In case petting zoos and wagon rides through a pumpkin patch weren’t enough to entice families to visit a local vegetable farm, now Irvine-based Tanaka Farms has partnered with Sanrio Inc. for a yearlong Hello Kitty and Friends collaboration.

Beginning Sept. 30, fans of the characters can visit the farm for a variety of Hello Kitty–related seasonal events. Life-size Sanrio characters Hello Kitty, Keroppi, Chococat, My Melody and Pochacco will be integrated into daily and seasonal events such as the Pumpkin Patch, fall harvest festival, Christmas tree farming, strawberry picking in spring and a melon celebration next summer. A limited-edition collection of commemorative Sanrio Tanaka Farms merchandise will be available for purchase at the farm’s market stand.

Hello Kitty cosplayers can get excited for Tanaka’s Halloween event on Oct. 28. In addition to a Sanrio costume contest, guests can expect appearances by Hello Kitty herself.

Family-owned Tanaka Farms was founded in 1940 and offers educational programming that aims to teach visitors the importance of healthy eating, sustainability, responsible farming and supporting the local community. The Sanrio partnership will allow the Orange County farm to use Hello Kitty characters to teach guests about farming.

“For instance, My Melody can help explain the cycle of strawberries from seeds to sprouts to plants to harvest and eating,” says David Marchi, vice president of brand management and marketing for Sanrio.

This sounds like a good way to get children excited about eating fruits and vegetables, but it also seems like an unlikely connection. How does a small, 30-acre local farm get involved with a huge global pop-culture brand like Sanrio? Tanaka's high number of fans helps.

“Tanaka Farms is visited by hundreds of thousands of guests each year, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate and grow together,” Marchi says.

5380 3/4 University Drive, Irvine; (949) 653-2100,

Credit: Courtesy Sanrio

Credit: Courtesy Sanrio

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