Farm Day brings the country to the city


Issue Date: March 27, 2019
By Ching Lee
Haley Friel, a presenter at Sacramento Farm Day and director of outreach and education for Full Belly Farm in Yolo County, shows students from Sacramento-area elementary schools examples of some of the wide variety of vegetable crops grown in the region.
Photo/Ching Lee
Students who attended Sacramento Farm Day had a chance to interact with farm animals and working horses of the California Highway Patrol’s mounted patrol unit, which made their debut appearance at the event this year.
Photo/Ching Lee

For the second year in a row, the grounds of the California Farm Bureau Federation in Sacramento were transformed into a showcase for agricultural learning, as some 1,000 students, educators and others from the greater Sacramento region gathered for Sacramento Farm Day.

Hosted by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom in partnership with CFBF, the Dave Joerger Foundation and Raley's, the event last week allowed fourth-, fifth- and sixth graders from 14 Sacramento-area schools to learn about agriculture through a variety of activities, including the chance to see, smell, touch and taste different farm products.

Throughout the day, students and teachers rotated through 16 different stations staffed by local farmers and agricultural organizations. The booths presented hands-on educational displays on agricultural products and topics such as beef, dairy, bees, sheep, floriculture, forestry, nutrition and food choices, agricultural careers, soil and plant nutrients, invasive pests and food preservation.

Future Farmers of America students from Delta High School in Clarksburg brought a variety of livestock to the event. The California Highway Patrol's mounted patrol unit and its working horses also were on hand to meet with students and teachers.

CFAITC Executive Director Judy Culbertson described the event as a "win-win for everybody involved."

"Farm Day really makes an impact on those students who don't have an opportunity to get up close and personal to agriculture in their everyday lives—who probably never have and may never again," she said. "I think everybody who left that day felt it was very well worth it."

She noted more than 125 volunteers from CFBF and other farm organizations helped with the event, including 13 groups that donated funding, goods, services and time. About a dozen farmers were on site to greet attendees. Student leaders from Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova helped guide teachers and students to the various exhibits.

As a founding member of CFAITC, the California Farm Bureau was asked last year to provide the venue and other resources for the first Farm Day in Sacramento and wanted to continue the tradition this year, CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. He noted the organization already participates annually in Ag Day at the Capitol (see photos) and wanted "to do something ourselves that would make a difference in the lives of young people."

"We have long advocated for our county Farm Bureaus and our members to reach out and teach people about agriculture," he said. "It was time for us to step up and do something for the community as an organization with the facilities and the resources from our partners."

The idea of Farm Day, which originated in San Francisco in 1980, is to bring the farm to the city and to urban students who otherwise would not be able to experience agriculture up close. Today, there are 10 to 20 Farm Days held annually throughout the state, with different county Farm Bureaus partnering with other farm organizations and school agriculture programs to make them happen, Culbertson said. CFAITC provides resources and materials for the various Farm Days.

Though CFBF will move to a new, nearby building later this year, Johansson and Culbertson said the goal is to do another Farm Day in Sacramento next year.

"We're going to work really hard to make sure it does continue," Culbertson said. "I think we would all love to see it happen again."

(Ching Lee is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at clee@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.