Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Keeping a Healthy, Happy Heritage Turkey Flock!

JustAnotherTurkey

Liz Young with her turkey flock

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some tips for you to raise a healthy heritage turkey flock.  Happy Holidays! (We’ll resume on Tuesday, December 3rd.)

This blog first appeared on the Farm Dreams website on March 14, 2012. Farm Dreams is dedicated to connecting like-minded souls with others who are interested in more independent, self-sufficient and sustainable living. Whether a farmer, cheese maker, homesteader, or just someone wanting to live vicariously, this site is a hub for anyone interested in living off the land.  

Written by Liz Young of Nature’s Harmony Farm.

Let’s face it, if you’re drawn to farming then you’re interested in growing your own grub. We all need sustenance every day, but it’s the holidays and seasonal events we look forward to and remember the most. In America, there’s one day of the year that symbolizes food and the harvest more than any other, and that day, of course, is Thanksgiving.

Quick…word association: I say Thanksgiving and most people say?

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Abundant Benefits of Hedgerows & Bird Biodiversity on the Farm

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Hedgerow buffer between two fields

Today we cover hedgerows, also known as “living fences”.  The term hedgerows is an old English term that refers to narrow planting strips that grow along field borders, fence lines and waterways.  They often consist of trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials, annuals, and vines depending on the function, size, and location of the planting strip.

What are the benefits of hedgerows?  Many!

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New CDFA Report: Climate Adaptation Strategies for CA Agriculture

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This blog first appeared on the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) website on October 8, 2013. CalCAN is a coalition that works to advance policies to support California agriculture in the face of climate change. With programs in Farmer Education & Outreach, Network Building and various Policy Initiatives, CalCAN plays a leading role in responding to the climate crisis by reducing our carbon footprint, and helping to ensure the long-term viability and security of our food and farming system.

Written by Dru Marion, CalCAN intern, Fall 2013.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently released a new report outlining recommendations for agriculture’s ongoing adaptation to climate change. The report was based in large part on the input of a Climate Change Consortium comprised of stakeholders from the California agriculture community, including CalCAN.

In a related and broader effort, the California Natural Resources Agency is preparing to release an update to their 2009 Climate Adaptation Strategy, which covers several sectors including agriculture. They are conducting a series of public workshops to gain public input on the updates; a schedule for January can be found here.

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In Solidarity ~ Farmers Against Fracking!

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This week we spoke with FarmsReach member and partner Adam Scow, the California Campaigns Director for Food & Water Watch.  They are coordinators of the Farmers Against Fracking coalition (among others) across the state.

Showing a unified farmer voice against fracking is a powerful force in convincing policy makers to put a hold on fracking until its negative effects on farmers, water and farmland can be researched.  As of today, only 30 more farmer signatures are needed to present farmers’ needs to fracking decision-makers. See below for a list of farmers who have already signed the petition, and please sign today!

If you’re a farmer or rancher in California who depends on quality land and water (yes, all farmers do!), fracking has many possible negative effects on the health of yourself as well as your business. Many agree that it will permanently change the face of agriculture as we know it.

Read on as we talk with Adam about what’s at stake, why this issue should matter to farmers, and what can be done to join other farmers in the fight against fracking our farmland! 

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Cottage Food Law 101 ~ Cooking Up Business From Your Farm or Home Kitchen

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Are you a farmer wanting to produce value-added items? Are you a food entrepreneur looking to expand your business? If you are, listen up! This past year, farmers and food entrepreneurs across CA rejoiced in the new Homemade Food Act (also known as the Cottage Food Act).

The first of its kind in the state, this law has opened the doors for many home cooks and farm businesses looking to expand into value-added products, to use their talents and often abundant harvest, to earn extra money and access new markets.

The law allows producers to sell their goods at farmers markets, in online stores, to wholesalers, in community supported agriculture (CSA) shares, and elsewhere. Without many of the restrictions that govern larger producers, this law aims to stimulate small-scale enterprise development and local economies, without requiring commercial kitchen space or lengthy zoning and regulatory measures!

However, it’s not just a free for all! There are still guidelines and limitations to what and how something is produced. Here at FarmsReach, we created a quick and easy info sheet on the basics of starting a Cottage Food Operation. The following are some highlights. For full details, visit our Cottage Food Law 101 Info Sheet in the Marketing & Sales Toolkit.

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Farmers Guild Field Day: Table Top Farm with Arron Wilder

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Arron Wilder (left) and Farmers Guild members discuss economic challenges of small-scale farming

Written by Evan Wiig of The Farmers Guild & FarmsReach.

At 2 a.m. last week, a cool draft launched Arron Wilder from his bed. In bare feet, he went running outside into the autumn night toward his car. With a hurried twist of the ignition, there above the dashboard shone a little thermometer: just below forty degrees. Arron went back to bed.

In the few years since starting Table Top Farm, a three-plot diversified vegetable farm in west Marin County, the soil has gotten as much into Arron’s head as it has beneath his fingernails. “Farming is cut throat in the most literal way,” Arron said to a group of fellow members of the Farmers Guild visiting his farm last week. “If I didn’t come out at 2 a.m., when it feels like it’s going to freeze, I’d lose my seedlings and my income.”

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How Do You Set Your Prices? ~ Advice from the Folks at the UCCE Foothill Farming Program

cooking, Eva Antczak, farmers market, Marin, market-to-table, organic, Shanti ChristensenIMG_2931

This blog first appeared on the UCCE Foothill Farming website on August 20, 2013.  The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Foothill Farming program works in partnership with farmers and ranchers across Placer and Nevada Counties to provide a range of educational training programs and workshops, farmer-to-farmer mentoring and a wide variety of events and networking opportunities.

Written by Molly Nakahara, Specialty Crops Program Representative, UCCE Foothill Farming Program.

“Set your own prices.” This piece of advice, given to me by a seasoned fruit and vegetable farmer, has proven to be one of the critical foundations of my own farm business. So, here’s a test for all of you business savvy farmers out there: What is the secret message, the subtext, the implied meaning in this great guiding sales principle?

I’ll give you a hint: It does not mean you should set prices to what you think your customers will like, or set prices based on prices at the grocery store. Any ideas?  YES!  You’ve got it: KNOW YOUR COSTS! It means set your prices based on the true costs of production. If you can embrace this concept, it will become one of the most influential tools of analysis you will use on your farm.

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