The kids will vote for Disneyland every time but if you want to try something different this year try stopping at the Seven Sycamores Ranch on your way up or down the San Joaquin Valley. It’s a fun destination that will show your youngsters a little about farm life and help them understand the importance of California’s agriculture.
Agri-tourism is what they call it — the blending of tourism with California’s vast farmlands and orchards to offer city folk an up-close view of how an orange, for example, gets from the tree to your dining room table. With its location just outside of Visalia, Seven Sycamores is in a good location to break up that long drive between the cities of Northern and Southern California.
Bob McKellar is the host of Seven Sycamores and something of a visionary in the realm of agri-tourism. A few years back McKellar decided it was time to find ways to market some of his orange crop outside the usual packing shed channels that tend to eat up a grower’s profits. He joined a national organization and found that, in some places, farmers had started “CSA’s” — community supported agriculture programs — that cut out some middlemen and brought fruit straight to the consumer. Today, McKellar sells a sizable portion of his crop by packaging hundreds of fruit baskets delivered regularly to local customers.