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.

The second phase of hedgerows at the Maples

The Maples
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 9, 2020

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters at the Maples
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Miles DaPrato
Sara Bernal
Joel Jorgensen
MJ Farruggia
Katie Wrightson
Ric Murphy
Chris Jadallah
Joel Jorgensen
Corey Shake
Kendra Just
Bri Grosskopf
Ric Murphy
Dominic Carrillo

Summary of the Day
For our first “double header” SLEWS day (two field days in one!), we were at Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters at the Maples. As you may recall, Woodland High School students participated in a SLEWS project here last year, installing a native plant hedgerow and grasses in the stormwater basin (see the blog posts here: https://landbasedlearning.org/blog/category/slews-program/the-maples/). This year’s project would be somewhat of a continuation of that project, a hedgerow and native grassland perpendicular to that site and extending around an adjacent ag field.

We began the day by installing an irrigation system, working as a team to lay out the irrigation line and install emitters. We followed by planting 205 native plants in the very dry soil – we had to use pickaxes in order to loosen the ground enough to plant! Many of these plants were planted in metal baskets to protect the roots from pesky gophers. We also installed a protective tube around each plant to protect it from wind, herbicides, and pests. The morning volunteer crew got through about two thirds of the planting before the afternoon crew arrived to finish up. Then we began on the next task – mulching! Yolo County RCD had strategically placed native grass straw bales along the hedgerow, and we applied a thick layer of mulch around each plant to assist with moisture retention and prevent weed growth. Finally, to prepare for the native grass seeding to come in a few weeks, we cleared a bunch of cobblestones from an area they had been discarded. Looking forward to watching this hedgerow mature right outside our office doors!

A new kind of SLEWS Field Day

Patchwork Farms/Capay Valley Lavender
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 3, 2020

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Sherri Wood – Patchwork Farms/Capay Valley Lavender
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Bryn Levitan
Jen Metes
Joel Jorgensen
Anna Tolle
Joshua McCabe
Corey Shake
Gina M Radieve
Randy Wittorp
Beth DelReal

Summary of the Day
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, it seemed SLEWS had lucked out – with only 3 field days left, we had completed the majority of the 2019-2020 season. We had no idea, however, for just how long COVID-19 would impact our lives. Schools began the 2020-21 school year distance learning with no end in sight, so we had to figure out a new way to implement the SLEWS Program.

We’ve had a few former SLEWS mentors create videos to share with SLEWS classrooms (check them out here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLipS9UPaDvdYj5GapCpy0XM1a55b5Dndk), but it seemed highly unlikely that students would be able to attend field days in-person anytime soon. Even though our field days are entirely outdoors, transportation from their school/home to the project site was impossible to pull off while adhering to state guidelines.

A new plan emerged: we will host community volunteer field days to keep our planned restoration projects moving forward until students are able to participate in person. We hosted our first field day on December 3, 2020, at Patchwork Farms, an organic lavender farm, in Capay.

A volunteer crew with Putah Creek Council had planted the first half of the native plant hedgerow, so our SLEWS volunteers’ goal was to finish the planting portion and install irrigation. Nine volunteers worked hard to first lay out an irrigation line and install emitters, and then put in 170 plants, affixing a protective tube around each with a bamboo stake. This was easier said than done – the ground was rock-hard and had to be loosed up with a pickaxe in order to dig an adequate hole! These plants are part of a pollinator kit from the Xerces Society, and aim to support the declining Western Monarch population, along with other native pollinators. Throughout the morning, teacher Jerry Delsol from Woodland High School walked around, giving his students at home in their “virtual classroom” a feel for the Field Day, interviewing mentors and explaining the project details. It was fun to finally interact with high school students after so many months! After a long morning of hard work, volunteers enjoyed a burrito lunch (classic SLEWS!) before heading home for the day. Next at this site will be mulching around the hedgerow!