CSU, Chico

Tina Candelo-Mize, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

Tina Candelo-Mize, Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management

 Tina Candelo-Mize

California State University, Chico’s University Farm is 800 acres of diverse agriculture operations that allows College of Agriculture students to learn about the various types of food production including row crops, orchards, livestock units, and more. These entities would not be feasible if it weren’t for hardworking, responsible, and dedicated students such as the 2014 Star Student in Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management, Tina Candelo-Mize. As the Organic Vegetable Project’s field manager, Candelo-Mize manages a four-student team consisting of an assistant field manager, two variety trial staff, and a market manager. 

The Organic Vegetable Project (OVP) sits on 10 acres of certified organic land at the University Farm.  Candelo-Mize and her team grow seasonal vegetables and sell the produce on campus weekly and to Associated Students Dining Services. The main goals of the project are to supply local farmers with information, the community with educational workshops, students with valuable management and research skills, and the university campus with fresh produce. Those involved with the project grow, evaluate, and identify the most promising new vegetable varieties in an effort to provide local organic growers with information to help them become more competitive. Community outreach is another objective of the project. Candelo-Mize started working at the OVP in August 2012 as part of her directed work experience class. Now, two years later, she oversees the majority of the operations at the OVP. 

Candelo-Mize has also been hired for faculty research projects in the College of Agriculture. One of her current projects is testing the impacts of different irrigation rates, potassium applications, and hedging practices on olive oil production. The project’s lead professor, Richard Rosecrance, is currently out of the country on sabbatical, which leaves Candelo-Mize with sole responsibility for the research. She is required to record data and findings, use a pressure chamber to test water potential, mix different levels and percentages of potassium, and then enter the collected data into a mass Excel spreadsheet and analyze the findings. The project is being conducted in conjunction with California Olive Ranch and the Chico Research Foundation.

Another project that she is currently working on is an honors research project. She has been working with faculty members Lee Altier, Kasey DeAtley, and Betsy Boyd to examine the effect of bio-char in temperate soils. Bio-char is plant matter that has been charred in low-oxygen environments, also known as pyrolysis. The project began this spring in the greenhouses at the University Farm. In the fall, Candelo-Mize will begin trials at the Organic Vegetable Project. They will perform plot trials with radishes focusing on data concerning soil properties and moisture content. Next spring, she plans on presenting her findings at the annual This Way to Sustainability Conference at CSU, Chico and hopes to get it into a peer-reviewed journal. 

“Tina has been conducting her own research project for the Agriculture 490 class and she has done a great job grasping the concepts of the research process while simultaneously designing, executing, and writing up the results of her own project,” said DeAtley. “I have high hopes for Tina as she makes the transition from her undergraduate program into graduate school and into the workforce.”

Outside of CSU, Chico, Candelo-Mize conducts educational workshops on crop production through Cultivating Community, a project supported by a partnership of local players and programs whose goal is to strengthen the health and vitality of the Northern California Community. She gives workshops to students, small-scale farmers, underserved communities, and those involved in the local food movement. 

Candelo-Mize grew up in Lodi, California. Her grandparents grew wine grapes there, but she grew up in town and wasn’t exposed to agriculture production until college. Through classes at San Joaquin Delta College, Candelo-Mize found a passion for horticulture. “I used to be a hair stylist, so when I took a horticulture class, I laughed because I found that pruning was so similar to cutting hair,” said Candelo-Mize. She earned an associate degree in horticulture at Delta College before transferring to CSU, Chico. 

There were two major factors for Candelo-Mize when deciding where she wanted to finish her bachelor’s degree. After visiting the CSU, Chico University Farm and campus, the beauty of Chico State captured Candelo-Mize’s heart. She has an appreciation for the faculty and staff at CSU, Chico as well.   “Everyone at Chico has been incredibly influential to me,” she said. “They’re all willing to go above and beyond to help you with whatever you need. In addition to the professors, the staff out at the University Farm is amazing. I think sometimes they’re taken for granted because they’re often behind the scenes, but through working at the OVP I’ve gained a genuine appreciation for what they do for us students.”

After graduating this May, she plans on earning a California crops advisor license and would also like to go to graduate school to get her master’s in agronomy, ideally at Washington State University. Candelo-Mize is married and has two sons, ages 3 and 6. When she’s not conducting research or working at the Organic Vegetable Project, she volunteers at her son’s elementary school. When asked what her favorite thing to do outside of CSU, Chico is, Candelo-Mize said, “Well, my kids are my hobby!”