Farm Bureau Ag Tour covers ground in Colusa County

Local and out-of-area agriculture tourists get to sample some of the things they saw growing or being harvested at Benden Farms at the end of a two-day Ag Tour, Aug 24-25, sponsored by the Colusa County Farm Bureau.

Teaching people how food is grown was the goal of the Colusa County Farm Bureau’s 2018 Ag Tour this past weekend, and after two days and a dozen farming-related stops, more than a dozen tourists had a good understanding and a positive perception of agriculture in Colusa County.

Farm Bureau President Chris Torres and Manager Melodie Johnson led the caravan of vehicles directly to fields, orchards and processing plants.

“It was awesome,” Johnson said. “It was mostly people who were not from Colusa County. There were a few local residents and a few business people, and some were just people who haven’t lived in Colusa County for a long time, but were interested in taking the tour.”

On Friday, the group visited Richter Aviation, Seeds by Design, rice fields nearing harvest, and the Sites Reservoir Authority, in Maxwell; Morning Star Packing Co., in Williams; and Barb’s Produce, in Colusa. On Saturday, the tour traveled to Jeffrey’s Ranch, Chico Nut, and Davis Ranches, in Arbuckle; Premier Mushrooms, in Colusa; and Benden Farms on the east side of the Sacramento River, north of Colusa.

Those who attended the tour said every place they visited was unique, and the presenters were tremendous, generous with their time, and showed their passion for what they do, what they grow, or what they produce.

“I just appreciate the time, the dedication, and the preparation of each of the presenters,” said Carolyn Kilmer, of Martinez. “Each had something wonderful.”

Kilmer’s family has farmed in Glenn County for 150 years, but Kilmer is a professional tour guide specializing in California history. Although she has led a tour for the San Francisco Tour Guide Guild to teach people about agriculture, she was thrilled to visit Colusa County.

“This is me just educating myself even further,” said Kilmer, whose two sons grow almonds and olives for olive oil in the Artois-Orland area.

Rachel Golden, of Crippen & Associates, a Colusa and Marysville-based accounting and tax firm, said the tour was a great networking opportunity for the company, as they continue to expand their offices to serve people working in the agriculture industry.

“The tour was a great way to see what they do everyday, how busy they are, and possibly ways that we can help them,” Golden said.

The group’s last stop on the tour on Aug. 25 was Benden Farms, where they enjoyed wine, cheese, and got to sample prunes and Lundburg Family Farms snack products.

“We grow, for Lundburg, organic long grain aromatic rice,” said Ben Carter. “That’s a basmati and jasmine; we grow both styles. Long grain is an anomaly in the Sacramento Valley. Most of the rice in the Sacramento Valley is medium grain, and some short grain. Long grain in a little different in terms of production, and all of our rice production is organic.”

Former Colusa County Supervisor Christy Scofield hadn’t taken an agriculture tour since her days as a teacher many years ago, and said she was amazed at the growth and changes in agriculture in the area.

“It’s something you live with your whole life, but never really see,” she said.
Scofield said she toured Morning Star when it was first built, but would never have guessed how much the use of computerized equipment has changed and benefited that company, as well as the agriculture in Colusa County as a whole.

“The technology is just amazing,” she said. “Everyone’s getting it down so technically to be the most efficient. That is what you have to do now days.”

The Colusa County Farm Bureau tries to host an agriculture tour every year or so. The event not only teaches people about the importance of agriculture, but the value of the Farm Bureau as an organization dedicated to promoting the industry through advocacy and public outreach, and creating connections between farmers and consumers, Johnson said.
Membership in the Colusa County Farm Bureau is not restricted to farmers and ranchers, but anyone who supports agriculture.