- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Many of the visitors are from other parts of the country and Canada who winter in the Southern California desert to enjoy its sunshine and warm temperatures.
“Hopefully the word gets out and lots of people hear about it,” said Stacey Wills, Farm Smart manager. “What we're hoping to do is not only open it to winter visitors, but open it up locally as well. I don't know if the locals realize how rich our agriculture is here, especially young people. They don't understand the great agricultural opportunities and programs we have.”
Farm Smart, which began 15 years ago, relies on many volunteers to implement the winter visitor program and educational programs for K-12 students in the Imperial Valley. Two of the volunteers, Shriley and Larry Durarns, live on the center in their RV from October to March to help run the program, the article said.
“They basically work from sunrise to sunset,” said Wills. “They help us prep the food, drive the tractors, and ensure everything is being run smoothly. They are the life blood of the program. They make Farm Smart.”
The Imperial Valley Press also ran an article marking the beginning of the 2016 Farm Smart season. Writer William Roller reported that tours at the UC facility show visitors where their food comes from and reminds them they are linked with the environment and must be responsible stewards of the land.
"The great thing about the program is everyone learns about the research being done and gets to pick their own vegetables from our garden," Wills told the Imperial Valley Press.
The article featured a photo of Nancy Caywood Robertson driving the tractor that pulled visitors on a trailer as they toured the center. A former elementary school teacher, Caywood Robertson created Farm Smart in 2001 and managed the program until her retirement in 2014. She's now a volunteer.