Family Farming in the Salinas Valley

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | October 10, 2019

Participating Schools:

  • Gonzales High School
  • Soquel High School

Location(s):
Pura Ranch, 28531 Corda Rd. Gonzales, Ca 93926
Pisoni Family’s Estate Vineyard 34361 Paraiso Spring Rd. Soledad, Ca 93960

Field Day Host(s) and Mentor(s): Pisoni Family Vineyards

  • Mark Pisoni – Owner, Farmer and Vineyard Manager
  • Jazmin Lopez – Compliance Manager of Special Projects
  • Elias Gandara – Vineyard Manager
  • Jesus Camacho – Ranch Manager

Summary of the Day:
It is the start of a new FARMS Leadership program and for our first field day, we will be with Pisoni Family Vineyards. FARMS Leadership is the first-year program for students and our focus is on career exploration in ag and resource management. Once the students arrived at Pura Ranch, ate a quick breakfast we immediately did some introductions. This is the first time students are all in the same space together. An icebreaker name game gets us out of our seats and warmed up. Students were ready for the day.

Jazmin Lopez would be our guide throughout our day and introduce students to a multitude of careers, beginning with her own. Students learned about Jazmin’s personal pathway and how and why she started at a liberal arts college, worked for the CA Strawberry Commission, became a Master Gardener and now works for Pisoni Vineyards as the Compliance Manager of Special Projects. We would see some of those special projects later in the day.

The Pisoni Family has a beautiful vegetable farm of 500 acres in Gonzales, California. Students had some hands-on experience taking soil samples and harvesting cauliflower from the fields. That cauliflower would later be our lunch.

With about a dozen heads of cauliflower, we got into our vehicles and made our way further South to Pisoni Family Vineyards the Family’s Estate Vineyard in Soledad, California. The views from the vineyard overlooked the Salinas Valley and they were spectacular. This is where we met Mark Pisoni, the owner, farmer, and vineyard manager. Mark spoke about his personal pathway into his career and gave students some very good advice throughout the day. Mark gave us a tour of the vineyard and shared his knowledge about the land and the business of growing grapes. Students were very engaged while they tasted chardonnay grapes and listened to Mark talk about how the grapevines grow and are maintained. The tour ended with a walk through the insectary (one of Jazmin’s special projects) and of course some lunch.

It was over lunch when Mark introduced Elias Gandara as one of his best employees and trusted friend. Mark stressed the importance of learning Spanish and really being serious about it and immerse yourself in the culture if you can. Communication is such an important part of being a great leader. The final piece of advice Mark Pisoni left students with was a lesson on networking. Everyone received a card from Mark after lunch with his contact information and he encouraged them all to send him an email introducing themselves and following up on the professional connection. Mark shared a trade secret with students that can be just as valuable as going to college and that is, sometimes it’s who you know in agriculture and the relationships you maintain.

Following lunch, students had a chance to learn about bees and apiary management, just another special project by Jazmin Lopez. This was a first time experience for the students and for the coordinator. The sound of the bees flying around your head is loud and filled with energy as wings buzz to and fro. The best part was learning about Jazmin’s experience keeping bees and of course we enjoyed tasting honey fresh from the hive!

Thank you Pisoni Vineyards for such a wonderful FARMS Leadership Field Day!

‘Till the cows come home

FARMS Leadership| Tehama County | March 19, 2019

Location of Field Day
Gerber, CA

Field Day Host
Bryce Borror 
Linda Borror
Bill Borror

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

Theme
Modern Farming and Sustainability

Summary of the Day:

The morning began with perfect weather! The students were very excited for the experience at hand. They watched with much anticipation and wide eyes while the cowboys finished bringing in the first group pairs. Linda Borror was preparing the table with vaccines, tattoo equipment, a drench gun for worming as well as her binder full of records on each cow and calf.

Once the cows were sorted from calves, we huddled around Linda and Bryce to hear a brief history of Tehama Angus as well as what our jobs were going to be and why this was so important. Tehama Angus raises registered Angus cattle and focuses on providing quality seedstock (bulls) that excel in maternal quality to cattlemen across the county. Bryce explained to the students the importance of herd health and the investment they needed to make into their stock to result in the highest quality product to their consumer. So today the students were going to join the crew and help by vaccinating, worming, tattooing, weighing, and recording all this data on a group of about 75 calves that were about to be weaned from their mommas.

As things started rolling, the students really got into a grove and The Borror Family truly let the kids dive in and become part of the crew. They all took turns at each task and learned how to rotate as well as work together to make things run smoothly and efficiently. It was more than just learning how to worm, vaccinate, tattoo, and record, it was learning the skills of seeing a hole and filling it, picking up the slack if someone was falling behind, helping others, teamwork. Once we had finished processing the last calf, and then run the cows through to get weights and measurements on them, we braked for lunch and enjoyed a wonderful taco bar that Mrs Linda Borror had prepared!

After lunch, Bryce Borror took us for a tour on the hay wagon of the entire ranch. He explained to the students how important it is in current times especially to be very divers in your farming. Tehama Angus not only raises registered angus cattle, they also farm hay, grow almonds and walnuts, and are sustainable by having solar power that generates much of their electricity. Students asked many great questions as we watched Mr Bill Borror fertilize an irrigated pasture that is used to grow hay, then pasture cattle on as well as when we ended in their feed shed and saw the grinder/mixer that they mix their own feed rations in and were explained the importance of a balanced ration when raising quality seedstock.

Over this year these students have grown so much and today they shined! Tehama Angus was very impressed with the students which says a lot and we greatly appreciate the time and opportunity they gave to us today. Thank you Tehama Angus, we greatly appreciate your parntership!

Full Belly Farm, Certified Organic since 1985!

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: February 5th, 2019

Location of Field Day: Guinda, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Haley Friel – Director of Outreach and Education at Full Belly Farm

Theme: Sustainability and Organic Farming Practices

Summary of the Day:

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to be spent at Fully Belly Farm’s in Guinda, CA. The North State FARMS Leadership Program was welcomed by Haley Friel, the director of Outreach and Education at Fully Belly Farm. We then took a tour of the 400-acre farm and learned about the different crops grown and the practices in which they use to keep the farm organic and sustainable. Full Belly Farm is planting, growing and harvesting over 80 crops year around keeping them very busy. The students were able to see the pigs raised at at Full Belly Farm and see where the produce is washed and prepped for sale. They even were able to sample so freshly picked produce including oranges, carrots and several other crops some of which we brought back to add to our salads at lunch.

After lunch we went over to the barn where the sheep are currently being housed during lambing season. The North State FARMS students were excited to see lambs that were a few days old as well as some that were just hours old. One ewe even started to go into labor while we were there visiting. Once we left the sheep barn we gathered some baskets and headed over to the mobile chicken coops. We concluded our day collecting baskets full of organic chicken eggs which are currently being sold for $9.00 a dozen.