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!


North Coast Opportunities (NCO) is stepping up its efforts to support farmers in the North Coast region this year through the Farm2Fork program based in Ukiah, CA. Two new and ambitious projects, supported by CDFA Specialty Crops grants, will focus on strengthening the local food value chain via aggregation, processing, packaging and distribution to institutional, commercial and retail markets. As the new Regional Lead for the California Farm to School Network, NCO will be advocating for our region’s amazing Farm to School programs and help bring information, resources, and recognition to folks from Del Norte all the way to Napa.

And last but not least, NCO is excited to host the 2nd Annual North Coast Farmers Convergence on Wednesday, March 5th at Ridgewood Ranch. This dynamic and unique networking event is all about celebration, building community and catalyzing collaboration amongst farmers and those who work with them and is not to be missed! Check out the website and contact Susan Lightfoot with any questions:


The Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL) is currently rejoicing in a year-long celebration, honoring the 20th anniversary of it’s FARMS Leadership program. The FARMS (Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability) Leadership Program provides innovative, hands-on experiences to urban, suburban and rural youth at working farms, agri-businesses and universities.

CLBL’s SLEWS program (Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship) was honored last week with a prestigious 2013 Partners in Conservation Award from the Department of the Interior, with partner US Fish and Wildlife Service. A new comprehensive training program, SLEWS Academy, will train educators and natural resource professionals in the best practices of the SLEWS program.

And, finally, the third season of the California Farm Academy training program began on February 11. Farm Academy students will grow, among other things, lunchbox peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, carrots, and beets for the Yolo County Food Bank, and for their Kids Farmers Market.


The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s (NCAT) CA office is hosting a number of upcoming workshops! As part of their Beginning Farmer Rancher Grant with UC Berkeley, ag specialists are working with immigrant and minority farmers in multiple counties to help train them on sustainable production practices, marketing, business planning and food safety. Keep an eye on our NCAT California Blog for more workshops coming soon!

With the farm bill passing, the ATTRA project has been authorized to continue operating until 2018, and it was passed in the appropriations committee for fiscal year 2014. Hooray!

ATTRA still operates its toll-free hotline (1-800- 346-9140 (English); 1-800-411-3222 (Spanish)) 5 days a week, produces valuable technical publications and maintains its extensive website full of sustainable agriculture resources for new and experienced farmers. Check out the website for new resources and upcoming events!

FarmLink_logo_Color-619x640California FarmLink will be launching a new online land linking system in March 2014!  Farmers and landowners will soon be able to connect directly with one another, and the California FarmLink Regional Coordinators will continue to provide in-depth assistance on questions regarding land tenure, farm agreements (leases, partnerships, purchases, etc.), and farm financing.

FarmLink’s Loan Program continues to accept applications and make operating and equipment/infrastructure loans as well. Email for more information. Upcoming Lease Clinics in Central Coast and Central Valley regions. Contact Eric Winders (Central Coast) and Liya Schwartzman (Central Valley) for more information.

Also, important is the California FarmLink Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program, which was the first of its kind in the nation when it began in 2003.  It helps farmers save money and build equity to buy an asset for their farm or to make a down payment on land. While the California FarmLink IDA program is not currently accepting applicants, we are actively involved in strengthening the nation’s farming communities by coordinating a project through the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to assist organizations across the country with developing and/or improving their own agricultural IDA programs. We hope that the success of this nationwide project will help convince policymakers that these programs must be funded.

Mail AttachmentThe CA State Grange is hosting a number of workshops in 2014, including: Using Grey-water in the Landscape, Hoop House Construction and Management, and Small Scale Chicken Care and Portable Coop Construction. Workshops will serve varied audiences such as farmers, home gardeners, or youth.

The CA State Grange School of Agricultural Art, in Willits, CA is currently accepting applications for the Practicum Student Program. Practicum Students live on-site, pay no tuition, and contribute to the development of the farm through hands-on service learning. This program will only be offered in 2014 and 2015.

The Ag School also offers a nine month, residential training for aspiring farmers. Diverse curriculum will cover agricultural production skills, industrial arts, farm product marketing, and business management skills essential to manage a profitable farm. In summer 2015 a short version of this program will be offered, and the full program will be launched in 2016. Learn more about the program with our interview with NPR. For any questions, get in touch with Antonia:

Food_&_Water_Watch_logoFood & Water Watch is continuing to rally the community to support the Farmers Against Fracking campaign. With the recent (albeit unsurprising) official declaration of major drought in California, the importance of protecting our water just got even more serious. Recently, the Washington Post reported that California’s record drought will hit farmers hardest. For the first time in its history, the State Water Project will deliver no water this summer. Short term, this means many farmers will be forced to leave their fields fallow this year. Long term, this drought spells a “train wreck” for California’s great Central Valley aquifer.

Last week a new report came out that shows 96 percent of fracking wells in California were drilled in regions under “high or extremely high water stress.” California is world renown for the food we grow, but fracking and other extreme oil and gas extraction jeopardize our reputation as the country’s breadbasket.

Thanks to the help of FarmsReach and our other allies, farmers across California have signed onto a letter telling Governor Brown to place a moratorium on fracking. Nearly 150 farmers agree that urgent action is needed to stop the destructive, water intensive process of fracking from continuing in the Golden State.

On February 26th FWW will be in Sacramento with farmers, chefs and others whose livelihoods depend on producing high quality food with high quality water to launch Farmers Against Fracking. As we near this critical date, we hope more farmers will join FWW and stand together to send a clear message: Californians need food, not fracking! Sign today and share with every farmer you know!

caff_logo_frontCommunity Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) will be facilitating 10 dry farming workshops per year for growers (over a two year period), as well as producing a variety of educational materials, case studies, and continually developing the program webpage. They will be collaborating with the various wine grape grower sustainability programs such as the Central Coast Vineyard Team, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Lodi Wine, and the Amador Wine Grape Growers in these efforts.

In January 2014, CAFF became the new manager of the California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative (CAWSI) website. CAWSI is an online resource center that aims to raise awareness about innovative approaches to agricultural water management that support the viability of agriculture, conserve water, and protect ecological integrity in California. As the new manager of the CAWSI site, CAFF will continue to work with the Editorial Board to expand and develop the site. CAFF will actively seek out new content, adding practice pages and case studies to capture the innovative and important work of farmers and ranchers across California. CAFF hopes that the CAWSI site will continue to be a valuable resource to growers, ranchers, water suppliers, and others, providing innovative, practical, and valuable technical information.

CAFF’s food safety program also continues to assist family farmers in developing and implementing their food safety plans. This past fall, we held workshops with farmers in Chico, Watsonville, San Luis Obispo, Davis, and Santa Barbara, in collaboration with Wild Farm Alliance and CCOF, to discuss the proposed rules and encourage people to comment to FDA. FDA received over 20,000 comments on FSMA.

This year Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) will be conducting an industry survey to provide a five-year update to the State of Organic Seed research and analysis they first initiated in 2009 and published in 2011. The State of Organic Seed survey was the first comprehensive analysis of the challenges and opportunities in building organic seed systems, and informed OSA to lead subsequent working groups to carry out solutions.

For more than a decade, OSA has been engaged in participatory plant breeding for organic systems: now planning the release of two new organically-bred varieties, a sweet corn and a spinach; and currently consulting on 30 plant breeding projects with farmers.

They continue to be engaged in national trials to identify varieties that perform well for organic farmers: in California, evaluating varieties of carrots, peppers, onions, beets, wheat and corn.  They’re also continuing their successful seed producer education programs, including production field days and intensive workshops primarily in California, the Northwest, and the Southeast. (See OSA’s upcoming events; CA events can also be found in the FarmsReach Events calendar.)

OSA’s advocacy team continues to respond to timely policy actions, including providing public comments that support the availability and genetic integrity of organic seed in the face of GMOs, seed industry consolidation, and restrictive intellectual property practices (e.g., patents on seed). So far this year they have provided comments on recommendations put out by USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology as well as an environmental impact statement for crops genetically engineered to tolerate 2,4-D.

Thank you to all of our partners who contributed information! Visit our Partners & Alliances page for a full list of the organizations we work and collaborate with.  

Interested in becoming a partner? Check out how to Become a Partner.  We would love to see how we can help amplify your impact and extend your reach!

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