- Author: Mimi M Enright
Air quality in Sonoma County has been significantly impacted by the fires that spread through the region. The full scope of the air contamination is still unknown, but likely includes high concentrations of likely carcinogens including heavy metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
There is limited research on the impact of smoke from a wildfire in a wildland urban interface on produce safety. UCCE Sonoma is partnering with Vanessa Raditz, who was working with community organizations on emergency food relief during the crisis, to develop a Citizen Science project to assess the impact of the air pollution from the wildfire on produce. During the crisis Vanessa, who has a Master's degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley, began quickly developing a partnership with members of the community and UCCE Sonoma to gather samples and seek funding for testing and education on this topic.
Master Gardeners and other concerned community members were trained to collect samples from local farms and gardens of washed and unwashed produce, each in triplicate, to determine if contaminants can be easily washed off produce, or whether it has been taken up in plant tissue. Volunteers focused on kale, collards, chard, and lettuce, as these leaves are directly exposed to air pollution. Vanessa scheduled volunteer training at Bayer Farm, Harvest for the Hungry and Petaluma Bounty, and samples were taken from 10/19-22. Time was of the essence to gather samples which are all being frozen. Now we turn to find partners to find funding for the testing and develop an educational outreach program when results are received.
Visit Disaster Recovery to learn more.
For the turkey, you have a variety of options available from free range heritage breeds to conventionally raised. You can pick up your fresh local vegetables and fruits and crunchy breads at farmers markets and local markets or visit the farms and don't forget to pick up some tasty cheeses and butter along the way. Purchase some extra squash for table decorations. How about some fresh squeezed local juices, too. And don't forget the wine!
If you are fortunate enough to live in or have the opportunity to visit and shop in Sonoma County, visit the Farm Trails site to Find Our Farms & Produce by Criteria and California Cheese Trail. Both include maps and Farm Trails site lets you search by a variety of criterion including product type, region, method and more.
It is entirely possible to create a traditional, or un-traditional, Thanksgiving dinner using all local products (well, except the cranberries). Fresher products, reduced carbon footprint and supporting our agricultural heritage are just a few of the benefits of locally sourcing your meals. Your taste buds will thank you.
Happy Thanksgiving from UCCE Sonoma County!
If you have a backyard garden, you know that there are times that everything seems to ripen at once. Or perhaps you enjoy produce gardening, but grow far more than you plan on consuming. What can you do with that excess FOOD? Don't let it go to WASTE!
Last year, the Sonoma County departments of Agricultural Commissioner, Department of Health Services, Information Systems Department and UCCE Sonoma County worked together to create and roll out the Approved Produce Gardener Certificate (APGC). This FREE certification program allows backyard produce growers who follow the required best practices to donate or sell their produce as an approved source grower.
Visit Approved Produce Gardener Certificate, review the FAQ's then complete the annual registration form.
- Enter the responsible party name(s)
- Enter the garden location(s)
- Agree to follow each of the best management practices
- List all of the produce expected to grow in the next year
- The certificate is good for one year from the date of completion
- The certificate lists all the produce entered in step 3
- A copy of the certificate is emailed to the user
- Provide a copy of the certificate to entities that require produce from an approved source.
In order for schools to use the produce grown in their gardens, the garden must have an Approved Produce Gardener Certificate.
When is APGC not required?
If the garden is certified organic or is registered with the Agricultural Commissioner with a Certified Producer Certificate (for sales at Certified Farmers Markets) or Operator Identification Number (for pesticide use), they do not need to complete the APGC. They will need to provide proof of certification to the entity that requires produce from an approved source.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org/h2>/h2>/h2>
Farming produce is allowed in most zones throughout the County without any permits, however depending on what you want to do with the produce, you may need a permit or two. And you always want to practice California Small Farm Food Safety Guidelines.
- Visit Produce Farm Marketing to answer such questions as:
- What can I sell from a farm stand on my property?
- How can I sell produce at the Farmers Market?
- How do I become Organic Certified?
- And more!