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Students growing oaks for Wine Country

by Zarah Wyly

May 31, 2018

As our planting season comes to a close, we like to take a moment to look back at this year’s acorn harvest and reflect on what we accomplished. Since the acorn crop was much smaller than average for the Sacramento region, it forced us to explore beyond our own neck of the woods to find enough viable acorns for our habitat restoration program. Nevertheless, our community was determined to find a way! 

In August, we began the annual process of applying for permits to harvest acorns and planning educational opportunities for our community. Our two fantastic Acorn Interns, both students from Sacramento State University, put in over 200 hours of work helping us scout harvesting locations, work with partnering land managers, receive the acorn collections, and prepare our nursery for the work to come. Over the next few months, 25 volunteers harvested just under 7,000 acorns. The interns then checked, cleaned, and carefully packed each acorn in cold storage until it was time to sprout them.

Acorn harvest volunteers

Every harvest is special, but last fall’s harvest was particularly meaningful. In partnership with the Solano Land Trust, we harvested native acorns from their Lynch Canyon property near the burn area from the Atlas Fire last fall.

Through our Seed to Seedling program, we sent many of these acorns to 70 3 rd and 4 th grade classrooms throughout the Sacramento Region for the students to grow them into seedlings. Teachers receive all of the materials and educational curriculum free of charge, allowing the students to learn about trees and our local ecology.

Seed to Seedling students 

Now standing about 6 inches tall, these tiny trees just made their way back to our nursery with sweet notes of encouragement from their caretakers. We’ll continue nurturing them all summer, keeping them safe from critters and the heat. This fall, these seedlings will be available to individuals and organizations looking to replant after the devastating Wine Country fires.

Seed to Seedling students 

The rest of our acorns were potted up at our nursery yard where they will grow all summer. These seedling oaks will be used for reforestation and restoration plantings in the fall and winter of 2018. In most cases, we will plant new seedling trees from acorns harvested from the same watershed.

Thank you to the Acorn Interns, harvest volunteers, teachers and students! Stay tuned for updates this fall, when more volunteers will plant these seedlings in restoration sites.

Want to make a difference in your community? Join us at one of our volunteer events