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Notes from the Editor

Each year, spring brings a blanket of green over Marin County, and livestock can be seen enjoying the lush grass. Usually at this time of year, farmers and ranchers proudly admire the green growth of their fields and contemplate when they will harvest it for silage or hay—their livestock’s primary food source over the dry months. But this year is very different. We stand amidst a severe drought that has strained farmers and ranchers in Marin County and across the State. With the delay in this year’s rain, fields have just begun to grow and farmers have had to supplement their livestock’s feed and water for months, accruing expenses far beyond the norm.

This is one of those perfect storms (just without the rain) that make us stop, think, and worry. What will happen to our Marin County farmers? How will their businesses survive? What goes through their mind every morning as they rise with no certainties and no easy solutions?

UC Cooperative Extension Marin co-hosted a drought meeting in partnership with Marin Agricultural Department, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Marin Organic, and Marin Resource Conservation District on February 18th in Point Reyes Station.  Presenters focused on actions that livestock producers can take to help mitigate the short-term and long-term impacts of drought on their operations. Additional resources on drought are available online.

And for our readers, we ask that you pause for a moment to appreciate the perseverance, ingenuity, and initiative of Marin County farmers and ranchers and read more about their daily work and their vision for the future. Learn about sixth generation Marin County rancher, Marissa Thornton, and the important role of “herd managers” in Marin County dairies. Read about Cooper’s Public Market, a showcase for local products, and meet the newest addition to our UC Cooperative Extension team, Paulette Swallow, our new Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator and North Bay native, with a wealth of knowledge about local agriculture. It’s no accident that this issue highlights some of our next generation farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs in Marin County, each contributing to building our local food system.