Community Service Day 2017 at Slide Ranch

Who doesn’t like working with animals? The Digitas Health (DH) San Francisco office is particularly fond of them and we were lucky enough to help them out on our annual Community Service Day in late August.

Wanting to do something “true to San Francisco” — and to help people make healthier choices for themselves and their loved ones — Team DH volunteered at Slide Ranch in the beautiful Marin Headlands just outside San Francisco.  Slide Ranch is a Bay Area environmental non-profit whose mission is to connect children to nature, cultivate healthy bodies and minds, and foster future generations of environmental stewards.

Since the late 19th Century, this land has had a rich history of connecting people to food.  The Slide Ranch was established in 1970, providing hands-on education about composting, the environment, farming, raising and eating livestock ethically, and much more.  Through their farm-to-table ethics, farming, cooking, caring for animals and exploring wilderness and the coast, Slide Ranch teaches people of all ages to see the connection between their own health, a healthy food system and a healthy environment.

Our team started the cold misty morning by creating their own special “nature names” and signature accompanying movements.  Sarah Larcker was a cloud that floated, Abha Trivedi a flowerpot that bloomed, Vineet Thapar a whale that breached/beached, and so it went.

Splitting into two groups, our team was assigned the glamorous task of cleaning out the chicken coops and duck cages to keep the animals happy and their environment healthy.  To re-landscape the chicken coup and the duck enclosure, we quickly figured out a game plan which consisted of “cleaners” (those who shoveled the old cedar chips and roughage into wheelbarrows) and “dumpers” (those who took a trek down a steep hill to empty them out).  There was a lot of sweat involved, some spill-and-tumble close calls downhill while shoveling, but, a lot of camaraderie and interesting conversations throughout. We shared plenty of laughs, a few wheelbarrow crashes, and enjoyed learning all about “life in the coop,”  including the forays of a popular rooster named David Bowie.

After being “coop’d up” all morning, we were taken to a large, beautiful garden, where we further bonded while picking fresh kale to feed the turkeys and alfalfa to feed the goats and sheep, as we aimed to avoid ”booby traps.”  Man, oh, man, were the animals (and our team) super happy with the results.

Being urbanites, it was a nice change of pace for all of us to get out of the office and give back to the local community through nature-based activities.  Zen with animals, being in the “country”—a.k.a. getting out of the Bay Area fog — learning more about sustainable agriculture and the farm-to-table movement in our own backyard, made Community Service Day a welcome break.  It was a day of teamwork, connecting, learning, building, enjoying the calming scenery, avoiding animal poop pellet-bombs, and feeling accomplished.


We topped the day off with a lovely team-building lunch at an amazing hole-in-the-wall Mexican/Indian taqueria that Abha discovered.

It was a day of teamwork,  learning, building, enjoying the calming scenery, and avoiding animal poop pellets.

Before going, this is how we thought farms worked:

But now we know this is how farming really is: