Welcome Apprentices 2012!
No Comments since February 15th, 2012
We recently welcomed three new apprentices to the Pie Ranch family: Bridget Lindsey, Owen David and Aileen Suzara! Their first week has been been full of orientations, meetings, introductions to animals & staff and the overall logistics of Pie Ranch. It’s a ton of information to ingest but the team’s enthusiasm and energy is infectious and their can-do spirit means it won’t be long before they become adept at everything Pie!
My name is Bridget Lindsey and I hail from Oxnard, California, also known as Strawberry Land. After an extended trip to Peru, I began volunteering on an organic farm in Ojai, helping to harvest some produce for the farm’s CSA. Being on the farm became much more than just a volunteer opportunity- it was where I created great friendships and was led to great food as well, and my experiences there made me realize the impact a small farm can have on an entire community. I began pursuing any farming opportunities in the Santa Cruz area after about a year of volunteering in Ojai and was eventually led to the beautiful place of land where Pie Ranch resides. Before receiving the apprenticeship, I had been reading any bit of information I could on the farm, in complete disbelief that such a place even existed. After arriving at Pie Ranch and meeting with all of the staff who keep the place running, I immediately had a sense of admiration and gratitude. I feel very blessed to have found a farm up here running in a unique, non-profit sector that allows the people behind the scenes to take someone like myself under their wings and give me in-depth training and invaluable tools that I am sure will positively benefit any future pursuits I may have in the world of organic farming.
I’m Owen David and I grew up just over the hills in Menlo Park, but I’ve spent most of the past ten years on the East Coast, where my lifelong interest in environmental issues led to a series of jobs at book publishers with a sustainability focus. After being laid off from my most recent publishing job in early 2011, I decided to use the rest of the year to get outside my comfort zone and try something that was completely new, yet still within the broader environmental/sustainability world. I ended up finding a small, family-owned organic farm in Central Virginia that needed an intern, and I lived in a “civil war reenactment” tent in their backyard while helping out with all aspects of their farming operation, from weeding strawberries to running a stand at local farmer’s markets. Although I have felt good about all my previous jobs, last summer it became clear very quickly that I had stumbled upon something that was fulfilling in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. By the season’s end I decided to return home to California and find a farm that would allow me to take the next step toward having an operation of my own. I’m delighted to have ended up at Pie Ranch, which not only grows healthy food but also introduces the concept of a better food system to a wide audience through its farm stand and educational programs. Everyone on the staff has been so warm and supportive from day one, and it’s obvious that they’re an incredibly talented, creative, and dedicated group. I am proud to call Pie Ranch my home for the rest of the year.
Aileen Suzara is a Filipina/American with connections to the land and foods across the Pacific Rim. For the past 6+ years she has gained broad experience as an environmental educator, advocate, cook, and cultural worker. Aileen comes to farming driven by the desire to reconnect with ancestral agricultural heritage and to bridge communities of color with healthy foods. After finishing the Bauman College Natural Chef program, she completed the Apprenticeship at the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden in 2011 and is now excited to grow with Pie Ranch. When not growing or cooking food, Aileen serves on the board of justice organizations including the Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity. She can also be found writing at Kitchen Kwento and winning adobo throwdowns.
The apprentices have already had their first class with Amy on crop planning. This is one of the more complex aspects of managing a diversified sustainable farm and one element of planning that often gets overlooked in the rush and frenzy of day-to-day farm work. The apprentices learned the importance of completing a crop plan to make sure they can meet the demands of our markets, as well as knowing when to plant for an estimated harvest, how much seed you’ll need for the season, how to rotate crops to not build up disease and pest pressure in the soil and much more.
Nancy led the apprentices in the basics of winter pruning in Pie Ranch’s apple & pear trees this month. Winter pruning invigorates the tree & stimulates vegetative growth, establishes structure & form, opens up the tree to sunlight & helps to develop fruit wood. Our apple trees are going into their 7th year & we hope to harvest an abundance of yummy fruit come late summer/fall. Other apple varieties & pears planted last year will have to wait a couple more years before we can expect our first crop.
Our apprentices came in from the field to join join Pie Staff in their ongoing work in challenging racisim. After an inspired workshop on Decolonizing the Food System, we gathered together for a delicious potluck followed by Aileen’s amazing Lemon Pie! We would like to thank UCB graduate student, Marcelo Felipe Garzo Montalvo & Saqib Keval, Growing Justice Coordinator at People’s Grocery for their help facilitating this important work.