Agricultural Lesson
October 13, 2011

Manteca Bulletin
By Rose Albano Risso

They learned how almonds are grown, processed and packed in boxes that are sold at the stores.They saw how sheep are sheared, and how to give a goat a bath.

They were challenged to plant and grow a cabbage seedling, and then were told to enter the fruit of their labor in a contest that could earn them $1,000 in scholarships next year, just as a New Haven School fourth grader did last year.

And, they learned how to square-dance - "a great way to exercise on a rainy day inside," according to a member of the San Joaquin Valley Square Dance Association.

The nearly 4,000 third graders from various schools in South San Joaquin County experienced all of these firsthand, and more, Wednesday during their field trip at the Manteca Unified School Farm on Louise Avenue made possible by the AgVenture project.

The young students, who rode in school buses to the farm in groups from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., learned about the different aspects of agriculture and how this brings food to their dining tables not only from their tour of the animals and vegetables at the school farm, but also from the many different ag-related displays that included a number of mammoth machines used in farming such as tractors, a hay baler, and a disc farm equipment.

A group of young 4-H members from Livermore joined the San Joaquin Valley Square Dance Association in giving the dance presentation. "They do square dancing as a 4-H project. They love it," association director Margaret Miller said.

During their dance demonstrations, the students along with some of the parents had an opportunity to learn the dance steps and actually do a performance with the 4-H and association members.

In the Bonnie Plants booth, Randy Beasley explained to the children how to grow a healthy cabbage plant in the garden or in a container filled with all-purpose potting soil. He also informed them about a contest for the best cabbage sponsored by Bonnie Plants every year which awards a $1,000 scholarship to the winner. To give the students a head start, the plant company gave each a student a cabbage seedling to take home and plant. And to further encourage the children, Beasley showed them a flyer with the photo of last year's winner, New Haven School's fourth grader last year, Taylor Craig, with her 20-lb. winning cabbage.?In the Van Ryan Farms booth, Manteca almond grower Bill Van Ryn explained to his attentive young audiences how almonds are grown and processed. At the conclusion of each presentation, Van Ryn gave away almond samples to the students instructing them, at the same time, so share the product with their parents.

The two Clydesdales that Ripon CalCrush - California Rock Crushers - brought to the AgVenture event, as well as the K-9 demonstration presented by the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department were also big attractions to the young visitors.

Cheryl Evans, cradling four-week-old granddaughter Georgia Brown, talked to the excited and wide-eyed students about the pair of Clydesdales owned by the company, Ally and Miles. Miles is actually an abbreviation of the male Clydesdale's full name, Milestone, so named because Charlie Evans purchased it for his wife on the 10th anniversary of their family business.

Deputy Vince Chun and his Belgian Malinois canine partner Sultan, and Deputy Justin Belus and his German shepherd Blitz received a lot of applause during their demonstrations.?In the morning at the start of the students' field trip, AgVenture received two donations - $5,000 from PG&E and $3,500 from South San Joaquin Irrigation District.

AgVenture is a joint project of Manteca Unified, San Joaquin County Ag Commissioner's Office, California Women for Agriculture, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Food 4 Less, and Rancho San Miguel Markets. AgVenture, which aims to raise children's awareness to the locally grown food in their area, is coordinated by Janet Dyk of Manteca.
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Posted: 10/17/2011 3:08:18 PM