- Author: Chris M. Webb
So you’d like to plant a vegetable garden but you don’t have room at home? Or maybe you do have room at home, but would enjoy some camaraderie while you plant and harvest? Community gardens can be a great solution to either of these situations.
Ventura County has lots of opportunities for those who would like to have a plot at a community garden. On the Ventura County UCCE website we offer a guide to local gardening resources, which can be found here.
In addition to available garden plots, this resource also includes contact information for groups such as the Grow Food Party Crew and the Ventura City Corps that assist others in establishing their own gardens. The UCCE Master Gardener Speaker’s Bureau is another great resource and is available for talks to groups on a variety of subjects.
Several local food banks are a great place to take your excess harvest. The food banks in turn can quickly deliver the fresh fruits and vegetables to outlets throughout our community for those in need. Local food bank contacts are also available in this resource.
Lastly there are many places one can find locally produced compost and mulch. David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst for the County of Ventura explains the difference between compost and mulch in addition to providing details on how the products are produced. He also includes contact information to find locally produced compost and mulch -- some is free, and the costs of the others vary. Some places can even deliver directly to your home or community garden for an additional fee.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
California faces many complex challenges in the future. California must address these challenges to ensure a high quality of life, a healthy environment, and economic success for future generations.
The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resource ( UC ANR), a statewide network of UC researchers and educators dedicated to the creation, development, and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural, and human resources, recently released a Strategic Vision recognizing that California’s future depends on
- sustainable, nutritious, and safe food;
- clean, healthy, and sustainable places to live, work, and grow;
- resilient, biologically diverse, and healthy ecosystems;
- clean, secure, and sufficient supplies of water;
- cleaner and more secure energy;
- educated and engaged people; leaders prepared for and capable of making strategic decisions;
- innovative solutions and informed choices;
- economic opportunity and jobs.
The Strategic Vision identifies nine strategic initiatives as a start to address the challenges that face Californians. The following multidisciplinary, integrated initiatives represent the best opportunities for ANR’s considerable infrastructure and talent to seek new resources and new partnerships within and outside UC to find solutions for California.
The conceptual initiatives are:
1. Improve Water Quality, Quantity, and Security. Water is the life blood of California’s economy. As such, water supply and quality for agricultural, urban, and environmental systems is a critical issue facing the state over the next 20 years and beyond.
2. Enhance Competitive, Sustainable Food Systems. California agricultural competitiveness will depend upon adopting new scientific and technological innovations derived from new knowledge in agriculture and nutrition.
3. Increase Science Literacy in Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Nutrition. California is undergoing a remarkable social transformation driven by two forces that have shaped the state throughout history: dramatic demographic changes in the number, age, and diversity of the population and the impact of science and technology. Education will be a key contributor to the successful outcome of this transformation, providing the principal means of making informed decisions about complex issues.
4. Sustainable Natural Ecosystems. Population growth, coupled with climate and land use changes, are the most important issues that will affect California’s natural resources. Future urban and suburban growth is projected to shift more toward rangelands and forests.
5. Enhance the Health of Californians and California’s Agricultural Economy.
Improving the health of Californians, enhancing their quality of life, and reducing health care costs are critical to the future of California.
6. Healthy Families and Communities. The major challenge for our families, schools, and communities is to promote positive development of children, youth, and adults.
7. Ensure Safe and Secure Food Supplies. Food-borne illnesses affect one in four Americans annually, with higher rates in California. Food-borne illnesses place a burden on our health care system and reduce the productivity of our workforce. Food insecurity, which currently affects one in ten California households, places additional burdens on our health care system as poor nutrition is directly related to numerous human diseases and increased health care costs.
8. Manage Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases. Increases in the number and kinds of pests and diseases may negatively impact California agriculture, natural resources productivity, and ecosystem functions, affecting Californians’ quality of life.
9. Improve Energy Security and Green Technologies. California faces diminishing and more costly supplies of energy, which can be addressed in part by California’s vast agricultural and natural resource base.
The Ventura County UCCE office is already working on several of these initiatives that are within our area of expertise. Throughout the state, many other dedicated scientists, researchers, and program representatives are also working hard today for the future.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
Did you know that the Ventura County UCCE office has an advisor that works with local commercial fishermen? Her name is Carrie Culver, and she would like you to know our area is one of the top producing regions on the west coast!
The Santa Barbara Channel includes three ports in Ventura County and one in Santa Barbara County. The region is defined here as the ocean waters south of Point Conception to just south of Point Mugu, as well as the waters surrounding the four northern Channel Islands. This region is a unique place for California fisheries because it is the transition zone where both southern and northern species occur and there are natural conditions that typically provide an abundance of food for the fish.
So what are the top species caught by our local commercial fishermen? Halibut, rockfish, tuna, white seabass, squid, lobster, crab, sea urchin, and shrimp top the list. In addition abalone, oysters and mussels are locally farmed or cultured.
Research shows that including seafood in our diet is good for our health. If you enjoy eating seafood, please do what you can to support local fishermen by visiting fishermen’s market, or ask for it at stores and restaurants.
Great recipes, storage and handling information and much more can be found at these sites.
Additional information about local fisheries, including availability, can be found in our Fish on Your Dish publication. Written by kids and for kids, there is much inside for all of us to learn.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
Agritourism has been gaining momentum as a way to increase revenue on farms and ranches. It is anticipated that agritourism will continue to grow as people continue to search for ways to connect with nature and learn more about our food systems.
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (UC ANR) has some great resources to help navigate the process – and two of the three are free!
Read below for a description of the free publications:
Agritourism can be a great boon to the California grower, but you have to be aware of your legal responsibilities, get your permits, and follow the rules regarding land use, zoning, public health, and other areas. This gives you a brief overview. (8 pages)
This publication gives you a game plan for navigating the maze of permits, plans, and approvals you will need to get in order before you launch a potentially profitable agritourism enterprise on your California farm or ranch. (6 pages)
If after reviewing the free publications you are interested in finding out more, UC ANR has a priced publication, Agritourism and Nature Tourism in California, which provides more in depth information.
The chapters include:
- Evaluating Your Resources: Is Tourism for You?
- Creating Your Business Plan
- Navigating Legal Constraints
- Developing Your Risk-Management Plan
- Forming Your Marketing Strategy
- Resources for Success
- Planning Farm Visits for Children
To find out more about the book, please visit http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/SmallFarms/3484.aspx. By clicking on the “search in this book link”, provided by Google, you can get a feel if the publication is right for you and your operation before purchasing. The book can also be viewed and studied for free at your local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office. To be safe, call first and make sure it is available before driving to the office.
If you decide to purchase this great resource, purchase online and save 10%. Use promotion code PRVEN56 at check out to receive the discount. In addition to saving you money, a portion of the proceeds will benefit local programs!
- Author: Chris M. Webb
Ventura County University of California Cooperative Extension’s (UCCE) Ben Faber is one of 62 people evaluating proposals for the United States Dep artment of Agriculture’s (USDA) "Farmers Market Promotion Program" (FMPP). This exciting program is implemented through a competitive grants process through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
Approximately $5 million is allocated for FMPP for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 and $10 million for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. The maximum amount awarded for any one proposal cannot exceed $100,000.
The grants, authorized by the FMPP, are targeted to help improve and expand domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. More specifically the program is designed to help farmers markets promote and improve their services through grower/consumer education, advertising and supply purchases.
Entities eligible to apply include agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities and Tribal governments.
Follow this link to find additional information about the program, including projects funded in earlier years at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/fmpp.
Related information, including marketing resources, can be found at the University of California’s Small Farm Center at http://www.sfc.ucdavis.edu/default.asp.