Back in time: The lessons of the Dust Bowl

NRCS Plant Material Center
FARMS Leadership | San Joaquin | December 10th, 2019

Location: Lockeford, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Margaret Smither-Kopperl, Lockeford Plant Materials Center Manager, Plant Materials Program
Matthew Bronson, Plant Materials Center, Farm Manager

Theme: Ecology and Habitat Conservation

NRCS Plant Materials Center (PMC) is a CLBL long-time partner and a favorite field day for FARMS Leadership students. PMC is a network of 25 Plant Materials Centers and Plant Materials Specialists strategically located throughout the U.S. They select plants and develop plant technology for the successful conservation of the nation’s natural resources. In addition, PMC provides information to field office staff, private landowners, tribes and partners who need assistance in addressing critical land management problems.

Plant experts Margaret Smither-Kopperl and Matthew Bronson led students through the historical evolution of NRCS dating back to the 1930’s dust bowl where soil erosion, air and water pollution became and continue to be issues farmers face today. Margaret conveys, “we help farmers help the land”.  The designated property is near Lockeford along the Mokelumne River. Students experienced an extensive walking tour through cover crop seed plots, and took cuttings from native plants and shrubs, elderberry and grapes along in the riparian habitat as well as from the flannel tree in established hedge rows. The osage orange and milk weed seed pod discovery was certainly a highlight on the tour.

After lunch, students transplanted the cuttings and placed in the greenhouse. The day concluded with facilities tour of the seed cleaning, the impressive collection of tractors and equipment.

Flowers, Shrubs & Veggies, Oh My!

Program: FARMS Leadership Program

Central Valley North

Tuesday, February 27, 2019

Belmont Nursery, Fresno CA

Jon Reelhorn & Danielle Handler

The students started the day in the retail location with Leadership introduction activities.  Following the Leadership activities, we toured the propagation sight where we took a small tour, learn about heating beds and the way they manipulate the plants to grow.  Students tried their hand at running the planting machine by planting and labeling some said: “it’s not as easy as it looks”. Next, at the Henderson location students were able to work at a different planting machine and learned to graft on a piece of scion wood.  After lunch at the first retail location, students walked around to see what was available for retail purchase. Students asked a lot of great questions. Then the students worked on inventorying the retail location. Students had to count and recount all of the plants that they had for sale.  Danielle explained that staff members keep count every week on what has been sold and what needs to be reordered. Students said it was a tedious job but appreciated so many different types of plants.