Shone Farm – An update from the field

Written By: Paige Pedri
Published: August 1, 2018

“Shone Farm is a true treasure for Sonoma County Agriculture Education” – Terry Lindley, Lindley Cattle Company

 

For nearly 50 years, Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm has been the intersection between farming and education in Sonoma County. In fact, Shone Farm is one of the most unique agricultural learning labs in the country, offering students an opportunity to engage hands-on in a full range of farming experiences and sustainable and organic research opportunities. Shone Farm has been ranked by one ranking system as the #1 college farm in the Nation (out of 60), surpassing Cal Poly, UC Davis, Iowa State, UC Santa Cruz, and such Ivy League institutions as Stanford, Vassar, Dartmouth and Cornell (www.OnlineCollegePlan.com/college-farms). So, this past winter and early spring, when Shone Farm removed all the animals from their livestock barns, it understandably caused some concerns within our ag community and amongst our members.

 

To learn more and to bring our membership up to date on Shone Farm, I recently caught up with Benjamin Goldstein, SRJC Dean of Agriculture/Natural Resources & Culinary Arts. Goldstein said he has been with SRJC for a full year now and is excited about the overall direction that the Agriculture Department is moving and the upgrades and advances that are coming down the pike at Shone Farm in particular.

 

Goldstein has family throughout Northern California and said he is thrilled to make Sonoma County his new home. He came up from Los Angeles Trade Technical College where he was Dean over the Construction and Business Departments, and he holds an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree with an emphasis in International Agribusiness from UC Berkeley. Although Goldstein said he is by all accounts a city boy, he said he has always loved agriculture and natural resources, and even fantasized about being a farmer in his childhood.

 

“This opportunity is a dream come true for me,” Goldstein said. “I have always respected farmers and appreciated where our food, fiber, feed, and biofuel comes from. Overseeing the Ag department and Shone Farm allows me the opportunity to be intimately involved in farming and the farming community here in Sonoma County.”

 

Goldstein said he is excited to be part of both the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County, to work closely with Sonoma County farmers and ranchers, and to ensure our educational programs continue to serve our students and the ag community.

 

The Animal Science and Equine Science programs have long been an integral part of the SRJC Agriculture Department and Shone Farm. However, Goldstein explained that was a need to reevaluate Shone Farms. “It was an opportune time to take a step back, reexamine our academic program offerings, and revitalize our livestock facilities,” Goldstein said. “The State of California has a new Animal Science Transfer degree that we need to align with because it guarantees students transfer to one of the CSU campuses. We also want to make sure that our students are getting the right mix of skills in demand from local employers.”

 

Goldstein said that with the 50th anniversary of the Agriculture Department coming up in 2019, SRJC would like to repair and upgrade the Porter Animal Science Center (livestock barn) in conjunction with this incredible milestone. “We needed to let our pastures regenerate and to develop a sustainable pasture management plan that tracks soil health and carbon—something we started several years ago with the Gold Ridge RCD and never finished,” Goldstein said. “Also, we are underutilizing the equestrian facilities at Shone Farm and I am exploring new partnership models that would help us open up the facilities to the public.”

 

Goldstein said he recognizes that there is a lot of work to do and that this the right time to reset and start fresh. “I want to assure the community that we will absolutely be bringing livestock back to Shone Farm, but under the absolute best circumstances and facilities” Goldstein said. He further explained that the Farm’s cattle and sheep were sold and are happily grazing around Sonoma County, and all the horses were re-homed.

 

As the department continues to explore the best livestock options, existing and incoming students will continue to experience hands-on learning through partnerships and field trips to local livestock operations and equine facilities. Because the SRJC benefits from having very strong industry advisory committees in animal science and equine science to help guide the program revamp, Goldstein hosted a town hall meeting on August 1st to gain feedback from the broader ag community.

 

In addition to the upgrades in the livestock program, Shone Farm will also add the Balletto Tasting Room within the next few years.

“Terri and I are so honored to have the upcoming Tasting Room at Shone Farm named for our family. We are huge supporters of the SRJC And the Farm. We are all blessed to have this amazing educational resource in our backyard. It’s great for our young people, our businesses, and our whole community.” – John Balletto, SCFB Director

 

The Balletto tasting room will look out over one of Sonoma County’s most spectacular views, “Warren’s Overlook”, which was named after another Shone Farm AND Farm Bureau supporter, the late Warren Dutton. Dutton’s family generously helped raise funds to build the multi-purpose Warren G. Dutton Jr. Agricultural Pavilion which includes classrooms, meeting space, a commercial kitchen, winery, brewery and indoor equestrian arena.

 

“Our family is proud to be a supporter of Shone Farm. It’s such an important part of our community and helping educated our future farmers and ranchers.” – Steve Dutton, SCFB President

 

Shone Farm will develop a large-scale on-farm compost production operation that will serve as a learning laboratory for students as well as a demonstration site for seminars for farmers and ranchers in Sonoma County.

 

THE SHONE FARM STORY

Prior to being a world-class agriculture learning facility, the Shone Farm property was a military listening post, monitoring radio traffic around the world during World War II. In 1972, it was declared surplus land by the federal government and subsequently acquired by Santa Rosa Junior College. The first structure on the new SRJC site was the pole barn (James Porter Animal Science Center). The poles were recycled from the original pole towers that held the monitoring equipment for the military.

 

Shone Farm includes 120 acres of forest, 100 acres of pasture, 90 acres of vineyard, 12 acres for crop production, 4 acres of olive and apple trees, and 39 acres of buildings and improvements. In addition to the agricultural land, there is open space around the farm’s perimeter that serves as wildlife corridors and habitat. The 365-acre facility was named in honor of Robert Shone, an active leader in the Sonoma County agriculture community, a Santa Rosa Junior College trustee and a past President of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

 

A large portion of the annual operating budget to support Shone Farm was generated by the professionally managed 90-acre vineyard that produces grapes for such brands as La Crema, Coppola, Hanna and Constellation Brands wines. The winery utilizes state-of-the-art equipment and winemaking procedures to ensure the production of premium wines indicative of the Russian River appellation, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The winery produces 530 cases of estate grown and bottled Shone Farm brand varietals that can be purchased at Oliver’s Market, Bottle Barn, and online. The program also farms, bottles and sells certified organic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

 

THE AG & NATURAL RESOURCES DEPARTMENT
Over 2,000 students are enrolled annually, and each program offers a variety of certificates and majors. For more information prospective students can contact the AG/NR Department at (707) 527-4408 or by e-mail at agnrinfo@santarosa.edu.

 

AGRIBUSINESS PROGRAM:
ANIMAL SCIENCE PROGRAM
BREWING PROGRAM
EQUINE SCIENCE PROGRAM
ENVIRONMENTAL HORTICULTURE PROGRAM
FLORAL DESIGN PROGRAM
NATURAL RESOURCES PROGRAM
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROGRAM
VETERINARY TECHNICIAN PROGRAM
VITICULTURE PROGRAM
WINE STUDIES PROGRAM

 

ADDITIONAL STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES

The Independent Ag Enterprise Program (IAEP) is a unique opportunity for aspiring growers to take farm management into their own hands and gain the skills to run their own mixed vegetable operation. The IAEP at Shone offers you the chance to manage a parcel of land in a revenue-sharing relationship with the rest of Shone Farm.

 

Student Ashly Langsford is currently completing a project involving Cut Flowers, edible flowers and culinary herbs. Langsford has access to land, tools, and technical expertise from Shone Farm staff. She said she grows her agricultural products and sells them to Shone Farm, learning valuable skills such as crop planning, cultivation, yield estimates, and pricing. Shone Farm features Langford’s products in the CSA boxes or at the seasonal farm stand or in wholesale sales to restaurants or FEED Sonoma.

 

Shone Farm paid student employment and Federak work-study jobs, a farm residency program, and independent study opportunities offer ag students a chance to take their learning to more advanced levels under supervision.

 

SPECIAL COMMUNITY BENEFITS

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture Program
Shone Farm’s year ‘round fresh produce is available to the general public. Consumers can sign up to receive a weekly CSA box. Each week, customers receive a share of whatever is ripe and ready to eat, grown by Sustainable Agriculture students. CSA membership provides customers with fresh, tasty fruits and veggies while students receive the opportunity to learn how to run a sustainable farm and produce for a local direct market. Everything in the CSA is grown locally at Shone Farm. Each week’s produce will change, but a share should feed 2-3 people.

 

Several Membership options are available with weekly boxes available and range between $25-$27/week (seasonal payment required). FOR MORE INFO: ShoneFarm.SantaRosa.edu/products-csa

 

Pick & Sip – 3rd Saturday of each month 11 am – 3 pm
Want to spend a day at the Farm? Try the Shone Farm wines or olive oil? Pick our own fruits and veggies? Entertain the kids with cornhole, sidewalk chalk, and other activities? Come enjoy a family-friendly afternoon exploring the Shone Farm and sampling the products! If you like what you try – the Wine, fresh produce, or olive oil (pre-bottled or available in bulk) all will be available for sale – at VERY reasonable prices.

 

Seasonal Farm Stand—open every 3rd Saturday at the Pick and Sip events.

 

100% Grass-fed Beef – The Farm is currently selling out of the last of its inventory of frozen grass-fed beef.

 

SRJC Shone Farm
7450 Steve Olson Lane, Forestville
INFO: ShoneFarm@SantaRosa.EDU
or call 707.535.3712

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