Native Love at Vino Farms

Students & partners celebrate a successful day

FARMS Leadership | San Joaquin | October 22, 2021

Location of Field Day:
Lodi, CA

Field Day Host:
Vino Farms – Chris Storm & Viticulture Team

Sustainable Viticulture & Native Conservation

Our San Joaquin FARMS Leadership crew ventured out to Vino Farms for a day of sustainable viticulture and native conservation efforts. With a rather soggy start to the day, students embraced the rain whole-heartedly during an introduction to Vino Farms from Viticulturist Chris Storm and his team. We then ventured down to one of Vino’s biodynamic sustainable growing blocks seated right next to a 28 acre habitat restoration site (installed by a group of high school students in CLBL’s SLEWS Program 12 years ago!). With healthy breakfast burritos in hand, students first spent time on some self-reflection and community connections, creatively answering the questions ‘Where do you come from?, Where are you now?, and Where are you going?’ through collage art.

As the sun finally began to grace us with its presence, we dove into a day of native conservation efforts. Though Chris Storm gave the crew some wonderful background on the current plight of the Monarch Butterfly, our LHA students were no strangers to this wide-spread issue. After discussing how dwindling milkweed populations are contributing to the decline of the Monarch, students, partners and teachers traversed Vino’s habitat restoration site spreading 2 pounds of milkweed seed in the hopes to help re-establish the local Monarch population (shout out to Xerces Society and NRCS Plant Materials Center for donating the milkweed seed!).

After giving some love to the butterflies, we shifted our focus to native bee populations. Chris led us in a discussion of the importance of all native bees for their crucial pollination efforts. Our students were well aware that pollinators are essential for ⅓ of the world’s crop production. So in order to boost native bee populations, students spent some time building bee blocks from scratch. Let me tell you, they were power drill masters! After lunch down by the creek with watermelon grown by Center for Land-Based Learning Incubator Farmers, students and partners set to work installing the bee blocks on trees throughout the restoration site.

Our final activity of the day was a smelly surprise for us all: owl pellets collected from Vino Farms’ many owl boxes. Students were enthralled to find entire mouse skulls buried within the pellets!

We finished out our day with a closing circle during which everyone reflected on their favorite parts of the day: some students marveled at the sustainability efforts Vino takes (a massive solar installation, free-ranging sheep acting as lawnmowers, managing pests by introducing native insects, and precise drip irrigation systems) while other students loved drawing the connections between their observations at Vino and the environmental systems they’ve learned about in their Environmental Science class. Everyone left counting down the days to our next field day!

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