UCCE teaching the next generation of farmers

Mar 2, 2012

A scenic Sonoma County farm.
A scenic Sonoma County farm.
Students accepted into a new farming and ranching education program being offered by UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County and other institutions will have their first of nine monthly meetings March 30, wrote Michael Shufro in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

“We recognize that the current population of farmers is aging, and that we need to get our younger farmers prepared and ranching,” said Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sonoma County and director of the new training program. “We’re really hoping to not only get more farmers and ranchers trained, but to increase food access and food production in Sonoma County, and also to teach more people about where their food comes from.”

Students in the program will split their time between classwork with ag teachers, field work with local farmers and business plan development with small business experts. The program will expand to include the broader farming community, connecting students with restaurants and grocers that buy local produce and the slew of farmers’ markets around the county.

“Programs like this strengthen the parts we already have and bring farmers together,” Larson said. “We used to work mainly in silos, but we’ve been breaking those silos down, and finding it works much better together than separately.”

Another blessing for Napa
Paul Franson, Napa Valley Register

On top of wine, food, arts and culture that some large cities might envy, Napa Valley has an invaluable, little-recognized asset: an uncommonly cooperative and educated wine industry.

Napa Valley Grapegrowers Association, UC Cooperative Extension advisors like Monica Cooper and Ag Commissioner Dave Whitmer, plus other groups like the Resource Conservation Service, keep growers and wineries very well informed on many issues.

As Deborah Golino, the respected head of the Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, which rids vines of diseases so they can be safely propagated, said at a meeting organized by UC Cooperative Extension and other agencies, “This room (it was filled to overflowing with growers) is one of the most sophisticated grape-growing groups in the state.”

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist