Here is a summary of some of the work our office is doing during shelter in place.
Fire & Resiliency
UCCE Sonoma is building on the foundational work of other county departments such as Sonoma Water and Permit Sonoma, by providing outreach to private landowners to address forest health, vegetation management and fire fuel reduction.
Lake Sonoma Decision Support System: Development of an online geo spatial reporting tool to help landowners assess:
Match.Graze: development of an online database that connects land owners and grazers.
- Filmed educational videos
- Creating website
- Current status: roll out in early June.
Good Fire Alliance: partnership with Audubon Canyon Ranch to assist landowners in managing fire fuels through prescribed burning on private and publicly owned lands. The following prescribed fires are in the active planning stage:
- 100+ acre burn unit at Cooley Ranch near Lake Sonoma; late May.
- Sonoma Ecology Center is planning a burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve; late May - early June.
- Bodega Pastures spanning several weekends in October/November.
Resilient Landscapes: Master Gardener collaborative project to:
- Host Firewise webinars
- Develop materials for Fire Safe Sonoma's Living with Fire brochure and webpage resource.
- Post Fire Survival/Mortality: research project to develop a quick and simple post-fire tree survival reference tool to aid with triage of burned landscapes.
- Working with local fire departments to homogenize fire-resilient landscape standards.
Oak Tree Health: organized, hosted and presented:
- California Oak Workshop with science based oak health information. Over 500 participants.
- Sudden Oak Death Blitz pivoted to online, educating and distributing 93 test kits to the public.
Food Systems & Security
- “Stay Home Grow Food” series has reached over 350 people with videos plus resources via an extensive social media campaign.
- Gardener Sense program delivered by video conference to help homeowners reduce water use.
- Master Gardener's are pivoting their classes to webinars.
The value of a strong, connected local food system to sustain the resiliency of our communities has never been more clear.
Coordinating with Sonoma County Food System Alliance and strategizing for a series of video conferences on longer term emergency food response planning & strengthening the local food supply chain looking to local production & distribution as part of meeting food need.
- Meeting on March 23 with over 50 emergency food responders to strategize on coronavirus response.
- Chairing the Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) Food group. Continue to collaborate with the group to meet the needs of emergency food organizations.
- Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition
UCCE used connections to secure donations of over 12,000 wine boxes to
Redwood Empire Food Bank for boxing and distributing food.
Local Meat Supplies: Mobile Slaughter Unit (MSU)
UCCE is working with local livestock producers in Marin/Sonoma to create a business plan for an MSU which can assist local livestock producers with a local, safe option for processing livestock.
- Applying for USDA grant to assist these producers to determine the functionality of keeping it in production.
- Will develop educational and management strategies to ensure economic security for small-scale livestock producers.
Integrated Pest Management
- Collaborating with UC Davis researchers to continue projects that address soil and fungal pests that shorten the lifespan of vineyards.
Critical research on the newly detected invasive Mediterranean oak borer (pictured) found in valley oak in eastern Sonoma County. Collaborators include Cal Fire, US Forest Service, and CDFA.
4-H youth educational programs have continued to engage youth and adults with online technologies.
- Developed fact sheets to support volunteer educators in delivering online programs available at Youth Development Resources
- Short-term educational programs have been implemented reaching elementary-aged children with science and art content.
- Ongoing programming has been transitioning online focused for teens around college and career readiness (Juntos 4-H) and youth participatory action research.
Annual Sonoma 4-H Open House and ChickenQue transitioned from a full-day chicken BBQ lunch fundraiser to a radiothon.
- Partnered with local radio The Bull 93.7 to do a radiothon.
- The station promoted 4-H with interviews of staff, volunteers, and youth.
- The event also served as a public awareness campaign showcasing the program's legacy helping youth reach their full potential.
Working with local dairy and livestock producers to apply for grants from CDFA to reduce greenhouse gases:
- Alternative Manure Management Program
- Healthy Solis Program
If funded, these grants would bring over $5 million to reduce GHG by 4,154 MTeCO2
Support Local Producers
- Working with local creameries and FEED Sonoma, to develop a dairy CSA box option.
- Revisit the County Lands for Food Production program initiated by UCCE to increase the availability of county owned land to communities, farmers and ranchers.
- Find Local Food & Aid the Community
Providing information and updates.
Coronavirus Resources webpages provides information for agricultural enterprises focusing on financial resources, Ag worker safety and food safety and includes resources for where to find food from local farms and for opportunities to volunteer.
- Author: Karen Giovannini
We are pleased to share our 2019 Annual Report available in two formats! We have our print version and are excited to present our story map version!
Special thanks to Michelle Nozzari for putting together the story map version and Deborah Curle for the print version.
- Author: Julia Van Soelen Kim
Two years ago today, Sonoma County residents awoke to fire spreading through urban and wild lands across our county, a dark cloud of smoke covering the sky, and ash blanketing the ground. There continues to be much work for our community to collectively recover from the fires--most of it is hard and heavy work, whether it be emotional work, community work, economic work, environmental work. UCCE Sonoma's Produce Safety after Urban Wildfire: Citizen Science Initiative is just one small piece of that body of work.
The project sought to find out if garden and farm-grown produce exposed to ash was safe to eat, mobilized community in the days and weeks after the fire to collect leafy greens from sites across the county for later analysis, formed a unique partnership between UCCE Sonoma, Petaluma Bounty, and a passionate public health researcher, Vanessa Raditz, and ultimately led to a workshop series, a newly published scientific report, a forthcoming toolkit for other communities affected by wildfire to assess the safety of their own unique context, and a collaboration with researchers from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to investigate the safety of backyard chicken eggs in fire affected counties.
Today we honor the terrible toll of the fire on this community, and we welcome your participation in our upcoming Post-Fire Food Safety Workshop as a small piece of recovery and learning for the future. The workshop will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Environmental Center of Sonoma County, 55 Ridgway Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Refreshments will be provided. RSVP at ucanr.edu/postfirefoodsafety10.17.19
Sonoma County Fair ~ August 1 - 11, 2019
Come join us daily from 11am to 5pm at our new location on the east side of the Courtyard to answer your gardening questions!
For the first time, we will have information tables on topics ranging from succulents, food gardening, firewise landscaping, worms, bug hotels and more on August 3 & 4th and August 10th & 11th.
Stop by our demo garden or information tables and say hi!
Schedule of Talks/Demonstrations
11am – 1pm – Saving Water in the Garden Master Gardener GardenSense specialists will be in the Courtyard to talk about how to reduce your water use in the garden. You can sign up to have a team of consultants come to your home to discuss landscape options.
1pm – 3pm – All You Need to Know About Soil Come talk with Master Gardeners and learn what makes good soil for plants and how to improve bad soil. Learn the difference between compost and mulch and how to use them.
3pm – 5pm – Caterpillars Make Butterflies Master Gardener experts will talk about the magic of caterpillars and butterflies. Butterflies are losing habitat at an alarming rate. Learn what plants you should have in your garden to create better habitat for butterflies.
1pm – 3 pm – Landscaping for Fire Master Gardeners will Be in the Courtyard to provide information and answer questions on how best to prepare your landscape for potential wildfires. Learn the most important things you need to do to give yourself and your home a better chance.
3pm – 5pm - TBD
11am – 1pm – Good Bug Hotels Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to explain how to attract bees and other beneficial insects (the ones that get rid of the bad bugs!) to your garden and provide them habitat and winter quarters so they stay to help in your garden.
1pm – 3pm – Easy-to-grow Succulents Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to demonstrate how easy it is to grow succulents. There will be a grow-your-own demo for kids, too.
3pm – 5pm – Worms, Worms, Worms Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to talk about the wonders of worm composting and regular composting. Come see how easy composting can be and how good it can be for your garden. Kids of all ages are welcome! Worms will be on hand.
11am – 1pm – Food Gardening Specialists Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to discuss edible landscaping and answer all your questions about growing your own food.
1pm – 3pm - TBD
3pm – 5pm - TBD
“Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire” citizen science project
The Northern California fires of October 2017 created poor air quality and distributed toxic air contaminants over the region. Following the fires and the incredible response from local farmers, UCCE Sonoma County embarked on a “Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire” citizen science project to help answer community concerns about whether the safety of local produce might have been impacted by contaminants carried in the smoke and ash from the fire.
With the support of UCCE Sonoma, community members concerned about the impact of toxic smoke on local produce and UCCE Master Gardeners took over 200 samples of leafy greens from 25 gardens and farms across Sonoma County in the immediate aftermath of the fires; in the summer of 2018 the team took soil samples from five of the original sites sampled. Using funding from University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources Division and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, we had produce and soil samples from five sites most likely to have received deposits of toxic air contaminants from the urban wildfire tested for heavy metals, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Based on preliminary findings, we hypothesize that produce safety was not significantly affected by the fires and may be mitigated by washing produce. Preliminary analysis was inconclusive but did not indicate a high degree of contamination. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were inconclusive due to high method reporting limits from our laboratories. Heavy metals were of low concern, with no detection of lead, arsenic, or mercury. Nickel was found in 2 of 8 samples at levels exceeding Proposition 65's No Significant Risk Level but which may be mitigated by washing produce. Dioxins were of some concern with concentrations found above background levels from FDA's Dioxin Monitoring Program, but below NSRL.
- It is important to note that over long periods of time, exposure to these chemical groups at very low levels can still contribute to health impacts, including at levels below what our tests are able to detect.
- Numerous health benefits including cancer risk reduction have been attributed to green leafy vegetables. These benefits may outweigh the additional risk from trace contaminants detected in some produce in this study. Quantitative comparisons will be provided in our final report.
- Some individuals have higher risks and may want to be in communication with their healthcare provider to better understand if they should take extra precautions. Individuals at higher risk may also benefit greatly from the high nutrition in green leafy vegetables and fresh produce.
- Best practices for reducing risk include: wearing a respirator mask during poor air quality; washing produce thoroughly in running water; peeling root vegetables, testing soil regularly; containing and amending contaminated soil through sheet mulching, raised beds, and compost.
- Best practices that enhance protective factors and should also be pursued, such as increasing produce consumption to promote healthy nutrition, improve immunity, and support resilience to chemical exposures.
Over the next few months, we will be completing our final report and creating additional tools for communicating these results to concerned community members. In the Spring of 2019, we will be conducting community workshops. Reports, handouts, workshop materials, and the protocols from the study will be made publicly available for use by communities experiencing wildfire in the future./h3>/h3>/h3>