Agriculture and Research

Program: FARMS Leadership

Region: Central Valley North & South

Field Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Location of Field Day: Kearney Research

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Theme: Research in Agriculture

On, Tuesday, December 4, 2018, the Central Valley North and South FARMS Leadership Groups consisting of Madera High School, Madera Liberty High School, Kerman High School, Clovis East High School, Lindsey High School, Hanford High School, El Diamante High School and Mt. Whitney High School participated in a joint field day at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier CA.  At the beginning of the day the leadership team prepared introductions for the days hosts. Following introductions, students were split into three groups and rotated through three topic areas. They studieds Soils such as soil quality, healthy soils for healthy crops. The second area they studied Post Harvest Quality by answering the question of How suppliers know whether or not the fruits and vegetables that I buy will be ripe and flavorful?  And finally, the importance of grains, such as types of grains, whole grain nutrition and how they grow. At lunch time the hosts sat with the students and presented about their job and students asked all kinds of questions related to their work and how they got there. These questions lead to a great roundtable discussion. The hosts were very gracious with their time and answering all of the students questions. We had a great visit as always and are excited to return!

A productive day at River Garden Farms

Florin High School at River Garden Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 4, 2018

Participating School
Florin High School

Partners/Landowners
Audubon CA
River Garden Farms

Mentors
Aaron Haiman, Environmental Scientist and Tribal Liaison, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy
Esther Tracy, Environmental Scientist, Department of Water Resource
Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS
Jacob Byers, Partners Biologist, Sacramento NWRC

Summary of the Day
We had an ambitious project in line (no pun intended) for our first SLEWS day this year at River Garden Farms – installing a complete drip irrigation system! This includes rolling out irrigation tubing, “stapling” it into place, measuring the line to place a flag every 10 feet (marking the areas where plants will go), cutting 12 inch sections of spaghetti tubing and connecting emitters, and finally poking holes in the drip line to attach the spaghetti tubing and emitters which will provide water to each plant. As one student said, it “looks like a long sprinkler”! River Garden Farms had prepared 4 1000 foot sections – nearly a mile –  of line, but anticipated that SLEWS students would install just 2 of these sections.

Upon their arrival, students changed into rubber boots before walking past two former SLEWS sites on the way to their project site. After our opening circle, mentor groups divided up to tackle various tasks – two groups rolled out drip irrigation tubing, which was a knotty challenge, while two other groups followed them, measuring, flagging, and stapling the line into place. A fifth group assembled spaghetti tubing and emitters in the meantime, and other groups joined as they returned. This task was especially challenging – the cold weather meant the plastic spaghetti tubing was quite stiff. The completed emitters were then installed along the dripline. We still had plenty of time after completing 2000 feet of an irrigation system, so why not continue?

By the end of the morning, students had fully installed an impressive 3000 feet of a drip irrigation system, with another 500 feet of dripline rolled out – 1500 feet more than we thought possible! After lunch, mentor Jacob Byers introduced the group to the site of the two former SLEWS projects at River Garden Farms, and discussed project planning, and impact on the area – he was part of the team that planned these restoration efforts. Students wanted to know if the project will be continued by even more students next year! To finish the day, the group spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the day in their field journals – it was difficult to get them to stop!

Thanks for a great day, Florin High, mentors,  and River Garden Farms and Audubon CA staff!

An impressive day of planting at Sequoia Farms

Davis High School at Sequoia Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | November 30, 2018

Participating School
Davis High School

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District
National Center for Appropriate Technology
Sequoia Farms

Mentors
Amanda Lindell, UC Davis graduate student
Arthur Barros, UC Davis graduate student
Claire Kouba, UC Davis graduate student
Elaine Swiedler, California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, Center for Land-Based Learning

Summary of the Day
After a very rainy Thursday, I was concerned about the weather for Davis High’s first Field Day at Sequoia Farms, an organic walnut orchard located in Dixon. Luckily we were treated to a gorgeous day, with a bit of mud for good measure!

Since the orchard perimeter was too muddy to access by vehicle, students donned yellow rain bibs and mud boots for the walk to our field site. On the way, students got an up close view of the orchard, and asked great questions about walnut grafting (“Why does the bottom of the trunk look different than the top?” – we prefer to eat English Walnuts, but native Black Walnuts are more resistant to regional diseases and pests; fusing them together gives farmers the best of both worlds) and walnut growth (“Where are all the walnuts?!” – they had recently been harvested).

At our opening circle, mentors and restoration partners introduced themselves and their education and career paths, and we played a game of “Group Juggle” to learn everyone’s names. Rex Dufour of NCAT gave a great presentation on some of the beneficial insects that our plants will help attract. Then we split into mentor groups to learn the names and characteristics of 6 of the native plants we’d be planting including toyon, coffeeberry, deergrass, rabbitbrush, lilac and coyote brush. We played a game called “steal the native plant” where mentor groups competed to be the first to identify the native plant.

Next it was time to learn how to plant! Rex Dufour gave an informative demonstration on the best way to plant these natives to give them the best chance at survival and groups of students spread out with their mentors to get started. Davis students completed way more of the work than we thought possible and by the end of the morning they’d planted 600 plants!

After lunch, each student chose a walnut tree to lean against as they reflected in their Field Journals, writing a postcard to themselves about the day. After the walk back to change out of raingear, we had a brief closing circle to end the day. Students remarked that they would remember the hard work they did, and that they felt helpful and productive restoring the ecosystem.

NRCS Plant Material Center

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: November 29th, 2018

Location: Lockeford, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Margaret Smither-Kopperl
Matthew Bronson, PMC Farm Manager

Theme: Ecology and Habitat Conservation

 Summary of the Day:

The San Joaquin FARMS Leadership Students had no intentions of letting a little rain stop them from learning about Ecology and Habitat Conservation at the Plant Material Center (PMC) in Lockeford, Ca. Although our plans did change due to the rain and heavy winds that rolled in, we had a fun filled day learning a lot about what happens in the daily operations at the Natural Resource Center. The day started out with a tour of the facilities led by Matthew Bronson the Farm Manager at the PMC. The students were able to see and learn about the different equipment used, tractors, and even were able to walk through the seed library where numerous amounts of native California plant seeds are stored.

 

After Matthew’s tour the students gathered in the PMC’s office meeting room where they were broken up into groups to team project. The Project they all worked on was to draft a landscape at the PMC using a variety of different native plants. The students were given a list of native plants as well as books and information on each plant so that they could design the landscape of an actual area of land that the PMC has that needs to be re-planted. Once the groups finished their designs we took a lunch break.

 

Following our lunch break Margaret Smither-Kopperl took over to discuss the different plants the students chose. She then gave us a tour of the property where the students were able to see examples of the plants they chose and take cuttings from each plant along the way. Once each group had a handful of cuttings from the plants the chose they were able to work with Matthew and Margaret to prep the cuttings and plant them into the green house so that the PMC could utilize them in the landscape that the students designed.

 

Rain or shine, we lay the line!

Winters High School at Winters Putah Creek Nature Park Extension
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | November 27, 2018

Participating School
Winters High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Putah Creek Council
City of Winters

Mentors
Corey Shake, Partner Biologist, Point Blue Conservation Science, NRCS
Denise Colombano, UCD graduate student
Karin Young, Education Program Manager, Putah Creek Council
Marisa Alcorta, Apprenticeship Program Manager, Center for Land-Based Learning
Nick Gallagher, Rangeland Management Specialist, USDA

Summary of the Day
This year we have a SLEWS project in our hometown of Winters – with Winters High School! This project is part of the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park, on land donated to the City of Winters by PG&E. Putah Creek Council and Yolo County Resource Conservation District are involving several groups with the restoration projects, and we’re excited to have SLEWS be part of the process.

On the rainy Tuesday after Thanksgiving, we held our first Field Day at this site. The goal for the day was lofty – installing almost a mile of drip irrigation! Having an irrigation system installed before planting will give our plants the best chance of survival, and because drip irrigation provides each plant with an individual water source, will help prevent excess weed growth and reduce evaporative water loss.

After breakfast and opening circle, students worked as a team to roll out the irrigation tubing. This involved each student carrying a 20-40 foot section of the line – sometimes up to 1000 feet total! Once all the sections of line were rolled out, we divided into mentor groups to install emitters and staple down the line. Groups worked in teams to measure every 20 feet to place a flag (the location of the trees and shrubs we’ll plant in two weeks), poke holes in the line, secure the line to the ground, and install an emitter – this will ensure that each plant receives 2 gallons per hour of water when watered.

We weren’t sure students would finish the entire line – again, it was almost a mile in length, and rain was coming down! – but to our surprise they finished the work at noon on the dot. Perhaps the promise of a burrito at the finish line was good motivation?

Despite the rain, students were excited to walk all the way to Putah Creek to look for spawning salmon after lunch. On the way one student commented on how nice the area will look once the oak trees are planted. Mentor Karin Young of Putah Creek Council led a discussion on salmon breeding habits, Putah Creek Restoration, and why we are seeing salmon in this watershed. Unfortunately we didn’t see any salmon today, but  many students remarked that this was their favorite part of the whole Field Day!

Thank you to all mentors, partners, and students for being troopers on a wet Field Day – we walked over 4 miles in our work according to one mentor’s FitBit!

RCDMC – Resource Conservation District of Monterey County

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | November 15, 2018

Location(s) of Field Day
DiCarli Ranch 25420 Old Stage Rd. Chualar, Ca
Buena Vista Grange

Schools Participating
Gonzales High School
North Salinas High School
Soledad High School
Watsonville High School

Field Day Hosts and Mentors
Paul Robins, Executive Director with RCDMC
Megan Baker, Project Administrator with RCDMC
Laura Murphy, Soil Scientist with RCDMC
Ken Oster, Soil Scientist with NRCS
Wayne Gularte, Grower

Summary of the Day

DiCarli Ranch is chilly in the morning as students grab a breakfast burrito and some warm champorado. Students slowly begin warming up as we listen to Wayne Gularte, a farmer who has been working with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County for many years and has allowed us to use his fields to have our field day. Wayne kicks off the field day by sharing his profession and what lead him to farm, and he recalls working on the field during the summer as a young boy. Wayne encourages students to spend time working in the fields at least once in their life as a way to build a strong work ethic.

Students receive a demonstration on land judging from Ken Oster a long time National Resource Conservation Service employee. There are a lot of different land characteristics that students will have to look for – characteristics like soil texture, soil thickness and they must determine the slope of the land. Then students use the data and information to identify some potential land uses, management needs and land limitation.

It’s a quick lesson before we split the students into groups by school and they alternate between 2 pit locations. Students record their findings and observations on a scorecard.

After our time in the pits, we drove to the Grange Hall for lunch. Student scorecards were graded while we heard from a Monterey FARMS Alumni, Kyla Monroe. Kyla had won the land judging contest years back and received a scholarship to range camp. She shared her experience at range camp.

Winners of The 2019 Land Judging Contest
and Recipients of The Range Camp Scholarships

  1. Jessica Rodriguez – Watsonville High School
  2. Luis Gomez – Watsonville High School
  3. Hailey Higgins – Soledad High School

We ended the Field Day with group interviews. where students had an opportunity to ask the industry professionals questions about their jobs and professions were able to ask students about their plans after high school.

Enzo Olive Oil

Program: FARMS Leadership

Region: Central Valley North

Field Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Location of Field Day: Enzo Olive Oil Company, Madera CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Jasmine Mahfoud & Vincent Ricchiuti

Theme: Olive Oil Harvest

Summary of the Day:  On Tuesday, November 13th the Central Valley North FARMS Leadership that comprised of Kerman High School, Madera South High School, Madera Liberty High School and Clovis East High School.  As the students arrived they enjoyed a breakfast snack, a leadership team was designated and students practiced introducing and thanking a speaker. Owner Vincent Ricchiuti and Quality Manager Kathryn Tomajan met with the students and went over everything in relation to the History of PR-Farms and ENZO Olive Oil Company.  We then toured the orchard and mill, we saw harvesting, saw the mill at work, where the tanks were stored and the bottling station. At the end of our tour Enzo provided an Olive Oil Tasting. Students returned to the meeting room and participated in a teamwork cup stacking game. After lunch Vincent and Kathryn joined us again with Field Manager Brenden.  We had a lovely conversation about their education, how they ended up at Enzo and what they thought about the politics of the High Speed Rail that goes straight through a piece of their land. This conversation lead to a basic round table discussion of everything under the sun. They were very courteous of our group and took their time answering all the questions we had for them.  This really showed that the students were honestly interested in their day and what they were sharing with us. After our questions, the leadership team who introduced each individual thanked them as well for their time they took with us today. Lastly, the students completed a Career Self-Assessment to see where their interests lie and how true they thought they were. We had a great day at and cannot wait to return!  Thank you Enzo and PR-Farms for a wonderful day!

Holy Cow! A Mooovement Toward Sustainability

FARMS Leadership | Kern County | November 13, 2018

Lakeview Farms
17702 Bear Mountain Blvd, Bakersfield, CA 93311

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
B.J. Schoneveld, Owner Lakeview Farms
Roy Dowd, Director – CalBio Energy Facility O&M, & Digester Research
Jamie Jarrett Ph.D., Dairy Nutritionist – Alpha Dairy Consulting

Theme:
Science in Agriculture

Summary of the Day:
Students from Frontier High School, West High School, Independence High School, Ridgeview High School, and Bakersfield Christian High School gathered for breakfast at the Kern County Ag Pavilion, after we loaded the bus to head out to Lakeview Dairy. When we arrived, we hit the ground running with an overview of the 9,500 head dairy farm and a tour of the milk house. Owner, B.J. Schoneveld, shared the technology used using the EID Ear Tag Reader. Students were able to see reports generated from the field with the EID Tag Reader and learn about the importance of tracking health and genetics. Students then walked to the barns where cows were served their morning feed. They were shocked with how many things they recognized in the feed – carrots, cotton, and almond hulls. They smelled the sourness of the feed. We noticed the temperature of the barn. Mr Schoneveld has tried a new approach with the cows in climate control. He has placed share cloth and fans strategically in the barn to not only keep the cows cool, but to keep their food cooler as well. This has made a huge difference in their production and feed intake. Cows like eating cooler feed. Happy cows make happy milk. We then went into the newborn calf pen where students were able to touch and take photos with the newly born calves. These calves are shipped to Hanford where they will be fed and cared for until they are old enough to return to the dairy for milk production. After touring the barns, we met Roy Dowd who introduced us to the manure digester.

Lakeview’s partnership with California Bioenergy is a cutting edge approach to sustainability. Not only does it process the manure, allowing the farm to recycle the solid matter for bedding, but it also allows them to use the liquid to create energy through bacteria and gas production. The water that is cycled through then is used to clean parts of the dairy. This approach will allow them to partner with other diaries creating a cohort of dairies who will be working with PG&E on the energy output, thus getting paid for the energy they create. We discussed the many careers in this up and coming field. Mr. Dowd was born and raised in went to college in Bakersfield. Learning about how he achieved his goals was a learning for the students. What’s more appetizing that discussing manure? We were served a fantastic lunch provided by Lakeview Farms. During lunch we met Nutritionist, Jamie Jarrett.

She shared her career journey with the students and the colleges she attended. She was an alumni of one of our participating high schools which was a connection point for students. She then took us to the feed area. Here there were mountains of ingredients/commodities used in the cow feed. She brought out 4 buckets of different mixed feed and discussed the fat content and nutritional value of each mix. She had students pick up a handful and share what they saw and asked why they thought they might feed that item. Items included carrots that they get from neighboring farms as well as almond hulls. Students have eaten carrots but almond hulls a new idea for them. Students know about almonds, but not in their natural state – coming from a shell and hull. We talked about the sustainability this offers – where nothing is wasted. Students came away with an understanding of the care and efforts made to get milk into our homes. They learned about the science used to make a smaller footprint on the earth. They also learned about the sustainability efforts being made by other farmers, like the almond farmer, to be sure that nothing is wasted.

Students learn about the parts of the milk house and the tests run to keep our food safe.

Cooling the Barn and the Affects on the Cows.

A very blustery day at Clark Ranch!

SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | November 8, 2018

Participating School
Grant Union High School

Location
Clark Ranch 2 in Davis, CA – the southern of two projects at this site

Partners/Landowners
Yolo Resource Conservation District
Rominger Brothers Farms
Bruce Clark

Mentors
Amelia Munson, UC Davis graduate student
Jen Metes, Research Associate, Consero Solutions
Julea Shaw, UC Davis graduate student
Ha Truong, NRCS Agricultural Engineer
Mandi Finger, Associate Director, Genomic Variation Lab

Summary of the Day
The morning of our first SLEWS Field Day of the season brought an unexpected and unwelcome surprise – 25 MPH winds! Luckily, Grant Union students arrived with great attitudes and were eager to get started on the restoration task of the day.

Using a barn as a windbreak, students enjoyed breakfast before we gathered together for a SLEWS tradition – the opening circle. Bruce Rominger, President of Rominger Brothers Farms, joined us to introduce the project site and talk about how the restoration work the students were about to begin would positively impact his almond and walnut orchards. Students, mentors, restoration partners, and Center for Land-Based Learning staff introduced themselves, and we played a game called “Where the Wind Blows” to identify commonalities within our group.

After opening circle, it was time to brave the wind and get started on our project for the day – installing a drip irrigation system! Drip irrigation will provide each plant with an individual water source, preventing excess weed growth and conserving water. Staff from Yolo Resource Conservation District showed the mentor groups how to poke holes in the line to push in “emitters”, which will regulate the water flow to each individual plant. Each group installed emitters on a section of the planting area, and when everyone finished it was time to check their work. Alex Hasbach, Farm Manager of Rominger Brothers Farms, turned on the irrigation system much to everyone’s amusement – in spots where emitters weren’t properly installed, water shot everywhere! Luckily, Grant students did an excellent job and there were few of these “sprinklers” to be found.

Finally it was time to break for a much-anticipated (and much-deserved) burrito lunch. After lunch, Caring for Our Watersheds Coordinator Beth Del Real led students in an activity to help them visualize the earth’s water supply, and why water conservation is so important. Students were each given a blank puzzle piece representing an area of land to develop as they wished – some built giant mansions, others created water reservoirs, and one student even built an ice cream shop! Once we assembled the puzzle, we had a great visual of a watershed and discussed how the developments they made might affect the water supply.

Thanks for an incredible first Field Day, Grant Union students, mentors, and project partners!

Tehama County Mosquito Abatement meets FARMS Advanced

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | November 8, 2018

Location of Field Day
Red Bluff, CA

Field Day Host
Andrew Cox, Tehama County Mosquito Vector Control

Participating Schools
Red Bluff High School
Orland High School
Mercy High School
Los Molinos High School

Theme
Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day:
In 1917 Los Molinos, CA had an outbreak of malaria, people were sick and dying. The world had already experienced this scenario during the building of the Panama Canal where the French people that were working on the canal were dying in huge numbers. It was discovered that malaria was being transferred to people by being bit by an infected female mosquito that was a carrier. So in 1917, Northern California created a mosquito vector control to help control the population of mosquitoes and therefore help eradicate malaria..

In the beginning years, they would float oil on the surface of the water to suffocate the mosquito larvae. Since then, we have come so far with the development of new chemicals and methods of controlling this deadly pest. Currently, Tehama County Mosquito Control is built of a team of men who assess the problems in their region and treat accordingly. Depending on whether they are having an issue with adults or larvae they decide which practice is best; treating the water, or fogging for adults.

“There are over 200 species of mosquitoes and some can go dormant for years.” -Stephanie Mills, Red Bluff High School

Water treatment is the easiest method and will kill the larvae before ever maturing into adults. The best approach in water is introducing the Mosquito Fish into bodies of water. These little fish feed on the larvae, stay about the size of a guppy, and are close to 100% effective! The public can pick up these fish at our local office to use in livestock water troughs, ponds, or any other standing water. There are also a couple of chemicals labeled for use in water. One is BTI which kills them, the other is Methoprene which causes them to have reproduction issues.

“It is crazy that female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite!” ~Gabe Harris, Los Molinos High School

Fogging for adults is the second method of controlling the mosquito. This is a very labor intensive task, and during peak mosquito season the technicians often work 14-16 hour days to be able to service their region. The air has to be just right, and typically they do it very early mornings. Each technicians truck is outfitted with a drop machine (fogger) that puts out about 4oz of permethrin per acre and is effective in reducing the population of adult mosquitoes and even some flies.

Spending the day with Tehama County Vector Control was not only educational, but fun! The students enjoyed the time spent with our local technicians and learning about the services they offer. Thank you Mosquito Abatement for your time and knowledge!!