FARMS Program | Kern County | May 6, 2019
Independence High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
West High School
Frontier High School
Our last field day was spent touring JG Boswell’s Kern Operation. We were greeted by Joey Mendonca – Kern County Ranch Manager and Charlie Riddle – Kern Lake District Manager.
Students witnessed the tomato transplanting process. The transplanter’s speed is set and a person refills the transplanter with the small tomato plants. Students commented on the efficiency of the process. The settings are precise for the depth of the soil and measured spacing between plants.
We discussed the irrigation methods and how drip tape is the most efficient use for these tomatoes. We walked to the field next store where the tomatoes were a bit older. You could smell the freshness of the tomato plants. We talked about varieties of tomatoes. The field we were standing in and learning about were Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are bred to have thicker skin for shipping. They are known as “canning tomatoes” but because of their great taste, they began marketing them as Roma tomatoes. We talked about harvesting as well and how critical the handling can be for tomatoes.
We walked over to the neighboring safflower field. Students were able to pick a sample and feel the prickly outer shell. Inside is the yellow flower that we eventually see blooming as we are driving. To battle pests, they use a sweep net attached to a vacuum. This vacuum pulls the pests off the plant and they are able to study and treat based upon their findings. It was a very creative and resourceful tool!
As with any farming operation, irrigation and water management is key. Boswell’s resourceful water management practices are critical given the regulations that are being placed on farming operations in California. We toured the pump area and taught us about the construction of the different pumps and the technology involved to manage it. Joey Mendonca and Max Bricker – Water Dept. Project Manager gave a historical and current view on Kern County water. JG Boswell has its own water department that helps them to understand and implement these complicated regulations.
We arrived at the shop where Assistant Shop Manager, Aaron Flores and his team BBQ’d an amazing spread for us. During lunch, Human Resources Coordinator, Christina Martinez talked to students and staff about application processes and the pitfalls associated with social media.
After lunch, it was time to tour the equipment! We were able to explore the heavy equipment including the astounding Cotton Harvester! Students were asked about the size and cost guestimates of some of the equipment. They were shocked at the expense! Students loved seeing all of the technology built into the tractors too. There is another piece of equipment that pumps the water from one canal into another. It is a huge piece of equipment that is amazingly run by only two workers!
Our last stop was to the onion fields. Slavo Pavlovic, an Agronomist at Boswell, taught the students about planting, irrigating and harvesting of onions. It was a very informative day networking with the staff at JG Boswell!