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JAUNTS: in and around the Valley

Urban Farm Life

Agriculture and animals will be the main attractions at Pierce College fund-raiser.


Have you ever wanted to milk a cow but didn't feel like driving to a farm in the middle of nowhere?

Well, here's an opportunity to give it a try without making a trek to the boondocks. In fact, you can milk that cow in the city, only a stone's throw from one of Southern California's busiest freeways.

You only need to go as far as Woodland Hills to be immersed in the farming experience because the agriculture department at Pierce College will host an open house Sunday at its 200-plus-acre teaching farm.

This is where the school's agriculture and veterinary students gain hands-on experience. On Sunday, the public can view student projects at the second annual Farm Walk.

It's a good way for city folks to get familiar with sheep, baby pigs, goats and chickens. There will be roosters parading around, horses lazing amid the lush rolling hills and a variety of other animals grazing in the pasture.

And, of course, there will be the powerful scent of manure to remind folks where they are.

"Last year, we had about 2,000 people and they just loved it," said Dick South, chairman of the Pierce agriculture department. "This is an all-out thing for us. We want the public to see what it's really like on a farm."

The event was created in 1997 to raise funds for the school's agriculture department while helping the public learn about crops, livestock and cultivation.

There will also be a sheep-shearing and wool-spinning exhibit, dairy demonstrations, equestrian shows and a variety of agricultural exhibits.

A gardening display will focus on caring for home plants and flowers.

Those interested in household pets can check out the animal-science exhibit, which will feature, among other things, products for cats and dogs and a pet care film.

"We'll have city agencies and nonprofit animal groups on hand to answer questions and educate the public," said Mick Sears, a Farm Walk organizer who teaches natural resources at Pierce.

A series of activities for kids, including identifying water insects, will be held throughout the day adjacent to the farm's pond, home to a variety of colorful ducks.

The nearby nature center will also be open Sunday. It has a well-stocked bird sanctuary and a scenic trail with an array of plants.

Not far away are about 50 sheep confined in a gated area. Usually they're allowed to roam freely in the adjacent fields but recently one was attacked by a coyote.

"So we're trying an experiment," South said. "We put them in this gated area with the llama because the llama is supposed to guard the sheep from coyotes. We'll see if it works out."

There's something else worth checking out while visiting the farm. Behind the agriculture building is a small area called Trappers Lodge, a California Historical Landmark. It features colorful ceramic statues of men and women from the Old West, the work of an artist from 1897-1918.

"Who would have thought?" South said. "You come out to the farm and there's a historical landmark with folk art."


The second annual Farm Walk Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills. Teaching farm is off of Victory Boulevard and Mason Avenue. Children under 12 are free, adults are asked for a $5 donation to benefit the school's agriculture department. Information: (818) 710-4105.

* Send Jaunts ideas, allowing at least two weeks' notice, to staff writer Irene Garcia at The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Or send e-mail to

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