Farmer Bob’s World ceases tour operations

Entrance sign at Mckellar Ranch in Ivanhoe, Ca.(Rigo Moran)

Ivanhoe-based nonprofit Farmer Bob’s World announces the closure of tours, cites economic climate as a factor in the closure

IVANHOE – A nonprofit organization that provided popular tours of a Tulare County citrus farm is no longer offering tours, putting an end to a tradition that goes back a decade.

Farmer Bob’s World, a 501-3c non profit in operation since 2021, announced on Aug. 8 that it was ceasing tours. Deanna Saldana, executive director for Farmer Bob’s World, said in a news release that  the board of directors for the nonprofit announced the closure “with great sadness.”

The tours have been closed since July 1, and were initially slated to resume in September. The tours were designed to educate local students, families and businesses about agriculture and citrus farming by “offering a real farm experience” at McKellar Family Farms, located at 32988 Road 164 in Ivanhoe.

“We were blessed with great community support and a wonderful partnership with local school districts, giving us the opportunity to share the wonderful world of citrus with local guests and visitors from around the world,” the news release read. “However, the recent flooding and economic climate changes have made it difficult for us to continue.

“It has been a blessing to share the citrus industry with our guests and offer a unique perspective on the second largest agricultural industry in California.”

The tours date back to 2013, when farm owner Bob McKellar offered wagon tours of the family citrus farm to teach the public about the farm and ag business in general. McKellar Family Farms officially began in 2016, followed by the debut of Farmer Bob’s World five years later.

The tours have been especially popular for students in the region, but families and businesses also have participated over the years. In 2022, Farmer Bob’s World hosted an active year-round schedule of tours.

Saldana said rising costs in the ag industry have made it difficult to try to continue the tours. While the farm avoided any substantial damage from heavy rainfall totals in 2022-23, surrounding ag areas in the eastern portions of Tulare County sustained damage.

Farmer Bob’s board of directors and board chairman Eddie Valero discussed options moving forward, Saldana said, and continuing to provide tours would have meant a need for increased staffing and costs.

“It has become more challenging,” she said.

While thanking the public for its support of the tours over the years, Saldana hopes the closure of Farmer Bob’s World isn’t a permanent situation.

“I think there still is a place for what we were doing,” she said.

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