news from capay valley

The Frog Hole

By Thaddeus Barsotti













Several years ago, as I was completing my studies at Cal
Poly in Agriculture Engineering, I undertook a
project that was intended to determine the feasibility
of capturing shallow groundwater for use
in irrigating our organic fruits and vegetables during
the summer. I did this by constructing a hole near Cache Creek,
which is the only natural source of year-round water on the farm and
a very good habitat for the farm’s native plants and animals. The water
table beside the creek is quite high, and sure enough, the bottom four
feet of the hole yielded a small pool of water. Unfortunately, I learned
that pumping water from the hole would not be feasible, and as I left
college, I found that in addition to my degree, I now had a hole on the
farm that always had water in it.

After college I moved back to the farm to manage the farming operations,
and as the years passed I kept an eye on the hole with an interest in
observing which native wetland plants would make a home there. One day
I noticed that the trail down to the hole was packed with the footprints
of deer, raccoons, turkeys, and numerous other little critters, all of whom
had recognized that this year-round pond was a great watering hole.

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One winter’s day, after a particularly large storm, I was taking a walk
along Cache Creek as it was roaring with water. The level of the creek
was three to four times higher than normal, and the rushing water was passing
through the willow trees and grasses that border the creek
bed. The amount of energy that was being transmitted through the water was amazing and it was
obvious that any creature that generally lived along the creek
was either washed away or was temporarily displaced until the creek
settled back into its bed.

Maybe the creek is their regular home, and when the water level
rose they moved to the hole for the week, or maybe they just like
the hole. Whatever the reason, that hole is a safe habitat for the
frogs all year long. The construction of the hole was not intended
to provide a safe refuge for the frogs, but now that we know the
frogs like the hole, we plan to keep it their for their use.

Thaddeus Barsotti is a secondgeneration
organic farmer in the Capay Valley. He and his three
brothers grow over 60 different fruit and vegetable varieties on their
farm, Capay Organic, founded in 1976. Through their Community
Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, Farm Fresh To You, the
farm delivers fresh, organic produce directly to Bay Area doorsteps. Visit The farm can be reached at 800.796.6009.

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