Tuesday, September 28, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 30
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Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on May 26th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 13 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 13

The Patch is back for its third year to teach local students how to grow pumpkins and other vegetables, from 'seed to sale'

By MALEA MARTIN

Back for its third consecutive season, The Patch isn’t letting a pandemic get in the way of growing pumpkins. 


HANDS-ON LEARNING
The Patch teaches local high school students agricultural and leadership skills through pumpkin and corn growing programs.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PATCH

Launched in 2018 by four local agricultural enthusiasts—all of whom graduated from Santa Maria high schools in 2012 and 2013—The Patch provides local high school students with leadership and agricultural opportunities through pumpkin and corn growing programs. 

The Patch puts an emphasis on “seed to sale”: teaching students how to grow pumpkins and corn from the first seed all the way to selling the fruit of their labor back to the community come autumn harvest. 

The first seeds are planted at the end of the school year, and the program continues for students through the fall, culminating in an annual pumpkin patch and corn maze for the community to enjoy.

May 23 marked the beginning of The Patch’s third season in the community, as enrolled students learned how to put pumpkins seeds into transplant trays. Those seedlings will be ready to go into the ground in a couple of weeks. 

Program coordinator Corina Posada told the Sun that The Patch is finding ways to persevere and adapt amid COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re limiting our numbers of students that can come: It’s going to be about five,” she said before the May 23 workshop. “Luckily all of our programs are done outdoors, so the social distancing is manageable.”

Posada and her fellow coordinators are also finding creative alternatives to continue the program’s educational aspects in a safe way, so that all 70 students who have enrolled so far can continue their learning.

“I have been interviewing local people in our community that are involved in agriculture,” Posada said. “Through FaceTime I’m able to ask them questions, and students send in questions, and then I post a video of the conversation and our students watch it. Then they write a little reflection on it.”

Also in response to the pandemic, Posada said The Patch students planted extra vegetable seeds on May 23 to use for a free community drive-through event. On June 6, a variety of the free vegetable transplants will be available at multiple locations in Santa Maria and Orcutt. 

Logistical specifics about the drive-through will be posted soon on the The Patch’s website, thepatchsantamaria.com, Posada said.

As the growing season progresses through the summer and early fall, students participating in The Patch’s programs get to see every aspect of the planting process. 

“When it’s time for the transplants to be put in the ground, our students get to actually use the tractor that has the transplanting machine,” Posada said. “We do harvesting, we do irrigation. These students are learning all the concepts that you need to know in order to grow a successful crop.”

The Patch additionally provides leadership and scholarship opportunities. Since it was founded, more than 300 students have benefitted from the educational programs, and more than $30,000 in scholarships have been awarded. 

Highlight

• The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department announced the launch of Junior Giants at Home, “a free virtual baseball season that brings the fun of the field directly to home,” a press release states. The virtual season will feature live, age-specific practice videos made by Giants manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff, and is open to any youth aged 5 to 18. The virtual season is already rolling and will continue through the week of June 1. Go to jrgiantsathome.org to register; direct questions to the Recreation and Parks Department at (805) 925-0951, Ext. 2260. 

Staff Writer Malea Martin wrote this week’s Spotlight. Send tips and tidbits to spotlight@santamariasun.com.










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What are the most important conversations to be having right now when it comes to policing?

We need to address how racial bias influences policing.
We should focus on funding the police so they can do their job.
Mental health is where our dollars need to go, both in and out of the police department.
As one Sept. 20 community input meeting attendee said, 'Let’s get back to the Old West and treat people like they should be treated.' (Interpret how you will.)

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