Blown Away With Productivity! (Literally)

SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 15th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
Free Spirit Farms

Partners/Landowners:
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Point Blue Conservation Science
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
Free Spirit Farms

Mentors:
Dana Stokes
Morgan Caudill
Aaron Haiman
Sara Lipschutz
Leigh Siracusano

Accomplishments: Planted 136 plants and installed ~1500 feet of irrigation line with emitters for each plant.

Summary of the Day:
For this SLEWS field day we had the opportunity to work with one of the original incubation farmers with the Center for Land-Based Learning, Toby Hastings. Wanting to build out pollinator habitats along his organic farm, students had the opportunity to learn about the benefits hedgerows can have for agriculture.

On this wild and windy day 11 students triumphed planting close to all 3 hedgerows that will be installed at this site! Students were able to lay out all the irrigation and install all the emitters that will be necessary to help these hedgerows succeed.

Following the planting students enjoyed the famous SLEWS burritos and a fun activity demonstrating population dynamics. Students acted out an ecosystem with bees, resources, birds, and herbicide to show how different plants and animals interact with one another. Students then had the opportunity to practice their questioning skills by observing a cheez-it box and thinking about what was inside. Little did they know it was a bag of pumpkin seeds! This activity allowed them to begin thinking about questions they had regarding the restoration work we were doing. Ending the day with a social media challenge, students were able to show what they had learned about the space and what they were excited for.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions! A special thanks to Yolo RCD who helped with the implementation plan and took care of our plants before the long awaited planting day. Additonal thanks to NRCS and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation whose support makes this project possible. A final thanks to the owner Toby Hastings for allowing us to assist with the planting of hedgerows on his farm.

The last volunteer SLEWS day

Wild Oak Vineyards
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | May 20, 2021

Partners/Landowners
Solano Resource Conservation District
Wild Oak Vineyards

Volunteers
Gina Radieve
Josh McCabe
Dominic Carrillo
Sara Lipschutz
Weipeng Wang
Samuel Flohr
Natalie Ruckstuhl
Noreen Mabini
Karyn Utsumi
Teresa Clapham

Summary of the Day
This season (our 20th!) of SLEWS has looked different than all others before it. The glaring difference? A distinct lack of high school students. I have been extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of adult volunteers, but I know all of us are eagerly awaiting the moment we can have a field day with high school students once again.

To cap off our 2020-21 season, we held a long-awaited field day at Wild Oak Vineyards in Fairfield. This was actually meant to be a SLEWS site in the 2019-20 season, but when the project was delayed we relocated to a project at Lake Dalwigk in Vallejo (blog post here: http://landbasedlearning.org/blog/2020/03/12/urban-greening-in-vallejo/). It was fun to finally make this day happen with volunteers and Solano RCD staff!

At our opening circle many volunteers were surprised to recognize each other from class at UC Davis – what a coincidence! Amy King from Solano RCD introduced us to the project site and the day’s activities, and Sarah McKibbin presented about monarch butterfly conservation and the role of farms like this one in the effort to save them. One of our volunteers shared that she had been planting pollinator plants in her apartment complex and asked for resources to continue doing so!

After our introductions, it was time to get to work. The first task was spreading piles mulch in a future planting area – this will help prevent weed growth and improve water retention in the soil to give those plants a better foundation. There was one area that didn’t have enough mulch, so half our group stayed to cart wheelbarrows full of mulch back and forth to fill in the area while the other half started the other task – weeding. Volunteers made their way along a previously planted hedgerow of native plants and used hoes to remove weeds growing near the plants. This will reduce competition between the native and non-native plants and give them a better chance of survival. We even found a patch of milkweed that had popped up on its own!

After a vigorous morning of work, it was time to break for lunch. I enjoyed spending lunch chatting with some of our volunteers – many of whom are hoping to find a career in habitat restoration! Off to a great start, I’d say. Cheers to a great, albeit strange, 2020-2021 SLEWS season!

Fifth-Generation Winemaking in Acampo

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.

Thank you ’20/’21 FARMS Leadership students!