Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Agri-Marketing News ~ FarmsReach Launches Online Platform for Non-GMO Seeds

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FarmsReach, the Berkeley-based social enterprise for farmers and ranchers, announced a pilot e-commerce platform for non-GMO, sustainable seeds at the Organic Seed Alliance Conference in Corvallis, Ore.

When it debuts later this year, FarmsReach’s Sustainable Seed Marketplace will be the first online source of its kind, an e-marketplace for non-GMO seeds from a mix of seed distributors, enhanced with anecdotal seed performance data from North American farmers. With the Marketplace, farmers can comparison-shop and make wish lists and annotations, viewable only by them, as they strategize for upcoming crops.

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House Approves Farm Bill, Ending a 2-Year Impasse

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The following article appeared on the New York Times (NYT) website on January 29, 2014. The NYT has been regularly reporting on the farm bill debate for the last two years. 

Written by Ron Nixon.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs, setting the stage for final passage of a new five-year farm bill that has been stalled for more than two years.

Negotiators from the House and Senate spent several weeks working out their differences on issues in the legislation, including cuts to food stamps, income caps on farm subsidies and a price support program for dairy farmers. The bill is expected to save about $16.6 billion over the next 10 years.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 251 to 166. The Senate is expected to take up the bill later this week.

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Stack ‘em High, Watch ‘em Fly ~ 10 Tips for Farmers Market Sales, Part 2

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Here is Part 2 of my farmers market blog, including the second round of tips for achieving a well-managed, high-sale market stall. See Part 1 for the first five tips!

Two weeks ago I visited three farmers markets in the Bay Area to answer the questions:

  • How can farmers adjust to the slower winter months?
  • How can farmers make their stalls look inviting, abundant and eye-catching this time of year, when stocks are seemingly low?
  • What are the tricks of the trade to maintain sales?

Having come from Vermont, I started my casual research with the assumption that winter means fewer sales and greatly diminished product variety. I was surprised to learn that that’s not exactly the case. In California, there is almost the same amount of variety all year long.

What actually changes the most this time of year is the color palette, which can give a customer like me the sense that there is less to choose from. In the winter months, out go the baskets of red and pink tomatoes, and in come the dark leafy greens – and many different varieties of them!

So, with some of my initial assumption of less to choose from disproven pretty quickly, I then asked the vendors what tricks they use, and would suggest to other farmers, to best manage their stalls, and lure people in. The tricks and tips were endless!

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Farm Bill Fits & Starts ~ 2014 Update

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The following article appeared on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) blog on January 10, 2014. NSAC is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocate for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. NSAC’s vision of agriculture is one where a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living pursuing their trade, while also protecting the environment, and contributing to the strength and stability of their communities.

Written by NSAC.

The New Year’s hopes for quick action on a new five-year farm bill in the first half of January are fading as negotiations on certain issues stall. At the beginning of January, the House and Senate lead negotiators were making progress on a compromise bill, and there were rumors of a possible meeting of the conference committee. As the week progressed, however, compromises on certain major issues eluded the negotiators, causing the completion of a new farm bill to be further delayed.

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Stack ‘em High, Watch ‘em Fly ~ 10 Tips for Farmers Market Sales, Part 1

cooking, Eva Antczak, farmers market, Marin, market-to-table, organic, Shanti ChristensenIMG_2914

This week I visited three farmers markets in the Bay Area to answer the questions:

  • How can farmers adjust to the slower winter months?
  • How can you make your stalls look inviting, abundant and eye-catching this time of year, when stocks are seemingly low?
  • What are the tricks of the trade to maintain sales?

Having come from Vermont, I started my casual research with the assumption that winter means fewer sales and greatly diminished product variety. I was surprised to learn that that’s not exactly the case. In California, there is almost the same amount of variety all year long.

What changes the most at the change of season, however, is the color palette. It also can give a customer like me the sense that there is less to choose from. In the winter, out go the baskets of red and pink tomatoes, and in come the dark leafy greens – and many different varieties of them!

So, with some of my initial assumption of less to chose from disproven pretty quickly, I then asked the vendors what tricks they use, and would suggest to other farmers, to best manage their stalls, and lure people in. The tricks and tips were endless!

Here are the first five tips for achieving a well-managed, high-sale market stall. (A link to part 2 is at the bottom!)

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A Treatise on Powdery Mildew in Strawberry Plants

Side view of powdery mildew on strawberry fruit. Photo courtesy Steven Koike.

Side view of powdery mildew on strawberry fruit. Photo courtesy of Steven Koike. (Photo 6)

The following article first appeared on Mark Bolda’s Berry Blog on March 8, 2013. Mark is the UCCE Santa Cruz County Director and Farm Advisor of strawberries and caneberries.  They work in partnership with farmers and ranchers across the county to provide assistance in developing more-efficient growing methods, solve pest management problems and develop crops and irrigation methods that use less water. Through a range of educational training programs and workshops, farmer-to-farmer mentoring and a wide variety of events and networking opportunities, UCCE is the bridge between local farming issues and the power of UC research.

Written by Mark Bolda.

Powdery mildew is a very common fungal pathogen in strawberries. What follows is a review on the biology and management of the disease.

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FarmsReach Social Media Roundup

On the FarmsReach Facebook and Twitter pages, we’ve been posting a mix of news, inspirational quotes, photos and more each day.

All these social media sites are overflowing with information. For those who shy away from the information overload of tracking each of these social sites, we’ve decided to give you a biweekly “best of” roundup of posts.

If you like, you can “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to access the information flow. Otherwise, we hope you enjoy our digest of best picks!


Properly Managing Dry Periods For Healthy Female Ruminants

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With dairy cows, goats and ewes the goals are healthy, productive mothers that deliver vigorous offspring, milk well, do not lose too much condition and breed back on time. These goals can be achieved by properly managing the dry period and transition to lactation.

CAFF Produces Guide to Serve Farm Produce In Schools

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Farm-fresh food is making a comeback in schools — more than half of California’s 1,000 school districts are engaged in Farm to School activities, according to the USDA’s new Farm to School Census.

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NYFC Report: Conservation Tools Providing Young Farmers Access to Farmland

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This blog first appeared on the Seedstock website on November 21, 2013. Seedstock is a company focused on innovation and sustainability in agriculture. Through the use of a variety of tools, including the news, an informational blog and live events, the company promotes agricultural start up companies, university research, urban agriculture initiatives, and farmers employing innovative new techniques and approaches.

Written by Missy Smith.

Recently, the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) released Conservation 2.0: How Land Trusts Can Protect America’s Working Farms. The report finds that a primary threat to new farmers is acquisition of protected farmland by non-farmers who allow it to go fallow. To gather research for the study, the NYFC interviewed 200 U.S. land trust leaders. One-quarter of those surveyed said they have witnessed a decline in production at conserved farms resulting from non-farmers purchasing land at prices with which farmers cannot compete.

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Yolo Women Farmers Kick Off the New Yolo Farmers Guild!

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Four of the Yolo Farmers Guild founding members

It’s no secret that women are the most rapidly growing segment of the nation’s changing demographics in farming. Maybe you’ve checked out the great resources in our brand new Women in Agriculture Toolkit, but if you want to see these stats in person, look no further than the Yolo Farmers Guild! The driving force behind the latest addition to the Guild Network is a feisty group of female farmers and allies that have taken the reigns and gotten the Guild up and running.

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How to Run a Farm Business ~ Q&A with Farm Academy Program Director, Jennifer Taylor

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Jennifer Taylor and CFA students spend an afternoon harvesting carrots and beets

This week we spoke with Jennifer Taylor, Director of the California Farm Academy (CFA) about the 2014 CFA program! Started in 2012 by the Center for Land-Based Learning, the CFA was developed to encompass the practical knowledge that gives beginning farmers a strong foundation to start their own operations. Now in its third year, the CFA continues to offer a life-changing experience for those who are serious about becoming farmers.

The 2014 program begins on February 11th, so if you’re interested in experiential learning, gaining the practical skills it takes to run a farm business, and want to get your hands dirty in the new year, apply today!

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