Category Archives: News & Events

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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Q&A with Member Dave Pratt: Ranching (and Farming) for Profit and A New Book Release!

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Boots on the ground learning! Summer course 2013, Laramie, WY

This week we’re honored to spotlight one of our members, Dave Pratt of Ranch Management Consultants. Dave has taught the Ranching for Profit School in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and Africa, and is a respected authority on sustainable ranching. As a former Range & Livestock Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension for 14 years, and having grown up on a small ranch and worked for cattle and sheep ranchers, Dave has done a lot of research on management intensive grazing and strategic issues impacting the sustainability of ranches.

Over the years, he has earned a reputation for innovative teaching with a practical edge. Dave was instrumental in developing the Sustainable Ranching Research & Education Project, a large-scale, long-term effort to develop, research and demonstrate economic, environmental and socially sustainable ranching practices.

In 1991 Dave started working with Stan Parsons, who created the Ranching for Profit School and founded Ranch Management Consultants. In 1999 Dave became CEO of Ranch Management Consultants, Inc., and just released his first book “Healthy Land, Happy Families and Profitable Businesses: Essays to Improve Your Land, Your Life and Your Bottom Line“.

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The Growth & Impact of Women in Agriculture ~ Q&A with EWG’s Kari Hamerschlag

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Lydia Sisson, Mill City Grows, Massachusetts

There has been unprecedented growth in women farmers across the US in recent years. Paralleling this upward trend, the number of women-focused agriculture networks, funding opportunities, and technical assistance training also continues to climb. Women farmers are [finally] being recognized for their contribution to agriculture, not only as farmers’ wives, but as farm owners and operators themselves!

This week we spoke with Kari Hamerschlag, Senior Analyst for the Environmental Working Group, who was the keynote speaker at last month’s 4th National Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN) Conference,”Cultivating Our Food, Farms and Future,” in Des Moines, Iowa. Kari spoke about the need for better policy-making to build a more democratized food system, and the important role that women farmers play in the future of agriculture.

Read on as Kari tells us why we need more women in the food and farming world, what obstacles they may face, and why support networks and community are so vitally important!

And, just today: We launched our New Women in Agriculture Toolkit with resources on the growth of US women famers, women farmer networks, funding opportunities and more. If you have additional resources to share, please let us know!

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Optimize Your Crops with Variety Trials! ~ Upcoming Field Day and Q&A with OSA’s Jared Zystro

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Comparing different carrot seed varieties

This week we spoke with Jared Zystro, California Research and Education Specialist for the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), about the usefulness, ease and importance of on-farm seed variety trials. Although the variety trial process might seem intimidating, the benefits of better crop performance and new market opportunities make it worth every farmer’s time.

If you want to find out which vegetable seeds performed the best, learn variety trial techniques, and meet Jared, this weekend, Dec. 7th, OSA is hosting a Variety Trial Field Day at Riverdog Farm in Guinda, CA, to evaluate an ongoing organic vegetable trial. This is a great way to learn the basics, talk with an expert, and see what the folks at Riverdog are up to. See you there!

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Farm Hack Davis ~ Highlights from a Creative, DIY Weekend

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Visualization of an open-source food distribution website

Farm Hack is a community-driven movement that brings farmers together with engineers, builders, welders, architects, software designers, and other skilled non-farmers to develop, document and build accessible, appropriate technology for more resilient agriculture. It’s based on the principles of sharing, open publication, and the evolution of design.  And, the recent Farm Hack Davis - the first in Northern California – booked up completely weeks before the actual event!

Cross-pollination was the word of the day! And not just among the one group collaborating to design an innovative new apiary. Another group was crowded around big sheets of paper sketching blueprints for a small-scale grain elevator, while another was devising a new website to connect farmers to local markets. From theoretical to practical, this day was about tapping into a wide diversity of creative ideas, to create tangible solutions to many on-farm challenges.

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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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Farmers Unite in Mendocino: the First Farmers Guild Gathering!

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Written by Evan Wiig of The Farmers Guild & FarmsReach.

Never have I had so much fun preparing for a potluck. Last week I drove north from my home in Sonoma County to attend the very first official gathering of the Mendocino Farmers Guild! Inspired by Gowan Batist, a young Fort Bragg-based farmer and founder of Eat Mendocino (a project for which she spent over a year eating nothing grown beyond her own county), I decided that for my part I’d bring a Mendocino-only dish. With the help of my friend, chef Matthew Elias and locavore grocer-extraordinaire Scott Cratty, in a one-day “gleaning spree”, we experienced first-hand what this burgeoning local food shed has to offer.

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All Mendocino-sourced dishes

For the pasta dish, we used flour from Doug Mosel’s Mendocino Grain Project, pastured pork from the McGruder Ranch in Potter Valley, beautiful tomatoes from Floodgate Farm out near the coast, eggs from the Brady Family Farm, and olive oil from a local orchard. Even the salt, thanks to Gowan’s sea-side harvesting, came from Mendocino!

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Farm Hack Davis – DIY Farm Innovation!

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Farm Hack is a community-driven movement that brings farmers together with engineers, builders, welders, architects, software designers, and other skilled non-farmers to develop, document and build accessible, appropriate technology for more resilient agriculture. It’s based on the principles of sharing, open publication, and the evolution of design.  And, the first one in California is taking place in Davis on November 16-17!

Written by guest blogger, Marisa Alcorta of ATTRA/NCAT.

High tech agriculture, here’s your answer to how small and mid-size farms will feed the world: one region at a time. Guided by high ideals, which include self-determination, democracy, and open source sharing, Farm Hack has developed a community of 20,000 members who design, develop, improve and share tools that make farming and food production accessible to all. This community exists both on-line and in person, with most of the design work and collaboration happening at events held on farms across the country.

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Put Your Hoes Down ~ A Weekend Celebration!

IMG_8274Full Belly Farm knows how to have a good time!  This past weekend marked the 26th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival, which brings together over 6,000 people of all ages from Northern CA and beyond.  Under the hot sun of the Capay Valley, it’s fun to find some shade and relax with a beer, or stroll around and take in the breathtaking views of fields, orchards and rolling hills.  Or, take advantage of their jam-packed program of live music, local food, workshops, creek bathing and camping. We did it all!

Full Belly Farm, founded in 1985, is a pristine 300+ acre operation and is considered one of the best examples of diversified organic farming in CA.  The farm grows an amazing variety of over 80 vegetable, fruit and nut crops, as well as poultry, sheep, pigs, goats, and several cows.  One of their main priorities is the long-term environmental stewardship of the land, and for this, the farm focuses on regenerative systems such as nitrogen-fixing cover crops that improve soil organic matter, and planting habitat area for beneficial insects and wildlife.  With almost 30 years of trial and error under their belt, Full Belly Farm has worked hard to nurture the land so that each year leaves it more fertile than the last.

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“Symphony of the Soil” – A Closer Look at the Soil Beneath Us

Written by Rebecca Gerendasy, Cooking Up a Story.

It may be fitting that a near two-hour film devoted to the subject of soil would begin from the perspective of outer space looking down upon the Earth.  For as we learn in the beginning of the movie, most of our planet was formed out of lifeless mineral rock through which a thin layer of soil first emerges.  Life springs forth, thus.

Deborah Koons Garcia

Deborah Koons Garcia

Deborah Koons Garcia’s exceptional new film, Symphony of the Soil, pays loving homage to the beauty and the wondrous mystery of soil, celebrating not just the incredible soil diversity filmed on four of the world’s continents, it also rejoices in the knowledge of leading scientists and farmers whose careers have been devoted to better understanding this profoundly essential living medium.

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