I grew up on a farm in Grimes and it was always my goal to go to Chico State, now known as California State University, Chico (CSU, Chico) and major in agriculture. I am proud to be an agriculture business graduate of Chico State. Many more of our state’s youth have the same goal as the CSU, Chico College of Agriculture now has over 800 students enrolled and more than 3,700 graduates. These students come from all over California, but 50 percent of them are from Northern California.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the University Farm, formally known as Paul L. Byrne Memorial Agriculture Teaching and Research Center where I took several classes as a student. This 800-acre farm located just south of Chico is one of the most diverse farming operations in the north state with livestock, orchards, row crops, and pastures. It also has an organic dairy, organic vegetable project, almond research project, irrigation training facility, classrooms, USDA inspected meats laboratory and much more. An impressive list of industry partners support research and other activities at the farm.
I was impressed during my visit with the student involvement at the farm as it gives them hands on experience by being employed there or receiving course credit through work experience. Many classes are held on the farm, as agriculture can’t be learned solely from a textbook. This is critical as many of today’s agriculture students do not have a farm background.
The farm also serves as agricultural literacy center, hosts field days, seminars and community events with over 10,000 visitors a year. If you are in the area, drop by to purchase some of farm grown agricultural products including farm-raised and processed meat on Thursdays and Fridays. I can certainly give testament that they have some of best sausages available! Each summer their U Pick peaches are a hit with the community.