A DAY ON THE FARM --A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES
By Dave Rosenberg
Yolo County Supervisor, District Four
Yolo County residents are blessed by the fact that we live in the agricultural heartland of California, surrounded by some of the richest farmland on the planet. This is the prime farmland that feeds millions. We are surrounded by fields that yield tomatoes, rice, wheat, safflower, nuts and fruits, and many other commodities.
Since its charter in 1850 as one of California’s original counties (and before), Yolo County’s agricultural heritage has been the engine driving our county’s economy. Simply put, we Yolo County residents owe our prosperity, our economic health, to agriculture. Almost everyone in this county is touched by it in some way. Even the great University of California, Davis, owes its heritage to agriculture: When UCD was founded, it was known as "the University Farm" and UCD’s teams are still known as "the Aggies."
Yet, while the vast majority of our Yolo County land is productive as farms, ranches, vineyards, orchards or grazing land (in fact, our farmland is prime, much of it of national importance!), relatively few Yolo County residents actually live on farms or work directly in agriculture. Most of us in Yolo County live in urban or suburban settings in Davis, Woodland, West Sacramento, Winters, Esparto, El Macero, Willowbank, Dunnigan, Rumsey, Knights Landing, Clarksburg and the like.
That’s why I’ve proposed the creation of a program I call "Day on the Farm," so we can encourage urban/suburban folks to get back to our agricultural roots. With cooperation from the Yolo County Farm Bureau’s Agricultural Education Committee, and further cooperation from our schools and parents, "Day on the Farm" will become a reality in 1998. Hopefully, it will continue and flourish and grow year-by-year.
In 1998, we will launch a pilot program with one school and one classroom. Here’s how it works:
(1) One cooperating teacher (preferably third or fourth grade) will be selected in one of our school districts. Each student will be eligible to participate if he or she wishes and with parental permission.
(2) The Ag-Education Committee will identify a number of cooperating Yolo County farmers and ranchers in equal number to the students. An orientation session will be scheduled between the agricultural representatives and the students, sometime during National Ag Week (March 16-22, 1998).
(3) Sometime in the Spring of 1998 (when farms and ranches are very active), the students will be able to spend a full day on a farm or ranch. They will see, first-hand, close-up-and-personal, how crops are grown, fields are plowed, cows are milked, and the myriad of activities that bring food and commodities to our homes. Hopefully, these experiences can be discussed and shared at school and at home.
I predict that the "Day on the Farm" program will grow year-by-year. In 1999, perhaps three classes will participate. In 2000, we may have 10 classes. Someday, every class and every third or fourth grade student in Yolo County will have a chance to spend a "Day on the Farm."
It is this sort of indelible memory that will endure in the minds of these students. And that will serve to help protect and preserve our vital agricultural lands for future generations.