Teaching in the Central Valley

Traveling past green hills,  wind farms, and numerous almond orchards, we made our way to the central valley to kick off the spring California tour on Wednesday, April 3rd in Fresno, CA. We would like to send out a huge thankyou to Carl Kaku, an engaging and passionate instructor at Fresno high, who helpedwith organizing our opportunity to work  with their school. During the first day we presented and shared with 125 high school students from environmental science and biology classes, with a couple of English classes as well.

One of the joys of teaching is when you find yourself learning new things in return; we were excited to hear about a water system that Fresno uses for their city’s water catchment and storage. Throughout our time there, we observed large water collection ponds that filter into underground aquifers beneath the city to supplement their water supply. The central valley is one of the main agricultural regions in the state, and also hosts the problem of being under persistent drought, so it was neat to see their alternative infrastructure for storing water. Now if that region’s monoculture agriculture could only switch to bio-intensive methods, which use up to 87% less water, then, combined with their water storage systems, they’d be headed towards a more sustainable future with today’s drought epidemic and the growing climate change.

We also learned that in Fresno county, almond production accounts for bringing in approximately $820,000/year. In order to feed the world’s burgeoning population sustainably, we need to adjust our diet. John Jeavons taught that filbert trees would produce 5 times the amount of calories, protein and calcium as almonds do. Don’t get us wrong, we love almonds just as much as anyone, but sustainability is to do less and accomplish more, or in this case it would be grow less and gain more.

Bringing our time in Fresno to a close, on Thursday, we had the refreshing experience of teaching 3-5 year olds as a part of Fresno City College’s early childhood development program. This brought us back to the basics of becoming in touch with where our food comes from, and the simple and elaborate systems nature provides to support life of plants, and ourselves, together on earth.

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