Farmwalk

Laura LaFayette stood next to her mobile classroom and waited for the canopy-covered chairs in front of her to fill for her first presentation.

She was the main speaker but the growing crowd was not there to see her, they were gathering to see the 1,400-pound 4-year-old standing beside her.

LaFayette, an instructor with the Dairy Council of California traveled with Milky Way, a black and white Holstein cow, from Covina, Calif. to speak about milk production and all other aspects concerning the life of a dairy cow.

The Mobile Dairy Classroom was one of several educational features during the activity filled 19th annual Farmwalk, hosted by the Pierce College Agriculture Department, Sunday, April 10.

Farmwalk showcased the department’s working facilities to the public. A total of 6,700 people attended the event, according to Dr. Leland Shapiro, the department chair.

Joshua Rodriguez, 19, a student of Southwest College and his father were two of those people.

Interested in Pierce’s pre-veterinary program, Rodriguez expected to find a traditional orientation, instead he found various activities happening throughout the farm and the equestrian center.

There’s a lot of different stations, so we’re just going to walk around and see about each one,” Rodriguez said.

Set up on El Rancho Drive, was officer Alex Stein of the Los Angeles Fire Department, Forestry Division. His table displayed skulls of animals native to Los Angeles and was adorned with different species of tree seedlings that were free, including Hollyleaf cherry, Coast Live Oak and Valley oak.

Stein, who works at the Malibu Forestry Unit in Calabasas, was present to speak about several subjects.

“Today, we’re going to educate people on native plants, smart landscaping and basic species removal,” Stein said. “We’re getting people ready for wildfire season and just answering any questions anybody has.”

A few feet away, a pedal steel guitar was being plucked.

Music originated from the Agriculture Science building where band members from Simply Marie and her Canyon Country Cowboys, a country-western act was getting situated while they awaited the arrival of lead singer Marie Wise-Hawkins.

At the equestrian center, three live performances with horses took place. Most riders were Pierce students but guests such as the Southern California Peruvian Paso Horse Club, who took part in the Tournament of Roses Parade 2011 in Pasadena, participated as well.

Kate Anderson, a resident of Mar Vista and her 6-year-old twins sat on bleachers waiting to watch the first horse performance scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

Anderson heard about Farmwalk through an e-mail a friend sent her. She remembered growing up in a rural area and decided to attend with her daughters because she felt the experience of being in a farm,  surrounded by a city was unique, she said.

“I really appreciate Pierce doing this. We think it’s a great service,” Anderson said.

Darby Anderson had her face painted. Emeline Anderson played close attention to the tomato plant growing in a red plastic cup she had been given.

“We’re really exited to go home and plant it,” Anderson said.

Ron Wechsler who started the Pierce Equine Science Program in 1972 watched over the first live horse performance as well. He retired four years ago but still volunteers his time at Pierce.

“We have such a beautiful facility to bring the public in and let them see what’s here,” Wechsler said. “I think it’s just a great day, the weather is perfect. You couldn’t ask for any more.”

Farmwalk had several student volunteers. Gayle Mesco looked over the horse pens.

Mesco, who has a degree from Pierce’s Registered Veterinary Technology program, had volunteered for Farmwalk in the past, watching over the hens.

“I love Farmwalk. It’s really exciting because we get to show off our animals,” Mesco said.

Farmwalk continued until 4 p.m. and throughout the day the roaring engine of the tractor conducting hayrides continued. Students demonstrated sheep shearing at the sheep unit and Peppertree Lane had two coloring stations and a petting zoo where children kept busy.

On El Rancho Drive later in the day, LaFayette told a curious attendee that dairy cows could eat 50 pounds of hay a day, while a new audience gathered to see Milky Way.

 

http://www.piercecollege.edu/departments/agriculture/FarmWalk2011.pdf

http://www.dairycouncilofca.org/Educators/MobileDairy/

http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/forestry/Forestry.asp