Agribusiness bus tour gives visitors a taste of farming


WILLOWS — Four buses carrying a total of 200 people headed out to farms in Willows, Artois and Princeton Wednesday as part of the 2023 Farm City Agribusiness Bus Tour.

The event, which has taken place every year for 43 years, allows visitors to visit four farms to learn about the inner workings of each farm’s main crop or product. This year, visitors went to California Olive Ranch, Rumiano Cheese, Stacy J. Gore Farming and Farmers Brewing Co. After lunch, visitors visited the Chico State University Farm Meats Lab.

University of California Cooperative Extension Adviser Emeritus Joe Connell and Co-chair Ed McLaughlin served as tour guides. Both gave background information about each farm and crop during the trip. The first stop was family-owned Farmers Brewing Co. in Princeton. Bill and Kristin Weller founded the brewing company. The farm produces rice, almonds, walnuts and wheat, according to a Farm City brochure.

Brewmaster Daniel Farmer treated visitors to information about the popular beer, which appears in stores and at the year-old Farmers Brewing Restaurant and Taproom in Chico.

“We produce 50,000 cans of beer a day,” said Farmer. “The beers take anywhere from a week to six weeks to ferment.”

There are five main beers. Chicoan Nancy Smith took the tour for the first time.

“It was interesting to learn that beer can be made out of rice,” Smith said. “I didn’t know that.”

Other visitors were impressed by the brewing company as well.

“I like that everything is family and locally grown,” said Butte County Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Dawn Nevers.

The next stop was California Olive Ranch in Artois. The highest grade of olive oil is extra virgin, visitors learned. They visited the production room, which has sky high oil vats.

“It’s nice to talk about the intricacies of farming,” said Brittany Fagundes, who is in charge of grow relations at the olive ranch. “Most people these days don’t know where their food comes from.”

Connell said olives are “eternal” and the olive business brought $231 million to Glenn County in 2021. Connell has been leading tours for 23 years.

Connell said he thought the tour went well.

“There was no rain and the tour was almost on time,” he said.

Next was Rumiano Cheese, which was founded by brothers Fred, John and Richard Rumiano, who emigrated to Willows from Italy and started a dairy operation.

Visitors were treated to samples of two kinds of cheese at the packaging facility in Willows. Rumiano cheese is sold in many different grocery stores.

The last stop before lunch was family-owned rice farming company Stacy J. Gore Farming. Stacy J. Gore presented a slide show regarding how the farm works.

“We fund genetic research and we have an organic way of helping rice decompose,” Gore said.

Gore, his wife Amy Gore and their children help run the farm.

After the tour, visitors were treated to a lunch consisting of salad, rice, chicken, rolls and desserts at the Pavilion at the University Farm.


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