Monthly Archives: March 2014

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Water Series: Pt 8 ~ Drought Effects & Tips from Central Valley’s Lonewillow Ranch

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Lonewillow Ranch goats getting ready for milking

Our Water & Drought Management series concludes today with drought management tips from Lonewillow Ranch in Firebaugh, CA. John Teixeira, farmer and owner, shares his story and strategies for coping with persistent drought in the Central Valley region. Read on to learn how John has adjusted his business and why he thinks the government needs to reevaluate water rights to farmers.

As we move on to our next two-month-long series on Labor & Worker Safety, we will continue to monitor the drought in CA, and highlight stories affecting the farming community. If you’ve integrated new irrigation or water management solutions on your farm, let us know! We’d love to continue to share your tips and insights.

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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!


Healthy Change for L.A., and for region’s farmers, SFGate 
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LA school district & 13 citrus growers form win-win partnership. Farmers switch to fruits/veg crops to provide healthy lunches to second largest CA school district, and avoid the debilitating Asian citrus psyllid pest at the same time.

5 Things You Need to Know From the New Farm Census, Modern Farmer
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The farm census, only released every five years, is reams and reams of data about America’s farmers. Here’s six important takeaways.

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Water Series: Pt 7 ~ Managing Energy & Lowering Costs with Irrigation ~ Tips from Derek Moffitt, Farmer & Rain Bird Sales Mgr

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Our Water & Drought Management series continues today with energy management tips from Derek Moffitt, olive grower, engineer and sales manager at Rain Bird. Believe it or not, irrigation pumping is the largest consumer of energy in most agricultural operations, and accounts for more than 5.5% of the total electricity load from PG&E. Every farmer deals with hidden costs throughout the farm, and so read on as Derek give us easy tips for making our irrigation systems more efficient, lowering energy expenses, and reducing water use.

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Microloan Options for Small Farms ~ Recap from the CA Small Farm Conference

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Last week the 27th California Small Farm Conference took place in Rohnert Park, about an hour north of San Francisco. You never know exactly what to expect at this annual event, since it moves across California each year and offers ever-changing workshops designed with the help of each region’s local agriculture organizations.

This year the Workshops were organized into some hot topics (Emerging Issues, Production, Farm Management, Marketing, and Farmers Markets), and were chock full of some really valuable, practical content. It was a welcome problem not being able to decide which ones to attend!

We co-hosted one session on Crowd-Sourcing & Community Sharing, where FarmsReach, The Farmers Guild, CropMobster and Farm Hack Davis joined forces for an interesting discussion on the power of collaboration within the food and farming community.

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Water Series: Pt 6 ~ Understanding Groundwater Management ~ Tips from UCCE Advisor, Allan Fulton

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Groundwater pumping in the Mojave Desert

Today we are featuring an important discussion about groundwater management. Allan Fulton, UCCE Irrigation and Water Resources Advisor in Tehama County, gives us important tips for drought-proofing the farm. His tips are framed with your farm and larger local community perspective in mind — public districts and agencies included. Everyone has a stake in the effort.

Yet, Allan suggests that farmers especially need to pay attention. To be implemented at a community level, many of his suggestions for groundwater management require individual farmers to understand the issues and decide whether they can support them in concept, and then engage in efforts to make them a reality.

Read on as Allan shares his tips and insight on the importance of better groundwater management during and beyond times of drought.

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Water Series: Pt 5 ~ Drought Adjustment Strategies from Mendocino Organics

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The pastures of Mendocino Organics

Mendocino Organics, located at Heart Arrow Ranch in Redwood Valley, is owned and operated by Adam and Paula Gaska. This husband and wife team leases land from Golden Vineyards and raise grass-fed sheep, cows and a wide variety of vegetables. Since their start in 2008, they’ve grown their operation with an emphasis on ecological stewardship and feeding their local community. With 120 ewes, 25 cows and 1 bull, they have access to nearly 1,200 acres of rangeland for winter grazing in Redwood Valley, and another 60 acres of irrigated pasture in Potter Valley during the summer months.

During this drought, most farmers and ranchers are forced to adjust their operations and figure out how to make ends meet.  Mendocino Organics is no exception.

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Capital Press ~ Farmers Collaborate Online & Offline Through Farmers Guilds

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by Evan Wiig

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 8.33.12 PMFarmers guilds help farmers get together to compare notes on many subjects revolving around agriculture.

Farming is more than ever an entrepreneurial endeavor, a high stakes game that is fraught with risks, not the least of which is extreme and unpredictable weather, such as the drought we’re currently facing here in the West.

It’s no wonder that many multi-generation farming and ranching families are disappearing from the landscape. Many of those who have stepped up to take their place are finding that their success depends on collaborating and connecting online and offline with other farmers and ranchers.

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An Innovative CSA Model ~ Riverhill Farm’s “Friend of the Farm Card”

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Beautiful Riverhill Farm, Nevada City, CA

Today we are featuring an innovative CSA model, created by Riverhill Farm just outside of Nevada City, CA. Customers pre-purchase “Friends of the Farm Cards” in $150, $300 or $450 increments, which can be used to purchase produce from Riverhill’s farm stand or farmers market throughout the year.  Like conventional CSA subscriptions, Riverhill Farm enjoys some prepayment for their crops.  Unlike conventional CSA subscriptions, their customers enjoy the freedom to select what and when to buy their produce, and the farm can focus on fewer, yet still diverse varieties.

Read on as Alan Haight, co-owner of Riverhill Farm, describes their farm’s evolution from traditional CSA to their new Friends of the Farm Card, customer response and effects on their farm operation.

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Water Series: Pt 4 ~ Checklist to Drought-Proof Your Farm

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Photo credit: CAWSI

The checklist below was first presented at the EcoFarm Conference in 2010 by Michael Cahn, irrigation and water resources advisor UC Cooperative Extension, Monterey County, on behalf of the California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative (CAWSI). Introductory text excerpted from a California Climate & Agriculture Network blog written by Kendall Lambert, Water Program Coordinator at Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF).

As we are all very much aware, California is now faced with a historic drought. Among other things, this means that farmers and ranchers will have limited access to surface water for irrigation, and many growers will not be able to sufficiently and sustainably substitute groundwater. To better prepare for water shortages like this one, growers can adopt on-farm ‘water stewardship’ practices to optimize agricultural production, achieve economic savings, and boost ecological and human health benefits.

So what can farmers do? Below is a practical checklist presented at EcoFarm in 2010 (it can also be found in our Water & Irrigation Toolkit):

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