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Stories from the valley

Ag & Art

Contributed by Steve Beckley

Colusa and Yolo County Farmer Blair Voelz recently hosted participants in Yolo Arts “Art & Ag Project” at SB Voelz Farms located on the Colusa County side of County Line Road in Dunnigan.  Artists had the opportunity to visit the diversified operation on two different days.  The purpose of this project is to cultivate a dialogue between artists, farmers and the community to raise awareness of the importance of preserving farmlands.

Art and Ag sign depicting a painters pallet and crop rows

It was a pleasure to visit Blair’s operation as I had know his wife Jan and her family, whose great-great father established this ranch in the 1860s, for many years.  Jan’s Grandfather, Lawrence Grimm had ran the service station in Grimes, which was a hangout for us kids and I worked one summer for her father Lawrence Jr. driving tractors during tomato harvest.

The artist arrives at the ranch

Blair and his son Eli were there to greet the artists as they arrived.  They eagerly answered questions and those questions turned in longer conversations about the history of the ranch, crops grown and water use.  One of Blair’s other responsibilities is president of the Dunnigan Water District that covers about 10,000 acres of farmland in the area.

It was fun to visit with the painters and photographers as they made their way around the operation.  Farm work did not stop while the artists applied their skills with farm equipment being moved and repaired.  One of the highlights of the site was a small garden with lots of flowers and the hummingbirds were hard at work.

Artist painting at the farm

It is important for those involved in Sacramento Valley agriculture to reach out to others so we can visit about our farms, occupations and land.  The Ag & Art offers a unique opportunity for farmers to connect on a personal basis and their farms are featured in the art of the participants.