FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | October 26, 2021
Location of Field Day: Cobram Estate – Woodland, CA
Field Day Host and Mentors: Cobram Estate – Ciriaco Chavez and Mikayla Gnoss
Theme: Olive Oil & Sustainable Ag
The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership crew kicked off our first field day of the season at Cobram Estate, a leading CA producer of olive oil. After students chowed down some healthy breakfast burritos, we hopped back in our vehicles to venture out to two of Cobram’s olive tree orchards. Strolling through the orchards with Cobram’s Ciraco Chavez and Mikayla Gnoss, we learned all about olive varieties, Cobram’s unique style of planting olive trees (quite different from the iconic olive tree orchards you might see across Europe), and Cobram’s efforts at sustainable growing practices (including a state of the art drip irrigation system and equipment that tracks daily moisture levels to determine the exact amount of water needed by trees, no more, no less. Before heading back, students each harvested olives by hand.
From the orchards, we moved into some mill exploration. Ciriaco and Mikayla led us through olive oil processing from beginning to end: 1) trucks dump loads of harvested olives into an underground collector, 2) olives travel upward again on automated belts which transport them through high-tech machinery that separates good from bad olives, 3) olives are crushed and sent through several centrifuges that separate out the oil, 4) oil is stored in massive vats that can hold up to tens of thousands of gallons, and finally 5) oil is bottled and labeled by automated machines. Our last stop on the tour was Modern Olives: an independent olive oil research laboratory housed within Cobram Estate. We discussed ag careers at every stop, from orchard management to engineering and building mill machinery to laboratory research within Modern Olives.
After students sat down for a fantastic olive oil tasting led by Modern Olive’s head researcher, students made their own olive oil-based (using Cobram Estate oil of course!) salad dressings which they enjoyed on salads for lunch. We ended the day with the olives the students harvested that morning: utilizing observation skills, math skills, and scales, students each calculated the average ripeness level of each tree they harvested from. As Cobram approaches their harvest season, our partners were happy to have our students do some of their olive sampling for them!
FARMS Leadership | San Joaquin x Sacramento Valley | Friday, May 14, 2021
Location(s) of Field Day: Lange Twins Vineyard — Acampo, CA
Field Day Host(s) and Mentor(s): Aaron Lange — VP, Vineyard Operations Alex Farber — Winemaker Shakib Ali — Manager, Bottling Line Patty Vega — Director, Human Resources Kendra Lange — Director, Marketing
The Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin FARMS Leadership Program concludes with a final double-header event featuring Lange Twins Vineyard of Acampo, CA. Arron Lange, fifth-generation San Joaquin farmer and VP of Vineyard Operations, hosts our Virtual Field Day. Featuring pre-recorded interviews with Lange Twins Vineyard staff members, FARMS students receive insight into many of the behind-the-scenes operations at Lange Twins Vineyard. Careers in marketing to winemaking, manufacturing to human resources are explored in this expansive look into the collection of talent and expertise that is required to maintain and grow a successful, multi-generational, Ag-business. As this year’s program is unprecedented, reflective of a year full of challenges, I felt it best to cap this event with a good surprise and rewards for FARMS Leadership students’ commitment and perseverance; Kits for this Field Day include an Aloe plant, personal ‘thank you’, organic seed packet, Certificate of Completion for the 2020/2021 FARMS Leadership Program, and a Leadership session dedicated to a student-led reflection of the year.
FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | Thursday, April 29, 2021
Location(s) of Field Day: Durst Organic Growers — Hungry Hollow, CA
Field Day Host(s) and Mentor(s): Jim Durst — CEO, Farm Director
Summary of the Day: This Sacramento Valley FARMS Field Day and Leadership Lesson features a presentation from fourth-generation Yolo County farmer Jim Durst. Though the Durst family’s legacy is the production of large-scale commodity crops, since 1988, Jim is the first in his family to focus the farm on cultivating organic produce. Operating out of Hungry Hollow, just north of California’s Capital, Durst Organic Growers champions the importance of sustainability and eco-conscious practices in every aspect of their operations. The Leadership Lesson included FARMS students’ presentations regarding their 16personalities and CareerOneStop survey’s results. The Hands-On Learning Kit for this Field Day included Durst Organic Growers’ asparagus and a few additional supplies for a home-cooking and picture contest.