The land calls yee-haw!

Mar Vista High’s Poseidon Academy at the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden

SLEWS Program | San Diego County | May 11, 2019 | Field day 3

Participating School: Mar Vista High School

Location: Tijuana River Valley Community Garden in Southwest San Diego

Land Manager: Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County

Mentors:

  • Samantha Cook, San Diego State graduate in Sustainability
  • Christine Lambert, Associate Archaeologist & Project Manager, Petra Resource Management
  • Emanuel Storey, San Diego State doctoral student in Geography
  • Thomas Strand, Environmental Planner, Chambers Group, Inc.

Summary of the day

Mar Vista students and their teacher arrived for our third and final SLEWS field day on a drizzly Saturday morning. Despite the light rain, everyone seemed ready for a day spent outdoors and not a single complaint was heard!

As usual, the day started with an icebreaker activity. This time, we divided the group in two for a friendly game of ‘flip the tarp’. Students had to stay on the tarp, working as a group to figure out how to flip it over without stepping off. This definitely got everyone moving and thinking!

The field work of the day was centered on planting. We returned to the hedgerow first to survey the plants and bee nesting blocks installed last time, then divided into mentor groups for our legacy project. Each group planted a pomegranate seedling into the hedgerow, made a gopher cage to protect it, and designed a plant marker for their tree. Some groups even named their tree! We hope students will come back over the years to visit the pomegranates and watch them grow. While planting, we observed many insects – most notably a wolf spider mother with her babies riding on her back. This was a first time sighting for most of us, and a really fun and interesting discovery.

Next, we moved to the Carbon Farming Demonstration plot which the students learned about during their first field day. Each group planted a bed of either broccoli, leeks, bok choy, or red cabbage and leaned about growing from starts. This led us up to lunch. As students filed out of the plot, they were invited to pick snap peas to taste. Some commented they had never picked and eaten fresh vegetables before. They seemed to really enjoy the experience!

We gathered for our lunch of sandwiches from Jersey Mike’s (on the request of the students), and chatted while we ate. After lunch, we headed back to the hedgerow for a plant ID activity and to further investigate the differences between the plants growing there. Then it was back to the carbon farming plot to sow some sunflower seeds, with the intention of attracting beneficial insects to the plot.

Last field day we ran out of time for reflection and wanted to be sure we included ample time for this element. Students gathered back into their mentor groups and worked on haikus about their SLEWS experience. They were encouraged to both write haikus on their own and with their group. Students and mentors volunteered to share their haikus at the end. It was fun hearing what everyone came up with. Here is one example: The clouds were sad today | Promise looked beautiful, now | The land calls yee-haw!

After reflection, it was time to wrap up our SLEWS experience with Mar Vista. We held our final closing circle, inviting everyone to say one word about the day or their experience as a whole. Words like fun, amazing, thank you, beautiful, sunshine, and gratitude were used. We certainly are grateful for our inaugural SLEWS program – to Mar Vista for participating and for our mentors for being such excellent role models. We can’t wait until the next time!

Accomplishments:

  • 4 pomegranate seedlings planted, gopher caged, and mulched in the hedgerow
  • Planted 4 beds of veggie starts in the Carbon Farming Demo Plot
  • Planted 2 beds of sunflower seeds in the CF Demo Plot
  • Many awesome haikus written – each student wrote three on average

A Day in the Woods

After a bit of a drive, Tehama FARMS Advanced was greeted with the fresh mountain air on a late spring morning and temperatures that didn’t even warrant a sweatshirt. Sierra Pacific Industries invited our group to attend the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference Inc. “In Woods Forest Harvest Demonstration Day”. This is a day where a group of industry supporters take the time to carve out of the forest a 1-mile trail for groups of students who are led by experts in logging to hike and stop at several stations to see the very impressive logging equipment at work as well as meet and network with a variety of industry professionals.

Once we had been properly fitted with fancy hard hats to ensure everyone was exercising supreme safety, we started off following our leader who was a Wildlife Biologist for Sierra Pacific Industries. As we wandered through the woods we heard from many different local volunteer programs such as The Backcountry Horsemen and Shasta County Search and Rescue and the different ways they work with our logging industry to accomplish different tasks. Not only did we meet volunteer units, we also met Jim Lepage from Lepage Company who’s focus is building and maintaining the logging roads. He spoke with the students about the career opportunities with heavy equipment and why their jobs are so important to the logging companies. Of course safety comes first, so without quality roads the big rig drivers driving heavy loads of logs could not safely get in and out of these deep woods locations, but also how roads that they can safely drive a moderate speed on will increase efficiency and the number of loads one trucker can make with logs in a day. Time = Money.

As we rounded the bend we could hear the loud sound of a saw and smell the fragrance of freshly cut wood. This began our walk into what truly happens in the forest during a harvest. First we learned the different ways there are to fall, or cut down, a tree. We heard from a 30 year wood cutter about the tools and manual labor that goes into cutting a tree by hand which he demonstrated on a HUGE pine tree right in front of us. It was amazing to see his skill, precision, and speed with his chainsaw as well as the ability to make the tree fall exactly where he wanted. He was able to fall and cut into logs roughly 50 trees a day and therefore is used to process the trees who’s trunks are too large in diameter for the heavy equipment that we watched but are able to do closer to 1500-2000 trees in a day. We then followed the process to the landing site that was set up where a harvester was delimbing and cutting trees into “logs” of appropriate length, then a feller-buncher was gathering and loading logs onto a truck to be hauled off the mountain and to a processing plant. It was such an amazing experience to see first hand these GIANT machines at work and meet the men who were behind the controls.

Thank you too all those who took part at the In Woods Demonstration Day and Sierra Pacific Industries for inviting us to take part. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and have a much greater understanding and appreciation for the logging industry as a whole. We hope to be apart of it in the future!