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2022 July 10

Secret Walks: UCSC Farm

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On 2022 July 3, my wife and I took a guided tour of the UCSC Farm, something we have not done for at least a decade—maybe closer to two decades.  The tour was moderately interesting, though more for the changes since we’d last been there than for the content of the talks.  We had 3 docents (1 scheduled, two others there to learn from her), but none of them knew much about what had been planted this year.  The farm discontinued the apprenticeship program during the pandemic and is relying more on UCSC students for farm labor, with the result that some of the more labor-intensive activities (like the long row of compost heaps) are no longer there.  I also did not see the pond with the solar fountain—I think it has been filled in.

On the way up Bay Drive, we saw a yellow monkeyflower in bloom.

The view across the field of Monterey Bay was fine, as the air was unusually clear.

In the opposite direction we could look across the fields to the tent cabins.

The tent cabins are new since the last time we visited (the apprentices used to sleep in much smaller, less permanent tents. I don’t know what the tent cabins are used for without the apprentices.

The row crops are a very mixed lot—the Farm tries to avoid any monocultures, to reduce problems with pests, as they use no herbicides or pesticides.

They have a few covered rows—I think these covers are to keep the birds off, more than they are for light or temperature control.

The Farm grows a lot of flowers and herbs—some in rows and some in more decorative beds.

I don’t know whether the row of amaranth is grown for the grain or for the flower, but given how little there is I suspect it is just for cut flowers.

Here are some beds labeled with loose categories of herbs.

The lavender was really attracting the bees, but I had a hard time getting them in focus—the autofocus of the camera was too easily captured by the flowers.

This orange flower appears to be some sort of globemallow, but I’ve no idea which species.

I don’t know whether the Farm harvests anything from the aloe plant, or if it is just decorative.

This flower was very popular with the hummingbirds (who are even harder to photograph than bees). It seems to be some sort of cape fuchsia (genus Phygelius).

The Life Lab at the Farm has some pet chickens—fancy breeds rather than ones raised for eggs or meat.

These cedar cones made a bold display on the tree.

I still have one walk that I took a lot of photos on that I have not posted to the blog—a visit to the UCSC Arboretum on June 5 with my wife and my sister. The hard part there is selecting just a few photos.

1 Comment »

  1. Some years ago we took a drive around the Olympic Peninsula and stayed at the Quillayute River resort cabins.
    these are owned by an alumni of the farm, who was there in the early days when i first visited there with my buddy’s
    older brother who lived and farmed there. Mid 70s i think, maybe earlier……
    the owner of Quillayute remembered the intensive french farming methods, …..i dont know if he politely forgot my friend’s
    presence, which in my opinion was mostly as a new age hanger-on who later ran a wholesale distribution of organic foods out of Berkeley, distributed to the hippy
    health food markets like on Mission street. the distribution company went broke pretty fast, badly managed by my friend.
    that was an unclean disaster in my opinion, but i do remember the early days of farming up there and marveled at how credit could be earned by some
    for simply hanging around and not bathing much. And, credit earned by living in crappy tents, …..all too true.
    Herbert Marcuse hang over days? Probably, the philosophy dept. was still embracing Angela Davis and other outliers, although she was
    nicer when you had pot on hand…..left a bad memory or two in me.
    Anyway, having looked at those old deserted cabins on line myself when listed, it was fun to see the wonderful fruition of their potential by an old farm alumni.
    He has done a great job there.

    Comment by rick rebman — 2022 July 13 @ 14:03 | Reply

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