Ann Sobrato High School Demonstration Farm Development

Funder: California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant

 Partners: Ann Sobrato High School, Morgan Hill Unified School District

 Date of project: 2014-2016

 SAGE is working closely with Ann Sobrato High School, part of Morgan Hill Unified School District and located in the Coyote Valley, to expand their agricultural program and curriculum through the development of a 10-acre organic demonstration farm.

The high school has 1,500 students of which 500 are involved in the extensive agricultural program. There are five dedicated agricultural program teachers and the program has strong support from the school administration and from the farming community.  The school already has a farm of about two acres, which is primarily dedicated to animal husbandry and also includes a small planting area and greenhouse dedicated to the horticultural program.  The program teachers have nurtured a dream to create a 10-acre diversified row crop and fruit organic farm, but had not yet found the time and resources to move forward.

SAGE and the Sobrato High School developed the following specific goals for the school farm development:

  • Collaborate on the planning and initial development of an organically managed 10- acre demonstration farm to be operated in conjunction with the existing FFA animal husbandry and horticulture unit. The first step will be a pilot 1-acre row crop plot. The hope is that this pilot will help jump start the much larger vision of the establishment of a permanent and well funded 10 acre demonstration farm that will consist of mixed orchards, animal pastures and row crop areas adequate to meet the future educational needs of the Sobrato High Agricultural program, the farming community and interested and involved stakeholders.
  • Collaborate on the development of two hedgerows: a windbreak hedgerow on the north edge of the existing farm and a pollinator hedgerow on the western edge of the farm. (completed)
  • Consider collaborating on bluebird and owl box construction, establishment and monitoring
  • Engage the students in the planting of a hedgerow on the Coyote Valley Preserve, owned by the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority
  • Make presentations about hedgerows to the students (completed)
  • Hold workshops for local farmers interested in the hedgerows and organic practices in the 1-acre starting plot. (completed)

Sobrato High School students had two planting days to establish a pollinator/ harvestable hedgerow of fruit trees, herb shrubs and native plants along the western edge of the school’s 2-acre farm, as well as a a windbreak hedgerow of native shrubs and trees along the northern edge of school farm.  These two hedgerows – over 10,000 square feet combined – will have habitat and windbreak functions and will also be an important teaching tool. The hedgerow design and planting is being overseen by Sam Earnshaw of Hedgerows Unlimited, who has established over 400 miles of hedgerows in California.

Relevant Publications and other projects

 

Coyote Valley Work

“ Sobrato horticulture students plant hedgerow around school farm” in the Morgan Hill Times

http://www.morganhilltimes.com/news/sobrato-horticulture-students-plant-hedgerow-around-school-farm/article_17372b64-e9ed-11e4-9dc9-0f53e0c40c5c.html

CV Feasibility Study

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