Farm­ing isn’t just about fresh pro­duce. It’s also about sus­tain­able food and com­mu­nity cul­ture.

As stu­dents return to the class­room and sum­mer days slip away, its time to plan a trip to a local farm, orchard or ranch.

Fall har­vests give the con­sumer an up close and per­sonal view of how our foods are grown and pro­duced. This per­spec­tive allows for greater appre­ci­a­tion and admi­ra­tion.

Start to fin­ish, the process of seed to fork is more than just a catchy slo­gan to the peo­ple pro­duc­ing our food. It’s a full­time com­mit­ment and major invest­ment of time, money and human resources.

Cul­ti­vat­ing soil, grow­ing crops and rais­ing live­stock all con­tribute to the rich agri­cul­tural story in the United States. From bee keep­ing to hor­ti­cul­ture, the life-​work equa­tion for farm­ers gets blurry. There is no line that typ­i­cally will sep­a­rate the two.

On a daily basis, from morn­ing to night­fall, farm­ers move from task to task. As a way of life, there is a rhythm to nec­es­sary duties that fol­low each sea­son. This real life drama plays out with daily work lists and plenty of grit, deter­mi­na­tion and ambi­tion. No couch squat­ters allowed.

Apples and pears, grapes and mel­ons, figs and nuts — they are all ready for California’s boun­ti­ful Sep­tem­ber har­vest­ing.

A day trip to visit a work­ing orchard, ranch or farm is acces­si­ble in every county.

Coun­try roads and farm trail maps guide us to the fields. Walk­ing tours or farm wag­ons and carts let vis­i­tors get close to the action.

Grow­ing a few tomato plants in the gar­den is hardly the chal­lenge as scal­ing up to feed hun­dreds of enthu­si­as­tic tomato con­sumers. Think of those days when you may have been too tired to water those mere four plants, exhausted from the extended sum­mer heat.

Worse yet, that fail­ure to pick ripe, ready fruit. That led to com­post­ing rather than eat­ing a salad. Poor atten­tion and dis­ci­pline have no place in farm­ing.

Farm­ing is a way of life, not a hobby. It means boots in the dirt, sleeves rolled up and hav­ing a per­sonal con­nec­tion to some­thing big­ger than one’s self.

Chil­dren of farm­ers get inoc­u­lated early. They learn to have respect for the labors required to grow and pro­duce the foods on our table. Every young per­son should have the chance to make this con­nec­tion with agri­cul­ture. Plan a fam­ily field day and learn from the best.