President Dave opened the meeting by thanking Sulaf Al Ajeeli, John Dannenfelser (JD Enterprises) Aaron French (Zanker Road Resource Management) and Kevin Williams (KVIE), for the AV set up. Bob Miller (First US Credit Union) and Bob Daly (Financial Network Wealth Advisors) were thanked as well for their efforts setting up the room for our weekly luncheon. Our greeters were Kelly Huffman (Safety Center) and Becki Roberts (Sierra Vista Bank). Mik Miklaus (Integrity Mortgage) provided the Thought of the Day. Sergeant-At-Arms John McIntyre (Mercy Foundation) announced our guests for the day.
Our meeting sponsor was Jeff Curcio (Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld), and he donated his time to Rachel Minnick from Reading Partners of Sacramento. Rachel’s goal is to support as many students as possible with the ability to read. Success in life is directly related to literacy, starting children with a strong foundation is key. She noted that 4th grade is a pivotal year, as the transition from “learning to read moves into reading to learn.” An astounding 76% of low income students are NOT reading at their grade level and 3 out of 4 cannot read at all. The Reading Partners program currently has over 800 volunteers whom dedicate at least 1 hour per week with a student. Out of these students 88% have doubled their rate of learning.
Today’s recognitions included three members. Both Becki Roberts (Sierra Vista Bank) and Dan Guth (City National Bank) received their first Paul Harris Awards. Steve Huffman (Out by the Pool) was presented with his 2nd Eddie Mulligan.
President Dave asked Bob Daly to stand and make an early approximation regarding the funds raised from the Pony Express Marathon. While the final numbers are still being calculated, the crowd was informed our approximate net profit for the event is $90,000. Way to go Rotary Club of Sacramento!!
Our speaker was Craig McNamara, he is the President of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. He is originally from the East Coast, however after a visit to California he and his wife knew this is where they wanted to lay their roots. Literally! Craig owns and harvests walnut orchards in Winters, CA. He is excited about the future of Millennials in agriculture, his own son has recently joined the family business.
California is the 4th largest agriculture producer in the world, conversely California wastes 40% of food in the process of farm to fork. Of that 40%, 43% of the waste is from homes. The average family wastes $1,200 to $1,500 of food products per year. Craig’s focus is on finding ways to lessen the amount of waste. He says, it all begins with the soil. His orchard is a no tillage operation which increases the amount of water and nutrients in the soil. He has been using 4,000 sheep to eat down the undergrowth rather than tractors. The sheep’s waste creates a natural fertilizer. He removes the sheep from his orchards 120 days prior to harvesting, eliminating health concerns. Another effective method Craig uses are sediment traps and tail water ponds. These eliminate good topsoil and nutrient waste in the water runoff. One of the ways consumers can help reduce waste, is to start using a compost bin. Saving the food scraps in a bin over a week or two can really help your own garden grow. All of the contents in the compost bin can be mixed into the soil of your home plants, creating a natural and excellent fertilizer.
Historically, over 600 pounds of food, per store, per day ended up in landfills. Today, stores are donating those food items to local food banks or the food is being turned into a liquid organic fertilizer and put back into the soil. Modern technology guides harvesting equipment to sort the culls and or seconds during the picking process. Our local food banks benefit from the seconds in turn helping the 245,000 people who are food insecure in the Sacramento area. Keeping the waste out of landfills is vital to our environment.
Craig is the founder of The California Farm Academy which helps train and educate new farmers. His hope is to create the next generation of farmers, especially teaching today’s youth the importance of agriculture and watershed conservation. Currently, there are 1 billion people engaged in urban farming. In the Sacramento region, there are 7 acres of urban farm land, which are run by 6 farmers who have graduated from the California Farm Academy.