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Why ag matters to the Valley

by Aurora Sain
asain@recordcourier.com
Aubrey Wadkins, 2, and her dad Roger of Carson City pet a goat in the DHS FFA petting zoo Saturday at the Douglas County Farm Bureau BBQ at Lampe Park this past Saturday.
Brad Coman |

With a little Luke Bryan playing on the radio, the grill cooking locally grown beef and an abundance of ranchers and farmers, Saturday turned out to be both educational and fun.

People visited Lampe Park in Gardnerville to learn all about where their food and fiber comes from, and who is responsible for making it happen at Carson Valley Ag Day.

This is the first time that the Douglas-Carson Farm Bureau put on the event, with the hopes that it will help educate others just like Ag in the Classroom does.

When he isn’t acting as operations manager for Bently Ranch, Woody Worthington is acting as Douglas County Farm Bureau President and helping to bridge the gap between agriculture and the people who are affected by it.

“We really wanted to get together and bring the community together,” said Worthington. “We wanted to show how the community and agriculture work together and support each other.”

Worthington said that the Ag Day was an opportunity to show others how agriculture affects all aspects of the community.

“We want the community to see and understand what ag is,” said Worthington. “We want to connect farmers and ranchers with families in the Valley.”

One of the main commodities in this area is alfalfa hay followed by cattle, pigs, sheep, nurseries and poultry.

According to the 2012 census of agriculture, there are 255 ranches/farms in Douglas County with 21 in Carson City.

“There are a lot of people who don’t make the connection between food, fuel and fiber,” said Susan Ditz.

The money raised from the raffle tickets helps support agriculture education outreach and scholarship programs.

The day was complete with face painting, a petting zoo and even a visit from various reptiles.

The Great Basin Herpetological Society was present with a handful of snakes including a gopher snake and an albino Burmese python.

They wanted to show people the benefits of snakes, including rodent control and helping to stop the spread of Lyme disease.

“We want to get people away from thinking that the only good snake is a dead snake,” said Karin Benker, secretary of the Great Basin Herpetological Society. “People don’t realize just how important snakes are.”

The Nevada Department of Agriculture was present to promote agriculture literacy and help show others where food comes from.

They also were there to educate the public of noxious weeds, which are an invasive species that by law are required to be removed.

Carson Valley Ag Day also works with the Future Farmers of America and 4-H and helps provide annual scholarships.

Katie Jones, a senior and a member of Capitol FFA, was present to talk about the seven classes offered at the high school including parasitology, veterinary science and veterinary medicine.

She said one of the assignments is to get a teddy bear, shave them, cut them and suture them to learn how to take care of an animal after surgery.

The Nevada Rural Counties Retired Senior Volunteer Program also had a booth to talk about giving 24/7 caregivers a break.

The program has trained volunteers, who can receive a stipend at the end of the month, that go and let the care giver have a break from their duties.

The program is funded through grants, and the families are not required to pay for anything.

“We are in a real need for volunteers,” said Carol Anacker, who works as the Executive Assistant and Grants Management person.

To get involved with the program contact Kathy Hanson at 687-4680 ext. 117.

Eagles and Agriculture had a booth, run by self-proclaimed worker bee Fred Wolin, to let visitors know that they made the date a little earlier for next year, Jan. 26-29.

They sold out last year, and Jim Woods, who is in charge of birding, said that they normally expect around 400 to 500 people.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Woods.

Jacobs Family Berry Farm was present as well as Full Circle Soils and Compost.

Soil compost mixologist Craig Witt brought along a few tubs of worms, and reminded people that worms can help fight off bugs and the “worm tea” is pathogen free.

“We convinced ourselves that you have to use Miracle-Gro, but you really don’t,” said Witt. “It’s better when you do it naturally, we have a natural resistance to all the bugs.”

The “worm tea” or “compost tea” comes from red composting worms, and use the calcium excreted from the worms that helps bring nutrients to the plants.

“We have not found a single plant that it doesn’t work on,” said Witt.

The Carson Water Subconservancy was there with a model that shows the importance of watershed planning.

Agriculture science teacher at Carson High School, Charlie Mann, along with the Carson Valley and Capitol FFA, brought along rabbits, goats, chickens and sheep for a petting zoo.

“It is extremely helpful to have people see where their food comes from and how it can be multipurposed,” said Mann. “We are here to help educate ag literacy and show how crucial ag is to the community.”

The family friendly event brought out people from all over the Valley to meet their neighbors, meet their food and learn about farming and ranching in the community.

“Nevada needs this agriculture,” said Mann. “Without it we would be extinct.”