Farm to Fork

Farm to Fork Learning By Stephen Payne, Gardening Teacher (aka Farmer Steve)

Local reports have suggested this year’s fall colors have been some of the best in recent years. We have had beautiful autumn conditions with cool nights and sunny afternoons coupled with low wind. This has contributed to leaves staying on the trees, providing us with dramatic displays all over Sacramento.

Yet the rain could not have come too soon, helping our northern neighbors extinguish terrible wildfires. The saying couldn’t be more true in California: “when it rains, it pours.” This Thanksgiving, leaves poured, as it seemed they all came down at once.

Out on the farm, we are fortunate to have many hard-working helpers. Students from many classes helped rake, rake, and rake some more. We piled leaves in compost corner, forming a giant leaf mountain that has become a favorite for jumping in at the end of our raking sessions. By next year, these leaves will transform into rich, rich compost that we will then spread with our High School classes under the canopy of our fruit trees in the orchard.

Other beautiful highlights to see on a stroll through the farm is the thick, lush 3rd grade cover crop planted during their October farm block. The 2nd grade prepared the ground and sowed their wheat patch, which we will watch sprout and grow tall throughout the spring.

We also finished pruning of our stone fruit trees that were well-tended by our 9th grade. Be sure to visit our 6th grade marketers at the farm stand on Thursday after school, and take home some oranges that they will pick for the next few months.

Many of you know the garden gazebo was taken down a few years back. As best I can determine, it was built in the mid-1980s as a 3rd grade project with Mark Murray’s class. After some 30 years, it had truly proven to be a worthwhile contribution to the identity of our farm.

Through auction fundraising from a generous community, combined with individual contributions, a helpful grant from Raley’s, and the donation of professional time and expertise by Anthony Noonis, the new gazebo project was made attainable. Also, we thank Sean Christman of Sierra Custom Homes, a SacWaldorf parent of 12 years, with tremendous appreciation for the donation of labor and materials. With his leadership and the hard work of his crew, the structure was completed in October.

With an update of above-ground peers fortified with rebar and whole log posts, this new gazebo will last for many years to come. Our 8th grade gardening class then sanded and sealed the new wood with linseed oil. Still to come: a creative slab floor and new log benches to complete the project.

By spring, the Heritage grape and climbing red rose will again traverse the rafters and provide a shady space to rest during our hot summer sunshine.

Happy New Year from the farm team as we look forward to working side by side with all our young farmers throughout the grades! Here’s to growing together.