The Founder’s Harvest

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | Thursday November 12, 2020

Location(s) of Field Day:
Sierra Orchards – Winters, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Craig McNamara – Owner & Founder
Ramon Del Toro – Farm Manager
Sean McNamara – Farm Manager
Emily McNamara – Apprentice Farm Supervisor
Attila Kolozsi – Loading Supervisor & Farmhand

Theme:
Organic Walnut Production, Conservation, & Food Security

Summary of the Day:
The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership class commenced the 2020-2021 program a bit differently than previous years; Opting for a digital model that abides by the social-distancing safety standards necessitated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Students and teachers from Grant Union High School, Luther Burbank High School, and River City High School all joined Craig McNamara, owner of Sierra Orchards in a Zoom webinar for a screening of the virtual tour of his organic walnut orchard. In the post-tour Q&A session, one standout Junior of Luther Burbank, held Mr. McNamara to task with a battery of questions about his experience in the organic growing industry. FARMS Leadership students and a couple lucky teachers were provided Hands-On Learning Kits that included: organic walnut pieces, organic in-shell walnuts, crushed walnut shells, Sierra Orchards compost, organic cover crop mix, and a walnut grading sheet exhibiting the various defects that can befall the nutty legume; all complements of Craig McNamara and Sierra Orchards.


For more information or to view November’s Field Day, ‘click’ the YouTube link below:

Take the Weiß Pill

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | February 20, 2020

Location of Field Day: Bayer, 37437 CA-16 Woodland, CA 95695

Hosts: Lisa McDaniel, Head of Global Outreach & Engagement

The Sacramento Valley Field Day at Bayer Woodland began in the front lobby of the sprawling, iron-gated compound. We were promptly met by Lisa McDaniel, Head of Global Outreach & Engagement.

Once our entire class arrived, Lisa escorted us to a boardroom on the second floor of an even larger building on the opposite side of the Bayer Woodland campus. Upon arrival at our second meeting place, we conducted an “open circle”, students introduced themselves, we reviewed the day’s itinerary, and we were provided id badges to wear for the duration of our tour. Following a ‘hotel breakfast’ of multigrain bars, muffins, yogurt, juice, and coffee, we headed out for a tour the various research and development facilities.

Our first stops were a series of greenhouses where we learned about the safety measures taken to protect crop yields. We learned about specialty breeding and the genome-tracking processes that ensure the strongest, most drought-resistant produce. We then toured their maintenance facility where we learned that the use of GPS systems can help better track crop development.

After our tour of the grounds, we regrouped in the boardroom and were treated to pizza for lunch! During our lunch, we were joined by a diverse panel of Bayer professionals who introduced themselves told us all a little bit about their background and their work at Bayer. After lunch and thanking the panel for their time, we headed downstairs to participate in a hands-on activity that mimicked the science of tracking disease by inspecting samples and referring to a checklist for tell-tale signs of illness in plants. We then headed back upstairs to take part in a market research survey to compare and contrast the tastes of tomatoes. And we learned that taste-preferences can vary widely in the global market.

We concluded this trip with a “closing circle” that asked students to recall something they learned during their tour at Bayer. We thanked our hosts and departed.

A Sweet Exploration of Ag Jobs

FARMS Leadership | North State | February 11, 2020

Field Day Locations:

Sunsweet, Yuba City

Yuba College Career Technical Education (CTE) facilities, Linda campus

Theme of the Day:

California Plums, Food Manufacturing, Jobs in every field in Ag, Community college CTE opportunities

Summary:

What an exciting day at Sunsweet and Yuba College! We started with some fun teambuiling- a game of what we like to call “duct tape octopus pictionary.” The day continued with an intro video and presentation about Sunsweet from Jamie Dickerson, Director of Human Resources. She explained the history of the company, some of the ways they continuously remain the leader in the prune market, and the variety of jobs available at the Yuba City facility for all educational backgrounds. We then got to put on lab coats and hair nets to tour the facility! The students were pretty awe struck at all the machines and at how many different stores and countries prunes were being packed for and waiting for shipment! We stood in a storage room with ¼ of the worlds demand for prunes in crates around us waiting to get packed and shipped!

After a final Q and A session with Sunsweet employees about how to get a job there, and general advice about working in agriculture and in the Yuba City region, we headed to Yuba College. Here, we got a tour from CTE instructor Dan Turner and learned about the welding and advanced manufacturing programs. The students learned that you don’t need to have taken welding courses in High School in order to enroll in the program at college. They also learned about what jobs the various CTE degrees and certificates offered by Yuba College could prepare them for. It was a fun and informative field day and we are grateful to our hosts from Sunsweet and Yuba College for sharing their time, facilities and wisdom with us!