialty crop and agriculture insurance.

Chamisal Creek Ranch on Cortina School Road was the final stop on the tour, where the group enjoyed tasting award-winning Grindstone wines.

The 700-acre ranch grows three different wine grape varieties, and 12 different varieties of almonds, and has been in the Doherty family for 40 years.

Owner Michael Doherty said the focus of the ranch is on plant health, balance, and sustainability.

“Sustainability is about ensuring that people, profit, and the environment are all considered while conducting daily business,” Doherty said.

Agri-tourism involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a ranch or farm, said Jacquelyn Wasche, the official tour guide.

Wasche said many people have become more interested in how their food is produced, and that farm tours would allow them to talk to farmers and processors about what goes into food production.

Farmers and ranchers can use this interest to develop traffic at their operation, Washce said.

Thursday’s tour was funded by a California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop grant.

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