Birth of a New Nonprofit Organization: the Farmers Guild!

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Last summer, with a shared vision, FarmsReach and the Farmers Guild joined forces to better connect the agricultural community in California. At that time, there was just one Farmers Guild in Sebastopol, which brought together anywhere from 20-50 farmers for a casual monthly potluck. FarmsReach had also recently launched its online platform to build stronger connections between both farmers and partner agricultural organizations.

Since then, both the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach have grown tremendously together.

With the help of FarmsReach’s funding and supportive online community, as well as the donated time and space by Guild member volunteers and Grange Halls, the Farmers Guild has expanded to six more regions, stretching from Mendocino to Nevada County to Santa Cruz – with more to come.

We first highlighted Evan Wiig, the founder of the first Farmers Guild and co-organizer of each of the new Guilds, back in September. Now it’s with great excitement that we announce the formation of the new Farmers Guild nonprofit organization in which he will serve as Executive Director.

Evan has been an infectious speaker and inspiring community organizer for the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach while we have worked together. Below I talked briefly with Evan about his plans for the Guilds going forward!

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The Farmers Guild Expands to the Sierra Region!

Tim Van Wagner & Leo Chapman

Tim Van Wagner & Leo Chapman

Next Thursday evening, Nevada County will carry on a long legacy of agricultural community-building with the launch of a brand new Farmers Guild!

Over a century ago, Grange Halls emerged all over California to serve the growing farming community. Three of these halls still stand in Nevada County today. The county has changed a lot since the Gold Rush, but the miners of the past and the new tech workers who call the Sierra foothills home today have one thing in common: they all must eat.  And, in order to eat, you still need farmers.

Robbie & Deena, Sweet Roots Farm

Robbie & Deena, Sweet Roots Farm

Welcome Living Lands Agrarian Network (LLAN). Founded by Leo Chapman in Nevada City a few years ago, this organization formed to provide mentorship for a new generation of farmers. Their distinctive model is a combination of cooperative sustainable agriculture education, resource sharing, community partnerships and celebration around the food they grow.

From this movement arose a popular series of Soup Nights, aimed at bringing together their whole community (consumers and producers) in the name of local food, both grown and shared.

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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!

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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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“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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A New Lease on Life: The CA State Grange

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Lawrence Jaffe, farmer – lawyer – Grange revivalist

At the recent Farmers Guild meetup in Sebastopol, Lawrence Jaffe gave a colorful, short talk about:

Transcript:

The Sebastopol Grange was established in 1898, and in 1940 after the war, people in the community would finish their day harvesting or milking and then come over and work on building its Grange Hall.  They borrowed money from themselves, like holding their own pancake breakfasts and selling pancakes to themselves.  They raised the money by themselves.  When I looked through the rule books of our Grange, the people who built the hall and participated in it are the same names as all the streets around here and on all the orchards around here.  And yet, for years I would drive right by this building on Highway 12. 

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