Valley Farm Exhibit Opens At Chaffee Zoo
|The entrance to the exhibit designed by Heather Davis, with Chaffee Zoo.|
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
Today, local agricultural
leaders gathered at Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo to enjoy the official opening of the
new Valley Farm Exhibit at the former Small Wonder’s area of the zoo.
The area has been transformed
into a representative view of local agriculture including fruit trees, rows
crops, a chicken coop and new farm animals.
For years to come, the
exhibit will be an interactive opportunity for thousands of kids and adults to
see the importance of agriculture in the valley. The crop part are of the exhibit was
administrated by California State University, Fresno’s (CSUF) Jordan School of
Agriculture, along with the Ag One Foundation at CSUF, the Fresno County Farm Bureau and Bennett & Bennett
Current crops in the exhibit
are corn, alfalfa, cotton, vegetables, stone fruit, figs, olives, citrus trees
and grapes. There are also eggs from the hens in the exhibit. “All of the crops
as well as eggs will eventually become feed for zoo animals,” said Terri
Mejorado, director of marketing for Chaffe Zoo.
“This is a public outreach
for the Plant Science Department at Fresno State to assist the Chaffe Zoo in enhancing
their petting zoo of the Valley Farm area,” said Bruce Roberts, professor at
the CSUF Plant Science Department, and the advisor of the Food Science Club.
|The crowd listens to Scott Barton, Chaffee Zoo Director.|
“We’re involved in planting
the crops that represent our regional agriculture, and visitors can see what
the animals feed on and what’s grown here. Our students will maintain the crops,
including year-round replanting. We are also educating the important zoo
docents, so that they can answer questions about the crops grown here,” said
The Fresno County Farm Bureau
was very involved in the planning of the project and planting of the crops.
“Fresno County, if viewed as a state, would be #2 in the nation in agricultural
production value. Of course, #1 would be California,” said Fresno County Farm
Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen.
“When you talk about
agriculture being the economic engine, it’s important to know that every dollar
generated on the farm typically generates $3.50 in the local economy,” said
Jacobsen. “When you talk about Fresno County, which alone generates $6.6
billion, and then add in Kings, Tulare, Madera and Merced Counties, we are
talking about an economic impact of more than $60 billion. Kids in the middle
of the urban environment need to understand what we do and how we do it.”
|Crops Growing at the Valley Farm Exhibit.|
“There is a reason why we do
things in a certain way. We have the most advanced technology in the world
right here in our own back yard, and it’s important to showcase that at the
Valley Farm,” said Jacobsen. “This is a great educational opportunity, and we
are pleased to be part of it.”
Visitors to the Valley Farm
will learn about growing techniques used in the Central Valley and how
agriculture utilizes assets efficiently, such as water, to produce our crops.
“We get to share our
agriculture with 640,000 guests, and we’re excited about it,” said Scott
Barton, CEO and Director of the Chaffee Zoo. “A lot of people in California do
not “get” agriculture and that we grow more than 400 different crops in Fresno
County, and we are going to be very happy to tell that story.”
Barton noted that this has
been a real partnership with our agriculture community.
|CSUF President Joseph Castro|
Joseph Castro, CSUF President
knows, first hand, the importance of agriculture to Fresno, the Central Valley,
the state, the nation and the world. “This exhibit is a great opportunity to
introduce to families up and down the valley, how important agriculture is to
all of us. The university is very excited about our partnership with the zoo.
The major driver and sponsor
of the exhibit is the Fresno-based Gar & Esther Tootelian Charitable
Foundation. Karen Musson, managing partner with Gar Tootelian, Inc., noted
“that this is one of the most exciting projects that I have ever worked on, and
what makes it truly exciting are the partners that came to the table.”
“The whole idea of the Family
Farm came from friends who noted that food arrives at the zoo every day for the
animals---fresh fruits, vegetables and meat. And we produce all that in the
Central Valley, and that was the inspiration of the Valley Farm.
Teachers will bring students
to the zoo during the school year, and there are plans for a summertime farm
Labels: Bruce Roberts, Chaffee zoo farm exhibit, Fresno County Farm Bureau, Fresno State, Joseph Castro, Karen Musson, Ryan Jacobsen, Terri Mejorado