A new kind of SLEWS Field Day

Patchwork Farms/Capay Valley Lavender
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 3, 2020

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Sherri Wood – Patchwork Farms/Capay Valley Lavender
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Bryn Levitan
Jen Metes
Joel Jorgensen
Anna Tolle
Joshua McCabe
Corey Shake
Gina M Radieve
Randy Wittorp
Beth DelReal

Summary of the Day
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, it seemed SLEWS had lucked out – with only 3 field days left, we had completed the majority of the 2019-2020 season. We had no idea, however, for just how long COVID-19 would impact our lives. Schools began the 2020-21 school year distance learning with no end in sight, so we had to figure out a new way to implement the SLEWS Program.

We’ve had a few former SLEWS mentors create videos to share with SLEWS classrooms (check them out here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLipS9UPaDvdYj5GapCpy0XM1a55b5Dndk), but it seemed highly unlikely that students would be able to attend field days in-person anytime soon. Even though our field days are entirely outdoors, transportation from their school/home to the project site was impossible to pull off while adhering to state guidelines.

A new plan emerged: we will host community volunteer field days to keep our planned restoration projects moving forward until students are able to participate in person. We hosted our first field day on December 3, 2020, at Patchwork Farms, an organic lavender farm, in Capay.

A volunteer crew with Putah Creek Council had planted the first half of the native plant hedgerow, so our SLEWS volunteers’ goal was to finish the planting portion and install irrigation. Nine volunteers worked hard to first lay out an irrigation line and install emitters, and then put in 170 plants, affixing a protective tube around each with a bamboo stake. This was easier said than done – the ground was rock-hard and had to be loosed up with a pickaxe in order to dig an adequate hole! These plants are part of a pollinator kit from the Xerces Society, and aim to support the declining Western Monarch population, along with other native pollinators. Throughout the morning, teacher Jerry Delsol from Woodland High School walked around, giving his students at home in their “virtual classroom” a feel for the Field Day, interviewing mentors and explaining the project details. It was fun to finally interact with high school students after so many months! After a long morning of hard work, volunteers enjoyed a burrito lunch (classic SLEWS!) before heading home for the day. Next at this site will be mulching around the hedgerow!

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