Raising a Crop for the Future

by Paul Muller
Ag. Task Force ChairĀ and Capay Valley Grown Partner

There are many important crops grown in the Capay Valley Region. None may be more important than the one witnessed by many in this community in Spring. Our area has a couple of important varieties of this crop. The first is most likely to be spied on the first weekend in May. Blooming beautifully in starched whites and green caps, each individual is a unique and wonderful expression of the place where it was grown and nurtured. The date of their appearance is not changed even in wet or difficult years. What is this crop? Why, it is the new crop of youth in agriculture.

Every year, for as far back as many in the community can remember, folks have been impressed by the poise, character, and enthusiasm of 4-H ers at the annual spring show. The weekend featured local youth in clean show whites, displaying the results of months of feeding, preparation and caretaking. Pigs, calves, sheep and rabbits were primped, scrubbed and shorn, and made sleek for show. The weekend is a social event, where local youth exhibit not only the product of their labors but also demonstrate the pride and knowledge gained from doing a job well. The 30 local young people participating were aided by adult leaders who helped to guide the experience, but the real work of the weekend was done by our youth, as they presented the results of their labor, cleaned stalls, competed for showmanship awards, answered questions, and shared their experience of completing their project.

The weekend of the Spring Show culminates in a sale on Sunday. A number of businesses from the Esparto- Capay Valley Region were present at the sale to support local youth. The prices received for project animals reflected our community commitment to encouraging the whole process of gaining experience and responsibility by seeing a project to completion. There is a valuable type of knowledge gained when working with one’s hands or with a living animal, – it is the essential understanding of process and responsibility. 4-Hers reflect the confidence gained by being well prepared and having a relationship with real time. Animals grow only so fast, and they only thrive if they are well cared for. The local 4-Hers are a crop of characters. We can be proud of their accomplishments.