Monthly Archives: February 2014

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FarmsReach Partner Roundup!

FarmsReach is wholly based on partnerships and collaboration with organizations, businesses, institutions and individuals who also work to help farmers and ranchers become more successful and environmentally sustainable. We are very excited to have such an amazing group of allies!

To show our support and let everyone know about all the exceptional work being done, we think it’s important to highlight many of the useful and time-sensitive programs, events, workshops, research and campaigns our partners have underway for the first part of 2014.

Enjoy our first quarterly Parter Roundup!

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Water Series: Pt 3 ~ Practical Tools & Resources ~ FarmsReach Water & Irrigation Toolkit!

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We’re happy to focus our third installment in our Water & Drought Management Series on the FarmsReach Water & Irrigation Toolkit. It provides checklists, info sheets, calculators and more detailed, practical references to help you better conserve water resources, improve water quality and efficiency, and learn more about water issues in California in general.

All of our Toolkit resources were recommended by our Featured Farmers, partners and the community. Below is a sampling of just 10 of the resources…We hope they provide some practical ideas and tools to start thinking differently about water management in your operation! And, be sure to check out the rest of the Water & Irrigation resources list, including more information on the Bay Delta Tunnels and Fracking.

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FarmsReach Social Media Roundup

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

For those who shy away from the information overload of tracking each of these social sites, here is your 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!


Amidst Severe Winter Drought, California Farmers Ask: Is This the New Normal?, Civil Eats
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Farmers across California are among the first to feel the effects of the worst drought the state has seen in almost four decades. Mandated cutbacks in water distributions, along with depletion in available surface water and groundwater, are forcing farmers to dig deeper into their pockets while making tough decisions about crop planting and livestock management.

Demand Grows for Hogs that are Raised Humanely Outdoors, The New York Times
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Some farmers are raising their pigs more humanely in wide open spaces, instead of tight quarters, and selling them to restaurants and grocers increasingly interested in how animals are treated.

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Water Series: Pt 2 ~ Livestock Strategies To Withstand A Drought: Options & Tips from Flying Mule Farm

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Written by Dan Macon, Owner of Flying Mule Farm & the Eat Local Program, UCCE Placer/Nevada County.

Founded in 2001, Flying Mule Farm is located in Auburn, California, tucked in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Our farm produces 100% grass-fed lamb and mutton, fiber products, and targeted grazing services. We operate almost entirely on leased pastures (about 300 acres of unirrigated annual rangeland and 15-50 acres of summer-irrigated pasture), which range in elevation from approximately 1,100 to 1,400 feet.

Our production cycle:

In this region and with our Mediterranean climate, the average annual precipitation is around 30 inches, with most of it falling as rain between November and April. Typically, we’ll receive a germinating rainfall (we need at least an inch of rain to germinate our annual grasses) in late October or early November. Our annual grasses then go dormant in early December until soil temperature and day length support renewed growth, usually around late February. Our annual grasses continue to grow through the springtime, usually reaching peak production in mid- to late-May. At that point, the annuals produce seed and die.

As our unirrigated rangelands die back each spring, we transition to irrigated pasture for our lamb production, as green forage is needed for weight gain. Lambs will typically remain on irrigated pasture through the summer and early fall, while we graze our ewes on stockpiled dry forage until just before turning the rams in with them in early October.

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Water & Drought Management Series: Pt 1 ~ AFT’s Outstanding Leaders

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With news about the water shortage saturating headlines the past several months, and farmers and ranchers forced to improvise and innovate to accommodate the forecasted drought for years to come, we’re excited to announce a Two-month series of blog features about Water Management & Drought.

To kick off the series, we’re starting with American Farmland Trust‘s picks of Outstanding Leaders, who are great examples of smart water management and stewardship across California. We hope these folks give you some practical ideas and inspiration for your own farm or ranch, while providing a glimmer of hope that it’s never too late to improve your systems!

Stay tuned for other stories in our series, which will be a mix of practical toolkits created by our partners and new tips from Cooperative Extension advisors, irrigation equipment suppliers, experienced vegetable and livestock farmers, and newer farmers coming up with their own innovative solutions.

If you’ve integrated new irrigation or water management solutions on your farm, let us know! We’d love to share your tips about what’s worked well for you.

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Celebrating the Farmers Guild ~ Guild-Raising 2014!

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This Saturday, February 15th, Sebastopol, CA will host the first annual Guild-Raising. For one day, the newest wave of farmers and ranchers here in Northern California, will descend upon the Sebastopol Grange hall to interact, share resources and celebrate a fast-growing movement we call the Farmers Guild. The Guild is a network now stretching from Mendocino to Marin, Sacramento to Sonoma, Yolo County and beyond!

For this particular gathering of the Guild, these typically local farmer-to-farmer alliances will open their doors to the entire food and farming community: chefs, grocers, agricultural advocates, land-owners and more. The Guild-Raising festivities (and the Guild movement itself) reflects a new paradigm in food and farming: as food awareness grows and communication technologies sharpen, we’re watching as the walls between producer and consumer crumble, the conduits between a farmer’s crop and the consumer’s plate multiply, all while the ability to obtain information, find resources and connect with fellow farmers becomes easier than ever. All this movement explains the proliferation of the Guilds and such is the reason for throwing a party!

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10 Practical Tips for the New, Aspiring Farmer!

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This year’s Nevada County Sustainable Food & Farm Conference brought together the tried and true of sustainable agriculture, alongside the newest wave of young agrarians, ready to get their hands dirty in order to feed us.

The crowd was a blend of those with decades of experience, including Denise Willey of T&D Willey Farms and Rich Johansen of Johansen Ranch, both of whom were farming organically before most Americans even had heard of the term. There were also those who had just faced the trials and tribulations of their first season, like Jeremy Mineau of Super Tuber Farm and Tim Van Wagner of First Rain Farm.

The weekend catered to the new and experienced farmer, but during my time at each of the workshops, a series of lessons began to emerge for the new, aspiring farmer. Here are several of the practical lessons worth passing on to the next crop of beginners.

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A New Community-Based Sustainable Seed Marketplace

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Since 2011, FarmsReach has been working with nonprofit, academic and farmer partners to identify how we may best contribute to improving the quantity and quality of non-GMO, untreated seed purchased by production farmers.

After a few years’ research and input from farmers, seed dealers and seed breeders, we were excited to “unveil” the Sustainable Seed Marketplace pilot at this year’s Organic Seed Alliance conference, and we invite your feedback!

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