- Author: Karen Giovannini
2014 Annual Report letter from Stephanie Larson, County Director and Livestock & Range Management Advisor:
As we move into the next 100 years of Cooperative Extension, we continue to value the public/ private partnerships that have been the foundation of our organization, raising the bar by supporting the County of Sonoma Initiatives on local agriculture and healthy communities. UCCE advisors are critical partners with local farmers and ranchers, providing scientific-based information on techniques that can be used to increase production and thus increase economic stability, while addressing environmental concerns.
This past year, UCCE conducted research and provided educational programs to help commercial row crop farmers and livestock producers in Sonoma County deal with drought and climate change. Our frost tower research in vineyards evaluated methods for making the most of local water resources through increased irrigation efficiency. Water conservation programs are also focused on the urban gardener, partnering with the Sonoma County Water Agency to educate the public on how to use less water; and with the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District to develop an evaluation tool for documenting ecosystem services that have been maintained or increased through implementing conservation easements and proper rangeland management.
We partnered with other county departments to increase access to healthy, local, sustainable food. One outcome was the County Land for Food Production (CLFP) project; which allowed UCCE to work on creating an incubator farm on county land. These efforts are aimed at increasing access to land for food production, and the number of farmers and ranchers growing local food, respectively. The goals align with the Sonoma County Healthy and Sustainable Food Action Plan. Our Agricultural Ombudsman played a critical role in assisting individuals who want to create or expand their farming and ranching enterprises, and is currently working with PRMD to address local poultry processing.
Learn about these programs and more in our 2014 Annual Report.
- Author: Linda Peterson
This is Sonoma County UCCE's third and final year managing the USDA funded Agropreneur training program (Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program, BFRDP). Before class even started, we were able to invite three of our students, who are veterans, to a film screening in Berkeley, called “Battlefields to Farmfields”; about veterans taking up farming. Ground Operations made the film, and the event was hosted by the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC). It was an amazing and quite moving film; with a panel of veterans, filmmaker and FVC Executive Director – Michael O'Gorman. Our students were able to attend thanks to O'Gorman's generosity, and had an opportunity meet and talk with him.
The first week in June, we took two more students, who have experience in swine production, on a road trip to Magruder Ranch in Mendocino County to learn about pastured pig, lamb and grass fed beef operations. Grace Magruder, fifth generation rancher who came home to the farm, was our host and shared their land management strategies; how they encourage native grasses and let the land rest as needed, using pasture rotation. We had lunch in their beautiful historic home, with a breeze blowing through the screened in porch, and chatted with Mac Magruder, Grace, and her husband Kyle. Wonderful conversations flowed up and down the dining table, as people shared the challenges and joys of ranching.
The first “official” day of class was on June 6th. This is a nine week race to the finish to complete a business plan. As we've done the past two years, we offer opportunities to visit farms and ranches; grow specialty crops at Shone Farm, with support from our graduates from 2012 and 2013; partner with SBDC counselors to develop and hone their business plans; connect with a broad range of resources, including organic certifiers, lenders, marketers, ag tourism experts, SBDC counselors and more.
Each year, people come to us with their vision, determination, and the hope that they can manifest a sustainable Ag business. Their interests range widely, including hydroponics (fish), medicinal herbs, pigs, chickens, beef cattle, goats, value-added products, mushrooms, row crops, agri-tourism, and bees.
Let us know if you want to come for a visit! Our classes are every Friday, through August 8th, except for July 4th.
Linda Peterson, BFRDP Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
- Author: Linda Peterson
- KRCB –North Bay Report Danielle Venton interviewed graduate Vince Trotter and Linda Peterson. This short piece is a quick way to learn about the program.
- KSVY –March 7 podcast with local farmer/radio host, Andrea Davis Cetina. The podcast provides an in-depth look at the program.
- KBBF interview on “Women's Voices” – Amy Contardi interviewed Linda Peterson, Program Coordinator, and Fabiola Espinosa – Latino Service Providers/partner.
We were fortunate to have funding through our USDA grant to produce a video to help promote the program with Santa Rosa Junior College
- Author: Karen Giovannini
If you're an aspiring/beginning farmer or rancher with at least one year or more of experience under your belt, and want to learn how to take your operation to the next level - increasing your farming/ranching knowledge, connecting with experienced farmers/ranchers (Masters), receiving hands-on education, and creating crop, grazing and business plans, please apply for this year's program!