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Posts tagged ‘agriculture’

Agriculture Day for Leadership Santa Rosa Class 27

I’m involved in this great program called Leadership Santa Rosa run by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. All chambers have leadership programs but we are going into our 28th year, which I understand is the longest running of it’s kind in the U.S. I was in Class 26 and am the incoming President for the Alumni Association. There are many theme days: government, business, green issues, health & human services, media & marketing, justice, education, hospitality & tourism (watch for a blog on that one), and the most popular is agriculture. I was on the committee to produce Class 27’s Agriculture Day on 5/19/11. See my blog from last year’s Ag Day.

We visited the Rancho Laguna Dairy and heard from Art Lafranchi about the dairy business. What is amazing about this day is that it starts so early in the morning yet we are halfway through their workday by the time we arrive at the dairy. Last year when I went through the program compared to today were very different experiences. Since earlier this year, I have been flitting between being a vegan and a vegetarian. Those cows looked a lot different, let me tell you.

Flickr Photo Album

Tierra Vegetables is this wonderful CSA farm in Santa Rosa. Community supported agriculture, or CSA, is basically a membership to a farm. You pay a monthly cost to get a set amount of veggies either delivered for you or available for pickup. Evie & Wayne James gave us a lovely tour and the thing I noticed the most, next to the beautiful vegetation, was the fact that Wayne walked his land barefoot. I was blown away at the thought that he knew how his land felt through his entire body. Sounds silly but it’s a grounding concept. If you know of anyone that is stealing their produce, they’d greatly like it to stop.

There is a secret in Sonoma County. The Gourmet Mushroom Farm is this enclave of amazing foodstuffs in the form of fungi. The GMF doesn’t open their doors for anyone really. That’s the beauty of LSR. We get to go places no one else could get close to. Bob Engel gives us a tour every year and the idea that mushrooms can grow on wood always blows people away.

Most of the people traveling on that day were by bus, I drove my car because I had to leave early. This day is even more special because of the bonding that occurs on the bus.

On to Shone Farm, the botanical educational laboratory for the JC agriculture, viticulture, and culinary courses. Leonard Diggs is a farmer through and through. The beauty here is striking. The students that get to learn about animals, farming, vineyard work, winemaking, the culinary arts, as well as having a location for large events within the horse arena in the Dutton Pavilion. Last year we were there during tomato season and got to taste some 🙂

We had a great panel of speakers to speak on Emerging Trends & Challenges of Agriculture. They were: Lex McCorvey, Sonoma County Farm Bureau; Dave Whitmer, Napa County Agriculture Commission & Interim Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner; Joe Pozzi, Pozzi Ranch Lamb; and Clark Wolf, Clark Wolf Company.

The day ended at DeLoach Vineyards with a panel on the Sonoma County Wine Industry with Brian Maloney of DeLoach Vineyards; Rhonda Smith of UC Cooperative Extension; and Nick Frey of Sonoma Winegrape Commission. There was a tasting but I’m sad to have missed that part of the day. The gardens, bees, vineyards, guesthouse, and pool were phenomenal.

Thanks to all the great hosts, speakers, and locations that are made available to this amazing program. We couldn’t do it without all of you!

The Salsa Bike Made Nature Even More Fun

Particulars:
Saturday October 23, 2010
LandPaths‘ Bayer Farm Neighborhood Park & Gardens
1550 West Ave., Santa Rosa

This event was supposed to be beautiful. The weather was supposed to cooperate and show off the lush grounds of Bayer Farm, a great community garden. Guess what? I’ve never gotten so wet in my whole life. It absolutely poured.

My club, Rotary Club of Santa Rosa West, and LandPaths have partnered to plant a Rotary Grove of Trees to supplement the wonderful vegetation already being grown in this urban garden. This event was for awareness raising in the community. Boy, it rained. But you know what? We still had a great time! (See the photo album here.)

There were youth volunteers, LandPaths staff, Rotary Club members and community members. The kids chopped fresh veggies, Rotary members cooked and prepped, we had an art table, a pumpkin carving section, an art show, a raffle, a health education booth, and a salsa bike. The salsa bike was my favorite part of the day. I learned how to make salsa from scratch and I will never forget how much fun those kids (and our Rotary President Bill Dodson took a turn!) had making salsa from their own foot power.

Who says nature has to be dry to be fun?

Nature in the Neighborhood

Particulars:
Saturday July 10, 2010
Bayer Neighborhood Park & Gardens
1550 West Ave., Santa Rosa
(view my Flickr photo album)

Bayer Farm

I am a fairly new member of Rotary Club of Santa Rosa West and my club does something special. The club has for the last two years provided new members or “Red Badge-r”s the opportunity to take a $1000 stipend and either donate it to a cause or turn it into something more. The first year this was done an event to fundraise for a program called Dogs for Diabetics. (I will talk more about their upcoming July 17 soon). My team has decided to support the Bayer Neighborhood Park & Gardens which is commonly known as Bayer Farm. We visited the site to get a better feel for what they do. (stay tuned for an announcement of the way my Red Badge team will support the farm)

Community gardeners, currently 37 families, maintain 34 plots as well as the common land. It sits on City of Santa Rosa land and will eventually be turned into a public park. The city provides the water and compost setup while LandPaths is the organization that operates the endeavor. The main goal is providing a chance for urban families to experience nature by maintaining their own gardens, education, and supporting the neighborhood.

Community gardeners must agree to perform a predetermined amount of volunteer hours before being assigned a plot, pay $20 per year as an honorarium, and continue to participate in maintaining the community grounds. There is a waiting list but thankfully it isn’t too long.

Sunflower

Redwood Empire Food Bank runs a Free Summer Lunch Program Monday-Friday 11:30-1pm in the summer, feeding an average of 80 children a day.

It has a teaching & demonstration garden and workshops are taught where one can learn various things like how to plant a winter garden (upcoming Aug. 21 and I WILL be attending). The cost for the workshops are on a sliding scale, approx. $20 at the top end. They are hoping to incorporate cooking classes soon. The produce that is a result of the teaching garden is sold at the Bayer Farmstand right on site August-October.

Friday events are a community party. Aztec drummers, food, families, pumpkin carving in season, puppet shows and more. They partnered with KRCB on Tom Sawyer Day with many small town activities for the kids including a treasure hunt and three legged races.

Several nearby schools have educational relationships with the farm. Curriculum has been developed and provided to teachers so that they can bring their classes to the farm on their own, if desired. Educators are also encouraged to use the farm for lessons other than gardening. If they can think of ways to teach math, science, languages and more using the space, bring it! The Girl Scouts and 4H have many days spent in the sun, working on the land. 4H is donating the produce from their plot to the farmstand. High school kids are able to log in their required volunteer hours working at Bayer. Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) even get their kids that are staying in the shelter out of the house and into the therapeutic work of gardening in their plot.

The greatest need Bayer Farm has is the money to pay for the operating costs of the program as well as the salaries for the employees it takes to make everything run. They also have something unique, Magdalena, LandPaths’ Bayer Farm Outreach Coordinator. She is bilingual and that is absolutely necessary in the neighborhood that Bayer is located in.

If you have a recession/victory garden, are part of the slow food movement, love sustainability, your community, are locally minded, want to fight obesity, raise awareness about the importance of getting back to the land and feeding our brothers good food, please visit Bayer Farm. You will fall in love and want to romp the grounds like a little kid. And I promise I won’t tell anyone if you climb the big tree.

The Big Tree at Bayer Farm

The Big Tree-the first some kids have ever climbed

Buy Local Eat Local

I am part of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Leadership Santa Rosa program and there is so much information I’ve learned already that I’m simply going to have to share.

Agriculture Day was last week and we visited La Tortilla Factory (sadly we won’t get a tour of that location until later), La Franchi Dairy, Gourmet Mushroom Farm, Gabriel Farm, Shone Farm (JC farm), and Kendall Jackson Winery. Airport Express shuttled us from location to location and we learned a lot but only got to scratch the surface.

Lex McCorvey is the Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and he opened up our day for us. Seriously, I could have listened to him all day. I am a farm bureau member simply for the savings it gets me on my health insurance. I honestly don’t think after my insurance went from one carrier to another that I even need the membership anymore but after listening to what a wonderfully necessary organization this is, I will keep it simply to support them. With a Masters in Ag from Cal Poly and a vocational agriculture JC teacher, he spoke with such a mastery of the subject matter, I would’ve listened as long as he kept talking.

Art LaFranchi, owner of Rancho Laguna Dairy Corporation, was kind enough to show us his dairy farm, LaFranchi Dairy, a Clover Stornetta dairy. I came in a little urbanized and left with a high level of appreciation for the skill and yes, humaneness, that these dairy workers have for the animals that give them so much.

Happy Baby Cow
Happy Baby Cow

The Gourmet Mushroom Inc. farm was fascinating. As Bob Engel said, “We grow food from sawdust!” They’ve been doing it on the DL since 1977 and they have it DOWN. From alba clamshells ™ to trumpet royale ™, forest nameko ™ to maiteake frondosa ™, I’d never put much thought into gourmet mushrooms but now I want to taste them all. I wish there was a way to get them prepared by a chef and taste them all in their appropriate culinary environments.

Mushroom Caps
Mushroom Caps

Gabriel Farm is a classic hometown farm. Local, friendly, and a beautiful daytrip. They grown 9 varieties of Asian pears, have jam, juice, and other yummies from their bounty. I look forward to going back to their farm to pick my own apples and blackberries in the future.

I got a Buy Fresh Buy Local book printed by CAFF-Community Alliance with Family Farms-that really goes into detail about farmers’ markets, food seasons, CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture, and restaurants that support local agriculture. Please visit www.caff.org and www.foodroutes.org for more information.

The Gabriel Farm "Art Man"
The Gabriel Farm “Art Man”

We had lunch at the beautiful Shone Farm where we got a tour of the facility in addition to learning about challenges in agriculture, namely water and exotic pests. I was thoroughly impressed with the sheer variety of agricultural lessons contained at that farm via the Santa Rosa JC. Vineyard growth, winemaking, equine, livestock, crops, greenhouses, culinary, it goes on an on.

Shone Farm Garden
Shone Farm Garden

Last but not least, we visited Kendall Jackson and learned from a variety of people in the wine business the challenges and issues they face. We tasted several vintages and it ended the day nicely.

As you can see, there was so much I learned, I simply had to share!

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