Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | May 3rd, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
La Tourangelle

Participating School:
Woodland High School

Partners/Landowners:
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
Christine Polycarpe, La Tourangelle Foundation
Nathan Leathers, Yolo Farm to Fork

Mentors:
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: 119 shrubs and grasses along with tubex, bamboo stakes, and mulch!

Summary of the Day:
There’s no better way to end a SLEWS season than with some phenomenal productivity! Woodland High School students had their second and final field day at La Tourangelle completing 4 sections of hedgerows, planting 119 grasses and shrubs.

Re-introducing students to plants along the hedgerow we utilized our sense of touch and smell to identify plant cuttings within paper bags. Tasked with finding their assigned plant along the hedgerow students honed in on their identification skills. Following this activity students created plant ID cards using a variety of resources. Creating their own identification card for the plant of their choice they were able to share with others what they believed was crucial to know about a specific plant.

To round out the final day we concluded with a closing circle that gave students a chance to say one word that resembled their experience with the program. With words such as “inspiring,” “educational,” and “fun,” I left the field day appreciative of the community everyone was able to build.

We would like to thank all of our partners for their amazing work to support this project. Thanks to La Tourangelle for letting us work on their amazing property and the Yolo Resource Conservation District staff for allocating time to teaching students proper planting techniques and providing the materials necessary to complete the project. Finally thanks to Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation for providing the funding to make this site possible through the Yolo Creek Community Partnership.

The Mighty Mentors of SLEWS

SLEWS Program | Central Valley | January 27th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
The Maples

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

Mentors/Volunteers:
Jeanne Wirka, Alex Lintner, Beth DelReal, Heather Lyon, Morgan Caudill, Anna Tolle, Ric Murphy, Sara Lipschutz, Brandi Murphy, Nick Gallagher, Joaquin Pastrana, Grace Ferguson, Amy Williams, and Natalia (SLEWS Intern!)

Accomplishments: 12 native grasses and 86 shrubs/sub-shrubs planted with tubex, bamboo stakes, and fully mulched! 800 feet of drip irrigation installed.

Summary of the Day:
A total of 14 SLEWS mentors and volunteers came together to complete the east hedgerow on The Maples property. Despite the absence of students, we were able to kick off this field day “test run” in the typical SLEWS fashion. Volunteers got the opportunity to engage in a project from start to finish, planting a total of 98 plants complete with drip irrigation, mulch, gopher baskets, tubex, and bamboo stakes. Preparing for the day students return to the field in February, mentors had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, get to know the partners they would be working with, and of course enjoy the famous SLEWS burritos at the end of the day rewarding all the hard work they had completed.

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. Additional thanks to NRCS and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation whose support makes this project possible.

Farm to Fork Olive Oil

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | October 26, 2021

Location of Field Day:
Cobram Estate – Woodland, CA

Field Day Host and Mentors:
Cobram Estate – Ciriaco Chavez and Mikayla Gnoss

Theme:
Olive Oil & Sustainable Ag

The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership crew kicked off our first field day of the season at Cobram Estate, a leading CA producer of olive oil. After students chowed down some healthy breakfast burritos, we hopped back in our vehicles to venture out to two of Cobram’s olive tree orchards. Strolling through the orchards with Cobram’s Ciraco Chavez and Mikayla Gnoss, we learned all about olive varieties, Cobram’s unique style of planting olive trees (quite different from the iconic olive tree orchards you might see across Europe), and Cobram’s efforts at sustainable growing practices (including a state of the art drip irrigation system and equipment that tracks daily moisture levels to determine the exact amount of water needed by trees, no more, no less. Before heading back, students each harvested olives by hand.

From the orchards, we moved into some mill exploration. Ciriaco and Mikayla led us through olive oil processing from beginning to end: 1) trucks dump loads of harvested olives into an underground collector, 2) olives travel upward again on automated belts which transport them through high-tech machinery that separates good from bad olives, 3) olives are crushed and sent through several centrifuges that separate out the oil, 4) oil is stored in massive vats that can hold up to tens of thousands of gallons, and finally 5) oil is bottled and labeled by automated machines. Our last stop on the tour was Modern Olives: an independent olive oil research laboratory housed within Cobram Estate. We discussed ag careers at every stop, from orchard management to engineering and building mill machinery to laboratory research within Modern Olives.

After students sat down for a fantastic olive oil tasting led by Modern Olive’s head researcher, students made their own olive oil-based (using Cobram Estate oil of course!) salad dressings which they enjoyed on salads for lunch. We ended the day with the olives the students harvested that morning: utilizing observation skills, math skills, and scales, students each calculated the average ripeness level of each tree they harvested from. As Cobram approaches their harvest season, our partners were happy to have our students do some of their olive sampling for them!

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