By Raiza Giorgi

When Ed Seaman’s son was a young child, the father and son loved to go out and look for tarantulas on the family’s Restoration Oaks Ranch, better known as Santa Barbara Blueberries.

“Pretty soon we invited his friends to come out and each time we got braver and eventually were able to pick one up and learned they were actually gentle,” Seaman said.

Seaman started researching the big spiders and learned so much about their habitats that he decided to open the ranch for a few days in the fall to young kids and families of all ages to come learn about tarantulas.

“Last year was our first year and I was surprised that so many people came. It was amazing to see so many people interested in these amazing creatures,” he said.

Seaman organized a free nature hike for people to learn more about these large, hairy arachnids, hosted by his nonprofit organization, Wild Farmlands Foundation.

This hike is targeted for youths from ages 8 to 17, but all ages are welcome. The goal of the hike is to find a live tarantula and then discuss the creature and its uses to the ranch. Then the spider is turned loose.

Tarantulas are commonly seen in the Santa Ynez Valley. They can range from as small as a fingernail to as large as a dinner plate when the legs are fully extended. Depending on the species, the body length of tarantulas ranges from 1 to 4 inches, with leg spans of 3–12 inches, according to

The Wild Farmlands Foundation has a mission to educate and inform everyone, especially youth, about the value of small, independently owned farms and ranches to food systems and their importance to a healthy earth.

Though this year’s tarantula hike events have sold out, early registration is available for a Spring 2019 Wild Toad Trails Hike at