Kick Start Your Spring at a Kid-Friendly Farm

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Your kids know that Old MacDonald had one, but what else do they truly know about farms? To celebrate the impending spring (most of the below farms open March 1), wrangle your herd to one of these Los Angeles-area farms to teach the little chickadees what the eee-iii-ooo-ing is all about! Whether they want to get up close and personal with a pig or pick their own fruits and vegetables straight from the crops, kids will learn plenty about where their meals come from, and they may just decide to feast on foods they have previously turned up their noses at. Next time your little rooster crows at the crack of dawn, make hay while the sun shines and head for these fields.

Underwood Family Farms
Enjoy an educational tour with your kids at the Moorpark location of Underwood Family Farms, which officially opens for the season on March 1, 2012. Tour topics include strawberries, pumpkins, animals and vegetables, and a vintage tractor-drawn wagon ride is part of the farm experience. (Group tours are based on 20 participants, so rally your neighbors and friends and make this a grand summer outing!) Farm camp sessions are also offered through mid-August for children ages kindergarten to fourth grade. If you’re flying solo with the kids and not taking a tour, you can experience the fruits of the farm by picking produce and visiting the farm animal center to take a pony ride and view farm animals including cows, pigs, horses, rabbits, ducks, and more. And don’t miss the 30 minute Animal Show exhibiting farm residents from Buttercup the calf to Dora the rat.  

Forneris Farms
20 minutes north of Los Angeles, Forneris Farms is a quick jaunt from the city to the country. There are no animals at this farm, but a visit here from April to December will teach kids what a working farm looks like in terms of yielding plentiful crops. You may purchase a succulent array of seasonal produce in their open air farm market, which includes corn, tomatoes, strawberries, green beans, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe and much more. Be sure to visit the Forneris Farms Harvest Festival October 1-31 to go on a wild adventure through their four acre corn maze, weaving your way through 10 foot tall crops! The whole family may also enjoy a tractor pull train ride and grab a great pumpkin to carve.

Animal Acres
Animal loving children will delight in a visit to the Animal Acres farm sanctuary, which focuses on compassionately rescuing and protecting farm animals. Every Sunday at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, tours are offered wherein kids may “cuddle cows” and “talk to turkeys.” Tours cost $5, and kids 3 and under are free. Bonus: Beginning Sunday, March 4, 2012, the farm will be offering an additional guided tour beginning at 3:00 pm.

McGrath Family Farm
This organic farm has been in business for five generations. Located in Oxnard, 55 miles north of Los Angeles, and a great pitstop on the way to exploring Santa Barbara, the McGrath Family farm features a farm center where kids may feed and handle farm animals, and pick strawberries, vegetables and flowers. The farm offers tours for any age group (be sure to check their website for pricing and tour times), and officially opens for the 2012 season on March 1.

Big John’s Cherries
Cherry lovers take note! Plan ahead this season for a trip to Big John’s Cherries for some cherry picking’ from late May through early July. If you’re itching for a trip to Big John’s Cherries prior to late May (we think kicking off Memorial Day weekend with some cherry picking is a great idea) then you might want to check out the farm in late March for their lilac and lavender season.

We know the Los Angeles are is chock full of family-friendly farms. With Spring fast approaching, let us know in the comment section below where your family goes to get your farm fix.

— Beth Shea

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