Organic Life Film: Becoming a Farmer & Maintaining Your Sanity, Too!

The-Organic-Life-Poster_Final_web

Written by guest blogger, Austin Blair, who is featured in the film The Organic Life.

As an individual farmer, you will face challenges in each farming situation, yet some elements of human nature (and perhaps more aptly, farmer nature) are inescapable. In my limited experience apprenticing on a non-profit teaching farm (Soil Born), running a small farm (now run by another farmer as Lunita Farm Design), and working for another farmer (Paul’s Produce), I have learned that balancing full days on the farm and a personal life is a constant dance.

My outlook was further informed by a supportive, non-farming partner, who certainly has an outside perspective on the issue. She has forced me to confront the conundrum of how to maintain a relationship and still be an effective farmer. (Spoiler alert: we’re married, so it can work!)

This has been my experience farming, and these are the things that have worked for us.

Continue Reading →

Birth of a New Nonprofit Organization: the Farmers Guild!

10839556895_c261027ccc_o

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!

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

The Central Coast Kicks Off New Farmers Guild!

tractor-at-wilder-ranch-pacific-ocean-backdrop-california

Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz

We’re excited to announce that on Tuesday April 29th, at 6pm, the Central Coast of California is launching their first monthly Farmers Guild gathering! Hosted by the Live Oak Grange hall in Santa Cruz, please join us for the evening to meet area farmers, enjoy great food and take part in the development of a new resource-sharing hub for the Central Coast agricultural community.

Delicious potluck at the North Coast Guild in Sebastopol

Delicious potluck at the North Coast Guild in Sebastopol

After watching other Farmers Guilds spring up around the northern part of the state, a group of farmers south of the Bay began to wonder whether they could do the same for their own community – the agricultural neighborhood that includes the diverse farmland of Watsonville, Gilroy, Salinas and beyond.

“I feel that there is so much to be gained by putting producers in contact with their community,” says Dave Kowalek, a large animal veterinarian new to the Central Coast who is looking to tap into his new food and farming community. “The sharing of ideas, support and equipment can be so vital to many sustainable-scale agricultural endeavors.”

Continue Reading →

April 25th Farmer-to-Table Dinner: Supporting the Farmers Guild Scholarship Fund!

IMG_0088

How do we ensure the future of food? By ensuring that the emerging generation of farmers is informed, educated and thoughtful in how they work the soil.

It’s no secret that farming is extremely challenging work. And while there are many new educational resources available–from sustainable agriculture schools to workshops on managing finances, many of these programs are financially unattainable to new farmers. FarmsReach & the Farmers Guild have partnered with the Sebastopol Grange to build the Farmers Guild Scholarship Fund – to help make financing these educational opportunities a little bit easier for farmers.

mg_7200f

SHED, Healdsburg

The Scholarship Fund will offer financial assistance to farmers and ranchers for continued education in the fields of land stewardship, animal husbandry, marketing, soil science, business planning, water conservation and other skills that facilitate their success as food producers.

Please join us on April 25th at 6 pm, when we’re hosting a farmer-to-table fundraiser for the Farmers Guild Scholarship Fund with SHED in Healdsburg. SHED has been kind enough to allow Guild members take over the kitchen for a night!

Continue Reading →

Microloan Options for Small Farms ~ Recap from the CA Small Farm Conference

CA SFC

Last week the 27th California Small Farm Conference took place in Rohnert Park, about an hour north of San Francisco. You never know exactly what to expect at this annual event, since it moves across California each year and offers ever-changing workshops designed with the help of each region’s local agriculture organizations.

This year the Workshops were organized into some hot topics (Emerging Issues, Production, Farm Management, Marketing, and Farmers Markets), and were chock full of some really valuable, practical content. It was a welcome problem not being able to decide which ones to attend!

We co-hosted one session on Crowd-Sourcing & Community Sharing, where FarmsReach, The Farmers Guild, CropMobster and Farm Hack Davis joined forces for an interesting discussion on the power of collaboration within the food and farming community.

Continue Reading →

Celebrating the Farmers Guild ~ Guild-Raising 2014!

Barn_raising_in_Lansing

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!

Continue Reading →

A New Community-Based Sustainable Seed Marketplace

SeedLandingBanner

 

Since 2011, FarmsReach has been working with nonprofit, academic and farmer partners to identify how we may best contribute to improving the quantity and quality of non-GMO, untreated seed purchased by production farmers.

After a few years’ research and input from farmers, seed dealers and seed breeders, we were excited to “unveil” the Sustainable Seed Marketplace pilot at this year’s Organic Seed Alliance conference, and we invite your feedback!

Continue Reading →

Yolo Women Farmers Kick Off the New Yolo Farmers Guild!

photo(1)

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.

Continue Reading →

FarmsReach Debuts our Source Directory for CA Farmers!

Source_Directory-slide

 

FarmsReach hit another milestone this week with the launch of our new Source Directory, the first online guide to the best California contractors, input suppliers, lenders, and all things farming. A big thank you to the FarmsReach community for referring us to all of your favorite businesses and organizations!

We know that operating a farm requires tapping many support people and buying (and borrowing) a lot of equipment and supplies.  Our goal with the new Directory is to give all of our members an easy way to connect with trusted service providers and to make smarter, more informed choices for your businesses.

Click to view Johnny's "mini-site"

Click to view Johnny’s Selected Seeds’ custom pages.

This new section of our site will continue to expand and evolve as we add more listings and add new software functionality.  We’ve already compiled over 300 organizations, suppliers, contractors, lenders, labs and consultants that have been directly referred by FarmsReach members over the past year.  Going forward, we will continue to scour our online Conversations for leads, as well as from the Farmers Guild gatherings and casual conversations.

Like everything else in FarmsReach, the Source Directory is free for farmers to use.  And, for approved service providers, inclusion in the Directory is also free. Enhanced listings, or “mini-sites” that feature pictures, videos, educational articles or promotional offerings, cost between $50 to $1,000 additional per month.  You can check out a few samples from the  Source Directory main pages.

Because we offer so many non-revenue-generating programs for our members, we depend on the income from our Source Directory and other upcoming services to help cover our operating costs.  So, please help us spread the word about it, and write some reviews!  Your use of this new community resource and your reviews of the service providers you’ve worked with help us to attract more listings and support for the work that we do.

The Source Directory will also become more robust over the coming months as more businesses create their customized pages. Check it out!  As always, we would love to hear what you think.

Thank you again to all who’ve supported us in getting things up and live this month.  We hope you find it an essential resource.


For more information, please download the press release.

If you are a business or organization that serves CA farmers, learn more.