Hanging with LangeTwins

Location of Field Day:
Acampo, CA

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

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!

An Ode to the End of Winter

SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | March 17th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
La Tourangelle

Participating School:
Woodland High School

Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
Christine Polycarpe, La Tourangelle Foundation
Nathan Leathers, Yolo Farm to Fork
Stephanie Douglas, University of California Master Gardeners

Heather Lyon, West Sacramento Urban Farm Program Coordinator, Center for Land-Based Learning
Alex Lintner, GrizzlyCorps Fellow, Center for Land-Based Learning
Miles DaPrato, Environmental Steward, University of California Davis Arboretum and Public Garden
Carol Maxwell, Restoration Ecologist, GEI Consultants
Gina Radieve, Senior Environmental Scientist, California Department of Water Resources

Accomplishments: Planted ~130 native pollinator plants and installed 900 feet of irrigation with 130 emitters for the upcoming hedgerow.

Summary of the Day:
On our final SLEWS day of the winter season, we had a very special opportunity to work with University of California Master Gardeners assisting in the planting of a pollinator habitat at La Tourangelle. With the support of the Yolo RCD, Woodland High School students installed the entire irrigation line with emitters for the upcoming hedgerow project followed by planting and mulching of the pollinator garden.

Learning about the property of La Tourangelle and the great products they produce students got to engage with a local farm that impacts their personal ecosystems. One student even mentioned they could see the farm from their back yard, if that isn’t farm to table, I don’t know what is! Learning about pollinator habitats through play-based activities students were able to model a basic ecosystem of a bee and relate that to the habitat they had just planted.

We are looking forward to our second and final field day at the end of April when we will have the opportunity to plant the hedgerows and engage in reciprocity by weeding the previously planted pollinator garden!

Thanks to everyone for their contributions! A special thanks to Yolo RCD, the La Tourangelle Foundation, and the UC Master Gardeners who made this site feasible for the SLEWS Program. Additional thanks to Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation whose support makes this project possible.

A Day of Reciprocity

SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 17th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
The Maples – CLBL Headquarters

Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Point Blue Conservation Science
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
The Maples

Beth DelReal, Caring for our Watersheds Coordinator, Center for Land-Based Learning
Amber Rosen, Senior Development Officer, Center for Land-Based Learning
Jeanne Wirka, Ecologist, Center for Land-Based Learning
Alex Lintner, Grizzly Corps Fellow, Center for Land-Based Learning

Accomplishments: Planted 134 container plants with gopher baskets and installed ~1500 feet of irrigation line with emitters for each plant.

Summary of the Day:
For the first time this season we had students at The Maples, the Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters, for a planting filled field day! Beginning with a discussion surrounding the act of reciprocity students ate breakfast and discussed how sharing food related to the restoration project we were about to complete.

Over the course of the day students reflected upon their impact on the environment by recognizing the peoples’ whose land we were working on (Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation) and discussing the dangers of a single perspective. Following the introduction to the space students laid out irrigation line and discussed the impacts properly installed drip irrigation can have on the survival of a plant.

Planting 145 container plants with gopher baskets and approximately 1500 feet of irrigation students got to see the impact of their efforts. Rounding out the day with a learning activity about ecosystems students further reflected on what they had learned and how they were positively impacting the environment.

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.

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