The Grown In Marin program and partners, with leadership from Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator Paulette Swallow, delivered a three-part workshop series on the importance of ranch succession planning. The series started off with guest speaker Bill Stuart, a UC Berkley Extension Specialist who delivered an interactive workshop program entitled “Ties to The Land.” The program differentiated between an estate plan and a business succession plan and featured exercises for participants to establish family goals for their properties and farming businesses. The second installment was Led by David Pratt of Ranch Management Consultants. His session was entitled “Hard Work and Harmony: Effective Relationships in Family Business” and “Someday this will be yours…or not." This presentation provided insights on personal dynamics between family members that can be difficult to understand and work through. The final installment was a panel discussion consisting of the following speakers: Richard Abbey, Estate Lawyer and Mediator; Henry Fronebeger, Estate Lawyer; Ted Stephens, Financial Planner; and Jamison Watts, Executive Director Marin Agricultural Land Trust. Each panellist presented the ways their specific service facilitates setting up needed plans and documents to hand off family farm businesses. Workshop series resources are available online.
Urban agriculture has a new go-to information source
Growing fruits and vegetables, raising bees and chickens, and other farming practices have been on the rise in the urban setting. A new online resource is up and running to support the city farmers doing the work and their community allies. Julia Van Soelen Kim, North Bay Food Systems Advisor, collaborated with colleagues to bring the Urban Agriculture website to life. The website puts information for the urban farmer in one place, including resources from business planning to food safety to zoning and regulations.
Marin's many community & school gardens are now on the map
Community and school gardens in Marin County continue to grow from 89 gardens in 2010, to 115 gardens in 2015! ‘Community Gardens’ are lands where people come together to garden. Lauren Klein, UCCE Community Garden Program Coordinator, worked with the community garden network to map Marin’s existing and potential community gardens. This is already proving to be a useful resource to connect garden managers and make plans for future gardens. Check out the interactive Marin Gardens Map to locate a garden -- and let us know of any gardens that are missing!
Another business option for Marin’s agricultural producers, reducing the number and complexity of contacts and transactions is to produce and sell products through wholesale markets. While not for everyone, particularly those that want the direct relationships with consumers, this option is the preferred route for many local institutions like restaurants and schools. It is a strategic complement to the wonderful direct marketing opportunities of Marin’s farmers markets and other direct sales contracts growers have. Marin and North Bay farmers participated in a tour of the San Francisco Bay Wholesale Market to learn more about how wholesale markets work. Organized by UCCE North Bay Food Systems Advisor, Julia Van Soelen Kim, the tour gave farmers the opportunity to talk directly with buyers. “I think the thing that’s most helpful is the direct conversation with buyers. It sort of demystifies what it takes to go and access new markets,” said Thomas Nelson, sustainable supply chain project analyst for the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (read more).
Bay Area pastures can be for pigs
Stephanie Larson, UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor, has partnered with other UCCE Colleagues and the Alameda Resource Conservation District to publish a resource guide for outdoor and grass-based swine production. This multi-fact sheet series provides farmers and ranchers with needed information on economic opportunities, environmental stewardship needs, and forage and pasture rotation. Already this information is helping bay area ranchers to grow their niche in this locally and pasture based endeavor. You can access the factsheets online.
Developing options for invasive weed management
Marin ranchers are leaders in pastured based livestock agriculture. Critical to their success are management measures to halt the spread of invasive weeds that reduce pasture productivity and impact the integrity of grasslands. UC Davis Weed Specialists Dr. Joe DiTomaso and Guy Guyser, and David Lewis, UCCE Watershed Management Advisor, implemented trials for controlling purple star and woolly distaff thistle with conventional and organic methods. The good news is that mowing followed with an organic herbicide application significantly controlled woolly distaff. This organic option, for certified ranches dealing with this difficult weed and striving to maintain their certification, has been shared during field days.