Monterey & Santa Cruz County High School Students Compete in Land-judging Contest for Range Camp Scholarship

landjudging-contestantsMarch 10, 2017

Twenty-nine students from five local high schools in Salinas, Watsonville, Gonzalez and Soledad will be competing next week in a land-judging contest, hosted by the FARMS Leadership Program and Resource Conservation District. The land-judging contest will be held on farmland south of Salinas managed by the local farming company, Christiansen and Giannini LLC. During the contest, students will evaluate three separate soil pits, typically 5 feet deep and 15 feet long, using evaluation criteria established by the California Future Farmers of America (FFA) and a standardized Soil Classification System. Each student begins by judging a pit’s soil characteristics at ground surface level, and then climbs down into the pit to continue evaluating the soil structure below ground, as soil properties that affect fertility, drainage and plant rooting change with depth.

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Organic farmer Javier Zamora named ‘Cooperator of the Year’

Javier in cover crop 1May 2, 2017

Over 50 people gathered at the Salinas Sports Complex on Friday, April 28, for  the Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Monterey County’s annual Stewardship and Scholarship Barbeque fundraiser. Agriculturists and environmental conservationists alike came together to enjoy food and fellowship, and to honor berry, vegetable and flower farmer, Javier Zamora as 'Cooperator of the Year'. Mr. Zamora’s dedication to conservation agriculture in his growing business, JSM Organic Farms, and his zeal for sharing what he has learned with farmers, students and others through presentations and tours on his farms, continues to inspire the agricultural community.

Through the Cooperator of the Year award, the RCD recognized the outstanding work that Javier has done in building his north Monterey County organic farm from a single farm of less than two acres to several farms totaling over 60 acres in the past five years. He has developed contracts with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for implementation of a variety of resource conservation projects and practices to address erosion, soil health, water quality and water conservation and pollinator and wildlife habitat on his ranches. He also regularly invites visitors to see his work, ranging from Hartnell College students, to other farmers, to former Congressman Sam Farr. He has also taken time to share his experiences at the EcoFarm Conference, the Salinas Ag Expo and the USDA NRCS and National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Latino Farmer Conference. Javier also finds time to serve as a Board Member for both the Ecological Farming Association and the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency.

Upon receiving the award, Javier commented that as he has benefited from the guidance of other farmers and professionals, he is compelled to share what he has learned to benefit others that are coming up in agriculture. He thanked the RCD, saying, “This is my Oscar for farming.”

The RCD celebrated a year of accomplishments including 76.5 acres of winter cover crop assistance, two new water quality management projects, removal work on over 269 acres of the invasive weed Arundo donax through the Salinas River Weed Control Program in south Monterey County, and monitoring support for 159 acres of the Salinas River Stream Maintenance Program. 

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