Finishing another season of restoration at River Garden Farms

River Garden Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 18, 2021

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
River Garden Farms
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Mandi Finger
Felisia Castaneda
Peter Johnson
Joe Hardie
Bri Grosskopf
Griffin Capehart

Summary of the Day
February 18th marked our final SLEWS Field Day with Yolo County Resource Conservation District, and we were back for our third double-header at River Garden Farms. On our previous field day, we spent two shifts planting 480 plants, including installing protective cartons and an irrigation system. Today it was time to mulch these plants to discourage weed growth and improve moisture retention. Like we did at Capay Valley Lavender, we were able to repurpose byproducts of the farm (in this case, rice straw) to accomplish this important task! As we mulched, we also did quality control – checking that emitters were working properly, and anchoring stray protective cartons.

As volunteers worked to place large mats of straw around each plant, River Garden Farms employee Arturo followed along towing a trailer full of straw bales. These weren’t your ordinary straw bales, either, they were gigantic! Arturo ensured that straw was always available when we needed it, and did a great job matching our pace. We were thankful that our COVID-19 masks provided protection against all the dust and debris from the straw as we made our way down the future hedgerow!

The morning shift of volunteers was able to mulch the majority of the plants, which the afternoon crew quickly finished up. Then we got in our vehicles to regroup at a new project site. The Sacramento River flows through River Garden Farms, and they wanted to beautify a ¼ acre levee area adjacent to their headquarters while supporting conservation efforts. The solution? Plant native wildflowers on the levee.

We took to the levee, using hoes to scrape away patches on the surface of the earth, sprinkling wildflower seed mix, and patting down before moving on to create more patches. By the end of the afternoon, we had finished seeding our project area, covering about 33% of the area in native wildflower seeds. I can’t wait to see the transformation when the flowers bloom – it’ll be an explosion of lupines and phaecelia!

Thank you to our partners, funders, and volunteers for helping us to keep our SLEWS restoration projects moving forward, even when working with students is not possible. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a more typical SLEWS season next fall!

A big project on a windy day

River Garden Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 4, 2021

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
River Garden Farms
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
David Marks
Ruby Marks
Gabrielle Stadem
Sarah Gaffney
Anna Tolle
Bri Grosskopf

Summary of the Day
For our second double-header field day at River Garden Farms, we were at a new location on the road to River Garden Farms HQ. We had planned 2 SLEWS projects here for this year, hoping that 2 classes of students would each adopt a section of the hedgerow for their 3-day project. Alas, COVID-19 had other plans, but we were lucky to have a dedicated group of volunteers come out to get this project started!

We started our cold and windy morning by watching a planting demonstration by Joanne Heraty of Yolo County Resource Conservation District, and we learned with semi-recent rains we had some of the easiest digging all year ahead of us! Remember, this was meant to be a double SLEWS project, so this hedgerow was LONG! By the end of the first shift (lunchtime) we had finished maybe ¾ of the planting, so our afternoon crew arrived and finished the planting portion. Once all 480 plants were installed, we set to work on installing the irrigation system, laying out the line and following up with emitters. By the end of second shift, we were halfway done with emitter installation – I told you this project was ambitious!

Looking forward to our last double field day at River Garden Farms next week where we will mulch along this hedgerow.

A record-setting planting day

River Garden Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 21, 2021

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
River Garden Farms
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Nick Gallagher
Brandi Goss
Gabrielle Stadem
Sarah Gaffney
Krysteen Terlouw
Peter Johnson

Summary of the Day
For our first (double) field day of the season at River Garden Farms, we were rewarded with great weather – and an ambitious day of work! Last year, Florin High School students installed native habitat under some powerlines amid a walnut orchard (blog post here: https://landbasedlearning.org/blog/2020/01/14/plants-under-the-powerlines/) and our work was continuing this project south of County Line Road. It worked out that we had volunteers for this project, as this area would be difficult if not impossible to access by school bus!

Since River Garden Farms can’t extend their orchard under the powerlines, they elected to make it an area of native habitat. There are many lines of irrigation already installed here to support the plants, so the work for the day was planting, “as much as we get through”. The ground had been turned recently so we didn’t need pickaxes this time – what a relief! – so we spread out along multiple lines and worked hard, planting through the morning and afternoon shifts of volunteers. This was the most tiring SLEWS day I can recall, but I was still SHOCKED to hear that with just 6 SLEWS volunteers and some RCD staff, we had shattered the previous SLEWS record for most plants installed in a day (450ish) – we had planted over 750 plants!

This is SLEWS’ FIFTH season of field days at River Garden Farms! Hopefully next time we’ll have a crew of high school students with us.