Saturday, August 11, 2007: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM
Lower Level Lobby, San Jose McEnery Convention Center
FT 21 - Lettuce, landscape and labor: A one-day exploration of the agriculture and environment interface on the California Central Coast
The Central Coast of California is a mosaic of land uses and climates, from dry grasslands and orchards to a fog belt of redwoods and intensive lettuce and strawberry production. What happens at this interface between agriculture and conservation? What strategies do growers take to soften or harden the boundary with natural and protected lands, particularly following incidents such as the national E. coli O157:H7 outbreak of 2006 which was traced to a wild pig in this region? How do wildland mangers respond? This trip will explore the interface between agriculture and conservation in California’s Central Coast, including two opposing movements as a result of the E. coli outbreak: one to encourage conservation practices, including perennial habitat on farms, and another to exclude natural areas and wildlife from farms for food safety precautions. We will start with a tour of a 52-acre ranch in San Juan Bautista where Phil Foster grows vegetables and apples for farmers’ and wholesale markets. Located in the shadow of the Flint Hills and adjacent to San Benito River, the ranch incorporates hedgerows and other conservation practices. Next we will visit the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, the second largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California and habitat for more than 340 species of birds. Participants will learn about work with ranchers in the Elkhorn Slough watershed and have time to explore trails through oak woodlands, tidal creeks and freshwater marshes. The trip continues at High Ground Organics, a 40-acre vegetable, flower and strawberry farm adjacent to Harkins Slough. The acreage is divided into two easements, with half the land maintained in organic agriculture and the other half as wildlife habitat. In 2006, grower Steve Pederson introduced two Dexter bulls to promote native grasses through grazing. If time permits, the trip will conclude with a visit to the 25-acre teaching and research farm at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California Santa Cruz for a discussion with Steve Gliessman about his work to involve undergraduates through the Program in Community and Agroecology. Wear sturdy shoes for walking short distances on flat but uneven ground. Expect hot, sunny weather – bring sunscreen, hat and sunglasses, and jackets for possible foggy weather at the slough. This trip is suitable for sturdy children 10 years and older who can stand the long, hot day, and frequent walking.
Organizer:Katie L. Monsen, University of California Santa Cruz

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