October is Sustainability Month and many sectors of Turlock are trying to do their part to reduce waste. From local farms to education institutions, many Turlock residents are adopting new practices to be more sustainable.
Big Tree Organic Farms processes all their products with careful consideration of sustainability and environmental stewardship, stating they believe “that the most delicious products are the ones closest to nature.”
While the organic almonds are more expensive than the traditional ones, Big Tree believes it is worth the extra cost because extensive labor and numerous passes with a mower are the substitutes for herbicides (chemical weed control), and organic nutrient products are more expensive than synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.
Better Digs Organic Farms feels the same way, and believes reducing chemical use at their farms is the best way to keep their customers and the environment healthy. They do not use pesticides, weed killers or synthetic fertilizers. Although they are not certified as organic, they grow and harvest their nuts using organic principles.
“Because we are such a small farm, the family does all of the work. We harvest the old-fashioned way, using minimal fossil fuels. We do not use the loud and dusty equipment used in a conventional harvest. Instead, we prefer to use mallets and lightweight poles to knock the nuts onto the tarps,” said Better Digs Organic Farms.
Sustainability factors into everything they do at Turlock Irrigation District. Since TID started delivering power in 1923, they have utilized renewable energy to serve customers. In 2020, over 60 percent of TID’s retail load was provided by carbon-free resources.
“I know it’s kind of cliche to say, but sustainability is in all we do here at TID and we’re very proud of that fact,” said external affairs manager Josh Weimer.
TID has started Electric Vehicle and EV charger rebates and programs, including an EV Guide, which helps customers determine if an EV is right for them and what savings they might see in switching to an EV. They have purchased hybrid vehicles and use new technology to better manage water supply.
In the future, TID is currently reviewing an RFP for renewable energy, has water efficiency projects planned (e.g., Ceres Main regulating reservoir), continuing to transition their fleets to zero-emission and evaluating solar over canals. This is all part of a 15-year sustainability plan that is currently being developed.
“We’ve been around for a long time and when you’ve been around for that long you have to chart a course for 15, 20 years down the line. This plan is going to show the public what we have planned moving forward,” said Weimer.
While talking about how to be more sustainable is noteworthy, it is also important to educate people about what sustainability is, and that is what Stanislaus State aims to do.
“We need to focus, using our campus as an example, on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, reducing our energy needs and improving our transportation,” said sustainability coordinator Wendy Olmstead. “A large part of Sustainability Month is education, to help people understand that.”
The Warriors also believe that it is important to get everyone the resources they need to be more sustainable.
“They can’t reach a level of sustainability, because they don’t have the resources, because of how much is put on them that isn’t sustainable, like fast food,” Eco Warriors President Destiny Suarez said. “Mental health also plays into social sustainability. You cannot be sustainable if you don’t have mental health. Sustainability is having resources and services that you need around you.”