A Berry Good Day

FARMS Leadership| Tehama County | May 16, 2019

Location of Field Day
Red Bluff, CA

Field Day Host
Melissa Macfarlane
Shannon Lambert
Chris Hunter

Participating Schools
Red Bluff High School
Mercy High School
Los Molinos High School
Corning High School

Theme
Technology

Summary of the Day:
To wrap up the Tehama County FARMS Leadership year, we were treated to a “berry good day” at Driscoll’s. Students arrived eager to pick and eat strawberries straight from the field. Little did they know that at the Red Bluff Driscoll’s nursery location, it is just that….a nursery. Their focus is growing the plants that will then get shipped to growers all over the world, who then plant them in fields to grow berries for our eating. However, in true Driscoll’s fashion, breakfast consisted of platters of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries with yogurt and granola to enjoy the best parfait’s they ever have had.

Melissa Macfarlane welcomed us with a great presentation about Driscoll’s as a company and explained just what they did at their nursery and why it is so important. Students learned the difference between a “sibling” and a “clone” as well as why it was necessary for the farmers to be planting clones and not siblings. She then turned it over to Chris, who gave a presentation on “mapping” and the technology that is associated with it. He went over: What is a map? The difference between a geographical map and position map and then introduced the students to what our hands on tasks would be for the day once we broke up into 3 groups.

Each group explored a different job that takes place at the nursery. One group went out into the field and learned what goes into planning how many plants a farmer is going to need and just how to go about planting and multiplying those plants on the nursery level. Another group spent their time in “the office” learning all that goes into mapping from the computer level and the importance of data collection in the field being entered into their system correctly. They also had the opportunity to identify a problem, and learn the procedure for correcting the problem and communicating with other staff the changes that were made and corrections that needed to take place out in the nursery. The last group went out to one of the screen-houses and did a map check validation. They were shown how the plants are planted into bins and then maintained to allow for optimal growth of daughter plants. Then they were given a map which they needed to review and check that the information printed was actually what was physically in the screen-house. They did such an excellent job and found 4 corrections that needed to be made.

Once we all gathered again, the groups took time to prepare a power point presentation to share with their fellow FARMS members what they learned and why it was important. This entire field day was fabulous at showing the importance of technology and how high tech farming is. Each student was encouraged to continue to expand their computer skills and knowledge throughout their education because agriculture as an industry is very progressive and continues to grow with our times.

Mechanized Ag with JG Boswell

FARMS Program | Kern County | May 6, 2019

Participating Schools
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.

Transplanting in Action

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.

Characteristics of Roma 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!

Studying Safflower

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.

Touring the Pump Station

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!

Seeds by Design at Emerald Farms

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: May 1, 2019

Location of Field Day: Maxwell, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Leon Etchepare
Patty Buskirk
Andrew Pentecost

Theme: Seed Production

Summary of the Day:

For our final field day of the 2018-2019 school year the North State FARMS Leadership Program visited Emerald Farms. We began our day with an introduction from Leon, Andrew and Patty. They also served the students some breakfast snacks, which included a sampling of one of their new products, Maple Walnut Butter. One of the new entities of Emerald Farms is their walnut butter production line named Wellnut Farms.

After our introductions we headed down the road to the first set of crops we visited for the day. Patty took over and explained her duties as a plant breeder and the science used behind the decisions she makes to produce the best seeds for her clients and customers. The first crop we looked at was a crop of Purple carrots. Unlike many farms, Patty’s goal with her crops is to market the produce but instead to create the best seeds. This enterprise much like Wellnut Farms is also a part of Emerald Farms but is named Seeds by Design. Next we toured a variety of different crops and then Patty, Leon, and Andrew passed around jars of seeds for each of the crops we looked at so the students could see all stages of the crops and the differences between them.

Next we toured Emerald Farms Almond and Walnut Orchards. The students learn some of the different practices used within the production each of the orchards. We then were given a tour of the processing facilities. We walked through the huller and dryer and then headed to the warehouse where the new Wellnut Farms walnut butter line is being constructed. We then concluded our tour at the seed mill. We were able to see a variety of different seeds being cleaned, packaged, sorted and stored. Thank you to all of the staff at Emerald Farms for a great final field day of the program year.

Cleaning Up The Trash At Cal Waste!

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: April 11, 2019

Location of Field Day: Galt, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Mary Beth Ospital – Cal Waste Community Outreach Coordinator

Theme: Sustainable Management Practices

Summary of the Day:

Our final field day of the 2018-2019 program year with the SJ FARMS Leadership Program was a little different this year. We visited and toured Cal Waste and Galt, CA. The FARMS students learned about sustainable management practices and how to be more effective and efficient in their recycling habits.

We began our day in the Outreach and Education room at Cal Waste. We were welcomed by Mary Beth who gave us an introduction to the company and an overview about what Cal Waste is all about. Cal waste is a family owned business and is the largest, locally-owned waste collection and material recovery operation in the region, providing residential, commercial and industrial services to areas throughout Sacramento, Calaveras, Alpine and San Joaquin Counties. On the far side of the room was a large window that over looked the MRF, which is a materials recovery facility. This is where all of the recycling and garbage is brought in, processed, and sorted by material type.

Mary Beth then took us on a tour of the facilities. We were able to check out the different types of vehicles up close. We also toured the mechanic shop where the trucks are worked on and maintained. Then we checked out the MRF from the ground floor. After we finished our toured we headed back to the Outreach and Education room. Cal Waste hosted us for lunch and the students presented their Community Action Projects. These are the projects the students worked on within their school groups to better their community and teach others about what they have been learning about this year in FARMS. After the students were done with lunch and their presentations we played Cal Waste’s versions of jeopardy and bingo to conclude our day!

Student Quotes:

“Today I learned the 3 R’s; reuse, reduce, and recycle!” – Melina, from Health Careers Academy

“I learned that you can’t recycle pizza boxes and other products contaminated with food waste.” – Oduwa, from Langston Hughes Academy

“I learned that when we recycle products that are not recyclable it becomes someone else’s job to sort the garbage out.” – Leslie, from Health Careers Academy


Wetlands, Waterways & Watersheds

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | April 11, 2019

Participating Schools:

  • Gonzales High School
  • North Salinas High School
  • Soledad High School
  • Watsonville High School

Location(s):
Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Rd, Castroville, Ca 95012

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Dave Feliz – California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Virginia Guhin – California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Ariel Hunter – California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Summary of the Day:
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarian Research Reserve or Elkhorn Slough Reserve for short is located halfway between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey. The middle ground between 2 counties and our FARMS Leadership Program which spans both Santa Cruz County and Monterey County. The Reserve itself is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The day started with a quick breakfast, housekeeping, and an ice breaker. Virginia Guhin, the education programs coordinator started the discussion off by asking students about their career interests to warm them up and start the conversation. From there she shared more about the Elkhorn Slough Estuary Reserve and her role as the education coordinator. She then introduced Dave Feliz who delivered a speech connecting everything Virginia shared about the Reserve to the land and ultimately agriculture. He spoke about different ways of using agriculture fields for both profit and conservation like how rice farmers can support water foul populations. In the end, we all need to work together to preserve land, water, species, and food systems.

The inspiring talk was a perfect lead in to the two activities. Students were split into two groups. One took a hike to the boardwalk to see the slough and the other group did a fun hands-on activity with Ariel Hunter called Watershed Masters. The word watershed is not a word that is taught in schools so it was not a surprise when students had no idea what a watershed was. I must admit that I personally hadn’t heard that word until my 20’s so I was happy that students would have the opportunity to learn about watersheds way before I did. The groups did a quick switch and once everyone had a chance to hike and participate in a hands-on activity we ate lunch and departed for Moon Glow Dairy.

Moon Glow Dairy was once a dairy and is now known as the Hester Marsh Restoration Site. This site is a new experimental idea to restore the marshlands and plant native plants that create habitats for different wildlife and organisms. It is an exciting and innovative restoration project to witness in the beginning stages. Elkhorn Slough has restored the site by strategically placing dirt in the area that was engineered to mimic a natural occurring marshland that once was there before the dairy. Students helped with the conservation efforts by weeding out some of the invasive species that are not welcome. Students asked questions about the different plants they saw and before you know it was time to clean up and head back to the vehicles.

“Do You Pronounce it “Am” mond or “All” mond?”

Chamisal Creek Field Day

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: April 9, 2019

Location of Field Day: Arbuckle, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Mike and Amy Doherty – Owner’s and Operator’s of Chamisal Creek

Theme: Sustainable Management Practices

Summary of the Day:

We began our field day at Chamisal Creek with an introduction by Mike Doherty, the owner of the farm. We then walked out into a newly planted almond orchard to learn about their production practices and the industry needs from almond farmers. This led to a discussion about water usage and needs and Mike shared his philosophy on ground water recharge and what Chamisal Creek is doing to preserve and lessen their water usage. We then traveled across the road to see where the man made water reservoir that Mike built was located and the run off from his orchard is collected. We then finished up this portion of the day looking at their mature almond orchard. We discussed the different variations in which orchards can be planted and the different practices used for orchard irrigation. At Chamisal Creek they use a drip system.

We then did a quick driving tour of part of their property and made our next stop at the Chamisal Creek vineyards. Here we learned a little about viticulture and how Chamisal Creek emerged into the viticulture and wine industry. Next we headed down to Mike’s shop where the student’s were able to learn about and get hands on with some of the equipment used at the ranch. We also walked around their solar panels and learned about the solar operations as well.

After visiting the shop and checking out the different types of equipment we took a break for lunch. Amy Doherty, Mike’s wife prepared a buffet style lunch while grilling burgers for all the students as well as some of their employees who joined us as well. Once we finished lunch we discussed a little bit about rangeland management as we headed to our last stop of the day. They students planted acorns into pots to be transplanted next year. After that we headed up to the top of the property where students planted oak saplings along the edge of the road.

Forestry and Wildlife in Agriculture

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley Central

Field Date:  Monday, April 8, 2019

Location of Field Day: Reedley College

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Kent Kinney

Theme: Forestry and Wildlife Program

On Monday, April 8, 2019, Patino and Sunnyside High School students joined at Reedley College for the last field day of the 2019 FARMS Leadership Program.  A student volunteer introduced Mr. Kent Kinney, the Forestry Professor at Reedley College. We then joined a Fish and Wildlife Biology Lab Class in fishing for count in the colleges pond.  After this exercise, students joined the mule packing team in the barns. Each group of 4 students watched the Mule Packing demonstration before demonstrating it themselves. The students were taught how to properly pack the mule for overnight adventures and in case of undesirable weather to keep their supplies dry for the trip.  Finally, our day ended with a guided River Walk on the Kings River with students from the Forestry Lab class. Students have to know all of the type of trees and shrubs seen out on the walk and taught our students and then quizzing them. What an amazing day at a college that is practically in our own backyard.

Colleges and Careers in Agriculture

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Region: Central Valley North

Field Date:  Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Location of Field Day: Fresno State

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:  Dr. Susan Pheasant, Director, Institute for Food and Agriculture

Theme: Food Science, Leadership and the WET Center

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, students from Kerman High School, Madera South High School and Madera Liberty High School met on the Fresno State Campus for the last Field Day of the 2019 Farms Program Year.  As always a student volunteer introduced, Dr. Susan Pheasant, she is the Director of the Institute for Food and Agriculture at Fresno State. She welcomed our students and the program and says we are welcome at any time.  Our first session of the day took place at the Food Science building. Students participated in 3, 20-minute rotations studying dietetics, culinology and the overview of the food science program. Our second session we met back at the meeting room with Dr. Avery Culbertson where she presented to students about a leadership workshop and studying the personalities of different individuals. Dr. Avery was very pleased that our students were trained in introducing and thanking each speaker. She said, “Not a lot of adults can do this and for you, as high school students to be comfortable in doing that type of thing, shows how well trained you are”.  After lunch, the students walked over to the WET Lab at Fresno State to see different tests they were performing.

Wonderful Time At Halos


FARMS Program | Kern County |April 2, 2019

Participating Schools
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

Students had a great opportunity to see the Halo process from field to packing box. We started at the McFarland Halo Ranch learning about Safety, Ranch Management, and Pest Control. Then, we traveled to Delano to the packing facility and the iconic picture in front of the “Blue Box”.

We divided into two groups where students could have more interactions with the Wonderful Staff. Students were trained on the warning symbols used on signage and labels to communicate risk.

Signage for Risk – Give an example!

Then we were able to see and understand the process of the spray rig management in regards to safety and staff logistics with night spraying with Johnny Magana, Spray Manager, and Larry Minor, Shop Supervisor.

Next, we walked to their shop where learning to put things back where they belong isn’t just a chore at home, but a life skill. It is critical to keeping the workplace safe and it also helps the bottom line as inventory is always up to date. Manager of Technical Operations, James Lundgren, shared his career journey with the students. He is a wealth of knowledge and loves what he does!

Students were very interested in the number of careers and opportunities Wonderful provides for their employees. Truly is a Wonderful place to work! The employees there love their jobs and have great pride in the company. This is evident as they talk and students could see their passion for coming to work each day.

We then switched places with the other group. We had Jesse Castanon – Farming Manager and James Lundergan – Pest Control Advisor on board. They shared their heart for the company which was equally magnetic. We stopped the bus and unloaded to the beautiful aroma of citrus blossoms. In the citrus orchard, students learned about the purpose of netting the trees to affect seedless citrus. They also were led to look at clues, clues that would tell you what type of pest us attempting to take up residence.

We all loaded back into the bus to gather as a group for lunch on our way to the “Big Blue Box”, the packing facility. This highly visible box can be seen from Hwy 99 and it is a coveted photo for most Ag students.

The Big Blue Box

Once we unloaded from the bus in Delano, we walked through their main offices to get to the packing plant. Even their offices smell like oranges! We were led on a fantastic tour of their 11 football field sized plant. It was huge! Photos are not allowed inside the plant however the sizing belts were breathtakingly large! This photo is from their website:

How do we get all the same size Halos?

The staff was welcoming and generous! The citrus was tasty and so interesting to learn about. The smell was amazing! It was a great day! Thank you, Wonderful Company, for a great day!

Food Waste and Urban Gardens

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | March 28, 2019

Participating Schools:

  • Gonzales High School
  • North Salinas High School
  • Soledad High School
  • Watsonville High School

Location(s):

  • Johnson Canyon Landfill, 31400 Johnson Canyon Rd, Gonzales, CA
  • Sun Street Transfer Station, 139 Sun St, Salinas, CA
  • Rescate Verde, 669 East Market St. Salinas, Ca

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Patrick Mathews – Salinas Valley Recycles
  • Estela Gutierrez – Salinas Valley Recycles
  • Nicolas Chavez – Rescate Verde Community Garden

Summary of the Day:

Food Waste is not something that is talked about regularly in Agriculture, but the different types of wastes produced by the Ag industry will have to go someplace. Salinas Valley Recycles (SVR) knows just where to put it. At first thought, you may think everything goes to the landfill to be buried forever but many students in FARMS Leadership were surprised to learn that it doesn’t all go in the ground. SVR gave us a tour of the Johnson Canyon Landfill as we talked with Patrick Mathews about the different kinds of waste he sees from the Agricultural industry. Anything from plastics to food waste to food trapped in plastic; Patrick and his team try to find different ways to minimize what they put into the ground. Students saw an innovative machine called a De-Packer that takes foods that are still in their packaging, like canned foods or bagged salad greens, and separates the food waste from the container. The food waste is then composted and turned into nutrient-rich fertilizer.

After the landfill, we all headed to Salinas to learn more about composting and some of the ways consumers can turn their kitchen scraps into plant food. A quick tour of Sun Street Transfer Station ended in a garden where students learned about small scale backyard composting with worms, also known as vermicomposting. Estella took some time to encourage students to begin to think about the waste they create and how they can reuse items, reduce their consumption and teach others. Estela regularly teaches others to compost in El Jardin El Sol learning garden located at the SVR Offices and at many other gardens throughout the county.

Another way to reduce waste is to grow your own food and community gardens can provide support to those interested in doing so. Nicolas Chavez spoke to students about his community garden and how it got started and why. Students were able to cut fresh greens and herbs to take home and they tasted the many flavors in the garden all without any packaging or single-use plastic.