A Day of Reciprocity

SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 17th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
The Maples – CLBL Headquarters

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

Mentors:
Beth DelReal
Amber Rosen
Jeanne Wirka
Alex Lintner

Accomplishments: Planted 145 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.

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.

Ecological Agriculture

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | November 30, 2021

Location of Field Day:
Center for Land-Based Learning – Woodland, CA

Field Day Host and Mentors:
Center for Land-Based Learning – Alex Lintner & Ric Murphy
Yolo Resource Conservation District – Amy Williams
Picnic Table Farms – Paul Boulware

Theme:
Ecological Agriculture

River City High School joined us for our November FARMS Leadership field day all about Ecological Agriculture: the essential practice of aligning agriculture with ecological principles that support the health of the surrounding wildlife, land and humans. Students spent the day at our Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters learning about Ecological Ag from two central perspectives: 1) folks at the Yolo Resource Conservation District who work to improve and sustain Yolo County’s natural resources and land and 2) the founder of Picnic Table Farms who works to grow produce galore on Yolo County’s land.

We began our day focusing on connecting with one another and understanding the importance of leadership. After checking in and learning a bit more about each other during our Opening Circle, we introduced River City to field day Student Leadership Roles: roles that give students the opportunity to guide and teach their peers about issues related to the central FARMS Leadership Pillars, while practicing their research, public speaking, self-reflection, and communication skills. 

After a quick tour of CLBL’s farm facilities, we ventured out to meet Amy Williams and her RCD crew who came armed with 70 native trees, shrubs and plants ready to go in the ground. In recent months, CLBL has partnered with Yolo RCD to install three massive hedgerows around CLBL farm land, in an effort to provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators, improve the land’s soil health, and sequester carbon. Amy, the Project Manager, and CLBL’s GrizzlyCorps Member and soil expert Alex Litner, helped to educate our students not only on all the benefits hedgerows provide for land and wildlife, but also for our farmers: providing increased pollinators crop production, fixing nitrogen into the farm’s soil, providing wind buffers to prevent soil erosion, and reducing pest populations. Talk about a symbiotic relationship!

After Amy’s planting demonstration, students got their hands dirty planting Yarrow, Showy Milkweed, Valley Oak, and Pacific Aster among 16 other types of native California plants. Within just over an hour, students had planted 50 plants!

After a break for lunch during which our student Nutrition Educators researched and presented the nutrition benefits of the strawberries and kale we were munching on, we went to meet some farmers. Ric Murphy, CLBL’s Incubator Farm Program Manager, gave students the low-down on the program’s mission to provide beginner farmers with land, infrastructure and ongoing training. After encouraging students to consider the perks of a career in farming, Ric introduced us to Paul Boulware, a participant in the Incubator Farmer Program and the founder of Picnic Table Farms. 

We spent the remainder of our afternoon with Farmer Paul. He toured us through his colorful half acre plot stacked with massive carrots, pink celery, deep green and purple salad mixes, and salad turnips. As students taste-tested his veggies, Paul shared his sustainable growing practices with us along the way: everything hand grown with no machine use, no-till farming, natural pest management, and keeping roots in the soil as long as possible for turning a bed to plant the next crop. Students were amazed by the amount and the beauty that all Paul has been able to produce while maintaining balance with his ecological surroundings. 

After Paul sent students off with a butternut squash each and a container of salad turnip seeds for their school’s garden, we ended the day with our Closing Circle. While students around the circle shared lots of learning highlights from the day, the common theme seemed to be the land. Everyone shared an appreciation for the new ways they learned to care for the land and its vast resources that support us, whether it be from the farmer’s or the conservationist’s perspective.