Getting to the Root and Sol of the Neighborhood

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | December 12, 2019

Location of Field Day:
Oak Park Art Garden, corner of 14th and MLK in Sacramento

Field Day Hosts:
Randy Stannard, Executive Director, Oak Park Sol
Francisco Castillo, Union Pacific Railroad
Root 64

Theme of the Day:
Urban Farming

Summary:
Sacramento FARMS Leadership students spent the day at the Oak Park Art Garden in Sacramento. The garden is a 1/3 acre, neighborhood managed community food forest and public art space. Families and residents from Oak Park and surrounding neighborhoods are invited to join us for wide array of interactive art and garden projects that will begin the transformation of this high visibility corner lot in the heart of Oak Park.

FARMS Leadership students laid mulch and learned about the community-supported neighborhood garden. Francisco Castillo of Union Pacific Railroad joined the students in their work and presented a $20,000 check in support of the FARMS Leadership program. The art garden will also become Sacramento’s first publicly accessible Community Food Forest project.

Back in time: The lessons of the Dust Bowl

NRCS Plant Material Center
FARMS Leadership | San Joaquin | December 10th, 2019

Location: Lockeford, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Margaret Smither-Kopperl, Lockeford Plant Materials Center Manager, Plant Materials Program
Matthew Bronson, Plant Materials Center, Farm Manager

Theme: Ecology and Habitat Conservation

NRCS Plant Materials Center (PMC) is a CLBL long-time partner and a favorite field day for FARMS Leadership students. PMC is a network of 25 Plant Materials Centers and Plant Materials Specialists strategically located throughout the U.S. They select plants and develop plant technology for the successful conservation of the nation’s natural resources. In addition, PMC provides information to field office staff, private landowners, tribes and partners who need assistance in addressing critical land management problems.

Plant experts Margaret Smither-Kopperl and Matthew Bronson led students through the historical evolution of NRCS dating back to the 1930’s dust bowl where soil erosion, air and water pollution became and continue to be issues farmers face today. Margaret conveys, “we help farmers help the land”.  The designated property is near Lockeford along the Mokelumne River. Students experienced an extensive walking tour through cover crop seed plots, and took cuttings from native plants and shrubs, elderberry and grapes along in the riparian habitat as well as from the flannel tree in established hedge rows. The osage orange and milk weed seed pod discovery was certainly a highlight on the tour.

After lunch, students transplanted the cuttings and placed in the greenhouse. The day concluded with facilities tour of the seed cleaning, the impressive collection of tractors and equipment.

Davis Senior High School at Gilmer Farm

Participating School
Davis Senior High School

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District

Mentors
Nick Gallegar, NCRS Rangeland Management Specialist
Beth Hellman, UC Davis graduate student
Amanda Lindell, UCD graduate student
Laura McGowan, UCD graduate student
Ha Truong, NRCS Agricultural Engineer

Our third and final field day at Gilmer farm was a huge success both for our students and our hedgerow. After arrival, our day started off with a fun game of group juggle to get everyone moving a bit and thinking about each other’s names. Once we were all familiar, we jumped right into our plant pressing activity! Students walked along Dave Gilmer’s already established hedgerow, collecting a number of different native species as well as some invasive. Upon returning to the barn, students wrote descriptions of there plants on the back of cards and get them and the plants into our plant presses. Once those are dry and mounted, students will have their own plant pressings to take home and remember SLEWS with.

After plant pressing, everyone headed out to our hedgerow to see how many of our plants survived, as well as weed around our native plants. Students were diligent to make sure they removed as many weeds as possible without damaging their plants.

Following lunch, students had a full afternoon filled with learning activities. We began the afternoon with mentor interviews, a amazing chance for students to get to know their mentors a bit more and ask them in depth questions about their chosen field and how they got to where they are today. With interviews wrapped up, students got to encounter some wildlife in the form of our current native mammal and birds nest collection. After an initial inspection, each mentor group was assigned two animals that they got to present on to the rest of the group. To wrap up the day, students did a blind taste test with different kinds of citrus, some from the store and the rest local. After comparing the different fruit, everyone did made their best guess at which fruit was which.

We would like to thank our SLEWS mentors for enhancing the students field experience, and our gracious hosts at Gilmer Farm for engaging youth from Davis High School in their habitat restoration work.

Accomplishments
Weeding entirety of the hedgerow

“It was great to interview the mentors because it taught me it is okay to not know what I want to do for a career now, I can figure it out as my interests change.”