Pick and Play at Underwood Family Farms
Story & photos by Adam Nunez
Nestled between the rolling hills of Moorpark, about 10 minutes north of Thousand Oaks, is an ideal summer family getaway. Underwood Family Farms is a sprawling 200 acres of farmland and a myriad of fun activities for the kids. There are animal petting and feeding stations, live animal shows, climbable haystacks, tricycles, tunnels, slides, tractor rides, and even a cow-shaped bouncy house.
The crown jewel of Underwood though is the farm itself, where you can pick your own produce. Year-round, there are dozens of types of fruit and vegetables to harvest. In early summer, the fields yield some of the sweetest strawberries in Ventura County, along with crisp lettuce, ruby red beets, plump onions, juicy tomatoes, and many other tantalizing crops. It’s hard not to smile when you’re sitting atop the tractor as it pulls up next to the fields, and you feast your eyes upon all the harvesting options.
The history of Underwood Family Farms stretches back to 1867 when the Underwood family began farming in Ventura County, and its still family-owned and operated to this day. As soon as you walk onto the property, it’s easy to sense the dedication and care the family has put into making this an enjoyable family experience.
Parents can easily turn an Underwood visit into a teachable moment. It’s not often that children have the chance to see where food actually comes from, especially when its fresh and local. Underwood Family Farms gives families the opportunity to get their hands dirty (and possibly muddy). Kids might even be motivated to eat more of those vegetables if they picked them!
If it’s a full meal you’re looking for, Underwood has its own food truck, the We Bee Grubbin (get it? ). They serve fruit smoothies, Philly cheesesteaks, tomato pesto grilled cheese, and more. If you prefer, you are welcome to bring in your own food.
Both adults and kids alike will enjoy the live animal show. We watched rats climb rope, pigs sit and roll over, sheep push barrels, and dogs crawl on their bellies. The amphitheater is quaint and personal, with trainers happy to answer questions. One of the trainers, Mckenna, has worked at Underwood for two years and says she simply loves working with the animals and sharing her joy with visitors.
While it’s still summer, teachers can plan ahead for the fall. Underwood hosts educational field trips for traditional schools and homeschooling families. Tours are 2-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours long and include a variety of fruit/vegetable picking options along with different animal experiences. Similar to field trips, Underwood can even host your next birthday party with the same variety of experiential opportunities!
Autumn is also a popular time to visit Underwood because of the Fall Harvest. During October, there are huge fields full of pumpkins ready for carving, along with live entertainment on weekends.
Can’t make it to Underwoods Moorpark farm? You can visit their stands at local farmers markets all across Ventura County, from Westlake Village to the city of Ventura. They also have a permanent shop located in the charming agricultural town of Somis, just north of Camarillo, which has a few animals to view and feed as well.
There is so much to love about Underwood Family Farms. In addition to the animal petting stations, you’ll find wooden play equipment, hay pyramids, combine slides, a tricycle trail, tractor rides, and of course, the ability to pick your own fruits and vegetables. As well, the shop offers specialty gifts, gift baskets, and pickup/delivery options. There are only just a few places like Underwood where children can run off their energy while you shop for your groceries!
Keep in mind that while some of the activities are at no extra fee, others require a ticket purchase. Be sure to call or check the website for up-to-date information about events and seasonal produce on offer. Admission is $10 per person on weekends and $6 per person on weekdays. Seniors (65+), Military, Veterans, and Emergency First Responders receive a $2 admission discount with valid ID.
Find the farms at 3370 Sunset Valley Rd, Moorpark, and 5696 E. Los Angeles Ave, Somis. Both locations are open daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
For more: (805) 529-3690 or underwoodfamilyfarms.com