- Author: Wendy Powers
During my trip to Fresno on Wednesday I was reminded once again how much of a difference we can make when we work together. The day was incredibly motivating while at the same time humbling. It started with the UC Walks – I hadn't expected such a large turnout! But when you have the chance to walk around the Garden of the Sun in Fresno, who wouldn't take time to come out and walk. The UC Master Gardeners have done some fantastic work on the grounds; the gardens were just beautiful. Austin did a great job photographing the group.
Following our official walk, Ruth, Michael and Jacob took us to meet a local farmer who has over 50 different crops on his farm. There was quite a bit of taste-testing! The strawberries were super sweet and the lemon grass smelled heavenly. I don't envy the farmer in trying to keep the rotation straight, let alone making the trip weekly to a Bay area farmer's market.
Later we visited Rescue the Children, an 18-month program for women and children designed to enhance skills including that of healthy eating and nutrition. Karina (UC CalFresh program manager) and Sylkie (Master Gardener volunteer) showed us the gardens that the women are maintaining and expanding. Priscilla (center director) spoke about the importance of the partnership with UC ANR in changing the lives of these women. I thought for sure that would be the most moving portion of the day. Not the case.
We wrapped up the morning with a visit to a local vineyard where Nick (vineyard manager at The Wine Group) reinforced to us how much the company depends on people like George for brainstorming ideas and learning about the newest research findings. Hopefully Nick recognizes how important to UC ANR it is to have willing cooperators like him! He and George are thinking forward to what the industry needs are as far as the vineyard of the future – low labor, water-wise, high value farming. This was a great stop to wrap up a fast-paced morning.
The afternoon included what may have been my most moving visit yet. Alena and Tracy introduced us to Brian from Street Saints, a homegrown organization determined to keep the local youth out of reach of gangs. Their story was what we are all about. What's more is that they believe that the 4-H curriculum is what they need to really achieve their goals and give the kids tools for success. This is a group with whom we must partner. How can we not help when we consider what they are doing? I had a chance to briefly visit with 2 high schoolers who had participated in a 6-week summer course last year. They were so articulate, focused and committed to the 4-H program. What an honor to have a connection to this program and the products of it! I know we have a number of famous 4-H alum. These two youth were stars in my book.
A phenomenal day ended with a visit to a U.S. Forest Service research site where we are partnering with the NEON project and CSU Fresno to study ecological changes. Rebecca has a great resource in her backyard and strong partners. I love gadgets and instrumentation – as soon as the NEON project has electricity they will no doubt have some great toys.
Everywhere you look UCCE Fresno is making a difference. Thanks to everyone for a great visit!