Teaching young people where food comes from
Did you know Solano Land Trust is helping young people make the connection between food and where it comes from?
This summer, youth from Vacaville Boys and Girls Club came to Rush Ranch to participate in a food-to-fork program organized by one of our agricultural partners, California Rangeland Trust.
A national survey by US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance found that 72% of consumers know very little about farming or ranching. That goes for young people, too. The most telling survey about this connection gap comes out of Britain where almost half the kids don’t know that butter comes from cows or eggs from chickens.
With funding support from Raley’s and AT&T, California Rangeland Trust’s Where Your Food Grows and Grazes program brings young people to a Raley’s supermarket and a working ranch. The Vacaville youth participated this summer with a tour of Raley’s and Rush Ranch, where they learned about land conservation, cattle body language, and marsh ecology.
“This was an incredibly powerful day that gave these youth a unique and special opportunity to form their own connections to land and to one another,” said Rangeland Trust’s executive director, Nita Vail. The organization coordinates the event and partners with sponsors to pay for transportation and lunch, and thanks to you, we are able to offer lands like Rush Ranch to serve as an outdoor classroom for important programs like this.
SLT’s conservation program manager, Tracy Ellison, says the young people were most engaged when given a physical task such as looking for barn owls and pellets in the barn; reading cow body language and searching for cow pies in the field; and playing with the marsh simulator.
San Francisco National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Sarah Ferner recruited her young daughter to help make the marsh simulators. The "glitter calming jars" were filled with colorful glitter, glitter glue, and hot water, and helped show students how sediments settle in a marsh.
“I was incredibly impressed with how respectful and curious the students were,” says Sarah. “They asked good questions and were always ready to answer questions, too.”
A visit to Rush Ranch offers a reminder of the connections between conservation, public access, agriculture, and ecology. It’s a great classroom for kids of all ages.
Photos courtesy of California Rangeland Trust and Sarah Nolan