cal poly, san luis obispo summer-fall 2012
Ag Circle Photo Contest Take a look at this yearâ€™s contest entries and winner!
Study Abroad What opportunities are available to you?
C O N T E N T S
W H AT ’ S G R O W I N G O N
NOT YOUR AVERAGE PUMPKIN
PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS
A TICKET TO NEW UNDERSTANDING
LIVE YOUR MAJOR
TAKE A HIKE With Jason Slamovich
AGRICULTURE’S HIDDEN INDUSTRY
Annual Central Coast Contest
With the Master
Fostering skills for student success in the green industry
OUR MEAT IS SAFE
Agriculture’s potential transition
Engaging agriculturalists and consumers
Why we shouldn’t worry about BSE
The Central Coast Vineyard Team
Student photography entries
Abroad in Tanzania
Internships at Swanton Pacific Ranch
The Cal Poly Agri-Fair Program
agcircle Volume 30, Issue 3, Summer-Fall 2012 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 805.756.6138 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Building 10, Room 234 Editor-In-Chief Carrie Isaacson Faculty Advisor Megan Silcott Associate Editors Leslie Friend Jennifer Ray Lead Graphic Artist David Jones Writers Valerie Grant, Carrie Isaacson, Michelle Jimenez, David Jones, Carolyn Madson, Amanda Meneses, Teal Moore, Jennifer Ray, Katie Rottenberg, Jason Slamovich, Brittany Teixeira Photographers Alex Beeler, Peter Delle, Kayla Ghidinelli, Valerie Grant, Carolyn Madson, Maggie Maratsos, Raquel Missbrenner, Katelyn Montague, Teal Moore, Jason Slamovich, Nha Trong, Christine Woodman, Sarah Wool, Rachel White Submissions to agcircle are welcomed. 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. Editorâ€™s Note: In the Spring 2012 Issue, we mistakenly referenced Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. as being located in Kingsburg, Calif. This company is located in Fresno, Calif.
LETTER FROM THE STAFF WELCOME TO THE SUMMER-FALL ISSUE
ell, sadly, another school year has come and gone. We here at agcircle cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by and how quickly our year as a team has come to a close. The year may be ending, but we are pleased to provide you with another edition of agcircle. This issue contains a wide variety of stories, from how one family is incorporating technology into their farming operation, to the tale of one student’s study abroad experience in Tanzania. This issue is a true reflection of the amazing students and opportunities we have in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. We are pleased to announce that current associate editor, Jennifer Ray, will be taking over as editor next year as Carrie, David and Leslie graduate and begin their lives after college. Next year, agcircle will welcome Mandy Brazil, Amanda Meneses and Taylor Pires as associate editors. This year’s team would like to thank you for allowing us to produce this magazine. We’ve certainly enjoyed the journey, and we couldn’t be happier to have had you along for the ride.
Leslie David Carrie 4 | Summer-Fall 2012
WHAT'S GROWING ON
N O T Y O U R AV E R A G E
PUMPKIN Story by Katie Rottenberg Photos by Katelyn Montague
very year on the third Thursday of October, San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza becomes packed full of pumpkins. These pumpkins are not of the ordinary Halloween, jack-o-lantern variety. Rather, they are giant, beautiful pumpkins and the most unusual pumpkins you may ever see, weighing-in between 200 and 790 pounds. San Luis Obispo community members and visitors are invited to experience the magical transformation of Mission Plaza each October. However, these pumpkins did not appear out of thin air. Much work and support is needed to hold the “Great Pumpkin Contest” year after year. Thanks to unbelievably hard working individuals like Dr. Joe Sabol, companies like Farm Supply Co., San Luis Obispo Farm Bureau and various Cal Poly clubs, this event is made possible for the hundreds of guests who attend each year. Cal Poly agriculture clubs, including the Agriculture Ambassadors and Collegiate FFA (CFFA), are involved with many details of the event from delivering giant pumpkins to manning the free souvenir photo booth.
Mr. Jerry Clark, a Cal Poly lecturer in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department and CFFA Adviser by day, also grows giant pumpkins. Clark first became involved with this contest five years ago when pumpkin enthusiast and event organizer Sabol recruited him and a few other students and faculty members from Cal Poly. Ever since, Clark has entered pumpkins and helped coordinate the event. Clark begins to prepare his pumpkins months before the contest and public showcase. He revealed some insider information regarding his pumpkin growing strategy, but not too much—as to protect his secrets from his biggest competitors. Growers typically start growing their giant pumpkins mid-April in containers to get them to sprout. The first day in May marks the “Magic Day,” as Mr. Clark refers to it, where “the seedling gets on its merry little way.” Each grower has their own special techniques, but there are two keys to success when it comes to growing giant
pumpkins. These include utilizing good genetics and providing plenty of T.L.C (Tender Loving Care). Some contestants swear by some rather unusual methods including planting a 50-pound bag of dog food under the pumpkins, using milk or dousing the pumpkins with Miracle-Gro. Regardless of the technique used to make the pumpkins grow, crowds come out to see the pumpkins hoisted up on the large scale and to recognize the efforts of the best pumpkin grower. The Great Pumpkin Contest plays an important role in the San Luis Obispo community. Hundreds of people will gather in Mission Plaza on October 18, 2012 to experience agriculture in a fun way, right in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. All ages will be inspired to go back home and get down in the dirt, ready to plant. Mr. Clark says, “Everybody needs to mark the next date on their calendars and make it a priority to come down and have some fun and even bring a pumpkin!”
agcircle | 5
WHAT'S GROWING ON
APPLE GRAFTING WITH THE MASTER Story by Jennifer Ray
6 | Summer-Fall 2012
pple grafting is a mix of science and magic and an incredible learning opportunity,” Dr. Joe
Sabol says. It takes knowledge, patience and passion to graft trees, and the Central Coast Rare Fruit Growers (CCRFG) have it all, along with a desire to share their knowledge. This team of local volunteers is dedicated to sharing their passion with others and Cal Poly has been lucky enough to be part of the magic. But what exactly is apple grafting, you ask? Grafting is the art of inserting a scion, or a young shoot or twig, of one plant into the rootstock of another. When performed successfully, a new plant is formed. There are many reasons why apple trees are grafted rather than planted by seed. Through the science of grafting, growers can ensure higher quality varieties, faster growth, multiple varieties on a single tree, more fruit and better root systems. The CCRFG has been teaching apple grafting to San Luis Obispo area schools since 1989. Sabol, who taught in the Cal Poly Agricultural Education and Communications department for 30 years, heads up the effort. He launched the apple grafting tradition and maintains the same energetic and selfless leadership today. In the months of February and March, Sabol and his team can be seen grafting nearly every day. They have the routine down to a laughter-filled science. Each apple grafting session begins with introductions, a discussion of favorite apple varieties, such as Pink Lady and Red Delicious, reasons for grafting, a safety talk and an overview of the grafting process. Then students are each given a knife, scion and rootstock to graft their own tree to take home. “It is fun to get fruit from a tree in your own backyard,” Sabol said. “These trees live for 50 to 60 years.” The trees help share the joy of apple growing and give students an idea of where their food comes from. The CCRFG perform apple grafting sessions at Cal Poly, local high schools and junior high schools. They also visit
the Grizzly Youth Academy each year. Each grafting session requires a strong team of at least four or five volunteers from the CCRFG. The Grizzly session is a larger group that requires fifteen to twenty volunteers. The volunteers enjoy working with the Grizzly cadets and know their apple trees are going home to big cities across California. The grafting sessions have grown to include a focus on safety. The team works hard to teach safe knife procedures and has three simple rules: 1. Always set the blade down on the carpet square. 2. Don’t fold the knife. 3. All students must raise their right hand, pledging not to cut themselves. Sabol started the apple grafting sessions while teaching at Cal Poly and would often take students from the Agriculture Ambassadors program along to help. The CCFRG have always valued their special relationship with Cal Poly and have expanded their volunteer pool to Fruit Science students on campus. The CCRFG rotates the schools they visit each year. The group has traveled as far north as Salinas and as far south as Ventura. The CCRFG trained the Ventura/ Santa Barbara Rare Fruit Growers to lead apple grafting sessions at schools in their area. “One of the highlights was getting another chapter to say ‘shucks, we can do that!,’” Sabol said. It takes great commitment to perform the many apple grafting sessions and Sabol values the dedication of his fellow Rare Fruit Growers. “I am amazed by how
much of their schedule they will move for grafting,” Sabol said. “They are all busy people but they make the time.” Sabol personally recruited many of his grafting teammates. Marvin Daniels said he first declined Sabol’s request to join the group because he did not know how to graft. Sabol asked again the following year and Daniels gave the same response. But Sabol was tenacious and insisted, “the best way to learn is to teach.” Marvin Daniels and his wife, Pet, have since become regulars on the apple grafting team. Another apple grafting regular is Art Dekleine, a retired Cal Poly math professor and dear friend of Sabol. The two were sitting next to each other at a commencement ceremony when Sabol first asked Dekleine to join the CCRFG. As the saying goes, the rest is history. Dekleine enjoys being part of the grafting team and he knows what they are doing is “more than just grafting.” “Joe’s idea is that he is teaching lots of other things,” Dekleine said. If you ask him, Sabol will tell you there are three things motivating him to keep grafting. First, he loves sharing a fun learning opportunity. Secondly, he loves giving the joy of homegrown apples. Finally, the sessions are another way to tell the Cal Poly story. The student volunteers are resources for high school students to learn about college, start thinking about careers and discover the opportunities in agriculture. Sabol always makes a point to tell students to stay in school and “keep learning the rest of your life.”
Dr. Sabol (far left) and the CCRFG at the Earth Day Celebration at Chorro Creek Park. agcircle | 7
WHAT'S GROWING ON
FOSTERING SKILLS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS IN THE GREEN INDUSTRY Story by Michelle Jimenez Photos by Maggie Maratsos
8 | Summer-Fall 2012
LANET—a word that may bring images of earth to mind. However, for 14 Cal Poly students, different images come to mind. These particular students think of competition and an opportunity to challenge their skills against other universities from across the nation. The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) is an organization that serves the landscape industry. The organization’s website describes the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) as an international association serving lawn care professionals, landscape management, design/build/installation professionals, irrigation & water management and interior plantscapers. “As an international association, PLANET knows the importance of reaching out to future industry leaders by promoting the annual Student Career Days,” Jeff Hillman, a graduating Environmental Horticulture Science student, explains. “At the three-day competitive event, we have the chance to compete in 28 different events that are directly related to the skills necessary for a career in the landscape industry.” Some events include arboriculture techniques, business management, irrigation assembly, personnel management, skid steer operation and wood construction. Along with 63 other universities, Cal Poly’s PLANET team traveled to Manhattan, Kan. for the 2012 event. This year, the team included students outside the Horticulture and Crop Science Department. “Branching out to other departments such as Agribusiness, Agricultural Science and Landscape Architecture help make this year’s PLANET team more dynamic and competitive,” Andrew Klittich, fourth year Agricultural and Environmental Plant Science major, explains. “The more experienced students on the team and four coaches served as mentors for the newer members. Cal Poly’s team came together and worked well.” Dr. Jason Lewis, one of the four Cal Poly coaches, says “coaching the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo team is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of my job.” Lewis’ favorite part of the 2012 PLANET
Competition was the awards ceremony. “It was fun to place in the top three, six times (out of 28 events), win four events outright, and be in the top ten for 19 events overall.” Lewis says, “The team was a unit and worked together well, so it was exciting to watch them get recognized for their dedication.” Andrew and Jeff proved to be true leaders on the team and did extremely well in their individual competitions and overall event. Andrew placed second and Jeff placed fourth overall out of 769 student competitors “For me, it’s the thrill of the competition
day, knowing that the last five months of preparation, sweat and hard work come down to that one day,” Andrew said. “Waking up at 6:00 a.m. and being ready to go for your 8:00 a.m. event is a feeling comparable to none.” Along with the team effort, Jeff contributes his success to his Cal Poly education. “In addition to making flashcards and studying them like crazy, my Plant Pathology, Botany 323, Agricultural Entomology and Pest Protection Science classes allowed me to apply my knowledge to the Plant Problem Diagnosis competition and secure my first
agcircle | 9
place win,” Jeff said. However, both Andrew and Jeff seem to be more excited about the team’s success compared to their personal achievements. “Cal Poly’s second place win was a combination of teamwork,” Andrew said. “Every coach and team member equally contributed to [the] success of this year’s PLANET team. It’s a great feeling to represent Cal Poly on a national level and do well. It really shows the skills we are learning in classes and labs are applicable in the real world. It also shows that Cal Poly students are talented and competitive on a national level.” Dr. Lewis agrees with Andy and Jeff, “Finishing second at the 2012 PLANET Student Career Days was a great reward for all the hard work of the faculty and especially the students on the team,” he says. “I think it shows the caliber of students we have at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and the results of our hands-on Learn by Doing approach to instruction.”
The 2012 Cal Poly PLANET Team.
Generations of Horsepower
Jack Dewar and Morgan Dewar 10 | Summer-Fall 2012
AGRICULTURE’S POTENTIAL TRANSITION Story and Photos by Carolyn Madson
rom Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and the tractors of the Industrial Revolution to GPS-driven machines and hybrid seed, American agriculture has and will continue to excel in technology. In an industry that relies upon ever-changing markets, a tumultuous mother nature and a booming world population, change is inevitable. The nation’s farmers and ranchers continuously rise to the challenge of providing food and fiber on a global scale. This would not be possible without advancements the industry has made to be more efficient, consistent and sustainable. Today, more food is produced on less land, with each farmer feeding 154 people per year as opposed to 19 people in 1944. As Knight Farms enters the 2012 planting season, they too will continue their progression.
As a fifth generation farming family, the Knights of Glenn County, Calif., have grown and changed in a way not unlike agriculture’s esteemed industry. “The land we farm today comes from my grandmother’s side of the family. In the late 1800s, our family started up a store in Elk Creek and moved into livestock from there,” says Pete Knight, President of Knight Farms and Dixon Seed. In the years after settling the area, the venture began in the untamed Sacramento Valley and ran the gamut of agricultural production—cattle segued into sheep, wheat, barley and eventually rice. Hard work and investments in technology have transformed what began as a farming family’s move out West into an operation with more than twice its original acreage and employees. “We were always kind of a one-man agcircle | 11
operation, but having four kids motivated me to really try to make this something they could come back to if they wanted,” Pete said. Pete and his wife, Ann, have seen all four of their sons off to Cal Poly. Peter and Drew, both Ag Systems Management majors, attend Cal Poly in preparation for their careers in the agriculture industry. Craig, a 2010 Crop Science graduate, and Jace, a 2011 Business graduate, have returned to Knight Farms and are helping the company make its way through the beginning of the 21st century. “The advancements that our world has made in technology are amazing and are even more amazing when we find new ways to apply them to farming,” says Craig, who oversees most of the crop production on Knight Farms. Each generation experiences developments in technology, allowing society to look back and see how it has progressed. “Laser technology really changed a lot for us in farming, especially with the rice,” Pete said. “Surveyors were the only way before lasers.” Throughout the years, more precise practices have 12 | Summer-Fall 2012
allowed American agriculture to expand, propelling Knight Farms to strengthen its own operation. “With new GPS technology, we have been able to cut a field planning down from what was a two week process to that of a few hours,” says Jace, who focuses on the seed side of operations. “It puts the entire procedure into the hands of the farmer.” One of the most exciting new technologies at Knight Farms is also one of the most popular electronics on the market: the iPad. “To make a long story short, the iPad allows for a direct link between our field men and our office,” says Craig, who primarily uses the tablet for field mapping. In a business where records are critical, having this option is a game-changer. The iPad has provided convenience in complying with strict FSA regulations, like registering all crops in each field on the farm. “Before this technology, records went down in a field book that stayed in the truck until everything was jotted down. The book would then be taken to the office
to be input, only to have everything change the next day,” Pete said. Having the tablets linked with the office to immediately translate maps gives the staff the information needed to operate as efficiently as possible. Communication has, of course, been greatly improved by the iPad and iPhone, which is beneficial in many applications. “It’s an awesome piece of equipment that makes the ranch run smoothly,” Craig said. “We’re excited to see where it takes us in the future.” It is certain the face of agriculture will change for the upcoming generation of producers, just as it always has. Special attention must be paid to the proactive approach Knight Farms has taken to embrace the changes that have ultimately advanced their operation. Throughout the years spent on campus, significant changes are occurring in the industry and it is only with an attitude of adaptation and excitement that Cal Poly students, such as the Knight sons, will have future success within the agriculture industry.
ENGAGING THE NEXT GENERATION OF AGRICULTURALISTS AND CONSUMERS A story and project by Amanda Meneses
agcircle | 13
y name is Amanda Meneses and, unlike many of the students in Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, I was not raised on a farm. I didn’t get to experience those feel-good, memorable moments of farm life I so often hear about. I didn’t get to bottle-feed calves when I was younger. I didn’t get to sit on my dad’s lap on a tractor and I didn’t get my first pair of work boots until high school. I can’t change the fact I wasn’t raised on a farm, but I can compensate with my strong passion to gather agricultural knowledge and learn from others. One of the main reasons I have a passion for agriculture is because there is always more to learn about the industry. Even well into my college career, I still have a million questions. I get confused at times and I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to wrap my head around it all. There are just so many opinions and ideas when
14 | Summer-Fall 2012
it comes to agriculture, at times it can be a bit overwhelming. Such a vital industry to our livelihoods should be embraced and better understood. American agriculture is a dynamic and progressive toil—the absolute envy of the rest of the world. So why aren’t more people talking about it? Why isn’t #americanagriculture trending everyday on Twitter, even though it is feeding and clothing us every day? Our food supply never falls short, so why aren’t we using more words to express our gratitude? Project AgBuzz is a movement of the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication to get people talking about agriculture, whether it be stories, newfound information or questions. In each issue of Ag Circle, for the upcoming year, we will be discussing two common myths of the agriculture industry and providing our research on the facts.
However, the conversation won’t end there. We want to hear your thoughts, opinions, stories, research and more regarding the issues presented. Whether it be on our Brock Center blog, Ag Circle Facebook page, Tweeting to @AgCircleMag or by using #agbuzz on Twitter, we want agriculture to become a daily conversation topic. Let’s start now: MYTH: CAREERS IN THE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY ARE DIMINISHING.
Fact: Contrary to many beliefs, jobs in the agriculture industry are not only bountiful, but thriving. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, agriculture and related industries provide jobs for more than 21 million Americans. I understand where the confusion might be coming from; consumers quickly forget that agriculture has significantly extended beyond the farm and the field. Today, occupations include plant and animal
researchers, food scientists, commodity brokers, agricultural journalists, nutritionists, farm economists, agriculture teachers, crop consultants, bankers, sales people, marketing experts and so much more. In 2010, 3,000 new jobs were posted each month to AgCareers.com, an online job search engine specifically geared towards agriculture. Students continuing to earn degrees in agriculture will guarantee the future of agriculture to be innovative and progressive. MYTH: FOODS THAT ARE GENETICALLY MODIFIED ARE DANGEROUS FOR OUR HEALTH.
Fact: Genetically modifying foods is a branch of biotechnology. Webster Dictionary defines biotechnology as the transfer of DNA from one organism to another to modify the genetic make-up of that organism. This is where GMOs
come from. The genetic make-up of food has been altered for thousands of years, both by the hands of man and the environment. Biotechnology in agriculture has resulted in many benefits to farmers and consumers. Many consumers believe these benefits to be dangerous. In reality, they provide a higher quality crop. For example, genetically engineered insectresistant cotton has significantly reduced the use of pesticides that have the potential of contaminating groundwater and the environment. The world population is forecasted to reach 7.5 billion people by 2020, so agriculturists are continually finding new ways to increase the food yields necessary to keep up with a growing world population. According to the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2009 85% of corn, 88% of cotton and 91% of soybeans were genetically modified to ensure the
highest production, highest quality and most affordable food supply possible. Three government agencies, the USDA, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, work cohesively to ensure all genetically modified crops are properly tested to be safe for the consumer. Questions arise every single day in the minds of agriculturalists and consumers. With todayâ€™s constant use of technology and social networking, the conversation about agriculture should also be constant to provide answers. The conversation begins today. Check out the Brock Center blog at www.brockcenter.wordpress.com, follow the Ag Circle Facebook or follow the Brock Center Twitter. Ask questions, share your stories, comment on the issues and use #agbuzz on Twitter to join the discussion. No matter how you join it, just speak up and join the conversation with Operation: AgBuzz.
agcircle | 15
OUR MEAT IS SAFE
WHY WE SHOULDN’T WORRY ABOUT BSE Editorial by David Jones
n April 24, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or “Mad Cow Disease,” had been detected in a cow from a California dairy farm. Of course, this caused a lot of worry about beef and milk products, both in California and nationally. Food safety isn’t really something we think about every day, because we expect to be sold safe food. When we hear about a case of BSE in the United States, however, consumer confidence is shaken. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that news of the human form of the disease, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, graced the headlines with news of deaths in the UK, due to tainted beef consumption. Before we dive in, let’s lay out the facts: A case of BSE was confirmed from a cow in California. This case was “atypical” and likely not the result of contaminated feedstuffs. This means no one did anything wrong, it was just an anomaly. The cow died on-farm and was never intended to enter the human food supply. The human form of BSE cannot be contracted from meat or milk. The causative agent of BSE is only found in the central nervous tissue of the animal, which is not permitted to enter the food supply in the United States. Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 3,000 people die each year in the United States from food-
16 | Summer-Fall 2012
borne illness. That number may seem scary, but bear in mind you’ve got about the same chance of winning American Idol as dying from food poisoning. Also consider no humans have ever contracted the human form of BSE in the United States from tainted beef. Most cases of food-borne illness stem from improper cooking and handling, placing the responsibility of safer preperation and more complete cooking with the consumer. But what about the production and processing side? According to American Meat Institute Executive Vice President, James H. Hodges, over 30 million head of cattle are processed in the United States each year. Due to the success of the U.S. animal disease surveillance system, no case of the human version of BSE has ever been associated with U.S. beef consumption. The USDA also chimed in with its confidence in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products. The fact that the case was detected and traced back to the source dairy quickly proves that our food safety system is viable and functioning as intended. The United States has diagnosed four total cases of BSE since 2003, making the U.S. BSE rate one of the lowest in any nation where cases have been diagnosed. These numbers suggest something is going incredibly right with our surveillance of
this disease. It’s OK to be concerned. It’s human. Rather than respond to paranoia, however, we need to engage ourselves in a conversation about food and the role of agriculture in our daily lives. America’s farming and ranching community helped respond to the lack of consumer confidence through social media platforms in the days surrounding this BSE scare. The voices of farmers and ranchers were heard, and echoed across Facebook and Twitter. This marks a great success for agriculturalists. However, while it’s great for the agricultural community to respond to a crisis, perhaps the priority should be to proactively share our story, rather than to simply react during times of consumer worries. As I sit down to write this editorial, I’m currently grazing on a dinner consisting of some romaine lettuce, tomatoes, bread and butter and a nice cut of beef. I wouldn’t be a dairy farmer if I didn’t also wash it down with a tall glass of milk. I have faith and confidence in each of these ingredients and in our food system, and I know without a shadow of doubt I am safe. We are fortunate as citizens in this country to be able to enjoy a meal with our families, and not worry how our immediate health will be affected. Reflect on this fact the next time you sit down at the dinner table and remember how incredibly lucky and safe we are.
DEFINING SUSTAINABILITY THE CENTRAL COAST VINEYARD TEAM
Story by Carrie Isaacson Photos courtesy of The Central Coast Vineyard Team agcircle | 17
ustainability. Itâ€™s a word with countless definitions and a term that has become more of a buzzword than a way of life. The ideas behind sustainability appeal to consumers, but few people truly understand the many facets of the concept and what a sustainable farming operation looks like. Fortunately, the Central Coast Vineyard Team (CCVT) has made it their goal to promote sustainability, and what it means, to consumers. CCVT was founded in 1994 by a group of Central Coast grape growers who wanted to share and promote the sustainable practices they used in their vineyards. Since its founding, CCVT has educated both growers and consumers alike on implementing sustainable
18 | Summer-Fall 2012
practices and knowing what sustainability truly means. "It has been very rewarding to be part of this grower group that, at its core, is a network of farmers sharing information with each other,â€? Kris Beal, Executive Director of CCVT, said. â€œBecause our core work is about information sharing, science and demonstration, it has become an extremely valuable basis for outreach to the non-agriculture community." Starting in 1996, CCVT administered the Positive Points System, which helped growers self-assess their sustainable vineyard practices and use that information to make management decisions. In 2008, CCVT took the Positive Points System to the next level and unveiled the Sustainability in Practice
Certification Program, or SIP. SIP goes beyond production practices and looks at the entire farm system, from cover crops to employee benefits. When a grower decides to have their vineyard certified, they embark on a yearlong process that includes a lengthy audit of their entire operation, conducted by a third-party company. The audit looks at ten aspects of the vineyard operation, including water use, pest management and pesticide applications. After the auditing process, a committee of industry professionals reviews the blinded audits, scores them and determines if the vineyard operation is up to the SIP standards. Once a vineyard is SIP Certified, growers must have a new audit every
three years to ensure they are maintaining their sustainable practices. After the 2011 auditing period, 143 vineyards from across California were SIP Certified. When a vineyard’s SIP Certification becomes official, the operation has the opportunity to certify their wine. If the operation can prove the grapes used to make the wine were produced in a SIP Certified vineyard and the winemaking process was sustainable, they can apply for wine certification. After wine certification, winemakers can put the SIP logo on the bottle labels, signifying to consumers they are purchasing a sustainable wine. Currently, 28 wineries have SIP Certified wines. "What makes SIP different from other sustainable programs and organic certification is its focus on both the farm and the people and our dedication to consumer outreach," Beth Vukmanic, SIP Certification Coordinator, said. Labeling wines SIP Certified has been a great way to educate consumers about sustainable farming practices. In addition to having the SIP seal of approval on wine bottles, the SIP program is dedicated to outreach. Wine events are plentiful on the Central Coast and CCVT and SIP staff attend as many as possible, pouring SIP wines, answering questions about the program and encouraging people to “SIP the Good Life.” The wine aspect of SIP allows for conversations with consumers about what sustainable farming practices truly are. In addition to consumer outreach through SIP, CCVT founded the Earth Day Food and Wine Festival. Since 2007, the event has linked farmers, food artisans and consumers, all while celebrating everything that is great about the Central Coast. The day is full of music, delicious food, great wine and productive conversations about where our food comes from. The 2012 Earth Day Food and Wine Festival, held at Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery on April 21, attracted over 1,500 people. At its core, the Central Coast Vineyard Team is all about healthy vineyards, giving farmers a voice and educating consumers about what sustainability really is. By educating growers and appealing to consumers, CCVT, and the 80,000 acres they represent, has been able to define what a true sustainable vineyard operation is and preserve the Central Coast agricultural land for generations to come. agcircle | 19
PHOTO CONTEST E
ach year, agcircle asks students in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences to submit their best agricultural photos for a chance to have them grace the cover of agcircle. This yearâ€™s winning photo was taken by Rachel White and features Cal Poly sheep. Check out the following pages of some other great submissions!
20 | Summer-Fall 2012
agcircle | 21
22 | Summer-Fall 2012
A TICKET TO
NEW UNDERSTANDING Story by Teal Moore
agcircle | 23
eal Moore, a fourth year agricultural education student, volunteered in Tanzania for eight weeks during 2011. From HIV/AIDS education to viewing cheetahs on safari, Teal was able to experience things she never imagined, all of which she knows will affect her future. Here, she shares some of her more memorable experiences. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to see a mud hut in my entire life. Well, actually, I had never seen a real mud hut in my entire life, but I sure was excited to see this one. After a grueling journey, including five plane flights, seven hours of layovers and 36 hours of traveling, I had finally reached my home for the next two months: a mud hut in Tanzania. During those two months, I would be living in a four-room mud hut with a family of seven, spending my mornings educating about HIV/AIDS in the community and in seventh and eighth grade classrooms. My afternoons would be spent tutoring children at a community orphanage.
24 | Summer-Fall 2012
My journey to Tanzania started with a few bumps. First, the voicemail I left my parents when I arrived in Tanzania was full of static, resulting in my parents only hearing my choppy mumbling. Being parents, they assumed the worst. Somehow my father, who speaks no Swahili, managed to call the family I was living with and speak with Baba Zak, who of course knows no English. I’m still a little unsure of how my dad got my baba’s phone number, but needless to say, it was not a very comforting phone call for him. Second, I had forgotten to get passport pictures taken for my volunteer visa while I was still in the United States. My teaching partner, who was a native, and I had to travel to the neighboring town to get the pictures taken at a local barbershop. We were fortunate enough to get a ride there, but had to take the public transportation, called a dala dala, back to the main road and then make a half-hour walk back to our village. I was pondering what public transportation in Tanzania entailed, when all of a sudden a rickety, ten-person van
came whizzing up with a young man hanging onto the outside. We handed our money to the boy hanging on the van and
hopped in to find the van stuffed with 23 people and two chickens. Yes, chickens. To say I experienced a little culture shock during my first day in Tanzania would be an understatement. I soon learned the cultural exchange would be going both ways. I spent many of my mornings helping tend the orphanage garden or helping Mama Zak prepare and plant her fields. One morning while Mama Zak and I were planting, a cow wandered into our garden. I proceeded to shoo the cow out of the garden, just like I would do with my cattle at home. When I turned back around, I saw four extremely shocked faces. Apparently, I was the first volunteer they had seen that had not been terrified by the longhorn cattle. I explained that my parents had a small herd of cows and I had spent a lot of time around cattle. I’m still fairly certain that Mama Zak thinks my family are American billionaires. I was in a country where a family might have one or two cows, a rich family would have fifteen cows and a single cow would be sold so a child could attend school. Mama Zak found it incredible that a herd of 300 cows could be considered a “small herd.” She probably would have fainted if she had known that I, a single, childless woman, owned cattle. I was also given the opportunity to go on a safari while in Tanzania. Everyone who has ever been on a safari always tells you how amazing it is, but you can never truly grasp this fact until you are literally surrounded by zebras, hippos and elephants. Watching giraffes eat, seeing a cheetah hiding in the grass and listening to elephants trumpet is simply fantastic. The most rewarding part of my trip was working with the children. I have been told in almost every one of my agricultural education classes that it doesn’t really matter where you teach, all high school students are the same. I never truly believed this until I traveled to Tanzania. The resilience of children is truly amazing. All of the children at the orphanage had been street children at one point. One boy told me he had moved
out of his house when he was eleven in an attempt to find work to help support his single mother and three younger siblings. He was separated from his family and became a part of a community of homeless children who survive by stealing and running errands, but often are unable to find a meal at night. He spent three years living on the streets of Arusha, which has a population of 281,608. When I met this boy he had been living in the orphanage for three years. Now in a safe environment,
he had began attending school and has dreams of becoming a pilot. Although leaving home was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done, volunteering in Tanzania was the most rewarding experience of my life. Traveling to a place unlike my own home truly changed my perspective of the world and my place in it. Plus, I got to see giraffes and cheetahs! I would highly recommend traveling abroad to any and every student.
agcircle | 25
LIVE YOUR MAJOR
WITH AN INTERNSHIP AT SWANTON PACIFIC RANCH Story by Valerie Grant
26 | Summer-Fall 2012
n intern at Swanton Pacific Ranch, Cal Poly’s 3,200 acre “living laboratory,” wakes up with a deep breath of hearty forest air. They might lace up their broken-in boots while sipping hot coffee, the cool morning fog livening their body in preparation for the workday ahead. A few steps straight from their door is the floor of soil and curtain of redwood that is a natural resource manager’s favored office. An afternoon might be spent measuring trees for inventory purposes, or milling a log into boards for a new ranch building. Interns participate in forest work such as cutting logs, milling boards, using them to build a finished product and even replanting trees. However, these skills are just one of the things students gain from a summer at Swanton Pacific Ranch. The Swanton Pacific Ranch internship program is an opportunity to spend the summer living your major. Interns earn hourly wages along with room and board on-site. The ability to live, learn and work on the ranch gives students constant exposure to their resources, livestock and crops. Swanton Pacific Ranch immerses interns in the way of life associated with their prospective career. A forestry, watershed, livestock or crop management intern is rarely far from the forest, stream, pasture or field. A specialized internship with Jacob's Farm del Cabo even offers specialty crops experience growing culinary herbs. The value in an internship at Swanton can be found in the variety and comprehensive nature of the experience. Forestry interns have access to nearly 1,600 acres in the Scotts Creek and Valencia Creek watersheds of Santa Cruz County. Interns spend hours in towering second growth, Redwood-Douglas fir that is managed for commercial production. A good portion of an intern’s day is spent monitoring the health of aquatic ecosystems, working with livestock or marketing a crop that is harvested from the soil with your own hands. “As a forestry intern, I really valued the range of experience I got at Swanton,”
Forestry and Natural Resources senior, Matthew Zenick, said. “One day I might be assessing habitat for an endangered species and the very next day I might be learning how to safely operate a chainsaw. I found it to be a great hands-on introduction to the world of natural resources and it has been an experience that other employers have highly valued.” Swanton has a project to feed your interest and accepts project ideas. Typically interns will complete two approved projects that vary seasonally and with current ranch operations. These projects include a career project aimed to improve training and skill development in an area of professional interest. A second project, ranch improvement, is intended to give back to the ranch in exchange for the breadth of training and education provided while interning. Students who want to intern at
Swanton Pacific Ranch must meet a few requirements, including enrolling in six to twelve units of internship or other related courses. An intern should also be able to work on steep terrain and lift heavy objects such as bags of feed, lumber and fencing wire. Most importantly, interns must have a desire to learn. An evening at Swanton might be spent making dinner with the other students, or driving through some of Swanton’s 3,200 acres of foggy apple orchards, thick oceanfront pastures and thriving redwood stands for “Taco Tuesday” at Whale City Café in Davenport. A weekend trip to the beach or nearby Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk brings the charms of summer to ranch life. Keep Swanton Pacific Ranch in mind for senior projects, internships and an opportunity to live your major. For more information and to apply for an internship visit www.spranch.org.
agcircle | 27
TAKE A HIKE
WITH JASON SLAMOVICH
28 | Summer-Fall 2012
ave you ever found that relaxing song that cools down the stress, that delicious chocolate cake that takes the mind away from worries or a running workout that uplifts the body? Well for me, Montana De Oro State Park is that magical place where I go to drain my daily anxieties. Montana De Oro, Spanish for “Mountain of Gold,” is a California State Park founded in 1965 for enjoyment of hikers, bikers, photographers and other recreational enthusiasts. Located about 17 miles west of Cal Poly, the park is home to rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, beautiful hills and historic buildings from the 19th century. I was born and raised in Marin County where I developed a bond with nature and a passion for exploring the wonders by foot. Upon my arrival at Cal Poly, I discovered a place where I could exchange my chemistry homework and freshmen dorm-mates for fresh air and crashing waves. The park’s immense acreage and scenic wonders helps visitors escape from the bustling Central Coast. As I began to visit regularly, I found the Coastal Bluff Trail to be my so-called “home field.” This 4.4-mile round-trip trail hugs the ocean, stands above the reddish coastal bluff and is shadowed by surrounding hills that rise up from the waters such as Valencia Peak. Typically, there are a few visitors strolling the dirt path and they are usually quite cheerful. Like myself, many can be found taking pictures of the crashing blue waves. As I head out to my hiking hideaway, I make sure to leave my phone, iPod and school worries in the car. I am entering a scenic coastal wonderland home to curious
rabbits rustling through the bushes, preying hawks swirling in the wind and kelp bobbing up and down in the foamy waters. In San Luis Obispo, open space hugs campus and the local city perimeter. Cerro San Luis (or Madonna Mountain to locals) and Bishop’s Peak are two popular hiking areas. They provide gorgeous views of the Central Coast landmarks such as Laguna Lake, Morro Rock and downtown. As your experienced trail guide, I urge you to venture a little farther west to Montana De Oro to experience something new. The drive to the Spooner House parking lot can be described as a trip through another world. Hundreds of acres of eucalyptus trees were planted for timber in the late 1800s. This failed business venture has left major portions of the entry road looking like an exotic Australian jungle, just missing the kangaroos and koalas. As a Cal Poly student, I consider myself fortunate to be in such close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Whether it is January, July or November, mild temperatures make Montana de Oro the place to be. There’s no shame in selecting Pismo Beach, Fremont Theater or even Forever 21 as your stress-free refuge. However, for those outdoor lovers, Montana De Oro will most definitely trigger a sense of amazement by the senses. As I walk along the Coastal Bluff Trail, I stop, close my eyes and let the surroundings tell the story. The wind rustles through the sagebrush, waves steamroll the rocky shores and seabirds wail loud cries in the distance. Montana De Oro has been my escape from college stress and my source of peace along the Pacific. I encourage you to take a hike. Three other favorite hikes of mine in SLO
County include: The Cerro Alto Trail is located between Morro Bay and Atascadero just off of Highway 41. This 5.5-mile round trip trail ascends 1,500 feet up to the summit of 2,300 feet. On a sunny day, you can enjoy a great view of Morro Bay, the Paso Robles valley and the chaparral hills below. This is strenuous so be ready for some exercise! Islay Hill is at the eastern end of the Morros, a chain of nine peaks between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. This 776-foot hill can be summited by following a 1.8-round trip hike. I prefer hiking this trail at sunset as the views of the west are amazing and the sights of Madonna Mountain and Bishop Peak are breathtaking. Parking is really easy here and the surrounding neighborhood is quiet and charming! Oso Flaco “Skinny Bear” Lake is located along the southern end of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. The walk along this pristine freshwater lake is very relaxing as waterfowl play on the placid waters. Past this wetland ecosystem, the beach and roaring ocean waves are in sight. Stroll along the dunes and if you dare, dip into the Pacific waters! Jason Slamovich is a fourth year Environmental Management and Protection student. Following Jason’s graduation in December, he plans to spend time working in the conservation field and writing environmental documents for California projects. “I want a mix of the outdoor-indoor atmosphere. I wouldn’t mind also being a tour guide of national parks or other outdoor gems found across America, Australia or New Zealand!”
agcircle | 29
AGRICULTURE'S HIDDEN INDUSTRY
THE CAL POLY AGRI-FAIR PROGRAM Story by Brittany Teixeira
hen you hear, “Win a prize, any prize! Step right up!” most people automatically think of the carnival at a county fair. Ferris wheels, bumper cars and cotton candy may also come to mind. Agriculture is not the focus for most fair-goers. However, the pigs, cows, cute baby goats, landscape displays and other agriculture-related exhibits and shows are the reason fairs even began in the first place. An educational program offered at Cal Poly is trying to fix these misconceptions. The Cal Poly Agri-Fair Program enrolls about 60 students per year in classes that focus on running and managing fairs. These students learn, participate in and are involved with fair activities throughout California. Students study and learn about how the economy affects the California State Fair budget, listen to speakers from different sectors of the fair industry and travel to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions Convention and the Western Fairs Association Convention.
30 | Summer-Fall 2012
Students assist in the preparation and execution of the conventions. At the conventions, students watch presentations by industry professionals, are allowed and encouraged to present their senior projects to attendees, make great connections and receive unique learning opportunities. A major topic for all California fairs, especially in the Cal Poly program, is cutting fair funding. Due to the current economic conditions and the expected additional budget cuts, many state-funded fair programs have been cut or excluded altogether. California fairs took one of the hardest hits in the country, with onehundred percent of their state funding cut off, leaving fairs to depend on their small amount of annual profit. Some small fairs in the state face closure, while other larger fairs that serve larger populations and have more resources should be able to survive. The 2012 California fair season is the first year without state funding for fairs. Due to these budget cuts, educating the public on the importance of fairs has become more critical than ever before.
California fairs make up a multi-million dollar industry and are crucial to one of California’s largest industries: agriculture. Every year, California’s 77 fairgrounds sell hundreds of thousands of pounds of California beef, salads prepared with local lettuce, corn on the cob, tomatoes and many more agricultural products. Millions of dollars are generated through the sale of livestock as well. The fairs’ existence has a large impact on the California economy, and the well-being of communities from Crescent City to San Diego. Steve Chambers, Executive Director of the Western Fairs Association, approached Cal Poly’s Agri-Fair Program with an idea to educate the public on the importance of county fairs. Chambers proposed a summary of California fairs, a synopsis “to prove what is already obvious to farmers and ranchers in the Golden State, to the government and the general public that fairs really do make a difference in our state’s economy and agricultural sector.” He suggested it become a sort of “crop report” for the fair industry.
Though the idea began as a broad suggestion, Cal Poly Agri-Fair Program students, Lauren Reeves and Cheyenne Poitra, have taken on the challenge and are turning this outreach effort into their senior project. The third-year Agribusiness students will collect data from each fair around the state regarding topics such as gross revenue from Junior Livestock and Industrial Technology auctions, 4-H and FFA involvement, fair-time food sales revenue, agriculture-related sponsorship dollars, production and acres under tillage at fair farms and agriculture-related interim events, hands-on activities and educational programs. Additionally, the students will take record of concessionaires who use only California or locally grown products, focusing on their impact on the local economy. This data will be collected in conjunction with the Western Fairs Association through surveys and personal interviews. “The fair program here at Cal Poly gives students an opportunity to become involved in a traditional event that has long since been part of our nation’s
history,” Reeves said. With the recent cuts to the fair industry, it is important that fairs market themselves more effectively than ever. Reeves also believes “bringing these new, fresh ideas from incoming students to our fairs gives them the opportunity to appeal to a wider variety of fair-goers.” This, in return, will hopefully help fairs gain more popularity throughout their communities. Chamber’s ultimate vision is to have this data incorporated into California’s annual
Crop Report, through the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Because of this, Reeves and Poitra plan to create a sustainable model that can be updated annually and used for years to come. With the help of the Cal Poly AgriFair program, Reeves and Poitra hope to convey the importance of agriculture in California fairs in order to preserve the fun of the fair for future generations and to reinforce the need for education regarding California’s largest industry– agriculture.
Cal Poly Agri-Fair program students in front of part of their display in the education room at the Western Fair Association (WFA) Convention, January 2012. Kristie Liebig, Brittany Teixeira, Prof. Jacky Eshelby, and Katherine Rosser.
agcircle | 31
Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407