Making a difference, one project at a time
Vince Trotter, Agricultural Ombudsman, worked with 16 farms and ranches on a variety of projects including egg labeling, barn construction, pond permitting, meat processing and on-farm sales. As a neutral resource to help producers understand and navigate the rules that affect their operations, the Ag Ombudsman sometimes has the opportunity to work with rule-makers in conversations about new and existing rules that impact our agricultural community. This was the case in 2017 with county efforts to open pathways for on-farm meat processing, amend the Local Coastal Program, and examine how agricultural worker housing is permitted and built.
Local food grown safely
The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act is now the law-of-the-land regarding measures and practices farmers must take to reduce the risk of food borne illness in agricultural products. In 2016, Julia Van Soelen Kim, Food System Advisor, Paulette Swallow, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, and Vince Trotter, Agricultural Ombudsman delivered a four-part training program to support Marin farmers in this priority. This year our team, in partnership with Community Alliance with Family Farms, provided more than 10 one-on-one farm visits to assist farmers with continued implementation of practices to grow and deliver safe and healthy food.
Pasture-raised egg production has increased by more than 300 percent in Marin County over the last nine years. For Marin farmers and ranchers that are stepping into this niche, the addition of pastured hens has been instrumental to their bottom line and a healthy treat for farm fresh egg lovers. Now the opportunity is available to further diversify into pasture raised poultry for meat. Working with the Community Development Agency and area agricultural community partners, our Sustainable Agriculture team provided analysis and understanding for the inclusion of on-farm poultry processing for commercial sale. This small-scale option, in agreement with food safety, animal welfare, and environmental regulations, was approved as a Marin County Development Code Amendment in March 2017 and will lead to increased viability of local pastured poultry operations.
Grazing methods for healthy soils and native grasslands
Livestock grazing can effectively reduce the biomass, height, and thatch accumulation produced by non-native annual plants. Accordingly, it has become an essential tool for managing our local grasslands. Stephanie Larson, UCCE Livestock and Range Management Advisor, worked with Marin County producers to assess and implement grazing management practices, which can maintain and enhance habitat for many native grassland plants and animals. Additionally, soil health assessment workshops were held to demonstrate tools to producers that can be used on Marin County pastures and rangelands to improve forage production and soil health while also addressing climate change issues.
“I was able to get my on site bottling facility approved for my olive oil. I wanted to thank you for all the information you sent me along the way. I used it like a playbook!”
“Thank you so much for all the time you took to plan, organize and successfully present the Ranching in the Park education series.”