Do you love knowing where your food comes from? I recently did a poll on my Instagram Stories and I was so excited to see that an overwhelming majority of people care about the story of their food. I feel the same way. I love hanging out on factory tours and finding locally made things. I am always looking for farms to visit when I travel and I care about the farms in our own backyard. In Seattle, it’s hard not to think about where food comes from with Pike Place Market in our neighborhood and my kids grew up taking farm school at Kelsey Creek Farm in Bellevue. (If you go, please say hi to Farmer Jayne! We absolutely adore her!) So of course I had to visit Tanaka Farms when I visited Orange County and it’s such a cool farm to check out!
Do you love Hello Kitty?
Tanaka Farms first came on my radar because it has an amazing collabortion this year with Sanrio and Hello Kitty. I was lucky enough to visit during the collaboration rollout at Halloween time. This farm oozed kawaii with Hello Kitty cutouts everywhere that families could pose with and get adorable pictures. I was solo during my visit, but friendly visitors offered to take my picture when they saw me taking selfies. I even managed to get a picture with a new friend.
A Farm with History
I love that this farm has been part of the Irvine community for years and it started in 1940. You can tell that people like working here-when I bought a few souvenirs the guy at the checkout said his parents had worked there too. I also bought some produce at the farm stand and a really tasty lemonade and there were so many Hello Kitty souvenirs. (You can buy some of them online!). On weekends and during more festive times of the year there are more offerings like Hello Kitty visits, wagon tours and more food for purchase. They have cookout tours that I’m keeping my eye on-I would love to pick my own meal and cook it so I might have to plan a trip around one of these tours.
Since we’re heading back to California this spring, I’m hoping to take my kids this time to see the strawberry fields because so many of our Seattle strawberries come from California. I always think of shopping, beaches, Disney and movie stars when I come to the area, but I also think it’s important to remind my kids where our Seattle food comes from and where parts of our history come from too. Farmer Tanaka, his wife Shirley and their son Kenny own the farm and Farmer Tanaka is a third-generation Japanese American. My great-grandfather also came to the United States from Japan years ago and began our roots in North America. I only know bits and pieces of my own history so by seeing others who have had a similar life-experience, I feel like I can learn a little bit about my own past too.
It’s also important to visit farms because so many of the things we eat just show up at our house nowadays from Amazon Prime or other food and grocery delivery programs. I take for granted the effort that went into getting my food from farm to table and I forget sometimes that might kids might think of this even less if I don’t teach them about it. On one of the farm tours I went on, the guide mentioned that numerous children on their tour cannot identify many vegetables and fruits and they definitely don’t know what this produce looks like when they are growing. Hearing this made it more clear to me that I need to show my kids where their food comes from (and even garden a bit at home too!).
Other Farms Families can Visit?
On other trips to California, we have also visited an orange farm and a farm near the San Diego/Mexico border. We have also stayed at a resort on an orange farm in Belizeand when I visited my mom’s hometown in Japan I visited the farming area where my family came from. Do you have a favorite farm to visit with your family? Do you incorporate farm tours in your own city and when you travel too?
(PS. I visited Tanaka Farms as part of a media tour with Visit Orange County and as always the views and opinions in this post are mine. If you are in the area you might also want to visit this hidden garden near South Coast Plaza on land that used to be where Lima beans were farmed too. Also, Tanaka Farms has a CSA, I wish I lived closer!!!)