With the emergence of “shelter-in-place” directives at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, California's small-scale direct-marketing farms and agritourism operations faced drastic and immediate disruptions to operations causing major losses in revenue and layoffs for staff.
Particularly hard-hit were agritourism operators who had to cancel visitor activities, often reducing staff or not hiring for seasonal employment. On the positive side, the disruptions in food supply and mobility brought the existence and importance of local farms and ranches to the public's attention.
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service recently awarded the Farmers' Market Promotion Program 2020 grants. The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP) received $283,644 for its project "Strengthening California local food networks with agritourism and direct sales."
UC SAREP Director Gail Feenstra and Penny Leff, UC SAREP agritourism coordinator, are leading this three-year project in collaboration with a team of Cooperative Extension advisors and staff to provide education, technical assistance, promotion and networking support for farmers and ranchers throughout California who are engaged in direct marketing and agritourism activities.
The UC ANR team includes Laura Snell, UCCE Modoc County director; Luis Espino, UCCE Butte County director; Margaret Gullette Lloyd, UCCE small farms advisor in Solano County; Karen Giovannini, UCCE agriculture ombudsman in Sonoma County; and Laura Crothers, UC SAREP communication specialist. They plan to partner with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and established producer-based agriculture associations Modoc Harvest, Sonoma County Farm Trails, Sierra Oro Farm Trail in Butte County and Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association in Solano County.
Read more about the project at https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=43987.
- Author: Aubrey White
The UC ANR Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is officially open for business on the UC Davis campus. The statewide program, which renovated and moved into the Robbins Hall Annex in September 2014, recently hosted an open house and ribbon cutting to warm its new space.
UC ANR Associate Vice President Bill Frost and UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Dean Helene Dillard cut the ribbon together, and welcomed the 29-year-old program onto campus.
“Now more than ever, it is important that we maintain strong integration of our research and extension efforts,” said Dean Dillard. “Having the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program located on campus is a great opportunity to model a collaborative approach and show a tangible bridge between campus-based activities and statewide extension.”
The UC SAREP program is co-housed at UC ANR and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. UC SAREP's campus location provides opportunity for campus faculty and students to actively engage with ANR activities and continue to improve the links between researchers and community stakeholders.
Urban agriculture is one tool that has the potential to improve food security in California communities.
To better support the state's urban agriculture, a statewide assessment of urban agriculture needs was conducted by Surls, Gail Feenstra, deputy director of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP); Sheila Golden, former SAREP staff member who now works for Community Alliance with Family Farmers; Ryan Galt, professor in the Department of Human and Community Development; Shermain Hardesty, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; Cheryl Wilen, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Diego County; Claire Napawan, professor in the Department of Human Ecology; Valerie Borel, horticulture and natural resources program coordinator in Los Angeles County; Aziz Baameur, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Santa Clara County; and Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
The team conducted a survey of ANR personnel and interviewed urban farmers and policymakers.
They found that 65 percent of ANR academics and staff responding to the survey said that they had provided support, advice, technical assistance or served as a partner for urban agriculture activities within the past year.
ANR personnel said they would like to see educational materials developed specifically for urban agriculture on a number of topics, including pest management, water management, design of community projects, soil testing and remediation and tips for projects at schools.
Their study has been published in the February issue of Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, a special issue on urban agriculture.
To read the full report, you can also view it at http://ucanr.edu/sites/UrbanAg/files/188371.pdf.
Each year the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis recognizes one of our UC colleagues with the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership award. Established in 2008 through gifts from family and friends, the award seeks to provide a lasting legacy of the unique contributions Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger made through uniquely inspiring leadership in the field of agricultural sustainability. The intent of the award is to recognize and honor individuals exhibiting the leadership, work ethic, and integrity epitomized by Eric and Charlie. Awardees demonstrate leadership with a passion for service as they aim to improve the world through their contributions to agriculture.
This year, we are pleased to give the award to our Cooperative Extension colleague, Mary Bianchi, San Luis Obispo County director and horticulture farm advisor. Mary's nomination letter described her as “the ‘ultimate' farm advisor who does not hesitate to address the critical needs of her clientele, even if they require extending herself into new subject areas … She does so in the best sense of collaborative problem-solving, melding an easy-going, interpersonal style with astute professionalism that includes scientific rigor.” We couldn't agree more, and are delighted to present her with the award.
We will make the formal media announcement of the award just prior to the award ceremony. However, we want to invite Mary's colleagues and collaborators to extend their congratulations to her, both personally and through joining us in honoring Mary at our award ceremony. We would appreciate your help in spreading the word to the ANR family. Details are below.
- Bradford Rominger Award Ceremony
- Tuesday, April 15, 5 p.m.
- Beuhler Alumni and Visitor Center, UC Davis
- Keynote speaker: food activist LaDonna Redmond
More information on the event can be found here.
Thomas P. Tomich
W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems
Director, UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI)
Director, UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP)
Host, Inter-Institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability (INFAS)
Professor of Community Development, Environmental Science & Policy