The day begins with journaling and a farm nature walk. Along the way, campers encounter evidence or indicators that animals use and call the farm home. Today is about understanding the importance of open space, natural resources and waste management.
Americans throw away approximately 250 million tons of trash/year. That is 500,000,000,000 pounds of garbage! Yikes! How we dispose of our waste or garbage has an impact on our land. Campers learn to differentiate between trash, recycling and compost and continue weighing and charting their own camp waste. Worm composting or vermicomposting is an easy way to reduce some of our waste bound for a landfill and everyone is excited to build their personal worm bin to take home.
UC HAREC began hosting 4-H Sustainable You! Summer Camp in 2014. Since then, the education staff has trained other UC Research and Extension Center (RECS) staff to deliver this curriculum created by Dr. Roslyn Brain of Utah State University. Similar Sustainable You! Summer camps are in progress at Desert REC in Imperial County and Hopeland REC in Mendocino County.
Sustainable You! interactive activities are based around the five major areas of sustainability: land, air, water, food, energy and aim to develop an appreciation and respect for our natural environment. Each day, campers learn simple actions they can implement to lessen their impact on the environment. And while these are serious topics, it's summer….so it's all about having fun while learning.
2019 Sustainable You! Summer Camp Staff:
Kelsey Hammond, Environmental Specialist, City of Ventura
Alli Rowe, Education Specialist, UC Cooperative Extension-Ventura County
Ben Zeko, Jr. leader, Student-Foothill Technology High School
Gwyn Vanoni, Education Specialist, UC HAREC
Annabel Faris, Program Coordinator, UC HAREC
Susana Bruzzone-Miller, YFC Program Manager, UC HAREC
We are excited to welcome our 31 campers that include, for the first time, youth from Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Paula, Piru and Fillmore.
Day 1: Air
Why is clean air important?
What pollutes our air?
How can you improve the air you breathe?.....all good questions our campers pondered today. But first day camp tradition calls for getting acquainted with each other while tie dying camp shirts.
- Guest Blogger: Joseph Nosrat-CSUCI Student
Alli explained that the State Water and Efficiency Sweep is one of the programs she works on that is focused on irrigation upgrades, pump retrofits as well as any practice that reduces water and energy use. This is important to avocado growers along with almost any kind of tree grower who might have access to a pump and can manage irrigation networks. She also runs the Healthy Soils program which is focused on any practice that helps sequester carbon in the soil to reduce greenhouse gases. The soil demands are different with each system which creates complex needs with each grant project. Alli explained, “I kind of act as a communication bridge between scientific advisors and the farmers or ranchers”. Alli does the grant writing for these programs as well as helps farmers implement new practices acting as a helpful intermediary. A 32-acre plot that will be transitioned from row crops to avocado crops is one noteworthy grant project Alli discussed. The problem is the soil was heavily tilled by previous owners which stripped it of carbon rich nutrients. Alli explained, “the research component is looking at different cover crop mixes with each season to build up organic matter”. In this project reducing the disturbance of soil and reintroducing organic matter are the key factors to restoring the soil to grow avocado crops.
Alli will also be a guest educator explaining climate smart agriculture at HAREC and she will help deliver the 4-H Sustainable Youth Summer Camp 2019 in June.
Cooking is one of my greatest joys. So, when Master Gardener lead, Susan Carter asked me to teach a Cooking with Herbs class for fellow gardeners last year, I jumped at the chance. I was even more thrilled to be invited back for a command performance.
A previous MG continuing education focused on how to grow herbs. This class was all about prepping and storing fresh herbs, methods for drying herbs, when to use fresh vs dry herbs and cooking demo of easy recipes. By far the best part of the April 17 two-hour class, was tasting. Participants learned how to make and sampled herb and fruit infused waters, cilantro pesto, basil vinaigrette, lemon-thyme tea bread and three herb green bean salad. Over 30 VC Master Gardeners participated.
Green Bean & Herb Salad
2 lbs. fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. each fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup each chopped fresh basil, chives, cilantro
1 cup sliced red onion or shallot thinly sliced
¾ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup feta cheese, crumbles
Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse vegetables and herbs with cold water
- Bring large sauce pan of lightly salted water to boil. Drop green beans into water and cook until bright green and slightly softened—about 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water to cool. Drain and pat dry.
- In a small bowl whisk together lemon, mustard, oil to make dressing.
- In a large bowl, combine green beans, herbs, onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon dressing and toss well. Before serving add feta cheese and walnuts.
Source: Sunset Magazine. Adapted from a recipe featured in January 2014
- Guest Blogger: Joseph Nosrat-CSUCI Student
A warm HAREC welcome to Dr. Tracylee Clarke and her Leadership Studies class from CSU Channel Islands. Dr. Clarke brought 22 students to see how leadership skills learned in class might be applied on a Research and Education Center. Throughout the visit, Dr. Clarke, referred students to curriculum learned in class and how it is reflected at the Center. Some students are environmental communication majors who might come to volunteer at UC HAREC in the future for their capstone project.
Dr. Annemiek Schilder, Center Director, provided insight into Ventura County agriculture and research projects in progress at UC HAREC. Dr. Schilder also provided insight from her personal history with agriculture and explained how she sharpened her expertise over time. One student asked Dr. Schilder whether UC HAREC is doing research on hemp. She emphasized that industrial hemp is different from cannabis even though they are the same plant species. Industrial hemp is grown for its high-quality fiber and CBD oil and does not have the chemicals (especially THC) that make people high. At this time, help in California can only be grown under a research agreement and registration with the county agricultural commissioner. At harvest, the THC level must be under 0.3%; if it is above that, the crop will be destroyed.
Susana Bruzzone-Miller, Youth, Family & Community Education Program Manager, discussed youth education program opportunities at the Center. She also reviewed potential career paths and internships opportunities for communication majors at the Center. After the presentation, she led students on a tour of the grounds stopping at each research project to briefly describe. The class concluded their field trip with an opportunity to harvest kale, beets, carrots and sugar snap peas.
Oscar Vasquez commented, “I have been to the farm before and I always find it fascinating when I get to walk around the research projects that are in progress. The students were very perceptive and showed genuine interest in the discussion about research at UC HAREC as well as within the industry. A great opportunity to get real-world exposure while still in college.