Category Archives: Hot Topics

“Elon Musk Throws Farmers for a Hyperloop” – Alternatives to High-Speed Rail

This holiday week, we take a break from our Featured Farmer Spotlights to share some high-tech news excerpted from the Upstart Business Journal.  Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal and Tesla Motors, revealed his plans for a $6 billion solar-powered alternative to the projected $68 billion High Speed Rail Project to go through prime California farmland.

Elon Musk's Hyperloop plans coast far above valuable farmland.  TED/James Duncan Davidson

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop plans coast far above valuable farmland.
TED/James Duncan Davidson

Elon Musk revealed the details of his plans for his Hyperloop—the air-powered pod in a tube that might someday connect Los Angeles to San Francisco and, if successful, would totally disrupt other transportation sectors, even as it leaves farmers nearly untouched.

The Hyperloop is designed to link large cities less than 1,000 miles apart that drive high amounts of traffic between them. So while the link between California’s two most prominent cities is the first choice, the concept could suitable for other large sister cities like New York and Washington D.C., or New York and Boston.

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California Farmland Protection: Reality or Wishful Thinking?

Last week, in the beautiful Napa Valley, the American Farmland Trust and Napa County Farm Bureau hosted a statewide conference - the first of its kind – to address the question: Is farmland conservation a reality, or simply wishful thinking? The intention was to “highlight the successes, define the obstacles, and explore new directions for conserving California agricultural land.”

The 200-person event sold out weeks in advance, bringing together many long-time stakeholders who have worked for decades on farmland issues: advocates, land trusts, government agencies, Farm Bureau members, nonprofit organizations and farmers themselves.  It seemed nearly every agriculture county in the state was present to learn how we can address the frightening reality of losing 30,000 acres of the most fertile agricultural land each year.

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Featured Farmer Spotlight: Emma Torbert of The Clover Leaf Farm

Every week, we’ll spotlight a FarmsReach Featured Farmer. Our Featured Farmers are brimming with great ideas and knowledge to share with the farming community. Feeling a spark of curiosity? There’s no question too simple or tough. Ask a question or add a Conversation and we’ll be sure it’s answered within a day or two.

Emma Torbert of The Clover Leaf Farm

This week, we’re featuring Emma Torbert, from The Clover Leaf Farm. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from University of California at Davis and currently works for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI).

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Featured Farmer Spotlight: Pilar Reber of Sunnyside Organic Seedlings

Every week, we’ll spotlight a FarmsReach Featured Farmer. Our Featured Farmers are brimming with great ideas and knowledge to share with the farming community. Feeling a spark of curiosity? There’s no question too simple or tough. Ask a question or add a Conversation and we’ll be sure it’s answered within a day or two. 

featuredFarmer_Pilar-ReberThis week, we’re featuring Pilar Reber, founder of Sunnyside Organic Seedlings and a graduate of the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems program. Sunnyside Organic Seedlings focuses on providing quality certified organic seedlings that are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

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Market to Table: Marin Civic Center Farmers’ Market

It’s foggy in San Francisco, but over the Golden Gate Bridge and through the rainbow (tunnel), it’s sunny and blue skies. Eva and I had a hankering for a market-to-table meal, so we drove out to the Marin Civic Center Farmers’ Market (California’s third largest farmers’ market) to hob nob with organic farmers and ranchers, local chefs, gourmet-food purveyors, and a lot of wide-eyed hungry appetites. Our goal was to create a simple, fresh meal using recipe ideas from the market purveyors.

cooking, Eva Antczak, farmers market, Marin, market-to-table, organic, Shanti ChristensenIMG_2945

 

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Community Picks: Farm-Fresh Online Grocery Delivery

For our second edition of Community Picks, we’re highlighting companies taking farm-direct CSAs to the next level by offering customized farm-fresh online grocery delivery — sourced from local and sustainable farmers, ranchers and artisanal processors.

It’s a tough business juggling perishable products and delivering to a customer with discerning tastes.  Here’s to the folks finding solutions that bring more profits to local producers, tasty fresh food to the customer, and a viable business for themselves!

Food producers and food processors:  These services may be a great place for you to sell more of your fresh produce, meat and food products!

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Demystifying “The Bay-Delta Tunnels” – with 18 Reasons

Tonight I went to the 18 Reasons event about the massive Bay-Delta Tunnels water project: “Our Delta: A Conversation with an Artist, Activist and Farmer“.  As with fracking, this is a big-budget project with an enormously big impact on water in California.  And, as with fracking, it is deeply political and riddled with complex variables and a myriad of stakeholders.

18 Reasons, Bay-Delta Tunnels, FarmsReachIMG_7168

Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director at Food & Water Watch, outlines areas impacted by the Tunnels.

With the help of partners Food & Water Watch and The Nature Conservancy, we’ve already started to compile Bay-Delta Tunnel resources in our recently launched Water & Irrigation Toolkit; however tonight was a most welcomed overview of the issue! Here’s the scoop from tonight’s discussion.

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Featured Farmer Spotlight: Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm

Every week, we’ll spotlight a FarmsReach Featured Farmer. Our Featured Farmers are brimming with great ideas and knowledge to share with the farming community. Feeling a spark of curiosity? There’s no question too simple or tough. Ask a question or add a Conversation and we’ll be sure it’s answered within a day or two.

This week, we’re featuring Judith Redmond, one of the dedicated owners of Full Belly Farm, a certified organic farm located in the beautiful Capay Valley of northern California. Their farm has been certified organic since 1985, where they strive to continue supporting local food systems and creating a strong local food economy.

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Introducing our Water & Irrigation Toolkit

water canalsIn California, where drought has been a regular occurrence since the 1860′s, most residents are concerned about the water situation. And, because farmers and ranchers are wholly dependent on fresh, clean water, issues about water scarcity, accessibility, cost, and quality are often at the forefront of their minds.

Interestingly, many farmers are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to soil fertility management, tracking precise nutrient ratios to yield the best harvests; however, far fewer are such granular experts when it comes to managing soil moisture.

With the volatile climate and ongoing drought, it’s imperative and simply smart business to ensure farm operations are managing their water use as efficiently as possible. Using appropriate equipment and technology, monitoring and managing soil to retain moisture, and selecting plants that thrive in our unique climate are a few of the ways this can be accomplished.

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Fracking & The Media – More Transparency Needed!

frack feudLast week we covered a panel discussion about hydraulic fracturing, also known as ‘fracking’. Now that I’m aware of the issue, it seems to be popping up more frequently. However, the question still remains: how does fracking affect farmers? How does it affect the food on my plate?

This week, NPR’s show On the Media helped explain why answers seem so elusive.  In the piece Fracking Feud, host Brooke Gladstone interviewed Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, who has been reporting about fracking since it first started getting media attention in 2008.

Fracking in the news is simply confusing.  In the past week alone, the Illinois governor passed what is considered one of the most stringent policies against fracking, while the EPA abandons its Wyoming research of fracking and groundwater, and – with a commissioned study by Congress in 2010 to test the impact of fracking on air and groundwater – they’ve decided to delay research until 2016.

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