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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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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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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Member Spotlight: The New Sonoma Valley Farmers Guild!

Every week, we’ll be spotlighting a FarmsReach Featured Farmer or community Member. Our Featured Farmers are brimming with great ideas and knowledge to share with the farming community, and our Members comprise a mix of farmers, ranchers, Extension Advisors, nonprofits, and more.

This week, Evan Wiig of the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach spoke with one of the founders of the newly established Sonoma Valley Farmers Guild! Set to kick-off on October 27th at 6 pm at the Sonoma Valley Grange Hall, its purpose is to help farmers forge new connections, share information and resources, and help support one another over the course of the seasons. If you’re a farmer or rancher, read on about their plans to create a space to gather, kick back, make some new friends, and support the farming community of the Sonoma Valley region!

Featured Farmer Spotlight: Evan Wiig of The Farmers Guild & FarmsReach ~ Bringing Farmers Together

In August, FarmsReach partnered with Evan Wiig and his Sebastopol-based Famers Guild to expand his fun and valuable Farmers Guild meet-ups to more regions across California.

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When we first launched the new FarmsReach platform in January 2013, our community had already ‘nominated’ 17 Featured Farmers — farmers they felt were any combination of excellent farmer, valuable mentor, sustainability role model, or simply a hard-working, go-getter next generation farmer.

This week, we are spotlighting our newest addition to the FarmsReach Featured Farmer posse: Evan Wiig. Sure, he is a farmer of a happy flock of chickens in Sonoma County, but we are featuring him because of his inspiring work bringing the farming community together. In less than a year, he has grown the North Coast Farmers Guild — a fun, casual meet-up of farmers and farm supporters — into an increasingly popular (and crowded!) monthly gathering in Sebastopol, where folks are driving up to 3 hours to just hang out and share information.

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North Coast Farmers Guild’s Eats & Ideas

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There’s probably no better way to learn more about your food than to meet the farmers who grow it and share a meal with them. The North Coast Young Farmer’s Guild met for their fourth monthly gathering at GrowKitchen in Sebastopol. The guild isn’t confined to just farmers. They welcome “ranchers, milkmaids, food artisans, chefs, butchers and anyone else with a vested interest in the next generation” of good and healthy eats.

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