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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - BOCA Farm, Napa, California, USA

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BOCA Farm, Napa, California, USA
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Registered: November 2012
City/Town/Province: Napa
Posts: 1
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As long as I can remember, I have not only had an interest, but a passion for nature and the environment. In 6th grade, I started to become more interested in sustainable agriculture and global climate change. This interest was cultivated by the progressive school I attended where gardening, cooking, and environmental stewardship were part of the curriculum. In 6th grade I gave a speech to the Gasser Foundation about a young person’s perspective on climate change, and in 8th grade my final project was on the benefits of sustainable agriculture and organic foods. It was through this project that I helped connect the school with the visionaries of BOCA Farm, a planned sustainable farm to be started in Napa. Much of the work I did in my project influenced my school’s affiliation with BOCA, and my project was used a resource in its planning. When BOCA was finally a reality the summer of my sophomore year, I volunteered there in order to learn about and support sustainable agriculture. I had been part of Roots and Shoots and the Campus Care Committee in lower and middle schools, and now I am in the ecology club in my high school, continuing my passion.
I worked on a small 7 acre farm in southern Napa called the “BOCA Farm” which stands for “Building Our Community through Agriculture” during the summer of 2012. This farm grows vegetables, herbs, flowers, and aspires to add bees, chickens and goats in the future. There is a dormant orchard on the property which there are plans to restore. In addition to the land tended by BOCA farm employees; there are community plots on the property where anybody who signs up can grow their own plants. Nearby there is a storage complex, an elementary school, and a neighbor’s ranch.
I weeded the areas around the crops every day, as well as laid drip lines, planted, seeded, tended compost, transported food to cold storage, and harvested a huge variety of vegetables and herbs for restaurants, the CSA, or the local farmer’s market. (CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”.) I also researched the requirements and protocol for achieving an official “Organic” designation on the request of the farm manager. I compiled information and helped my manager on her project of becoming organically certified (all produce from BOCA is organically grown just not certified.) My efforts led the farm to increasingly pursue sustainability and harmony with the environment. I also found that my work in helping this farm that is designed to have little impact on nature (no pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, or excessive tilling) brought me and my family as well as the people and kids who came there closer to our environment.
This otherwise unproductive and barren piece of land has been converted into a farm that produces healthy food in a sustainable way as well as offering many fantastic benefits to the community and environment. The community garden not only gave a place for people who did not have their own space to grow food an opportunity to garden, it provided learning opportunities for kids and adults alike. In addition to the learning opportunities, local people got a chance to taste and experience the benefits of food grown without pesticides and with loving care. People always talked about how much they could taste the difference between our local food and the highly-processed food they usually ate. The flowers and other plants benefited the local bees and other insects and animals.
During my project I helped grow organic food that was consumed by people less than 20 miles from where it was grown, minimizing carbon footprint and maximizing enjoyment. We also allowed more people in the community to eat organic food, and supplied produce for local restaurants. We educated many people about farming and nature as well as helped kids get outside and learn about organic agriculture. In doing these things we increased awareness of organic food and its benefits while selling them to high-end restaurants. I shared a lot of the food I got from the farm with my neighbors and friends, building not only goodwill, but knowledge and health. I also helped pioneer this type of farming; sustainable and for-profit, designed to be financially and environmentally sustainable.
This project has helped me in ways that from the outset I could not imagine. Working in the sun and dirt brought me closer to nature, with an understanding deeper than science could have. I gained immense respect for the long hours, meticulous and strenuous labor, and the total dedication farmers like Lizzie have. Learning about organic certification gave me an understanding of the difficulty and requirements of getting certified. The diverse people I met broke my stereotypical view of farmers and gave me a new outlook on which they are. I met a worker who had immigrated from Mexico and had a very hard life which made me grateful and more interested in Mexican farmworkers. I also enriched my diet and felt the physical benefits of working on the farm. Doing this project was also a great way of reaching out and teaching my friends and the community, and I am very glad to have been a part of it.
Date: November 10, 2012 Views: 5531 File size: 25.8kb, 80.1kb : 478 x 640
Hours Volunteered: 81
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 2.8
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