Saturday September 14th SBTHP staff hosted the United Way Day of Caring volunteers at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Vallin, Executive Director Anne Petersen, Librarian Chris Ervin and I supervised approximately 32 volunteers doing numerous projects around the park. This year volunteers included several families, staff from Exxon/Mobil, and the Santa Barbara School of Squash. Eduardo supervised a group that whitewashed the Northwest Corner Defense Wall, tilled the soil beneath the Cañedo Orchard fruit trees, and cleaned and waxed the statue of King Carlos.
Anne directed a group of volunteers that took on the daunting task of cleaning and organizing of the Old Research Center library space. Chris oversaw the cleanup of the Presidio Research Center landscaping. Trees and shrubs were pruned all the way around the building to provide space for the HVAC equipment and to expose existing signage. I worked with a group of volunteers from Exxon/Mobil to complete the annual maintenance of our garden areas. Volunteers weeded, tilled, hauled mulch, pruned, and planted in the Presidio Heritage Gardens at the Northwest and Northeast Corners.
Thanks to the help of the generous United Way Day of Caring volunteers, SBTHP was able to accomplish critical maintenance projects to prepare the site for winter. We look forward to continuing this successful partnership between SBTHP and the United Way Santa Barbara volunteer community again next year.
“Hey what up” from the Fall 2016-17 Presidio Heritage Garden interns from the Anacapa School. The Anacapa interns work with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation staff to develop and maintain the interpretive gardens, living history programs, and exhibits at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. In order to establish a more awesome garden, we care for the plants throughout the Presidio, including lemon, orange, mandarin, pomegranate, fig, and loquat trees, wheat, bananas, peas, lettuce, carrots, fava beans, strawberries, and onions, as well as native shrubs. The gardens must be watered nearly every day during the summer, and occasionally we must remove the persistent encroaching weeds when it rains.
Another important part of maintaining the gardens is planting new plants. Some of these crops will be eaten, used for seeds or will simply be admired by the public. Beets, carrots, green beans, peas and wheat were started from seed in nursery flats. Once the seedlings have grown bigger and stronger they are moved to the various garden planters throughout the park where they will permanently reside until they are mature enough to harvest. The fava beans, however, were planted directly into the ground. We think this might be because they are more durable.
We also made trellises out of the invasive plant Arundo donax or giant cane. The cane, which closely resembles its relative bamboo, was introduced to North America by the Spanish during the 18th century as a building material. During the Presidio era these canes were used extensively to sheath the roofs of the adobes. The trellises are placed next to pea plants and beans so they have a structure to crawl up.
We have even worked on separating wheat from the chaff. One must grind the wheat in a rather forceful manner. This process removes any unwanted roughage, leaving behind small delicate wheat berries (seeds). We also helped SBTHP curator Rose Thomas clean the Casa de la Guerra Store exhibit and hang the Casa wallpaper exhibit.
The noble fowl of the Presidio, the Black Minorcan hens, majestically frolic and peck about their palace. We give the chickens food and water and have collected their eggs twice. In the future when it is less cold we hope there will be more eggs to collect. We also cleaned the chicken coop and installed new laying pads. A surprisingly arduous task, however a very necessary and rewarding one at that.
Along with our normal Presidio endeavors we helped set up the Asian American Neighborhood Festival in October. Paper lanterns of various colors and size were hung by rope along a bamboo enclosure that encircled the front of the Presidio. This event was held on a Sunday but even so we showed up to support the event. We moved ice buckets, set up posters, decorated booths and even drew dragons with all of the little kids who came to the event. After we helped set up the event we sat down and enjoyed the festivities. We watched several different dances some included forms of martial arts and sword dancing. There was even a dance where large lion costumes were worn by the dancers which undeniably was a favorite among the crowd.
Anne, Josh and Ashley are a welcome sight in the gardens and at our public programs. We are grateful for their hard work and positive spirit, and our ongoing partnership with the Anacapa School.
We began our work in the garden by clearing out the dead plants from last season. Since we started, we have planted Fava beans, Christmas Lima beans, Kentucky Wonder green beans, artichokes, carrots, radishes, broccoli, onions, celery, tomatoes, strawberries, and a variety of herbs.
The Santa Barbara Presidio Heritage Garden produces phenomenal produce. Every day we enjoy fresh juicy oranges. The broccoli was more delicious than anything you could find at the store. The loquats are also the intern’s favorite afternoon snack to enjoy in the sun.
The job has its hazards. Especially when the wind picks up and creates a dust storm in front of the Presidio. Lauren was almost hit with a sign. We all returned to school with dirt in their shirts, hair, and teeth. We have so much fun as interns, that even when Ray falls in a cactus, he still wants to come back.
Hello, we are Piero Trujillo, Weston Izuno, Lauren Sloan and Pica Riddle, the new Presidio Heritage Garden Interns from the Anacapa School . We started our adventure on September 15th, with a tour of the gardens. Mike Imwalle, archaeologist, showed us the ropes, where we learned how to plant and water fruits and vegetables, and feed and water the chickens.
The weekend after we started, the United Way Day of Caring volunteers cleared the gardens of old plants and weeds, so that we could plant new ones for the fall. Since we started, we have planted Fava beans, Christmas Lima beans, green beans, artichokes, carrots, radishes, broccoli, onions, wheat, celery, and herbs.
The Santa Barbara Presidio produces phenomenal produce. Every day we enjoy fresh juicy oranges. The six chickens, Belle, Stacy, Pica, Shakira, Josefina, and Westina, started laying wonderful tasty eggs. Even the under-ripe watermelon we tasted was better than the store bought ones. Sadly we did not get to enjoy the biggest, ripest watermelon because it was stolen. All that was left, were the gruesome remains of an eaten water melon on the steps of the Presidio. At least someone got to eat it.
The six lovely hens of the Presidio, are warmly rewarded for their egg laying efforts with yummy treats. The girls go crazy over dried worms and over-ripe fruit from the garden. We often feed them watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, figs, and pomegranates.
Mike, everyone’s favorite teddy bear, is very welcoming. He never gets frustrated with our sometimes slow work ethic and even lets us play with the sticky notes in his office. Mike truly cares about his job and the Presidio. We have so much fun as interns, that even when Pica falls in a cactus, she still wants to come back.
The Presidio Heritage Garden Interns will keep planting through the fall season. Stop by and see what’s blooming!
After months of anxious waiting, one of our beauties laid her first egg!
Hens waiting for meal worm treats. Worms add protein to their diet that they need to produce eggs. Photo by Mike Imwalle
Egg laying in the nesting box. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Yesterday while giving the hens a treat of watermelon and tomatoes I spied a white orb out of the corner of my eye, and low and behold it was the first egg from our Black Minorcan hens. Although it was small and the yolk was not as orange as I expected, it was deeeeeeliscious!
“Who took my egg?” Hens check out nesting box after I removed the egg. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Eggxample of a large organic brown egg with the first egg from the Presidio Heritage Garden. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
In peak production the hens will produce 4-6 eggs each per week. Look for these fresh organic eggs to show up on the menu at upcoming SBTHP events!
Heating Santa Inés Mission Mill Olive Oil to fry the eggs. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Fried eggs, yumm! Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Michael Imwalle is the Archaeologist and Chicken Whisperer at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
The day the stork arrived with the new baby chicks. Photo by Terri Imwalle.
Leeann Haslouer with the set up for the baby chicks at the Mills property. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
First meal in their new nursery. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
The baby chicks are irresistible bundles of cuteness. Photo by Leeann Haslouer.
In January 2015 I special ordered 10 Black Minorcan chicks from a hatchery in Missouri through Island Seed & Feed in Goleta, California. After months of anxiously waiting, the chicks were delivered to the feed store on May 9th 2015. My wife Terri and I excitedly picked them up and transported them to their temporary home at the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. Their surrogate mother was the “Chicken Whisperer” Leeann Haslouer. The chicks were brooded under heat lamps indoors at the Mill property. Leeann graciously volunteered to care for them until they were old enough to move to their permanent outdoor home at the Presidio. After losing one of the chicks, and one developing into a rooster named “Franceeeecsco,” we ended up with eight hens. On July 19th receptionist Brittany Sundberg and I moved six yet un-named hens to the coop/palace recently completed by Eduardo.
Inside the Palais de Poulet. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Home Sweet Home. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
On August 13th I changed their feed to a mix of regular “scratch” for a mix that included “layers crumbles” which contains extra calcium and other nutrients to promote healthy eggs with good shells.
They seem to enjoy their new home, feasting daily on a diet of Mission figs, Mission grapes, quince, tomatoes, carrots, tomatillos, and anything else that is ripe in the gardens. Thanks to a corps of volunteer “chicken whisperers” (Brittany Sundberg, Anne Petersen, Neeva Pradhan, Tacy Kennedy, and Barbara Chung) the girls are happy, healthy, and very entertaining. We look forward to the fresh eggs they will provide to staff and volunteers in the weeks to come and all the enjoyment they will provide to visitors to El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State SHP.
Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist and chicken wrangler at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
by Michael Imwalle, with assistance from Gabe Smith
In May of 2013 former Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation weekend interpreter Gabe Smith and I embarked on an experiment to make wine from the California Mission wine grapes growing at El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP in the Presidio Heritage Garden. SBTHP staff and volunteers harvested and crushed the grapes at Oreana Winery in October 2013 (see more here). The Presidio heritage grapevines are grown from cuttings taken from a Spanish Colonial period vine at San Gabriel Mission, so they are truly heritage fruits. Historically, the California Mission wine grape made inferior quality drinking wine. Often wine for consumption at mass was ordered from Mexico or Spain while grain alcohol was added to locally produced wine to make a fortified wine called angelica. In April 2014 we began the painstaking process of testing and tasting the wine as we decided whether would be able to drink it or start our first batch of “Heritage Balsamic Vinegar.”
After storing the wine in our wine cave beneath the Alhecama Theatre, this October Gabe decided to blend some of the wine to make it more “palatable.” We began blending and tasting the blends of mission grapes with varying concentrations of Pinot Noir and Viognier. With a limited number of tasters, the favorite wines were 100 percent Mission Grape, a 50/50 blend of Mission Grape and Pinot Noir, and a 75/25 blend of Mission Grape and Viognier.
Wine for blending. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Tasting samples. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
On November 26th of this year, Gabe and I bottled seven cases of Presidio Mission Wine including at least two cases of each variety described above.
Success! Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Mad scientist. photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Gabe Smith gravity filling wine bottles. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Gabe Smith demonstrating the corker. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Equipment at Oreana Winery. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Again Oreana winery was generous enough to let us use their facility to bottle our wine. Thank you to Oreana winemaker Danny Miles for his help through the entire process right down to adding the foil caps to the bottles. We look forward to trying this again next year and watch for taste of the 2014 El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP Heritage Wine at the next Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation event you attend.
Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
by Sam Richardson, Timmy Johnson, Elise Goodell, Lottie Johnston, and Francis Brand
Hello! We’re back, with two new members of the Presidio Heritage Garden Intern team from Anacapa School: Timmy and Francis! Welcome, Timmy and Francis. If you see those rowdy boys around, say hi and give them a smile!
Over the past few weeks, we’ve done oodles! On October 13th, we built a trellis for Kentucky Wonder green beans. We’ve planted fava beans over at El Cuartel, started pots of garlic, and planted cotton seeds (which we harvested from last year’s cotton).
One of our recent “projects” was planting clippings from the pomegranate and fig trees. First we cut small branches off the tree and peeled a strip of bark from the base of each branch to expose the cambium. Then, we wiped the blade of the pruning shears with alcohol so it’s clean, then again cut the branch bases at a diagonal angle. Finally, we rolled each branch in root hormone powder and potted them individually.
Timmy taking cuttings of Mission Fig.
Stripping the bark form a fig cutting.
Dipping fig cuttings in root hormone
On November 5th, we re-labeled all the plants at the Presidio garden. It may have taken us the whole class time to do it, but Sam and Timmy got to learn how to spell Mediterranean and banana along the way. At last! Starting on the 21st, we denuded/pruned Arbor grapes, which we continued to do until December 10th. It’s a grape big job!
More recently we re-planted the cotton into bigger pots and thinned out our carrots. Some small trees needed to be moved (during which, Silly Sam broke a shovel), and Lottie cut down a large tree branch that was growing in the wrong direction. Go Lottie! Watering hasn’t been a necessity lately, thanks to the much-needed rain these past few weeks.
Sam broke the shovel.
Sam, Elise, Timmy, Lottie pruning olive trees near the Presidio Research Center.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation these past few months, and will be sad to go after our last few weeks in January, following the Christmas break. Thank you to all the employees and visitors who’ve said hello to us while we’ve been here, and a big thanks to Mike Imwalle. Happy Holidays!
Lottie with corn above her head.
No additional words necessary here.
Tim and Samantha, early Presidio gardeners.
We at SBTHP will miss seeing this group of energetic interns moving en masse around the park with big smiles and arms full of tools. Their work is evident in every garden space. Have you stopped by recently to check it out?
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