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Posts Tagged: Elkus Ranch

Elkus Ranch seeks to expand

The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center near Half Moon Bay is making plans to expand its conference center to offer more flexible facilities for conventions and team-building exercises, reported Julia Reis in the Half Moon Bay Review.

The ranch was donated to UC in 1975 and hosts more than 6,000 youth and adults from all over the San Francisco Bay Area each year. UC ANR presents 4-H programs at Elkus Ranch for children from preschool through high school to explore the processes of producing food and fiber, nutrition programs, community service days and special events. The site is also available for daytime retreats, meetings, workshops, weddings and other special events.

Elkus Ranch director Virginia Bolshakova send a request for qualifications to area planning firms which are due this Friday. The proposals should include potential project scope and plans for improved overnight accommodations, new field laboratory areas and new walking trails.

Program coordinator Leslie Jensen took the reporter on the tour of Elkus Ranch's facilities and shared the staff's vision for improvements. The staff envisions adding yurts for student housing or replacing or renovating the building where students currently sleep. The ranch's water system is also in need of updating and the staff wants the education center to be "greener." The study is to be completed by Sept. 1.

UC ANR is seeking proposals for developing plans to improve facilities at Elkus Ranch.


Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 10:52 AM

California pitahaya potential, and other recent news

Box of dragon fruit (Photo: Adel Kader)
Reporter Cary Blake of Western Farm Press wanted to take part in the mini pitahaya festival last week in Indio. An invitation from UC Cooperative Extension advisor José Aguiar said the first item on the agenda was pitahaya ice cream tasting. A schedule conflict kept him away, but that didn't stop Blake from speculating about the potential for pitahaya production in the Golden State in the Farm Press Blog.

According to the CDFA (2012 statistics), he wrote, the Top-10 commodities produced in California are, in order, included milk, grapes, almonds, nursery plants, cattle and calves, strawberries, lettuce, walnuts, hay, and tomatoes.

Pitahaya must be WAY down the list, but worth a taste, Blake wrote.


Other recent news:

  • UC Cooperative Extension hosted an "Insect Blitz" on Sept. 13 at UC Cooperative Extension's Elkus Ranch, which featured the opportunity to consider bugs as a delicious food source, reported the Half Moon Bay Review.

    The event also included a "bio blitz," in which participants were encouraged to venture off on the 150-acre site and collect samples of plant and insect species. Elkus Ranch Director Virginia Bolshakova, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and San Mateo-San Francisco County Director, said the event gave the public a chance to learn about the biodiversity of the area.
  • The San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times reported on the spread of bagrada bug to the San Francisco Bay Area. The pest was introduced into Southern California six years ago and has been marching northward and eastward ever since.

    "This bug is highly nasty," said entomologist Shimat Joseph, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County. "It can make a crop unmarketable.

    The story also quoted Virginia Bolshakova.

    "Everybody is keeping their eyes open as it travels up the coast," she said. "It is likely just a matter of time" until it reaches the rural farms along the edge of the Pacific."
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014 at 8:58 AM

New UC advisor is already making a positive impact

Virginia Bolshakova
Virginia Bolshakova, a UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development advisor for less than a year, has received praise from a farm bureau director for her contributions to local agriculture, reported Julia Hollister in Capital Press.

“She brings enthusiasm, high energy, intelligence and a passion for agriculture to her job," said Bill Gass, executive director of the San Mateo County Farm Bureau.

No day is average for Bolshakova, who is also the county director for San Mateo-San Francisco counties UCCE and the director of Elkus Ranch, a place for hands-on learning experiences for Bay Area children.

One morning she is working with concerned citizens about beekeeping policies, collaborating with scientists at UC Berkeley about eradicating aphids in gardens, and in the afternoon herding students around Elkus Ranch teaching about rangeland, the story said.

“I think the biggest challenge facing San Mateo County agriculture is urban-rural interface, and that goes in both directions,” she said. “I work with many youth who never thought about plants or planting a seed and watching it grow. I worry that people are becoming disconnected to their food and where it originates.”

Bolshakova was born and raised on a 450-acre pig and crop farm in southwestern Michigan where her parents still work the land. Her childhood experiences nurtured a passion for the environment and a keen awareness of the interdependency between people and nature.

Bolshakova has a bachelor's degree in biology from State University of New York, Buffalo, a master's degree from the University of Toledo, and a Ph.D. in ecology from Utah State University.

Posted on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Tags: 4-H (70), Elkus Ranch (4), Virginia Bolshakova (3)

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