Posts Tagged: Virginia Bolshakova
The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center near Half Moon Bay is making plans to expand its conference center to offer more flexible facilities for conventions and team-building exercises, reported Julia Reis in the Half Moon Bay Review.
The ranch was donated to UC in 1975 and hosts more than 6,000 youth and adults from all over the San Francisco Bay Area each year. UC ANR presents 4-H programs at Elkus Ranch for children from preschool through high school to explore the processes of producing food and fiber, nutrition programs, community service days and special events. The site is also available for daytime retreats, meetings, workshops, weddings and other special events.
Elkus Ranch director Virginia Bolshakova send a request for qualifications to area planning firms which are due this Friday. The proposals should include potential project scope and plans for improved overnight accommodations, new field laboratory areas and new walking trails.
Program coordinator Leslie Jensen took the reporter on the tour of Elkus Ranch's facilities and shared the staff's vision for improvements. The staff envisions adding yurts for student housing or replacing or renovating the building where students currently sleep. The ranch's water system is also in need of updating and the staff wants the education center to be "greener." The study is to be completed by Sept. 1.
Although UC Cooperative Extension started offering the program in a few counties in the 1980s, its parent organization UC Agriculture and Natural Resources recently designated it as a statewide Master Food Preserver Program.
UC Master Food Preservers are volunteers who teach people in their communities about food safety and how to preserve food. Certification entails about 50 hours of instruction and a commitment to volunteer service to the program.
In the fall, UC Cooperative Extension held a course to train and certify UC Master Food Preservers in Los Angeles.
“I had 86 applicants for 18 spots,” said Drusilla Rosales, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor who oversees the program in Los Angeles County. “It's very much in demand. I get requests almost daily from people who are either looking for a class or wanting to become certified as a UC Master Food Preserver.”
“People are chomping at the bit for this course,” said Virginia Bolshakova, UC Cooperative Extension director for San Mateo and San Francisco counties, who is trying to build the local Master Food Preserver Program slowly. “I have a feeling we're going to have to turn away 75 percent of the people that apply this time around! Our phones are ringing off the hook about this program.”
The program is currently located in 16 counties and expanding.
“We are hiring a staff person to move things forward and expect to have more resources for existing UC Master Food Preserver programs in the near future,” said Missy Gable, UC Cooperative Extension statewide Master Food Preserver Program co-director and UC Master Gardener Program director.
Most of the 46 MFP volunteers are in west Los Angeles and hold workshops at farmer markets, do demonstrations at community gardens and staff booths at the Los Angeles County Fair. They have begun reaching out to low-income residents and high school students.
“Some of our UC Master Food Preserver volunteers are working with high school students,” said Rosales. “A lot of schools now have gardens and one of the high schools has a culinary arts program and a beautiful new kitchen to prepare students for careers in the food industry. MFP volunteers have been teaching students how to dehydrate herbs and cook with herbs and dehydrate kale to make kale chips. They are also teaching jams and jellies classes.”
In Orange County, UC Master Food Preserver volunteers are working with UC Cooperative Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program to create a Junior Master Food Preserver Program for youth. One goal of the program would be to give students an opportunity to earn a certificate in food preservation that they can put on college or job applications.
In the video below, Missy Gable, talks about plans for UC Cooperative Extension's statewide Master Food Preserver Program.
To watch Susan Algert, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, demonstrate safe canning practices in a video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeoymcsLWlg.
According to the CDFA (2012 statistics), he wrote, the Top-10 commodities produced in California are, in order, included milk, grapes, almonds, nursery plants, cattle and calves, strawberries, lettuce, walnuts, hay, and tomatoes.
Pitahaya must be WAY down the list, but worth a taste, Blake wrote.
Other recent news:
- UC Cooperative Extension hosted an "Insect Blitz" on Sept. 13 at UC Cooperative Extension's Elkus Ranch, which featured the opportunity to consider bugs as a delicious food source, reported the Half Moon Bay Review.
The event also included a "bio blitz," in which participants were encouraged to venture off on the 150-acre site and collect samples of plant and insect species. Elkus Ranch Director Virginia Bolshakova, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and San Mateo-San Francisco County Director, said the event gave the public a chance to learn about the biodiversity of the area.
- The San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times reported on the spread of bagrada bug to the San Francisco Bay Area. The pest was introduced into Southern California six years ago and has been marching northward and eastward ever since.
"This bug is highly nasty," said entomologist Shimat Joseph, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County. "It can make a crop unmarketable.
The story also quoted Virginia Bolshakova.
"Everybody is keeping their eyes open as it travels up the coast," she said. "It is likely just a matter of time" until it reaches the rural farms along the edge of the Pacific."
“She brings enthusiasm, high energy, intelligence and a passion for agriculture to her job," said Bill Gass, executive director of the San Mateo County Farm Bureau.
No day is average for Bolshakova, who is also the county director for San Mateo-San Francisco counties UCCE and the director of Elkus Ranch, a place for hands-on learning experiences for Bay Area children.
One morning she is working with concerned citizens about beekeeping policies, collaborating with scientists at UC Berkeley about eradicating aphids in gardens, and in the afternoon herding students around Elkus Ranch teaching about rangeland, the story said.
“I think the biggest challenge facing San Mateo County agriculture is urban-rural interface, and that goes in both directions,” she said. “I work with many youth who never thought about plants or planting a seed and watching it grow. I worry that people are becoming disconnected to their food and where it originates.”
Bolshakova was born and raised on a 450-acre pig and crop farm in southwestern Michigan where her parents still work the land. Her childhood experiences nurtured a passion for the environment and a keen awareness of the interdependency between people and nature.
Bolshakova has a bachelor's degree in biology from State University of New York, Buffalo, a master's degree from the University of Toledo, and a Ph.D. in ecology from Utah State University.