ALBA – Agriculture Land-Based Training Association

Class Photo

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | October 11, 2018

Participating Schools:
Everett Alverez High School
Gonzales High School
Soledad High School
Watsonville High School

Location(s) of Field Day:
ALBA Campus 1700 Old Stage Road, Salinas Ca

Field Day Hosts and Mentors:
Nathan Harkleroad, ALBA Education Program Director
Patty Howe, ALBA Administrative Director
Samantha Tuttle, ALBA Student Intern
Juana Hernandez, ALBA Administrative Assistant
Leo Sanchez and Rebecca Hernandez, Lazy Millennial Farms, Owners
Rudy Jimenez, Green Thumb Organics, Owner
Victor Cortez, La Granjita Farms, Owner

Summary of the Day:

Our Monterey and Santa Cruz FARMS Leadership Program kicked off their first field day with a visit to the ALBA, Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, Campus. After breakfast, we had an icebreaker activity – a name game allowing students to get to know each other and to help us all remember names. The students collected program goodies and supplies. Then, we had an open discussion about the organic industry. We talked about what we knew about organic produce and production. We also explored the areas we had questions about and made a note to ask them along the way.

Here are some of the questions students had:

“How much is [farm] land and why is it so expensive?” – Randy Huynh, NSH

“What are the downsides [with organics]?” – Hailey Higgins, SHS

“Why is organic food more expensive?” – Sonia Vargas, GHS

“What’s the process to becoming an organic farmer?” – WHS

In our discussion, we also talked about how ALBA was a non-profit organization with a mission.

ALBA’s mission is to create economic opportunity for limited-resource and aspiring organic farmers through land-based education in the heart of the Salinas Valley. 

One of the questions I had for students is how do nonprofits work and what are some of the career opportunities with in a non-profit organization like ALBA?

With bellies full and questions fresh in their minds students spent the rest of the day meeting ALBA staff and hearing about their different professional journeys. Staff explained their roles at ALBA and how it supports the training and education programs and ultimately the mission.

Nathan Harkleroad, the Education Program Director shared more information about what a nonprofit does and the programs available at ALBA. Patty Howe, Sammi Tuttle, and Karina Hernandez all shared their personal journeys and provided an activity for students that reflected the work they perform daily.

After lunch students split into groups and spent time with small farmers who were leasing land through the Organic Farm Incubator Program at ALBA. In the field, students tasted produce and learned about the cost of farming organically and challenges farmers deal with daily in order to maintain their businesses.

Rebecca Hernandez and Leo Sanchez at Lazy Millennial Farms talked about being young, first-generation farmers and why they grow their vegetables and flowers in a production manner that is vegan, without any animal bi-product. Victor Cortez at La Granjita Farms allowed students to taste the Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber right off the vine while sharing valuable insight about how small farmers choose specialty crops like the Mexican Cucumber, in order to market themselves effectively in such a competitive industry. Rudy Jimenez at Green Thumb Organics shared his journey from a young entrepreneur selling unhealthy foods with a vending machine business to a self aware healthy lifestyle advocate providing CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes to families in the Salinas Valley.

At the end of the field day, we closed with a group discussion about what students learned at ALBA.

Nicole Garcia from North Salinas High “ I learned that they do use things to kill the bugs like chemicals but they are not synthetic.”

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