The Central Coast Kicks Off New Farmers Guild!


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.”

Sharing resources at the Yolo/Sacramento Guild

Sharing resources at the Yolo/Sacramento Guild in Davis

Angela Sohl, who owns and operates Alta Vista Olive Orchards in Santa Cruz, heard about the Farmers Guild on FarmsReach and then met Guild members at this year’s EcoFarm conference. She was certain that her own region could use a similar resource. Why? “To get farmers together so they can meet and make new connections,” she says. “Learn new things. Form business and personal relationships, and to have a good time! I think it will help farmers get the answers they need, from other farmers. It will unify us and bring us closer as a community, and give us an extra kick in the pants of inspiration.”

For their first meet-up, Angela and others in the group are hoping that they’ll be joined not just by other local farmers, but also those who support them: non-profits like CA FarmLink and CAFF, restaurant owners, suppliers, consultants. “Anyone who grows food, or is in the food integrity movement!” The gathering is a free, casual potluck and open to all.

Enjoying a speaker over dinner at the Mendocino Guild

Enjoying a speaker over dinner at the Mendocino Guild in Willits

Damian Parr, president of Live Oak Grange, echoes this sentiment. “I’m stoked on the possibilities the Guild brings to a renewed agrarian movement,” he says. Damian heard about the Farmers Guild through fellow grangers up north and attended this year’s Guild-Raising in Sebastopol, CA, a gathering of over three hundred Guild-members, partner organizations and local food enthusiasts. Over the past year, Grange Halls around the state have opened their doors to this agrarian resurgence and are reconnecting with their roots as a farmer-based organization, while also building bridges between those growing our food and those eating it.

Much of the energy and enthusiasm of the Farmers Guild comes from newer and younger farmers. But their success also depends upon the contributions of the experienced farmers who attend their local Guilds and pass down knowledge, find apprentices or even discover new techniques, tools and markets. It takes the entire community to make a Guild work!

For new arrivals to the area like Kowalek, however, the value is clear: “My partner and I, having recently relocated from the UK, miss the sense of community that we shared with our local farming community. I feel that the idea of a Farmers Guild would serve as a great framework for building such a sense of community here.”

We’re thrilled by the excitement around this new Guild and are expecting a nice turn out, so come join the fun and help spread the word!  If you have questions about the new Central Coast Guild or future Guilds down the central coast, get in touch with me.

April 29th, at 6pm

Live Oak Grange Hall
1900 17th Ave, Santa Cruz 95062

Interested in learning more about the Farmers Guilds or starting one in your area? For more information on getting started and/or joining our existing Guilds in Sebastopol, Sonoma Valley, Yolo County, Mendocino, 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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