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cal poly, san luis obispo summer/fall 2014

inside

The Climb to Victory Cal Poly Logging Team Earns Top Award at Regional Conclave

Nothing to Wine About Central Coast Wineries Offering More Than Just Wine

Making a Roar as a Brand New Business One Company’s Mission to Get Healthy Snacks into the Hands of People Everywhere


LETTER FROM THE STAFF ENJOY THE SUMMER/FALL ISSUE!

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al Poly is known for many things. The Learn by Doing philosophy, top-notch engineering program and prime location are a few examples. But, it is the less obvious features of Cal Poly that truly make it unique. This issue uncovers some of the university’s best-kept secrets and highlights students, past and present, who embody the spirit that sets Cal Poly apart.

Anyone who discovers the Leaning Pine Arboretum can attest to its beauty, serenity and learning opportunities. Its exotic gardens transport students

and visitors to another part of the world without ever leaving campus. Students are also finding ways to distinguish themselves and the university through competition. The Cal Poly Logging Team doesn’t let a lack of nearby forests stand in their way of success. Their passion for the sport overcomes any misconceptions and they continue the climb to victory. Similarly, Cal Poly’s Polo Team is unknown to many, but they are growing and making a name for themselves in the arena. Several Cal Poly alumni are also rising to the top as they serve up fresh ideas and build their brands. Four recent grads created Rawr Bars, a unique vegetable-based snack bar that is targeted to kids. Nisse Noble, a Graphic Communications alumna, is pursuing her dreams and bringing her personal style to life with her country-inspired clothing line: TumbleRoot. Rancher and alum, Jack Varian, is using progressive farming practices and a focus on sustainability to innovate his operation. At Cal Poly we are always striving for success, and that is no secret. This issue is a testament to that not only because of the stories within it, but because of the people who created it. This may be the last issue of the school year with our one-of-a-kind team, but you can look forward to a dynamic staff and exceptional set of magazines next year. Thanks for joining us on this journey,

Kenna, Amanda, Taylor and Jordan 2 | Summer/Fall 2014

ON THE COVER Vanessa Alexandre’s winning photograph from our photo contest. See page 15 for more entries.


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agcircle Volume 32, Issue 3, Summer/Fall 2014 Published three times a year by the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication California Polytechnic State University Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

AGRICULTURAL COMMUNICATION: DECADES IN THE MAKING

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Faculty Advisor Megan Silcott

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Graphic Designer Jordan Dunn Submissions to agcircle are welcome. Permission to Reproduce All material in this issue may be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. The contents of agcircle are generated by students, and do not reflect the opinions of California Polytechnic State University, its administration or faculty. This issue of agcircle was printed by PRP Companies.

THE UNTOUCHED WORLD

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Editor-in-Chief Taylor Pires

Photographers Christian Alexandre, Vanessa Alexandre, Cal Poly Logging Team, Cal Poly NAMA Team, Cal Poly Polo Team, Haley Colombo, Joshua Fridlund, Sarah Frushour, Mackenzie Gomes, Kenna Lewis, Catherine Machado, Hanna Meisinger, Brandon Morris, Garrett Morris, Susanne Parrish, Katie Roberti, Megan Silcott, TumbleRoot, Lauren Varian, VegThisWay

Cal Poly’s Polo Team

A Student’s First-Hand Experience Studying Abroad

Writers Vanessa Alexandre, Meridith Bibbo, Haley Colombo, Jordan Dunn, Maddison Easley, Hannah Fortin, Sarah Frushour, Kenna Lewis, Catherine Machado, Hanna Meisinger, Amanda Meneses, Harrison Reilly, Katie Roberti

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805.756.6138 brockctr@calpoly.edu Building 10, Room 234

Associate Editors Amanda Meneses Jordan Dunn Kenna Lewis

THE SPORT OF KINGS

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The Story of the Major’s Beginings and Where it is Now

AROUND THE WORLD IN FIVE ACRES

A Look at Cal Poly’s Arboretum

CAL POLY NAMA TEAM SHINES AT NATIONALS

National Agri-Marketing Association Team

THE CLIMB TO VICTORY

Cal Poly Logging Team Earns Top Award at Regional Conclave

PHOTO CONTEST

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LEARNING, INNOVATING AND SUSTAINING

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SAN LUIS OBISPO LIKES IT LOCAL

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IF THE BARNS COULD TALK

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NOTHING TO WINE ABOUT

LOCAL

How Cal Poly Was Just the Start of Jack Varian’s Ranching Success

The Trend of Eating Local Hits San Luis Obispo

History of San Luis Obispo County Dairies

Central Coast Wineries Offering More Than Just Wine

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ONE SWEET RIDE

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MAKING A ROAR AS A BRAND NEW BUSINESS

P O S T P O LY

Two Bicycles. Two Brothers. One Mission.

One Company’s Mission to Get Healthy Snacks into the Hands of People Everywhere

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An Entrepreneurial Spirit Meets Country-Inspired Fashion

ENTERING THE FASHION SCENE: TUMBLEROOT STYLE


The Sport of Kings

Cal Poly’s Polo Team

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he sport of polo may bring to mind images of eloquent spectators on European estates, not the easy-going lifestyle of the typical Cal Poly student. However, the sport does have its place here on California’s Central Coast. Cal Poly’s Polo Team is among the university’s bestkept secrets. Many students are unaware of the team, despite the sport’s growing national popularity. This year’s men and women’s teams have a combined total of about 15 students, and have been competing in tournaments together since the early parts of the Fall 2013 Quarter. KJ Block, a Wine and Viticulture senior, said that the team is always growing, and has had more opportunities this year than they have in the past. This was the first year in the last two years Cal Poly had a men’s varsity team able to compete because they haven’t had enough players in the past, Block explained. “It was nice being able to actually play at regionals, and not just sit and watch,” he said. Although the men and women’s polo teams might not be Cal Poly’s most well-known sports teams, they are still exceptionally 4 | Summer/Fall 2014

Story by Jordan Dunn Photos provided by the Cal Poly Polo Team skilled at what they do. Cal Poly had the opportunity to host the Intercollegiate West Coast Regional Tournament this past year. Miriam Flock, a freshman Animal Science major, described the tournament that took place during finals week of the Winter 2014 Quarter and its successful outcome. “We have six girls on our varsity team,” Flock said. “Our women’s varsity team won the competition and got to move onto nationals, held in Brookshire, Texas. We unfortunately lost to Cornell, but the girls played well.” The Polo Team is sanctioned through a partnership with the Central Coast Polo Club (CCPC). CCPC is not exclusive to Cal Poly, however, as it also serves community members who are interested in the sport. There are junior teams made up of young adults who play at the CCPC, Block explained. “We practice with the juniors often,” he said. “It’s a pretty good time.” CCPC is placed in the rural area between San Luis Obispo and Los Osos, giving them lots of room for their practice grounds. Cal Poly’s team practices at CCPC five to six times a week, and hosts its matches there as well. The grounds even have


CAMPUS BUZZ

stables for students to house their polo ponies. If the student doesn’t have their own horse to play with, CCPC provides them for the team, Block explained. There are two types of polo played in the United States: arena and grass polo. Cal Poly and its competing collegiate teams play arena polo, which means matches are held in a dirt arena, opposed to a larger grass field. This is because the East Coast teams don’t have the appropriate weather to keep a grass field healthy during the cold polo season. For someone who is not familiar with

polo, it can be difficult to follow along with how the game is actually played. In the collegiate competitions, the matches are set three-on-three, with a total of six players on the field at a time. Each school provides 12 horses for the match, and each member of both teams must ride each horse at least once. The match is split into four, seven and a half-minute quarters called “chukkers”. Polo is played similar to soccer, in the sense that the players are trying to hit the ball through the opposing team’s goal. What is different, however, is the much smaller ball is hit with a long-

how to play

COLLEGIATE POLO Collegiate polo is played in dirt arenas, with six players in play at a time (three from each team). Both teams are responsible for providing horses, and each player must ride each horse at some point during the polo match.

handled mallet from horseback. Any Cal Poly student who is interested in joining the polo team, or just learning how to play the sport, can come to a Cal Poly Polo Club meeting or visit the Central Coast Polo Club’s website for more information. CCPC is welcoming to all skill levels, and willing to train anyone who is interested. “We love to have people come and try it,” Block said. “It’s awesome! You don’t even need riding experience. We can teach you everything as long as you have a good attitude and are willing to learn.”

The polo ball is struck by the player using their mallet. Polo mallets range in size, depending on the rider’s and horse’s heights.

Line of the Ball: When a player strikes the ball, other players may not cross the imaginary line that leads in front of and behind the ball, or a foul will be called. This rule keeps riders and their polo ponies safe.

Polo matches are split into four, seven minute 30 second quarters called “Chukkers”. agcircle

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The Untouched World A Student’s First-Hand Experience Studying Abroad

Story and photos by Vanessa Alexandre


CAMPUS BUZZ “Not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau. I had never known the great depths of this quote in so many aspects until I studied abroad. Intellectually, professionally and independently, I was able to understand my true passions and purposes in life. I embarked on a purposedriven journey to New Zealand, a country referred to as the Untouched World; a country where there are eight times more sheep than people and the term kiwi can be referred to as a nationality, bird or fruit. I always thought I grew up in the greenest place on earth, with luscious green Northern California grass. It wasn’t until I crossed nearly 6,700 miles over the Pacific Ocean that I realized there was one other place just as beautiful. My five months in New Zealand positively changed my view of global agriculture, travel and international relations. So many parts of the country stole my heart, with its beauty and advanced grazing dairy farming systems.

Agriculture Abroad

Growing up on a grazing dairy farm, I went to New Zealand with the intention to learn. With a large proportion of the country dedicated to agriculture, I wanted to see the various practices implemented throughout the country. In a land where having water means having wealth, the grass is always green and the mountains are truly majestic, I was able to learn some advanced agriculture practices. I learned while working on a dairy farm and through visiting high-tech operations at the sheep, beef, dairy and even deer farming levels. The experience was similar to Cal Poly in that every classroom lab, field trip or lecture was in a hands-on environment, allowing student experiences to go beyond

the classroom. New Zealand farmers have a key philosophy to their successes: efficiently manage “people and pasture.” These two priorities allow their dairy industry to be one of the world’s largest dairy exporters, as well as a technologically advanced country in the dairy industry. The simplicity to New Zealand agriculture was an experience in itself. When you visit a dairy farm, you will find acres upon acres of green pasture, a rotary milking parlor centralized in a field, large pivot irrigation systems, and a calf barn where they raise all of their heifer calves together. New Zealand farms differ from commercial California dairies because of their seasonal approach to managing cows and calves. For example, many New

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Zealand dairies calve out all of their cows in the spring as opposed to year-round calvings like in California. You will even run across a few robotic dairies, where robotic milk machines milk the cows up to six times a day, rather than the average two times a day. I also visited a larger dairy farm that has incorporated two different milking systems: some of the cows are milked once a day in order to decrease the amount of walking distance a cow goes from the milk parlor to the field. I learned little tricks like that added up to a large list of differences in the dairy industry in New Zealand and the United States; a list I was able to bring back to my family’s farm to incorporate onto our dairy.

Ingenuity Everywhere

Growing up on an organic dairy farm, I have had the opportunity to visit many farms and conferences across the United States to expand my dairy knowledge and network. While attending conferences is

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engaging, visiting other dairy farms is where I am most able to understand and comprehend the matters discussed. This immersion has helped me gain valuable land management skills and dairy farm practices. Whether it’s using a pasture plate meter, which measures the height of available pasture for cows in the field, or recognizing that in a grazing industry being able to manage pasture should be one of your top priorities. During my last month in New Zealand, I went to an Open House put on by Lincoln University’s dairy. The first man to speak discussed American dairy farming. He spoke about a trip he had taken to the United States visiting dairy farms in California, Idaho and Texas. He finished with a strong statement, “American ingenuity and agriculture is not something to fear, but to learn from.” While I completely agreed with his statement, I also saw this as a way to describe agriculture anywhere. We all have a common purpose within our industry. We hope to provide a wholesome product for our consumers with integrity. While we may be unique in the way we produce and provide, our common interests at the end of the day make it a similar industry. Although these grazing practices cannot be global, they can be implemented in certain parts of the world.

A New Perspective

Some people study abroad to travel and see the world, some to understand a different culture; I went to experience agriculture in another country. I went with the intention of learning about grazing dairy farms from an international perspective, more specifically to take what I had learned in the classroom and experienced on farms back to my family’s operation. This whole experience of personal growth, making life-long friends, learning more about dairy farming, and seeing a different part of God’s beauty, was a complete blessing. It has continued to allow my love of dairy farming to grow deeper and deeper. During the mid-semester break, Vanessa spent two weeks with Phil and Jos Everest. The Everests own a 700-cow dairy farm, while Phil is also a sheep and beef consultant on the side. “It was a learning experience both ways – we enjoyed working alongside Vanessa, showing her the New Zealand pastoral system and she challenged us with some of her experiences from home,” Jos said. “It was enjoyable to debate farming issues with a knowledgeable farming student, not only with a good level of academic background but also having had a family farming upbringing.”


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Agricultural Communication: Decades in the Making

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ack of all trades, master of none, is a popular phrase. Sometimes, this is an accurate description of people who take on a multitude of endeavors but cannot master all of the skills they desire to develop. But according to Isamar Hernandez, a Cal Poly Agricultural Communication student, this could not be further from the truth for the Agricultural Communication (AGC) major. “This major is training the agriculture industry leaders of the future,” Hernandez said. The new major was established in 2012 within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). It provides students with a wide breadth of agricultural knowledge, allowing them to enter careers in any part of the agriculture industry. Dr. Bill Kellogg, Cal Poly professor and Agricultural Education and Communication Department (AGED) head, explained how the creation of the major is largely in part to a donation made almost 35 years ago. “In the early 1980s, Cal Poly received an endowment from Jim and Martha Brock for the purpose of developing an agricultural communication program,” Kellogg said. “The Agricultural Education Department started working more closely with the Journalism Department, and in the mid-80s, the AGED Department changed our focus from just preparing teachers, and expanded it to agricultural communication.” From there, Kellogg explained how as of 1994, Agricultural Communication was a minor that students could choose in addition to their major. A couple decades later, through the efforts of many dedicated staff members and curriculum meetings, AGC became its own major. But why has the AGC major just recently become official at Cal Poly? Some may say it is due to agriculturalists discovering the world’s dire need for agricultural

Story by Hannah Fortin Photo by Megan Silcott literacy. In Hernandez’s opinion, the newfound importance of agricultural communication is due to the prevalence of social media and the development of technology. “Our ways of communicating have changed so much in the past 50 to 100 years,” Hernandez said. “People [seldom] communicate face-to-face or by handwritten letter. Urbanization and technological advances have made these methods of communication inconvenient and taxing, and the agriculture industry is adapting to accommodate for these changes.” To adapt to this trend, there will soon be a new course titled “New Media Communication Strategies in Agriculture” (AGC 301). According to Dr. J. Scott Vernon, Cal Poly professor, “The class is designed to strategically use the new media tools available like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube,” he said, “and to be able to measure our level of engagement with these tools.” The 301 class will help fill the gap that resulted from a shift in communication and journalism practices.

“We have to focus more on the evolving digital space,” Vernon said. As this major has evolved, it has opened doors to many opportunities in the industry. Students in this major may choose to pursue careers in journalism, lobbying, marketing, government policy, commodity boards, law; the opportunities are seemingly endless. Students graduating with an AGC major are desired for their broad knowledge in agriculture and welldeveloped communication skills. “The industry is very excited about this major,” Kellogg stated. “We need leaders within the industry with an extensive knowledge of agriculture and an ability to express that knowledge to others with mastery.” Today, the major is home to 112 Cal Poly students, but Vernon has hopes it will reach roughly 130 students in the next few years. “Developing the [Agricultural Communication] major was important to meet the demands of a changing industry,” he said, “and to prepare students with the communication skill-set necessary to be professional communicators.”

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Around the World in Five Acres

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n the northern edge of the Cal Poly campus, tucked behind the Environmental Horticulture Science Unit, lies the Leaning Pine Arboretum. The Arboretum is a treasure very few students know about, but the students that have experienced its magic rarely forget its splendor. An arboretum is an area where trees and plants are grown to be seen and studied by the public. Cal Poly’s Leaning Pine Arboretum is so much more than vivid flowers and towering trees; the Arboretum offers a different experience for each visitor. The Arboretum provides a space for everyone, whether it is exotic gardens, native California plants or an expansive green lawn. For some, the enjoyment may come from relaxation; for others, it is newfound knowledge. To most people, an arboretum may seem like a simple collection of plants that are beautiful to look at. However, the Leaning Pine Arboretum staff see it as an outdoor educational space, manager Chris Wassenberg said. The Arboretum provides education not only for students, but for the surrounding community as well. From self-lead tours to student-guided tours, the Arboretum at Cal Poly encompasses Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.

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Story and Photos by Sarah Frushour “The Arboretum is an outdoor learning laboratory and our primary mission is the education of Cal Poly students,” Wassenberg said. “We are a campus resource primarily; a resource not only for classes to obtain knowledge and practice their skills, but a place that students can freely enjoy the peace and quiet.” Skills like pruning and plant identification, that are discovered in the classroom, can be directly applied in the gardens. The Arboretum has grown to what is seen today over several generations of senior projects and class assignments. Students created it all, from the diverse gardens to the gazebos. “The students are definitely involved. They bring a lot to it with their ideas,” Wassenberg said. The Arboretum was created for students by students, and it is constantly maintained by them too. The Arboretum offers employment opportunities for students who are interested in horticulture. Most of the arboretum employees are Horticulture, Biology, Botany or Landscape Architecture majors. Just as it caters to a variety of majors, the Arboretum is available for all classes to use for a number of activities. Some of these include formal laboratory exercises or English classes looking for a

peaceful place to read and get away from the hustle and bustle of campus. In addition to offering students exposure to a living, learning laboratory, the Arboretum also allows students to experience unfamiliar plants. “[The Arboretum] is super diverse, with the opportunity to experience seven different Mediterranean gardens found around the world,” Anna Thengvall, a student employee at the Arboretum, shared. She reveled over how visitors get to experience what South Africa or Chile plant life is like without actually going there. Even with all it has to offer, many are still unaware of the Arboretum. “We are still a pretty well-kept secret,” Wassenberg shared. But it is a secret he hopes more students will uncover. “I would love to see more students use the Arboretum. It is a meaningful and cohesive space,” he said. The Arboretum offers a quick escape and everyone is encouraged to make the Leaning Pine Arboretum a favorite place. Take some time to visit and let yourself travel around the world while never leaving campus.


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Cal Poly NAMA Team Shines at Nationals Story by Harrison Reilly Photos provided by Cal Poly NAMA Team

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al Poly students were nationally recognized once again in early April, winning the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) student competition for the ninth time in the university’s history. NAMA is the nation’s largest association for professionals in marketing and agribusiness. Every year they put on a competition where teams from universities across the United States create a marketing platform and present it in front of a panel of various judges. Cal Poly has been a regular at the competition for decades. The Cal Poly team, comprised of 10 Agricultural Business juniors and seniors, was coached by Dr. Lindsay Higgins of the Agribusiness Department. They traveled to Jacksonville, Fla., to compete against 30 teams that included the likes of Michigan State and University of Florida. “I’m incredibly proud of the team,” Higgins said. “They worked

really hard and put a lot of hours into the competition.” This was Higgins’ second year coaching the Cal Poly NAMA team after previously coaching the Texas A&M NAMA team. Higgins is in charge of recruiting and selecting worthy agribusiness students along with providing general guidance for the team. The Cal Poly team included Anna Adams, Nicole Billington, Gabriella Bragoli, Matthew Geis, John Larson, Nathan Long, Blake Mackenzie, Jake Rogers, Kaitlin Swickard and Edward Yanez. Nicole Billington, Agricultural Business junior, was one of the 10 team members. Billington worked on financials and the overall strategy of the marketing plan, in addition to traveling and presenting with the team in Jacksonville. “Our team’s goal was to create a comprehensive marketing plan agcircle

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for an agricultural product that included everything from industry analysis to financials,” Billington said. “We created a five-page executive summary of our plan and a 20-minute presentation for the competition. This year, we chose a product that we branded as Belgian Crowns.” The team worked with Frieda’s Farms out of Los Angeles and Baroda Farms out of Lompoc, Calif. to develop their marketing plan. The “Belgian Crowns” are the high tops of brussel sprout plants. “This product is the terminal bud of the brussel sprout plant, and was formerly just a byproduct of brussel sprout production,” Billington said. “Based on our research, we decided to market Belgian Crowns as a premium, specialty leafy-green.” The team of 10 created the marketing plan together while in San Luis Obispo. After the team finalized the plan, six of the 10 members were chosen to travel to Jacksonville for the competition. Five of them presented and the sixth handled the technical aspects of the presentations. Jake Rogers, Agricultural Business junior, was one of the five presenters. He was responsible for presenting the business proposition and the monitoring and measuring sections. Although Rogers had the opportunity to present the project, he credits every member with the team’s success. “Every single member contributed to the project in substantial ways, and if any one member of the team would have been absent, the project would not have been

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the same,” Rogers shared. At the national competition, the 30 teams were divided into five rooms with six teams to a room. The top two schools from each room went to the semi-finals. From there, the competition eliminated schools until they reached the six finalists. After spending the entire competition in conference rooms, the finalists were moved to a larger stage and audience. “Presenting in the finals was a huge thrill,” Billington said. “Knowing that our success all came down to the next 30 minutes was [so exciting]. All our hard work had culminated to that point.” In its tenure, Cal Poly has developed a reputation in the competition that resonates with the other universities in attendance. “Because Cal Poly has done so well, we do have a reputation at NAMA,” Higgins said. “Other schools will try to watch our presentation because of our reputation for bringing a very strong presentation.” The competition also gives agribusiness students invaluable experience and a sense of community. “[NAMA] provides students with a complete view of the marketing world, and the ability to think critically from a business strategy standpoint,” Rogers said. “Most importantly, the NAMA competition has given me some of my best friends at Cal Poly that have truly become my Cal Poly family.” Additionally, the competition provides an opportunity for self-improvement.

“The experience has provided me with incredible growth,” Billington said. “It allowed me to freely exercise my neurotic obsession with detail, think critically and learn to fully trust teammates.” The trust within the team, according to Higgins, was one of the major contributing factors to winning the competition. “Not only were they very committed to the context and the marketing plan, it was the 10 of them working together,” Higgins said. “Everybody was on board, which I think really contributed to our success.” Billington credited the entire College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) faculty and staff for helping them build their marketing plan.“We had incredible support along the way,” Billington said. “From our dedicated advisor, Dr. Lindsey Higgins, to the faculty from across the college who reviewed our plan, we couldn’t have done it without the support of the CAFES family.” Cal Poly hopes to repeat as champions in the future, but for now they will revel in their success as they prepare the team for next year. “We may be smaller comparatively, but this university is a powerhouse. At Cal Poly, we have so many unique opportunities to showcase what we know,” Billington said. Rogers echoed Billington’s sentiment. “I have never been more proud to be a Cal Poly Mustang.”


CAMPUS BUZZ

Story by Maddison Easley Photos provided by the Cal Poly Logging Team

The Climb to Victory

Cal Poly Logging Team Earns Top Award at Regional Conclave

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or most Cal Poly students, spring break is known as a time to relax, travel and separate from school. But a select group of individuals had a unique 2014 spring break in San Luis Obispo, hosting and competing in an impressive timber-sports event known as the Association of Western Forestry Clubs (AWFC) Conclave. This year marked the 75th anniversary of the conclave, with over 130 competitors representing 12 different colleges from across the West. Through hard-work, excellent team spirit and commitment, the Cal Poly Logging “A” Team took top honors in the competitive conclave for the

first time since 2002.

History and Background

Few people are aware of the presence and extent of the Cal Poly Logging Team. The team faces misconceptions because San Luis Obispo lacks nearby forests with a quality supply of wood needed for practicing traditional timber-sports. Fortunately, where there is a will, there is a way. Students with a passion for traditional forestry skills have come together to create a distinguished group of talented individuals. Dr. Wally Mark, a professor and advisor in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES)

Department within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), has kept an eye on the team since its inception in 1977. “There was a group of core students who were interested in putting together a team to compete in AWFC. We organized it first as a Logging Team Club then later the class got started as an IRA (Instructionally Related Activity),” Mark said. Dr. Douglas Piirto, NRES Department Head and professor in Forestry, briefly described what AWFC entails. “It’s an organization of young people, with some faculty support that varies by university, to focus on forestry skills. These are schools agcircle

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from the Western United States that gather once a year,” Piirto said. Over the years, the Cal Poly Loggers have produced a number of strong individual competitors. Recent alumni, including Tom Martin and Walt Page, continued their timber-sports careers by competing professionally. After graduating in 2012, Page went on to win the Western Stihl Qualifier as a rookie, an extremely remarkable feat.

Preparation

To say hosting this conclave was challenging would be a severe understatement. Planning for AWFC began one year before the actual competition. Sleepless nights were unavoidable with the complicated logistical details involved. A few of the tasks tackled included: approving a safety plan, insurance coordination, site improvement and cleanup, competitor registration, tours of the San Luis Obispo area, and numerous other responsibilities. Sam Mulholland, third-year Forestry major at Cal Poly, directly dealt with many challenges as the past president of the Cal Poly Logging Team. “There are no [competition quality] trees in San Luis Obispo County so that makes getting competition wood difficult. We probably had 20 to 30 trees we took down for chop blocks. For the saw wood, we had to drive 45 hours to Washington to get the latheturned Douglas-Fir blocks that cost about $100 a piece,” Mulholland explained. Beyond the energy spent preparing to host AWFC, the team members needed to make time to practice the events. Throughout Winter Quarter, practices were held three to five times each week at the Nelson Learning Center, also known as the Logging “Unit”, nestled between the vineyards and the Sheep Unit on the outskirts of campus.

Climbing to the Top

Strategy played a major role in

composing teams that utilize the diverse strengths of students. With 21 different events at the conclave, the skills tested varied greatly. “Eight strong individuals are needed, not just one per team… [Competitors] specialize in their events,” Mulholland said. Brainpower trumped muscles in technical knowledge events like traverse and dendrology. Limber pole, birling, and obstacle pole required coordination and balance. Events like choker race and climbing needed speed and strength. Chopping and sawing events demanded physically robust and conditioned students. Following three days of intense and exciting competition, Cal Poly clearly stood at the top with nearly double the overall score of the second place team from Flathead Community College in Montana. While simply taking first place at this prestigious competition was impressive in itself, Cal Poly also had the top male and female individual competitors. Sam Mulholland and Melissa Prechter rightly earned Bull of the Woods and Belle of the Woods for their exceptional athleticism. “To win first place, have the Bull and Belle of the Woods, and to actually host the event at the same time is huge,” Piirto shared. The dedication and hard work put forth by Cal Poly students as a group was clear. Cal Poly’s “B” Team also excelled by placing fifth overall out of the 25 teams registered. Cal Poly female loggers held five of the top 11 places. Seven male Cal Poly loggers ranked within the top 11 places out of 90 total.

Poly Logging Team. However, continued interest in the team and sport as a whole is essential for the future. “Our team has undergone a lot of change over the past five years. The team really started getting serious about the sport. Hopefully we will keep doing good things competitively, with demonstrations and with the department,” Mulholland said. The importance of support from faculty cannot be underestimated. “It will take two things for the logging team to be successful, [faculty support and student involvement]. What really needs to happen is that one more faculty member needs to get involved with the conclave. So the students need to try to get and keep the faculty engaged with the logging team and keep emphasizing the educational and leadership values that the logging team provides to its students,” Mark said. While the future may be a little hazy, a strong interest in the values and skills associated with the Cal Poly Logging Team remains. “We’ve had a long tradition of [the] forestry skills logging team competition to help support the Learn by Doing aspects of the curriculum,” Piirto said. With a continued belief in hands-on learning, the Cal Poly Logging Team will continue to promote “axe-ceptional” students and professionals.

Future Plans

Recent achievements, including the success of Walt Page and conclave victories, have brought forth a renewed energy toward the Cal

Logging Events 101 Traverse is a form of land surveying. Contestants are given a compass and a

flag to navigate to a specific location and place the flag. The scoring is based off of how close contestants get to the determined point. Dendrology is woody plant identification. Contestants are tested on correct identification of native plants, correct Latin nomenclature, and common name recollection. Limber pole involves a fresh, flexible tree that is suspended horizontally over a body of water. There are marks on the pole every 2.5 feet. Competitors run 14as | Summer/Fall 2014 out far as possible before falling off the pole two times and add the scores.

Birling is sometimes known as log rolling, where two competitors face-off on

a log in the water. The person who stays on the log the longest wins the round. Heats continue through a bracket until there is a champion. Obstacle pole involves running on top of a wooden pole with one end suspended in the air. After passing the safety zone, contestants turn on a chainsaw and cut off the end of the pole (in the air) then turn off the chainsaw and race back to the beginning.


Photo by Mackenzie Gomes

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PHOTO CONTEST agcircle

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Katie Roberti

Christian Alexandre

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Susanne Parrish


PHOTO CONTEST

Christian Alexandre

Mackenzie Gomes

Joshua Fridlund

Vanessa Alexandre

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Learning, Innovating and Sustaining How Cal Poly Was Just the Start of Jack Varian’s Ranching Success

Story by Haley Colombo Photos provided by Lauren Varian and Haley Colombo

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al Poly has produced generations of successful cattle ranchers and notable cattle industry professionals. The university continues to provide interesting opportunities for students to practice Learn by Doing. Students also gain experience in preparation for careers in the beef industry by participating in enterprise programs like the Escuela Cow-Calf Enterprise. This enterprise involves ranch management, maintenance, cattle care and research opportunities, as well as the many peripheral responsibilities included in a commercial cattle operation. Cal Poly Beef Operations Manager, Aaron Lazanoff, believes students gain a tremendous amount of real-life experience and education from the Escuela operation. 18 | Summer/Fall 2014

According to Lazanoff, they learn “calving and A.I. (artificial insemination) at the Escuela Enterprise, which are skills they are going to have to know for cattle ranching.” Cal Poly currently runs approximately 300 cow/calf pairs on three separate ranches, plus a number of bulls, steers and cattle in the feed lots. These types of opportunities provide students with the tools to achieve their goals, just as Jack Varian has done.

Jack Varian: Turning Dreams Into Reality

Jack Varian’s first agricultural experience was at eight-years-old. He grew a victory garden to support World War II efforts. While tending his garden, Varian fell in love with the world of agriculture. By age

nine, he rode his first horse and decided he wanted to become a cowboy. These childhood dreams led him to the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. The tools his education provided, combined with hard work and brilliant innovation, allowed his childhood dream to flourish. In 1958, Varian graduated from Cal Poly and began his ranching career. He describes his experience running the first 100 cattle on the original 2,700 acres he purchased as a steep learning curve. “It took three and a half years to learn if I stayed where I was, I was going to starve to death,” Varian said. As a result, Varian sold the land he began on, then he and his wife, Zee, purchased their first 8,000 acres in Parkfield, Calif. The ranch, named V6, has since grown to


LOCAL Varian and his wife were inspired to begin hosting their own cattle drives. They began providing “city slickers” the opportunity to visit the ranch and experience a real-life cattle drive. Along with cattle drives, the V6 Ranch now includes: a cafe and inn, wedding and event facilities, a hunting club, and a rodeo arena hosting weekly events and the annual Parkfield Rodeo. According to Varian’s son, John, the biggest lesson he has learned from his father is, “‘Never stick to the status quo. Always keep trying new things.’ Which is why I refer to him as the hippie rancher, he is always out there on the edge trying new things.” In addition to tourism avenues, Varian has developed alternative methods of growing feed for his livestock, which can be considered both progressive and environmentally friendly. For example, he irrigates ranch pastures with a 740-piece sprinkler system he designed using recycled ranch materials, each only costing him $13 to make. Purchasing brand-new sprinklers would have cost him over $100 a piece. Varian also recently began growing grass hydroponically. Fodder grass, or animal feed, is any feedstock used

specifically to feed domesticated livestock. “I knew that if I wanted to have something grass fed on a sustainable basis, I couldn’t depend on the weather.” Varian uses seven old truck trailers he converted into growing sheds to grow about 6,000 tons of fodder feed weekly. Varian refers to his ranching style as holistic management and lives life based around those beliefs. When making a decision he considers the whole scenario, not just the piece he needs to solve immediately. “If it’s just good for Jack Varian and his pocket book, but there’s a lot of other negatives, then [my] moral code says you can’t do that,” Varian shared. Because of his beliefs, he has put the V6 Ranch into a conservation easement, meaning the ranch will remain intact as one parcel and he has sold his right to develop the land. Varian’s granddaughter, 22-year-old Cuesta College student Kayla Santos, said, “My grandpa has taught me the importance of sustainability and sustaining the land.” Varian’s legacy is this: “The mountain you look at [today] should look that way 100 to 500 years from now.”

17,000 acres and his family runs between 700 to 1,500 cattle each year. Not having grown up in ranching, Varian explained, “Being that I wasn’t jaded with old ways and old history, I got to look at things through my own eyes and saw that a lot of things done by California tradition didn’t work. I wasn’t hamstrung with tradition.” As a result, Varian has successfully approached the ranching industry through non-traditional, pioneering ways, always trying to evolve as change occurs. For example, tourism is among one of Varian’s non-traditional enterprises. V6 Ranch has become a resort destination, attracting tourists from all over the world coming to attend concert festivals and events. In 1993, after watching the movie “City Slickers,” agcircle

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San Luis Obispo Likes it Local

Editorial and photos by Kenna Lewis

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ver the past few years, attention to the origin of our food supply has greatly increased. Now more than ever, consumers want to know where, how and when their food is grown, in addition to chiming in with their preferred production method. As this dispute has stretched across the nation, the development of countless niche markets has occurred. This has transformed the way we buy our food in both small and large communities; San Luis Obispo (SLO) included.

San Luis Obispo Goes Local

While the coastal town of SLO has always placed a strong emphasis on a healthy and active lifestyle, it wasn’t until the past couple of years that the community has migrated towards a “local lifestyle” as well. With diverse agricultural land, and a longstanding tradition of farmers’ markets, many community residents have made it a goal to primarily consume products grown within the 20 | Summer/Fall 2014

surrounding area. Farmers’ markets first became popular along the Central Coast during the summer of 1983. This was the beginning of the Thursday night market on Higuera Street in downtown SLO, originally created to increase foot traffic to shops and restaurants into later hours of the evening. Today, the number of markets in the county has multiplied with at least one every day of the week, some including live entertainment and restaurant vendors. Diana Cotta, the Downtown Association’s Farmers’ Market Event Coordinator, has seen a great change in the offerings of these markets. They have become the primary shopping place for many SLO residents. “The variety has really expanded,” Cotta said. “You are going to find olive oil, fresh juices, hummus; a huge variety, similar to what you would in a grocery store. I think the correlation is that there are more farmers that are diversifying their products.”


LOCAL Additionally, San Luis Obispo consumers are getting to meet the hands that feed them. “It [also] provides consumers with the opportunity to speak with the person who grows their food,” she said. “They can have a one-on-one with the farmer.” Residents are not the only ones taking advantage of the local produce. “The beauty is that the markets have really developed and expanded relationships, not only with consumers but with the restaurants,” Cotta said. While many think of the Thursday night market for the entertainment and restaurant vendors, several of the city’s most renowned chefs use it for a primary source of grocery shopping. According to Cotta, the farmers open their stands a few minutes early each week allowing the chefs the first choice in produce. “You are going to find a variety of restaurants that take advantage of that opportunity,” Cotta shared. “They will come down with a little wagon and load up on what they need for their produce for the next couple of days.” Many of these restaurants have committed their menus to being almost purely local, ranging from more established places like Big Sky, to newer restaurants like Granada and Sidecar. Chefs value this local opportunity for the chance to connect personally with the farmers that feed their consumers while supporting the local economy. They have also played a large role in the expansion of markets across the county. “We are very blessed to have some incredible chefs in this area, and they’re probably a driving force of this movement because they want to provide the best fresh meal for their consumer,” Cotta said. Between the markets, restaurants and the evolving attitudes of SLO’s residents, the local food movement has shaped the culture of San Luis Obispo. Although substantial growth has already occurred, Cotta sees an even bigger future for the health-conscious foodies. “I think it’s going to become more intense. There is a new generation that is much more health conscious, and that has spread up the ladder so to speak,” Cotta explained. “I don’t think it’s a trend, it is here to stay.”

Large-Scale and Local

methods is essential for feeding our growing population. It is unrealistic to expect the world to be fed purely off locally or organically grown foods. This begs the question, is there really a right choice? Too often the mindset of consumers is based on “large-scale vs. local” with aggressive advertising from both sides, and assumptions that one method is better than the other. But the facts are simple, products from one size farm are not better for you than another. The products grown on large-scale farms are of the same nutritional value of those you purchase at your local farmers’ market, and are raised with the same amount of care and attention to detail. The primary difference is the interaction you have with the community and growers when purchasing from a local market or local farm, not a health advantage. Although one style of production may not be better than the other, each serves an important sector of the agriculture industry. As farmers across the globe face the challenge of feeding our growing population, diversity will be a key factor to success. Rather than focusing energy on outshining differing production methods, agriculturists and consumers alike must focus on embracing and maximizing the diverse practices. Instead of thinking “large-scale vs. local” our thoughts must shift to “large-scale and local.”

While SLO has capitalized on the niche market of locally grown foods, it’s imperative consumers realize a variety in production

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If the Barns Could Talk History of San Luis Obispo County Dairies

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Story and Photos by Catherine Machado

magine walking the streets of downtown San Luis Obispo (SLO) and just before you reach Mother’s Tavern restaurant, you pass a dairy farm. Further down the road, instead of an Army Surplus store, you see Garden Dairy. This might be a hard image to wrap our minds around now, but over 50 years ago this was a reality. Dairies existed in SLO County from around 1860 to the 1960s. As described by Elena-Marie Koster’s 1983 article “Cow Heaven,” these dairies were mostly familyowned and were as “rustic and romantic as you might dare to imagine them.” The pride, integrity and family involvement in the dairy industry, even then, was vast and deep, much like today’s family-owned dairy operations. Dairies were first started as a means to make a living after the Great Drought,

which occurred from 1862 to 1864. About 300,000 cattle and 100,000 sheep either died or were killed as a result of drought conditions. By 1950, the investment SLO County had made in the dairy industry had grown to about $18,000,000, as stated in San Luis Obispo’s Telegram-Tribune from Friday, June 2, 1950. Dairy history on the Central Coast could not be discussed without mentioning the success of the Steele brothers, E.W. and George Steele, who came to SLO County in 1866 from Marin and San Mateo counties. They purchased a whopping 45,000 acres of land in Southern Edna Valley which, at that time, was priced at $1.10 an acre. The land was divided into three dairies: Corral de Piedra, Pismo Bolsa de Chamizal and Arroyo Grande

“[the dairies were as] rustic and romantic as you might dare imagine them.

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Ranchos. The Steele’s were excited for their new expenditure and investments. They described their ranches as nothing short of “cow heaven,” as stated in San Luis Obispo Country’s Spring 2013 article “When Dairy Was Queen.” Their dairy herds were the largest in California, and by 1882, the Steele brothers produced the largest amount of cheese of any farm in the world. A significant portion of the smaller, family-owned dairies belonged to farmers of Swiss-Italian descent. They came from Switzerland and brought both their knowledge of the dairy industry and fellow family members along with them. They became known as very hard-working and frugal people, as many of them arrived with little money. Some began their careers as milkers on other dairies until they were able to save enough money to either lease or buy a dairy of their own. Along with the Swiss-Italian immigrants were those of Portuguese descent from the Azores islands, which according to the Telegram-Tribune, “… was essential to the development of the fledgling dairy


LOCAL industry along the Central Coast.” Another contributor to the Central Coast dairy history is current farmer and cattle rancher, Don Warden. His greatgrandfather came to the Central Coast in 1868, initially raising cattle, sheep and pigs, until he started his dairy in the 1920s. Warden, who never had intentions of going back to the family farm because it wasn’t big enough, graduated from Cal Poly as an Agriculture Engineering major. He has worked for the State Water Resources Control Board and was also a Cal Poly Agriculture Engineering professor. In 1964, he got a life-changing phone call. His dad had died from a dairy-related incident. That put him back on the dairy, running the operation the following day. Although Warden had plenty of past experience feeding cows, there was a huge learning curve. He had to adapt since he had never milked or bred cows before. “I had a lot to learn about what kind of results to expect. About who was a good milker and who wasn’t,” Warden shared. For many, this would be a stressful experience, however, Warden stated in a very calm manner, “I’m not really a stressful type of person.” Warden learned a lot from his experience as a dairy farmer, but perhaps the most important was gaining both responsibility and a strong work ethic. He mentioned, “If I didn’t learn that, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.” He expanded the dairy to a 200-cow herd, mainly Holsteins, before selling the dairy due to increased water quality regulations. The regulations could have potentially cost him more than $50,000. The dairy industry on the Central Coast survived many challenges and hard times, including the Depression and the lack of employee availability due to the start of WWII. Dairymen weren’t able to bounce back quite as well when hit with the increased regulations and requirements needed to be labeled a Grade “A” dairy. Building new milking barns with cement flooring, instead of dirt, and following more severe sanitation methods were among these requirements. As written in the article “Cow Heaven,” “Large companies began buying up dairies. The little man and his farm was becoming a thing of the past. Smaller

dairies couldn’t compete against the big business and switched to beef cattle.” The Cal Poly Dairy has also been part of the dairy history on the Central Coast and is the only operating dairy farm left in the area. This has been a great asset to the Dairy Science Department, allowing students to have a hands-on learning experience. With a little research, we can gain a renewed appreciation and respect for Central Coast agriculture. Very few people are aware a dairy history even existed in the area, when in fact a majority of today’s cattle ranches were once dairies themselves. Next time you are walking through downtown San Luis Obispo, consider all the changes that have taken place and the rich dairy history that lead to the town known today.

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Nothing to Wine About

Story and photos by Hanna Meisinger

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hose who have lived or traveled through the Central Coast in the past couple years know the Paso Robles’ wine industry is booming. More and more boutique and small, familyowned wineries are opening facilities. The additional venues resulted in the number of wineries in Paso Robles more than tripling since 2000, leading to today’s total of more than 180 wineries to visit. This boom means the competition between wineries is more prevalent than ever. Most wineries have opened wine tasting rooms to increase sales and popularity. Tasting rooms are a great way for wineries to showcase their products with personal style. At the same time, they are able to increase profits by charging tasting fees, selling their wine at retail prices and hosting a wine club. In Paso Robles, there are a few wineries that offer more than wine tasting. With all of the competition in the area, wineries are starting to add unique and dynamic experiences to their tasting rooms that make them more appealing to customers. Lone Madrone, Villacana, Vina Robles and Oso Libre are wineries in this group. One unique experience Lone Madrone

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offers, in addition to their wine, is their Bristols Hard Apple Cider, featured in five different flavors. At Villacana, they have paired up with Re:Find, a distillery that makes gin and vodka with grapes from Paso Robles, and sells their products in the Villacana tasting room. Vina Robles has recently built an amphitheater where they have concerts and other events. Oso Libre is not only a winery, but a beef ranch with about 30 head of grass fed, purebred Angus cows. Wine club members are able to purchase steaks made from the cows raised on the same land where the grapes are grown. These are just a few examples of Paso Robles wineries that provide their customers with unique experiences other than simply wine tasting. Lone Madrone owner, Jackie Meisinger, shared why the cider addition has been good for the wine business. Meisinger focused on the different demographic of customers the cider brings into the tasting room. “More young people are coming in because of the cider, so we’re definitely seeing a huge increase in the younger, like twenty-somethings, coming.” Meisinger added, “People come here because it has something different.” This is exactly what

Lone Madrone was hoping for when they started the cider tasting. Oso Libre has two completely different aspects of agriculture in one company. They have been raising purebred Angus cattle for 10 years. They first opened the wine tasting room in 2009, and have been selling and cooking the beef for wine club members since then. Chris Behr of Oso Libre winery said, “Ten percent more visitors and wine club members [visit the winery] because of the Angus beef program.” The Angus beef program is one of the many benefits of being a wine club member at Oso Libre. Over 5,000 people get to enjoy the “quality and taste” of the Oso Libre Angus steaks and hamburgers every year. As the Paso Robles wine industry continues to grow, more and more wineries are thinking of new ways to stand out and attract customers. Wineries like Lone Madrone, Vina Robles, Villacana, Oso Libre and others in the area seem to have discovered just the way to make an impression that keeps customers coming back for more.


He’s looking forward to a lifetime of affordable, abundant food. We’re working hard so that what fills his table is safe, healthy and delicious. Proper crop nutrition is critical to him, because it’s critical to the farmers who feed him. Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers and our Responsible Nutrient Management Foundation Partners dedicate extensive research and effort not just to growing better food, but to doing it responsibly. Leaving sustainable farms to future generations assures that our grandchildren can look forward to a lifetime of affordable, abundant food, too.

w ww.a gr o liqu id .c o m

w w w .R N M F .o r g

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One Sweet Ride Two Bicycles, Two Brothers, One Mission

Story by Meridith Bibbo Photos provided by Brandon Morris and Garrett Morris

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uring the summer of 2013, senior Nutrition major Garrett Morris and his brother, Brandon, embarked on a life-changing ride, all in the hopes of making a difference for others. The two brothers started in Astoria, Ore. and rode across North America on their bicycles to raise awareness for a cause close to their hearts—Project Hope and Fairness (PHF). Initially, the trip began as a mere summer expedition. “I thought that it would be really fun to bike across the country to see my mom’s side of the family on the East Coast,” Garrett shared. But the brothers decided they could make the ride into something much larger. As they started their preliminary planning in the early months of 2013, they came up with the idea of raising money for a non-profit both before and during the ride. They did so by seeking donations from friends, family, business professionals and from families they met throughout their journey. For Garrett, choosing a nonprofit came easily. For the past three years, Garret has been very involved in PHF, a nonprofit based in San Luis Obispo. Spearheaded by Cal Poly Food Science professor Dr. Tom Neuhaus, the enterprise helps provide aid to West African cocoa farmers. The farmers in West Africa are usually paid minimal wages and work under brutal conditions to provide the chocolate Americans have come to love. “[Chocolate is] fantastically delicious – but still not something people need. Meanwhile those who grow and harvest the cocoa suffer,” Garret shared. “People love chocolate. It brings so much happiness to those who eat it. Why not support those who grow it? Plus, I love chocolate, so it was fun to ride for something that people love so much.” So, it was decided they would ride for PHF—they would ride for chocolate. 26 | Summer/Fall 2014

Although some preliminary route planning took place, the brothers decided to play the journey by ear and see where their bikes would take them. Garrett didn’t even get his bike until the day before the trip began. They began building their mileage gradually, “training” through Oregon at 40 to 60 miles a day, but had to pick up pace as they moved east. Afterall, Garrett had to be back at Cal Poly in 70 days for Fall Quarter. With just their backpacks and minimal camping gear, finding a place to sleep every night was one of the greatest challenges, according to Garrett. While out “in the middle of nowhere,” they were able to simply pull off the side of the road and sleep under the stars. This was not possible in the city. They had to rely on


POST POLY the hospitality of people they met along the way, while taking advantage of “warm showers,” a network of people willing to open their homes up to touring cyclists. While often challenging, these housing adventures allowed the brothers to share their story. “Time and time again, people would buy us a meal, be excited to talk to us, give us encouragement, or even let us stay in their house,” Garret stated. “There were many times when it was hard to leave a really awesome place. We would want to stay, but we had to keep moving.” The two travelled through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West

Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They were able to experience America in a way that not many do. “Every day and new location brought its own physical beauty, minus a few weeks of nothing but corn and soy farms— quite pretty, but very repetitive,” Garret said. Yet after 60 days of cycling, they ended successfully at the Atlantic Ocean where they were victoriously united with their family. After raising roughly $1,000, the two brothers checked their bags and bikes to fly home just in time for the start of Fall Quarter. They returned with memories in mind and pleased to have raised money for PHF.

While bake sales and telethons can get the fundraising job done, the Morris brothers exemplify what it means to be genuinely led by a cause. Garrett will join the Peace Corps following his graduation from Cal Poly, and he hopes his future will hold another unforgettable ride—“perhaps across some other country.” For more information and photos from the brothers during their ride, visit http:// hopeonabike.tumblr.com/ or scan this QR code.

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Making a R O A R as a Brand New Business One Company’s Mission to Get Healthy Snacks into the Hands of People Everywhere

Story by Katie Roberti Photos provided by VegThisWay

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or most Cal Poly students, life after graduation seems to be full of unknown paths. There are many different ways students can choose to go, but when a unique idea combines with strong dedication and passion, the journey might just take you further than you ever dreamed. This is true for four recent Cal Poly graduates who make up VegThisWay, a new company growing out of San Luis Obispo. VegThisWay is managed and operated by four 2013 graduates and co-founders. The students’ goal was to create a healthy and convenient snack for both children and adults. With this is mind, the VegThisWay team created Rawr Bars. “The Rawr Bar is an all-natural fruit and veggie snack bar. It has no added sugar or preservatives, is gluten-free and each package has a half-serving of fruit and vegetables,” Kaitlin Munoz, a co-founder of VegThisWay, said. “It’s delicious, convenient and a great way to introduce more vegetables.”

Rawr Bars are a healthier alternative opposed to other fruit snacks filled with sugar...

The Rawr Bar started out as an idea for the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association and MARS Product Development Competition. After being recognized at this national competition, and winning a local elevator competition, the food science students who developed the original idea decided to join forces with two business students. The newly formed team decided to turn the idea into a senior project. “For the competition we had to develop a new food product. We were talking to our food science professor and she was saying how it is really hard for her kids to get vegetables, so we decided 28 | Summer/Fall 2014

to come up with a solution for that,” Munoz said. The team believes Rawr Bars are unique because they’re the only vegetable-based snack bar out there that is really targeted to kids. “Rawr Bars are a healthier alternative opposed to other fruit snacks filled with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and preservatives,” Munoz said. “We’ve done our research and haven’t found [any other] vegetable-based product, so it’s definitely a unique type of snack.” After joining forces with the business students and gaining an


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entrepreneurial perspective, VegThisWay continued to expand. The team eventually applied for the San Luis Obispo HotHouse, an organization which mentors new companies, helps them get started and become more stable. VegThisWay is currently taking advantage of community space at the San Luis Obispo HotHouse, its resources and mentoring to help them become a more viable company. VegThisWay now has two Rawr Bar flavors on the market, Super Sweet Potato and Beet-A-Peel. The bars are being

sold in many local stores and multiple farmers’ markets. Two more flavors are being developed and on their way to being released soon. The company and the co-founders have come a long way since developing this idea for a competition, but they are nowhere near meeting their end goal. The team has big plans and high hopes for the future. “We are going to continue scaling up, selling, getting Rawr Bars into more stores in San Luis Obispo County, then outward across California and hopefully

even further,” co-founder, Kate Mecozzi said. “We just want to get Rawr Bars in the hands of children everywhere.” While the team admits starting a new business has been a challenge, they believe they are a strong group with enough dedication to persevere and make the company work for the long-term. “It’s a roller coaster, but you just have to be optimistic and really believe in what you are doing. We want to make this work and want to make healthy eating easier for everyone,” co-founder Sabrina Muttillo said. “With our diverse backgrounds in food science and business, and minors in packaging and graphic communication, we make a really good team that covers a lot of bases. [We] can focus on creating a great product that people will really like.” The Rawr Bar is just one snack in the agriculture community that is making it easier to fulfill the recommended five servings of vegetables a day. But its uniqueness is un-matched because it was created by inspired, hard-working and driven Cal Poly students. The founders recognize there will be more challenges and obstacles to face, but if they remain a team, they will continue to grow, succeed and accomplish their goals.

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Entering the Fashion Scene: TumbleRoot Style

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n entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t happen overnight. From lemonade stands to wanting to start a café in her grandparent’s shop, Nisse Noble understands her entrepreneurial spirit has been apparent her entire life. It is this frame of mind that drove her to take the risk of leaving a high-paying job and hardworking team to pursue her dream of creating something of her own. Together, Noble and her husband, Aarde Cosseboom, co-founded TumbleRoot, a country music apparel company for men and women. The idea for the brand began out of necessity and the desire to be entrepreneurial. “I always identified with the culture of country music, but not exactly with the style. As a 30 | Summer/Fall 2014

Story by Amanda Meneses Photo provided by TumbleRoot young woman, my choices were between Forever 21 and Boot Barn for clothing, but I wanted something in the middle,” Noble explained. Therefore, TumbleRoot was born. Noble, a Cal Poly Graphic Communications alumna, credits the department for solidifying the design skills she utilizes everyday in her company. However, it is the classes Noble “never thought would be used again in her life” that she recognizes as being the most valuable. Classes like Business Law and Psychology were difficult during her time at Cal Poly, but have proven to make Noble a more well-rounded business woman. “To be successful, you must not be afraid to strive for what you believe in,”

Noble said. She has made it her mission to provide her customers with highquality products that are safe for the environment and retain jobs in America. Currently, 95 percent of TumbleRoot products are American made. Everything from the shirts to the screen-printing is done locally in San Luis Obispo. Noble said keeping business local is a core value of the company. In addition to the core values, Noble said the culture inside of TumbleRoot is best described as “work hard, play hard.” But like so many other business ventures, Noble has had her fair share of doubt. The most difficult part of owning your own company, Noble said, is the inconsistent pay. She can see the direct correlation with how much she has worked and how much profit the company is earning. Quarters that aren’t as strong as others in sales motivate her to work harder the next quarter. “But the fear of inconsistency can’t compare with knowing you can really


POST POLY make something for yourself and others in the way you envisioned it. I find that exhilarating,” Noble expressed. Noble’s ultimate goal is to be a well-known and respected brand in the country western community; a place where girls know they can buy a cute shirt for an upcoming concert or event.

“We’re evolving everyday. Everyday we see something new, or get inspired to do something new,” Noble mentioned. “With every team member we add, with every new design and with every new event, the brand evolves.”

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agcircle magazine

Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 Scan to view our blog. brockcenter.wordpress.com

Ag Circle Summer/Fall 2014 Volume 32, Issue 3  

Enjoy this issue of Ag Circle magazine produced by the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

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