24 California Food Producer EDITION 2, 2018 Just walking around the grounds of the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science gives you a sense of this Institute’s purpose – food and agriculture. The picturesque grounds include a variety of trees, bushes and plants – some bearing fruits and vegetables - with small identifying plaques underneath them. Olive trees are among the greenery with olives dotting parts of the sidewalk and ground near them. According to Amy Fletcher, who manages the Institute’s California Processing Tomato Industry Pilot Plant, it was the campus trees’ olives, and bike riders slipping and sliding on them, that resulted in the university’s venture into making its now popular olive oil (available for purchase) some 10 years ago and the birth of the Institute’s now renowned Olive Center. However, Fletcher’s mission is not about olives, but about tomatoes and other vegetables, fruit and more, at the Institute’s impressive 4,000 square foot food processing Pilot Plant. The plant handles a broad spectrum of food products in a food-grade environment and hosts a variety of small scale or “pilot pieces” of equipment similar to what is found in large food processing facilities. Califor- nia’s tomato processors and growers contributed more than $2.5 million to the pilot plant. Fletchers says the plant supports three main functions. “First and most important is education,” she said. The plant is utilized in a variety of undergraduate courses related to food processing. Students learn about mass balance, heat transfer, heat penetration, thermal processing, types of drying, physical properties of food, high pressure process- ing, quality measurements and basic sanitation. The students also use the plant for activities for its Food Technology Club for events such as a campus Picnic Day, Precision Canning Equipment (a CLFP affiliate member), was hired to install the pilot plant’s equipment and also donated eight original paintings by artist Sergio Chavez, which depict the wide variety of fruit and vegetable crops that can be processed in the facility. California Processors Fletcher said many people think “they have to have a project fully formed,” which isn’t the case. She encourages CLFP processor members and other food processing companies to tour the facility to see and view firsthand its capabilities.