A Handful of Almonds…

(MADERA, CA) On Wednesday, September 26th, Students from the Central Valley North FARMS Leadership Program stepped out of the classroom to learn about the steps to harvesting almonds at Creekside Farming Company Inc. and learning about The Almond Company’s business.  Meeting for the first time were 30 sophomore and juniors students from Clovis East High School, Kerman High School, Liberty High School, and Madera South High Schools.

FARMS stands for Farming, Agriculture and Resource Management for Sustainability, which is a premier Leadership Program run by the Center for Land-Based Learning.  This statewide youth program connects high school students to California’s food system and teaches them leadership skills through a year of field days on farms, ranches and agribusinesses.  They get to explore college and career opportunities in agriculture, food and environmental science while helping them develop critical thinking skills through hands-on experiences. “It is so important for students to learn about the agriculture that surrounds them.”, said Katie Wortman, the FARMS Leadership Coordinator for the Central Valley.

The Madera County Farm Bureau provided the meeting space for the Leadership portion of the Field Day.  The day started out with the designation of leadership teams and students practicing the proper handshake.  Students got to know each other by interviewing each other and introduced each other as a preparation for introducing our individual speakers.  Each predetermined student interviewed each speaker of the day and introduced them to the group as a whole. Next, the group traveled to The Almond Company and were welcomed by Anthony Sagariballa, Director of Plant Operations and Jerry Magdaleno, Grower Relations.

Our students were treated to a company presentation, almond tasting, facility tour, and lunch. Finally, we ended our day with Creekside Farming. Jay Mahil, Owner and Eli Gallegos, Ranch Manager met us for an in-depth tour of harvesting Almonds. Students were able to watch how Almond trees are harvested including the shaking, sweeping and picking up of Almonds.  Almonds were then transferred to the truck and delivered to the processor. Our FARMS students did an excellent job asking questions and being engaged in the day.