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To provide Cal Poly students, faculty, staff and the public with a unique interdisciplinary environment in which to foster the Learn by Doing philosophy by providing educational experiences on a working ranch, supporting diversified agriculture and forest resources while maintaining the integrity of ranch operations.

  —Our Mission

Ranch Stories

Ranch Stories

WELCOME

The history behind Cal Poly's Living Laboratory is rich and treasured and is described here by Al Smith in July 1990. It begins back in Indian days, involves Mexican land grants, agriculture, railroads and a dream by Al Smith.

Read more about the mission and history of Swanton Pacific Ranch.


FORESTRY

Forestry activities are designed to maintain stringent water quality, biological diversity, natural systems sustainability while producing a marketable, renewable resource. Students work alongside professionals during forest inventory and other management activities and embody the Learn by Doing motto.


CROPS

Rangelands support two cattle operations: a resident cow-calf herd supports the natural grass-fed beef program and stocker cattle provide seasonal student learning. Livestock are a tool used to managed and maintain rangeland water quality, soil quality and diversity of perennial grasses.

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LIVESTOCK

Rangelands support two cattle operations: a resident cow-calf herd supports the natural grass-fed beef program and stocker cattle provide seasonal student learning. Livestock are a tool used to managed and maintain rangeland water quality, soil quality and diversity of perennial grasses.


INTERNSHIPS

Join us at Swanton Pacific Ranch where you will gain hands-on skills and training. Intern positions prepare emerging professionals for the daily tasks associated with their discipline. General ranch duties may include: wildlife and livestock water development, riparian fencing, field preparation, irrigation, planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing, animal husbandry, permanent fencing, temporary fencing, equipment maintenance, facility maintenance.


FIELD TRIPS & SHORT COURSES

Swanton Pacific Ranch welcomes hands-on learning. As an integral component to the ranch's living and learning laboratory, we work hard to provide opportunities for learning and discovery. Instructors are encouraged to utilize the ranch to its fullest educational extent. Recognized for its high biodiversity, the Swanton Valley represents approximately 20% of California's native botanicals, rare and endangered species, conserved lands and sustainably managed resource use across a mosaic landscape.

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PROJECTS & RESEARCH

Ongoing applied research is an important component of agricultural activities at Swanton Pacific Ranch which support the ranch mission and its Learn by Doing philosophy. These lands lie within the ecosystem of the Scotts Creek Watershed, described as a hot spot for evolutionary processes. These processes remain in balance through the careful management of and sustainable agriculture practices. Field based research projects support educational goals and serve to improve long-term land productivity and net profit.


SWANTON PACIFIC RAIL ROAD SOCIETY

Cal Poly's live steam railroad! The 1/3 scale railroad is located on the beautiful 3200-acre Swanton Pacific Ranch near Davenport in Santa Cruz County. A dedicated group of volunteers maintain and operate the railroad on behalf of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. The Swanton Pacific Railroad serves as an operational memorial to Al Smith who acquired and relocated the trains to the Swanton Pacific Ranch. The rolling stock consists of three one-third scale Pacific-type steam locomotives that were built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a diesel switcher locomotive and a variety of passenger and maintenance of way railcars.

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Related Content

Learning

INTERNSHIPS
Gain Hands-on skills


FIELD TRIPS
A living laboratory


WORKSHOPS & TRAINING
Open to the public


PROJECTS & RESEARCH
Applied learning

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Support SPR

Al Smith mission support the ranch

How You Can Help

Operations

  • forestry

    FORESTRY

    Advanced timber management skills.

  • livestock

    LIVESTOCK

    Learn range and livestock management.

  • crops

    CROPS

    Gain experience in organic crop production

Learn More

SPR Products

Grass-fed Beef

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Our Products

News & Events

U-Pick is now Closed...
Posted Oct 25, 2017


Volunteer Days...
Volunteer Days posted for 2018- save the dates!

 


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