BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOURS: Farms operate all year long, and pretty much all day long, or just about, doing all of the 927 things that they do. But autumn is the season when many a grower opens up his or her gate to the public, for an in-depth look-around and information on how various foods are grown and seeds are planted and animals are cared for and such. Perhaps that because spring and summer can have more bustling for the farmer, and autumn gives the farm a chance to catch a breath and spend a day with those who wish to learn more. Maybe the farm tours mirror the harvest action at wineries, and all the public events happening in and among the vines of various vineyards. Whatever the case, a mellow autumn Saturday makes for a most excellent time to toodle into the country to get to know what is growing and where and how. The Third Annual Ventura County Farm Day lifts the veil -- or perhaps a sheet of burlap, if you want to go a touch more rustic -- on what happens at the spreads around the county. And several farms are involved in the big day out, about 20 properties in all. The date? The final Saturday in September, the 26th.
LIMONEIRA RANCH... is one participant, as is Ojai Olive Oil, as is Mission Produce Packing House, as is The Painted Pony Farm, as is East End Eden Farm, and more, lots more, beyond those. Choosing your interest -- tomatoes? Olive oil? Horses? -- may help you narrow down your ultimate destinations, but landing at a farm that is responsible for something you don't know much about may further broaden your horizons. The peek-arounds that'll go down on the farms are free, but if you want to hang out afterward for the barbecue hoedown at Limoneira Ranch, you'll want to buy at ticket. Bocce ball, cornhole, and, wait for it, a "kiss the farmer" photo booth await, in addition to tri-tip beef, savory sides, and "farm-to-bar" cocktails and craft brews. The tours run from 10 o'clock in the morning through mid-afternoon (read: 3 p.m.) and the BBQ action revs up after that, from 4 to 9 in the evening. Ready to learn, chow down, and swing your partner? Tie your kerchief on, don your dungarees, and boot-scoot this way.