- Author: Alison L Kent
Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center is located in Santa Paula near Ventura on California's Central Coast. It is a microcosm of Ventura County's rich agricultural heritage, down to the nineteenth-century Faulkner House and historic barns and vintage farm equipment as well as in the particular mix of crops grown there. The top ten crops grown in Ventura County, supported by research at Hansen—strawberries, lemons, raspberries, nursery stock, celery, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, cut flowers and cilantro--are highlighted in the demonstration garden section of the farm. Research plots include blackberry variety trials, strawberry trials, and an experimental plot of Arundo donax to explore ways to control this noxious weed that chokes the county's waterways.
This trip, my first, coincided with the Ventura Unified School District's FoodCorps program as the students visited their Farm Project plot and counted the pollinators – honeybees – that were foraging in the flowering cilantro and bok choi. Later these students took turns interviewing each other and recording the interviews with their phones.