Monthly Archives: October 2013

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0% Interest, Crowd-Funded Microloans ~ Q&A with Kiva Zip’s Amy Lambert

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Amy Lambert from Kiva Zip wants to help you get a microloan!

This week we spoke with Amy Lambert of Kiva Zip about the their highly successful crowd-funded, microloan program for small and medium-sized farmers.

If you’re a farmer looking for an interest-free microloan or know another farm that is, keep reading!  With an easy application process and manageable payback period, several farmers in the FarmsReach community have already taken advantage of this great opportunity!

FarmsReach: Let’s cut to the chase: What is Kiva Zip and why would a small or medium-size farm be interested in a microloan from your network versus anywhere else?

Amy Lambert: Kiva Zip aims to revolutionize small businesses’ access to capital throughout the United States. It’s a website that enables financially excluded and socially impactful entrepreneurs to access 0% interest small business loans. These loans are crowd-funded by hundreds of lenders from around the world, each loaning as little as $5 each. Kiva Zip bases lending decisions on a small business owners’ character and trustworthiness rather than on their collateral or credit score.  The crowd-funding aspect of Kiva Zip creates valuable connections between small businesses owners and Kiva Zip’s growing network of lenders.

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Team Member Spotlight: Tiffany Nurrenbern ~ Bringing Farmers Together!

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Today we are excited to feature the latest addition to the FarmsReach and Farmers Guild team, Tiffany Nurrenbern.

For those who don’t know her already, she has been working in food and farming for many years, most notably at Roots of Change (ROC), where she coordinated and led the California Food Policy Council, a council of councils across the state. Prior to ROC, she worked in communications at Gigantic Idea Studio, which specializes in marketing of environmental programs.

After a great first few weeks helping to get the first Mendocino Farmers Guild and Sonoma Valley Farmer Guild rolling, we sat down with Tiffany for a casual Q&A to introduce her to the FarmsReach community:

FarmsReach: What are your thoughts moving from agricultural policy to farmers and ranchers directly?

Tiffany Nurrenbern: I think that though we all come from different vantage points, most people would agree that we need a food system that brings health to our people, our communities, and our environment. It’s going to take a lot of people working on different fronts to make that a reality for everyone. At the core of the issue is ensuring that farmers can farm in a sustainable and profitable way that enables us to feed our communities more affordably. Policy change can help us to remove barriers that make this work harder and incentivize a new path forward, but that conversation can feel very far away when you’re busy making sure that your crops get to market. I’m excited to be working directly with farmers to support their work on the ground, and provide links to the conversations happening off the farm that impact them.

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Farmers Unite in Mendocino: the First Farmers Guild Gathering!

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Written by Evan Wiig of The Farmers Guild & FarmsReach.

Never have I had so much fun preparing for a potluck. Last week I drove north from my home in Sonoma County to attend the very first official gathering of the Mendocino Farmers Guild! Inspired by Gowan Batist, a young Fort Bragg-based farmer and founder of Eat Mendocino (a project for which she spent over a year eating nothing grown beyond her own county), I decided that for my part I’d bring a Mendocino-only dish. With the help of my friend, chef Matthew Elias and locavore grocer-extraordinaire Scott Cratty, in a one-day “gleaning spree”, we experienced first-hand what this burgeoning local food shed has to offer.

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All Mendocino-sourced dishes

For the pasta dish, we used flour from Doug Mosel’s Mendocino Grain Project, pastured pork from the McGruder Ranch in Potter Valley, beautiful tomatoes from Floodgate Farm out near the coast, eggs from the Brady Family Farm, and olive oil from a local orchard. Even the salt, thanks to Gowan’s sea-side harvesting, came from Mendocino!

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Farm Advocacy Attorney Reflects on the CASFS Apprenticeship Program

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Written by guest blogger, Neil Thapar, 2012 CASFS Apprenticeship Program graduate and attorney focused on agriculture issues.

The shorter days and cooler nights of fall remind me that the year is coming to an end. As the planting season winds down, this is a time for reflecting on the past year and planning for the one ahead.

For the 35-40 apprentices who just completed the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food System’s (CASFS) Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UC Santa Cruz, this past week vividly marked that transition. After six months of “farming boot camp”, where they each lived, worked and learned both the theory and practice of small-scale, capital-S sustainable agriculture, the apprentices have graduated as its newest class of proponents, practitioners and advocates.

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Farm Hack Davis – DIY Farm Innovation!

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Farm Hack is a community-driven movement that brings farmers together with engineers, builders, welders, architects, software designers, and other skilled non-farmers to develop, document and build accessible, appropriate technology for more resilient agriculture. It’s based on the principles of sharing, open publication, and the evolution of design.  And, the first one in California is taking place in Davis on November 16-17!

Written by guest blogger, Marisa Alcorta of ATTRA/NCAT.

High tech agriculture, here’s your answer to how small and mid-size farms will feed the world: one region at a time. Guided by high ideals, which include self-determination, democracy, and open source sharing, Farm Hack has developed a community of 20,000 members who design, develop, improve and share tools that make farming and food production accessible to all. This community exists both on-line and in person, with most of the design work and collaboration happening at events held on farms across the country.

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Business Succession: Planting the Seeds for an Abundant Future

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This article first appeared in the spring 2013 issue of Certified Organic Magazine.

Certified Organic Magazine is a quarterly publication from California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Geared towards organic enthusiasts, this information-packed publication includes feature articles, client spotlights, certification news, advocacy updates, producer resources/tips and events.

Written by Jay Silverstein, partner at the business and accounting consulting firm, Moss Adams.

Whether retirement is near or far, thinking about who will take the reins and lead your farm into the future isn’t easy, but it’s especially relevant these days. According to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), approximately 70 percent of U.S. farmland will go on the market in the next 20 years as the nation’s farmers age. Without a succession plan, many family-run farms are likely to go out of business, be bought by larger farms, or get turned over to real estate developers or other purchasers for nonagricultural use.

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Don’t Let the Food Safety Modernization Act Burden Family Farmers

The article below first appeared in Civil Eats on October 3, 2013.

Civil Eats is a valuable daily news source covering all topics around food and sustainable agriculture.  With over 100 contributors, the site has been a labor of love for the last four years.  Now with everyone’s help, Civil Eats would like to take their reporting and visually engaging content to the next level!  Please see their Kickstarter page to contribute to their continued coverage of our industry, and read on to learn about the very important issue of food safety policy!

Written by Dave Runsten (CAFF) & Brian Snyder (PASA).

Amidst the current furor over a government shutdown, the federal budget, debt ceiling, food stamps, immigration, and other programs that are either held up or being curtailed, another huge issue is quietly moving forward that could profoundly impact American agriculture and consumers.

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FarmsReach Newsletter ~ October 10, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 7.05.45 PMCheck out our latest newsletter!  Topics in this edition:

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Note: If you’re not in the agriculture industry, please sign up for our general newsletter.

Put Your Hoes Down ~ A Weekend Celebration!

IMG_8274Full Belly Farm knows how to have a good time!  This past weekend marked the 26th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival, which brings together over 6,000 people of all ages from Northern CA and beyond.  Under the hot sun of the Capay Valley, it’s fun to find some shade and relax with a beer, or stroll around and take in the breathtaking views of fields, orchards and rolling hills.  Or, take advantage of their jam-packed program of live music, local food, workshops, creek bathing and camping. We did it all!

Full Belly Farm, founded in 1985, is a pristine 300+ acre operation and is considered one of the best examples of diversified organic farming in CA.  The farm grows an amazing variety of over 80 vegetable, fruit and nut crops, as well as poultry, sheep, pigs, goats, and several cows.  One of their main priorities is the long-term environmental stewardship of the land, and for this, the farm focuses on regenerative systems such as nitrogen-fixing cover crops that improve soil organic matter, and planting habitat area for beneficial insects and wildlife.  With almost 30 years of trial and error under their belt, Full Belly Farm has worked hard to nurture the land so that each year leaves it more fertile than the last.

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“Symphony of the Soil” – A Closer Look at the Soil Beneath Us

Written by Rebecca Gerendasy, Cooking Up a Story.

It may be fitting that a near two-hour film devoted to the subject of soil would begin from the perspective of outer space looking down upon the Earth.  For as we learn in the beginning of the movie, most of our planet was formed out of lifeless mineral rock through which a thin layer of soil first emerges.  Life springs forth, thus.

Deborah Koons Garcia

Deborah Koons Garcia

Deborah Koons Garcia’s exceptional new film, Symphony of the Soil, pays loving homage to the beauty and the wondrous mystery of soil, celebrating not just the incredible soil diversity filmed on four of the world’s continents, it also rejoices in the knowledge of leading scientists and farmers whose careers have been devoted to better understanding this profoundly essential living medium.

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