All in for Earth Day

Location of Field Day:
Stockton, CA

Field Day Host/Partners:
Little Manila Rising (LMR)– Brianna Garcia, Biannette Perez, Koji Lewis, Irene Calimlim and the Urban Forestry Cohort
Ag Innovations – Lupe Garcia and Juliana Birkhoff
PUENTES Urban Forestry Initiative 

Theme:
Urban Forestry and Community Outreach

Our FARMS students weren’t the only ones to show up and turn up for our 4/22 Earth Day field day! South Stockton let their voices be heard through LMR’s and PUENTES’ community Earth Day event centered around urban forestry and healthy living. 

Our students arrived at Van Buskirk Park ready for some tree planting–BUT FIRST! A stop on the playground because we all know how important it is for each of us to take a little time to play.

So after some swinging, chasing, sliding, and breakfasting, students happily joined Little Manila Rising’s Urban Forestry Cohort and the eager group of Earth-loving community members who had gathered on the sunny Friday morning. After urban forestry experts and trainees provided us with a tree planting demonstration–educating us about the urban heat island effect, impacts of planting trees on biodiversity and climate change, and benefits of planting native trees–, students and community members set off to plant Valley Oaks, Buckeyes, and Redbuds throughout the park. 

After two hours of planting and a break for lunch, students took some time to explore the rest of the event. Local organizations like Kommunity Hub, Healing PUSO (Pilipinx Uplifting Self & Others), Ag Innovations, and a free Covid testing and vaccination tent had set up to share their efforts with the community.

Next we connected (or rather re-connected) with Ag Innovations directly. Let’s back up here: students have actually been working with Ag Innovations for the last several weeks in an effort to contribute to a community outreach effort on the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. Ag Innovations, a nonprofit that convenes dynamic collaborations that create agricultural and environmental opportunities for diverse communities, was hired by the Department of Water Resources to help raise awareness around the ways in which the proposed water supply project may impact Delta communities–and that communities have a right to voice their opinions about it. Several weeks before our field day, CLBL staff and LHA students Zoomed with Ag Innovations to learn all about the project and why the community outreach piece is so key (especially since the proposal is not included on the upcoming ballot!). From there, we left it up to students to decide how exactly they wanted to reach out to community members. Their answer? Hosting a community presentation and discussion about the project; during the first week of May, our FARMS students will host school staff, admin and families to spread the word. In an effort to prepare, we spent a chunk our field day afternoon with Ag Innovations’ Lupe Garcia. She sat down with our students to answer any final questions they had about the project, help them prep outreach materials for the meeting, and lead them through a native seed packing activity. Students plan to distribute these native seed packets that include key information on the Delta Conveyance Project to community members over the next few weeks.

In the final hour of the day, students chose between two different reflection activities:

  1. Half of our students participated in LMR’s Photovoice Project: provided with cameras, students took pictures of and recorded audio on points of pride as well as things they would like to see changed within their community. LMR collects the photos/recordings on an interactive map open to the public that the nonprofit also uses to advocate directly to legislatures on changes community members would like to see. 
  2. As this was our second to last field day of the year, the other half of our students spent some time reflecting on the FARMS program: sharing the high points of the year, the ways in which the program impacted them, and their advice for future FARMS students.

Alongside our celebration of Kai’s birthday, we circled up to reflect on our day. Students’ highlights included the hard work of tree planting, learning from urban forestry trainees, simply soaking in the sun, and reflecting on their own visions for their community through the Photovoice Project. Until our next field day!

Hanging with LangeTwins

Location of Field Day:
Acampo, CA

Field Day Host:
LangeTwins Winery and Vineyard – Aaron Lange and Kendra Altnow

Theme:
Ecological Balance on Vineyards

Our San Joaquin FARMS Leadership cohort embraced a hot and sunny day of habitat restoration with LangeTwins Winery & Vineyard. With a nutritional breakfast in our bellies, we began by circling up with another community reflection question. This month’s Question Master Bitsy asked her peers to reflect on ‘What is the difference between living and existing?’; students spoke rather wisely of the importance of finding passions, connecting deeply with others, exploring the world around them, and always pushing oneself to grow. After our circle reflection, we jumped into the day’s leadership activity; with ‘One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish’ two teams of students needed to rely on strategizing, communication, teamwork, and listening skills to race to retrieve an object before the other team.

We then received a warm welcome from our friends at family-owned LangeTwins, Aaron Lange and Kendra Altnow. Along the Mokelumne River, Aaron provided us with some fascinating background on the vineyard and, in particular, their efforts to grow wine grapes in a way that both maintains and helps to reestablish ecological balance with the land. LangeTwins take their role as land stewards very seriously; as a long-time partner of Center for Land-Based Learning, they’ve worked with high school students in our programs for over 20 years to install numerous habitat restoration projects that give back to the land that has given so much to them. Students asked Aaron SUCH informed questions: they were curious about the social impact of the vineyard on the surrounding community, about the ways in which the Lange family values their workers, about the nature of the vineyard’s composting and use of integrated pest management systems, and much, much more. Music to an educator’s ears!

From there, it was time to jump into the hands-on efforts of the day: installing a native plant hedgerow. As we stood over the bunch of native plants patiently waiting to go in the ground, Aaron shared the many benefits that hedgerows provide for land and wildlife, but also for farmers: providing increased pollinators for crop production, fixing nitrogen into the farm’s soil, providing wind buffers to prevent soil erosion, and reducing pest populations. After a planting and irrigation demonstration, students set to work; some digging holes, others planting, and others still installing emitters and spaghetti tubing to ensure each plant is happily (and sustainably!) watered. Along the way, students continued to explore the land and people around them, uncovering spiders, bonding with toads, and asking plenty of questions to Aaron and his staff about what it’s like to work at a sustainable vineyard.

After a break for lunch, during which our Nutrition Educators shared the benefits of eating the artichokes and whole grains found in our sandwiches, Aaron and Kendra took us down to the Mokelumne River There, students took some time to explore the riparian habitat bursting with age old oak trees, tiny macroinvertebrates, blue herons, quail calls, and evidence of beaver live. After a few rounds of river fetch with Kendra’s excessively cute dog, we returned to hedgerow planting. One hour and many dirty hands later, students had planted and installed irrigation for 90 native plants along the vineyard block! With students quite proud of the work they did, we circled up to reflect on our day. Students’ highlights included the competitive, communicative nature of the morning’s leadership activity, wading in the Mokelumne River, learning about LangeTwins’ ability to balance the social, environmental, and economic factors of running a farm, and working hard to put so many plants in the earth. Thanks to our partners and our inquisitive, eager students for another awesome field day!

UC Davis Exploration: What’s the next step for our FARMS students?

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley & San Joaquin | February  22, 2022

Location of Field Day: UC Davis – Davis, CA

Field Day Host and Mentors:
Aggie Ambassadors – Co Hawes, Student Leadership Program Coordinator, with Student Leads
UCD Goat Facility – Benjamin Rupchis, Goat Facility Manager
UCD Student Eco Farm – Student Leads

Theme: Sustainable Ag & Environmental Sciences College Pathways

Sac Valley and San Joaquin FARMS students teamed up on a sunny February day to explore the sustainable ag and environmental science world that UC Davis has to offer. After a breakfast of muffins, blood oranges, and kiwis and a lively introductory game of Dance Your Name Out, we dove into a leadership workshop. Co Hawes, the Student Leadership Program Coordinator for Aggie Ambassadors, and Aggie Ambassador students Sara and Somora led us through the Pipeline activity. Two groups of students practiced teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills to transport a marble across the room without actually touching it. After plenty of strategizing, dropped marbles and re-strategizing, students emerged victorious.

Next, FARMS students had some time to connect directly with Aggie Ambassadors, asking them any and all questions they had about college life. Aggie Ambassadors shared their experiences as women in STEM, with balancing school responsibilities, personal lives and mental health, with the many helpful resources UC Davis has to offer, and the joys and challenges of campus life.

We then ventured to the Goat Facility where Benjamin Rupchis toured us around, introducing us to many goat friends along the way. Benjamin shared that the facility is mainly run by students and houses three separate goat herds: a dairy herd, a meat herd and a transgenic research herd, with around 150 goats total. We also learned how the Goat Facility works with the school’s Brewery Certificate Program and Student Farm to make the best possible use of leftover brewery grains and farm produce to feed the goats!

After loving on some goats, we rolled over to the student-run Eco Farm. Student leads Thea and Jon introduced us to the farm’s gorgeous chickens, showed us the inner workings of the farm’s aerobic and anaerobic compost systems, toured us around the produce gardens, and taught us how to harvest from the farm’s U-Pick flower garden.

After a peaceful lunch in the sunshine amongst the farm’s bees, butterflies, and thriving greenery, we strolled across the street to the Student Market. FARMS students were eager to purchase locally student grown produce and marveled over the colorful turnips, radishes, greens, rutabagas and daikons across the market table.

During our closing circle, students shouted out their highlights: loving on goats (of course), the lively pipeline activity, meeting students from another school, and learning about the sustainable efforts of the Eco Farm. Thanks UC Davis partners for a great day!

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