By Brandon Cummings and Ashley Cruz, Mar. 22, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona’s AGRIscapes hosted its second petting farm event at CPP’s Discovery Farm on March 12. After settling for virtual petting farms last year, CPP along with AGRIscapes were happy to reintroduce their animals to the public.
This event had a wide variety of goats and sheep, and people who attended the farm had a chance to pet and feed the animals. Both CPP students and Pomona residents left the event with a smile on their faces.
Admission into the farm was priced at $4, and children under the age of 3 were allowed entry free of cost. The petting farm consisted of countless fluffy sheep and goats that varied in size. Baby goats to grown woolly sheep, the animals welcomed each visitor as they approached the petting gate with animal feed to give.
“I grew up around animals, my family owns a ranch, so I was constantly around horse, sheep, goats and other animals,” said criminology student, Patricia Alfaro. “I have always loved animals, and Cal Poly being an agriculture type of school, this gives me the perfect opportunity to come back to animals.”
For some participants, like Alfaro, the time spent feeding animals was the perfect opportunity to rekindle their love for animals. As for others that attended, time was used for relief, and incorporating that some people value animals as great coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety.
Maritza Villaseñor, animal science student and volunteer for AGRIscapes, shared how working with the animals really benefits her.
“I love animals, volunteering is fun. This is my second time at the petting farm, and I find it easy for me to do,” Villasenor said. “As a person who is socially anxious, working here with animals really helps when it comes to interacting with other people.”
However, AGRIscapes is not just beneficial for therapeutical reasons, according to Veronica Grant, outreach assistant but is also a great learning environment.
“I get to learn about the animals and about what we do here on the farm, so not only for the students, but I also get to learn which is exciting too,” Grant said. “Like the tractor, it’s one of the new machines I learned to ride while at the farm, it’s really fun to drive.”
The main goal behind AGRIscapes is to learn by doing. However, teaching is not limited to just CPP’s agriculture family. People of AGRIscapes also put effort into teaching anyone who is interested in learning.
Craig Walters, director of AGRIscapes, explained how dealing with animals can be fun, but leaving the farm with new knowledge is the primary goal.
“We’re primarily about education, that’s what the university is all about, obviously, so when people come here, we hope, and especially during our events, that we have a lot of things where they may not even know it, but they’re getting some education in the process,” said Walters.
Learning environmental activities like planting crops or learning the difference between beneficial insects are just a couple of things that can be taught at the farm. With the petting farm transitioning back to in-person, AGRIscapes has the opportunity to educate again, not just the campus community, but the youth as well.
“Two years ago, right before the pandemic, 14,000 school children come on field trips and it’s all educational based. They get to go on the petting farm, but before that they get to learn the difference between a goat and sheep and how their anatomy is different than people. We also have a children’s garden across the street, and they get to learn tips like how plants grow,” said Walters.
Walters and AGRIscapes plan to grow their educational system by hosting another event that would introduce agricultural learning to children. On April 9, AGRIscapes will host an egg hunt for families. The event will instruct students about landscape and the farm’s transportation vehicles.
“You know this is a perfect time for events like these; it is great for the family, especially for the children,” Walters said. “It is just a fun, low-stress, get outside, enjoy the great weather activity. Of course, the Farm Store is open; and so not only are there fun activities, but it’s also about the representation that the College of Agriculture brings to the community”
To learn more about events hosted by AGRIscapes, visit their Instagram page.