FARMS Leadership – Central Valley – February 24, 2021
Location: Top of the Morn Farms, Tulare, CA
Top of the Morn Farms in Tulare, CA hosted a great field day for our FARMS students, virtually of course! Students were able to hear from owner, Ron Locke, and they took away some great information about owning and running a dairy in California. The video tour took students through the calf pens, free stalls for the dairy cattle, milking parlor, and creamery. Even though they could not be there in person, Top of the Morn sent home individual milks for the students to enjoy and they were amazing! If you have not had their milk go out and find yourself some when you are in Tulare County. This family owned dairy farm is run with pride, honesty, and care for the cows and the people in their community. FARMS Leadership is so thankful for their time and generosity and we hope to go back in person next year.
FARMS Leadership – Central Valley – January 26, 2021
Location of Field Day: Peterson Farms, Kingsberg, CA
In January the FARMS Leadership students really got to understand what it means to have a “family farm” with a tour at Peterson Farms in Kingsberg, CA. Students were able to see that the family at Peterson Farms extends beyond the bloodlines of the Peterson’s and includes all employees as well. Employee interviews clearly showed that they feel valued and loved at Peterson Farms. In addition to hearing about how the operation runs, students learned about peach harvest and packing. Although Peterson Farms grows and packs all varieties of fruits this day was about the peach and as Mr. Peterson says, “We grow dessert!” If you haven’t already go check out “Beyond the Harvest” youtube videos and see the whole story of the Peterson Family Farm.
River Garden Farms SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 18, 2021
Partners/Landowners Yolo County Resource Conservation District River Garden Farms Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
Volunteers Mandi Finger Felisia Castaneda Peter Johnson Joe Hardie Bri Grosskopf Griffin Capehart
Summary of the Day February 18th marked our final SLEWS Field Day with Yolo County Resource Conservation District, and we were back for our third double-header at River Garden Farms. On our previous field day, we spent two shifts planting 480 plants, including installing protective cartons and an irrigation system. Today it was time to mulch these plants to discourage weed growth and improve moisture retention. Like we did at Capay Valley Lavender, we were able to repurpose byproducts of the farm (in this case, rice straw) to accomplish this important task! As we mulched, we also did quality control – checking that emitters were working properly, and anchoring stray protective cartons.
As volunteers worked to place large mats of straw around each plant, River Garden Farms employee Arturo followed along towing a trailer full of straw bales. These weren’t your ordinary straw bales, either, they were gigantic! Arturo ensured that straw was always available when we needed it, and did a great job matching our pace. We were thankful that our COVID-19 masks provided protection against all the dust and debris from the straw as we made our way down the future hedgerow!
The morning shift of volunteers was able to mulch the majority of the plants, which the afternoon crew quickly finished up. Then we got in our vehicles to regroup at a new project site. The Sacramento River flows through River Garden Farms, and they wanted to beautify a ¼ acre levee area adjacent to their headquarters while supporting conservation efforts. The solution? Plant native wildflowers on the levee.
We took to the levee, using hoes to scrape away patches on the surface of the earth, sprinkling wildflower seed mix, and patting down before moving on to create more patches. By the end of the afternoon, we had finished seeding our project area, covering about 33% of the area in native wildflower seeds. I can’t wait to see the transformation when the flowers bloom – it’ll be an explosion of lupines and phaecelia!
Thank you to our partners, funders, and volunteers for helping us to keep our SLEWS restoration projects moving forward, even when working with students is not possible. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a more typical SLEWS season next fall!