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!

To celebrate the ingenuity of those working to feed us, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is joining forces with the Farmers Guild to kick-off the big event of the day, the Farmer-Inventor Showcase. From jerry-rigged potato scrubbers to bio-char controlled burns, Guild members will show off their favorite on-farm inventions. For the style of innovative, small-scale and diversified agriculture that many of these farmers undertake, practical solutions can’t always be bought from the big-ag arsenals of expensive machinery. Here resourcefulness is the key to success. And sometimes we depend less on big tractors than on duct-tape, a few bicycle wheels and an old hand-held vacuum to get the job done.

farmers-guild-sonoma-valley-grange-650x255Also on the program to honor Valentine’s Day weekend, we’ll have a romantic round of Farmer-to-Consumer Speed Dating. On one side we line up our farmers, ranchers and food artisans; on the opposite side we invite chefs, grocers, land-owners and community members looking to invest in local, sustainable agricultural enterprises—including CA FarmLink, UCCE Extension, Farm Trails, Marin Organic, FarmsReach, Spiral Food Co-op, and the North Bay chapters of both Slow Money and Slow Food. But this is speed dating, so we’re giving these farmers just three minutes to pitch their most seductive produce, their CSA, cow-share program, or even that farm business they’ve been dreaming of for all these years. No matter where cupid strikes, everyone will come away with a better understanding of the dynamic landscape that is local food, the constraints and opportunities of the industry, and where we all fit within it.

Each Guild is nothing without the grass-roots community that comes together to form it. And at the heart of each monthly Guild meet-up is a potluck of the season’s most freshly harvested ingredients, along with pride in place, practice and taste, i.e. a real deal farmer-to-table feast. And the same will hold true with the Guild-Raising! This year’s celebration will be supplied with a local hog roast by Northwest Catering, artisan Tempeh from Alive and Healing, beer from Lagunitas brewery, produce from Oak Hill Farm, FEED Sonoma and Bloomfield Farms, plus wine from Highway 12 Winery, kombucha from Revive Drinks, yerba mate from Guayaki, and cheese from both The Epicurean Connection and Toluma Farms—all of which will be eaten on compostable dinnerware from World Centric. Such are the perks of knowing your farmer and having the amazing local community to throw in donations.

And of course we’ll also be acknowledging all the individuals and organizations who have made the Farmers Guild possible. From the many CA Granges who donate their halls, to the organizations who attend the monthly Guild meet-ups where they present valuable resources and information, all the way to the farmers themselves who organize these Guilds as a place for their community to belong.

We applaud them all! And just as when the workday is done at the farm, so too will we kick back and pull out the banjo, fiddle and harmonica. Among the pool of agricultural skills you’ll find at any Guild gathering, so too will you find much musical talent. So hoedown we will! And until next year’s celebration, Raise the Guild!


Come on out and celebrate with us! We’d love to see you this weekend. For more information on the Guild-Raising event, visit the Farmers Guild

Interested in starting a Guild in your area? For more information on getting started and/or joining our existing Guilds in Sebastopol, Sonoma Valley, Yolo County, Mendocino, and the Sierra region, contact Evan Wiig

To see the latest resources and wisdom shared among regional farmers, check out the Farmers Guild Groups pages and general FarmsReach Conversations.

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