Eat, Drink and Grow with the SRJC Agriculture and Natural Resources Department
2019 marks a significant milestone in the agricultural history of Sonoma County: the 50th anniversary of the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Agriculture and Natural Resources (Ag/NR) Department. Founded in 1969 through the grit and determination of agricultural education pioneers, today the SRJC Ag/NR Department provides high-quality education and training to over 1800 students and awards 100 degrees and certificates every year. Shone Farm, acquired from the Federal Government in 1972, has grown into a 365-acre diversified agricultural education center and community gathering place for students, industry professionals and families alike.
This column will serve as a venue to update the Sonoma County Farm Bureau members and the broader agriculture community about the exciting projects and initiatives underway within the Ag/NR Department and Shone Farm. Authors will include myself, the Dean over the Department, as well as Department faculty, staff, students, and industry supporters.
Several significant initiatives are underway, each meriting deeper explanation in subsequent columns:
• The Department is investigating ways to strengthen several academic programs, including Sustainable Agriculture and Animal Science, through curriculum updates and facilities upgrades.
• Shone Farm recently completed a comprehensive Strategic Plan, which examined academic programs, the student experience, site operations, commercial farming, and community engagement.
• The College will be soliciting collaborations or partnerships with equestrian groups to more fully utilize the equine facilities at Shone Farm.
• Several major facilities projects are underway or in the preliminary planning stages, including a new compost site, renovations of the Porter Animal Science Center, and a new produce processing and storage warehouse.
• The Wine Studies Program is adding new tank capacity at Shone Farm Winery to enable students to gain additional technical skills in commercial wine production.
• Shone Farm Winery has hired a new Sales and Marketing coordinator to revamp the Wine Club and enhance the DTC experience at Shone Farm, while simultaneously providing real-world training and employment opportunities for students.
• Natural Resource Management students are doing major maintenance and upgrades in the Shone Farm Forest; and the program is exploring ways to demonstrate sustainable fuel reduction techniques.
• The SRJC Ag Trust Committee will initiate planning for the next Agstravaganza fundraiser, in Spring 2020.
• The Shone Farm Foundation is strengthening its role in promoting sales of farm products and community engagement with Shone Farm.
This list is just a start. The SRJC Ag/NR Department looks forward to the opportunity to engage more deeply with the Sonoma-Marin Farm News readership and share updates on these exciting projects and activities as they progress!