Follow along with Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County's team and partners!
The La Jolla Indian campground, and surrounding communities, have been devastated by the Goldspotted Oak Borer Beetle (GSOB). GSOB is an invasive pest that devastates San Diego’s native oak species and was brought to our corner of Southern California on firewood from Arizona. The La Jolla tribe has used funds from the Department of Conservation’s Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program through the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County to combat GSOB and remove many dead and dying oak trees from the campground. Now, as a part of their oak woodland reforestation efforts, the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians Natural Resource Program Director, Joelene Tamm, and her team, asked if we would like to join them in planting oak trees throughout the campground.
A field day is always a great day and driving to the campground was gorgeous! Arriving at the office, we met with the team to review the project plans. There were about fifty Coast Live Oak and Englemann Oak saplings in the back of the truck that we would be planting. Each tree was grown from acorns collected on the La Jolla reservation, that were then propagated at San Diego State University and returned. A few of the plants came from various reservations and about a dozen from our partners at San Diego Gas and Electric.
To ensure the highest probability of success for the oak saplings, we set out to find the ideal conditions to plant them. Oak saplings need an equal amount of shade and sunlight, and the team had to ensure the baby trees did not overcrowd other existing oak trees. For each plant, we used an auger and shovels to dig about a foot into the ground and carefully placed the oak trees inside. Once they were planted, we set up a fence and placed a pole to protect them from human disturbance and other wildlife. Within two days, all 50 plants were carefully planted and recorded in a GIS dataset.
Although the survival rate of oak saplings can be low, we are hopeful for a high rate of success as oak trees provide critical habitat to many native species, shade for campers visiting the campground, and are an important cultural resource for the tribe.
Want to learn more?
This is a great article about the history of oak trees and their importance in California ecosystems and to Indigenous peoples.
Learn more about the great work the La Jolla Band is doing and their Indigenous Fire, Forestry, and Fuels crew.
Volunteer! Tree San Diego often has events where community members can get involved in tree planting or outreach events.
Did you know that our RCD manages a farm? Wild Willow Farm is an educational, regenerative farm in San Diego’s South Bay. It is a nurturing space that encourages biocultural diversity, provides experiences to nurture self-empowerment and inspires people to connect to food, the land, and each other.
Alongside our agricultural production we provide learning tools for students of all ages! We cater to a wide range of skill levels and offer something for everyone. Whether you want to learn about animals, beekeeping, irrigation, or soil fertility we have got you covered! Dive into what we do at the farm and reach out to get involved.
Field Trips: We welcome schools, groups, and clubs of all kinds to visit the farm to see first-hand how a small working farm operates. This learning opportunity teaches students about compost, seeds, regenerative agriculture, and the roles that animals play on a farm.
Workshops: From beer brewing and plant dyeing to mushroom cultivation and baking with ancient grains, we teach a diverse array of fun and educational workshops. We welcome in educators from all over San Diego to share their crafts with the community. If you are interested in teaching a workshop, please reach out!
Farm School: For those interested in pursuing farming in their own lives, we offer an eight-week course teaching the fundamentals of regenerative agriculture. This class will teach you to understand the ecology of cultivation, food webs, agricultural sustainability and how to generate healthy living soil. Students actively learn and practice farm skills while participating as vital members of the Wild Willow community! This class is taught by our lead educator, Paul Mascka, and will provide you with the framework to develop a well-rounded set of farming skills and the freedom to explore and specialize in your areas of interest.
Internships: Our 12-week internship program develops interested individuals into budding new farmers! Interns work alongside staff in tending the fields, harvesting and packaging produce, and supporting all other on farm activities. Interns are also able to take farm classes alongside their program to help learn and grow!
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): Through our weekly CSA program we provide farm-fresh produce using natural, regenerative growing practices that promote high mineral content. This creates a direct relationship between the farmers and you!
Volunteers: Often the best way to learn is by doing. We welcome volunteers to the farm once a month to get a taste of the myriad of things a farmer does while preparing and growing seasonal plantings of vegetables, greens, medicinal and culinary herbs and cover crops!
Community Functions & Events: Individuals, clubs, and corporate groups are all welcome to get their hands dirty at the farm. We are available to host group activities and tours for an array of reasons and are always open to something new. The farm is also available to host weddings, meetings, birthday parties and outside workshops.
There is so much more to Wild Willow and we are excited to announce exciting updates through our blog! If you have any questions or want to be more involved please reach out to us!
Our food system has drastically changed over time - markets now cater to new trends of shopping locally, incorporating regenerative practices on the land, and consumers wanting to know more details about their food. Food production is also shaped by raging wildfires, extreme weather and in recent years a global pandemic, highlighting that our current food system is fragile and could be improved upon.
The popularity of pasture-raised meats is greatly increasing, creating a new market for livestock producers and opening an opportunity to manage land more regeneratively. However, in 2020 grocery store meat sections sat empty. Today, the meat industry is highly centralized to only four companies, including Cargill, Smithfield, Tyson, and JBS, supplying 80% of the nation’s meat. When the pandemic hit, large processing facilities shut down to ensure worker safety, and the supply chain came to a halt. As a result, ranchers were left with livestock to be processed and nowhere to take them.
This distribution within the chain left ranchers jumping through hoops to keep their businesses alive. To adapt they drove longer distances, scheduled processing months in advance without knowing the condition of their product and increased their direct sales to customers. With less than 20 USDA-approved slaughter facilities, it fosters the question of why this bottleneck effect has not been addressed.
Mobilizing New Opportunities
Now, farmers and ranchers are tackling the task themselves and appealing for mobile meat processing facilities. Although costly, these smaller mobile units can allow for on-farm harvest, reducing the amount of time and distance an animal would have to travel to make it to a processing facility. This alternative approach would benefit ranchers, the communities they serve and most importantly the livestock they dedicate their lives to raising.The Bay Area Ranchers Cooperative pursued this advancement and came together to create their own mobile meat processing facility, which as of last year is currently up and running. The 16 founding ranchers in the Cooperative hope that their vision and implementation serve as a model to other agricultural communities in shaping their local food system.
In July 2022, President Biden signed an executive order for the expansion of the nation’s meat supply chain and $9.6 million in funds were awarded to producers this month. This assistance will support business development, increase producer income stability, create jobs and most importantly expand and diversify the meat processing industry in its entirety. Supporting local meat processing is a chance to improve the fragile infrastructure already put in place, while addressing concerns of wildfire, soil health and drought resilience. Local San Diego County producers and butchers are pursuing funding to replicate a similar approach to their colleagues in the North. We have an opportunity to continue the change within our food system, moving towards a more resilient and supportive model for our ranchers, farmers, consumers, landscapes and the animals that feed us.
To learn more about local meat production please visit:
- San Diego County Cowbelles
- Connect with your local Future Farmers of America chapter to support students raising livestock for their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects
- 'Respect the animal' motto for Ramona traveling butcher - Ramona Sentinel