CSU, Chico

Lynn Hayes, Crops, Horticulture and Land Rescource Management

Lynn Hayes, Crops, Horticulture and Land Rescource Management

Lynn Hayes wanted to attend a college where he could get hands-on experience in agricultural production. He got more than he bargained for when he chose CSU, Chico.

In August, after volunteering for two years at the Organic Vegetable Project (OVP) at the CSU, Chico Farm, the senior agriculture major with an option in crops, horticulture, and land resource management added “manager” to his resume when he was promoted to student manager of the OVP.  The new title and responsibilities are beyond anything he expected when he first came to Chico State. 

Hayes chose CSU, Chico because of two interests he strongly values­—baseball and agriculture. He wanted to play baseball but also attend a college that provided a strong academic program in agriculture. Hayes found this at Chico State and enjoys the close-knit community feel of the College of Agriculture. He explained, “The College of Agriculture has diverse faculty backgrounds, and all are motivated to educate and prepare students to enter their chosen fields.” He didn’t make the CSU, Chico baseball team, but Hayes looks at the bright side, saying, “Not making the team let me focus on more important priorities, such as school and getting involved with programs such as the OVP.”

Hayes learned about the OVP during his greenhouse production class shortly after transferring to Chico State from Mendocino College.  Instructor and Horticulture Technician Mark Leigh mentioned that the OVP needed volunteers. Hayes had free time and was interested in the project, so he decided to get involved.

The OVP is a one-acre, organically certified plot that produces organic vegetables seasonally for campus restaurants. Vegetables are also sold to students, faculty, and staff at a weekly campus market. The OVP also does research on varieties of vegetables that grow well in an organic environment to give local organic producers information that will help them become more competitive in organic markets.

“I am really excited about how much the OVP has gotten me involved with the college and the community,” Hayes said. “I have been able to network and build connections with industry professionals, producers, and organizations such as Chico Natural Foods.”

As manager of the OVP, Hayes oversees crop planning, pest management, sales, marketing, volunteer recruitment, harvest, networking, answering e-mails, and getting the OVP involved in as many events as possible.

Before becoming an employee and manager of the OVP, Hayes worked for California Cut Flower, an organic fresh flower production operation. “I learned a lot of organic production ins and outs working there that gave me a foot in the door for a position at the OVP,” Hayes said.

Besides managing the OVP, Hayes is also a member of the Local Food Task Force (LFTF). LTFT is a student group founded in response to the CSU, Chico Associated Student movement to make one third of the food served on campus food raised in Butte County and surrounding communities.

After graduating from CSU Chico, Hayes plans to either continue on to graduate school and get a master’s of science or become involved with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).

WWOOF is an organization where participating organic farmers house and feed someone in the program who in turn works on the farm. Hayes would like to travel Europe by living and working on organic farms in WWOOF to experience different ways of production in different countries.

Hayes was raised in Esparto, Calif. and went to a high school of 250 students. He is the fourth generation in a farming family based in Yolo County. His family owns approximately 1,000 acres in the Esparto area with 150 of the acres dedicated to growing wine grapes. Once Hayes has finished school and traveling, he wants to put his family property into production. He plans to produce vegetables and fresh cut flowers for local markets. Being so close to the Bay Area and large cities such as Sacramento, he wants to be able to target farmers’ markets and restaurants and get involved in the “locally grown” market push.

Hayes does not necessarily want to produce solely organic products on his family’s farm. He wants a diverse production system with sections of different vegetables, flowers, and possibly even livestock to keep up a sustainable operation. From his experience with California Cut Flower, he enjoys and wants to stay involved with fresh-cut flower production.

Outside of school, Hayes enjoys playing sports such as baseball and softball as well as working in his garden at home. Even in his spare time, Hayes likes to be involved with plants; working in a garden or on a farm gives him satisfaction in a day’s work. For him, working with any plant life is a job that he looks forward to getting up to do.