ANR Employees
University of California
ANR Employees

2014 New Call for Positions

2014 URS Call for Positions

This proposal has been formally submitted for the 2014 cycle.

Position Details

059 Small Farms Advisor Sonoma Napa Marin

Proposed Location/Housing

Sonoma County

Proposed Area of Coverage

Sonoma, Napa, and Marin

Contacts

Associated Documents

Comments

14 Comments

1

I feel the position of Small Farms Advisor is extremely important in our region of Sonoma, Marin, and Napa Counties because we must continue to find an alternative for the mono-culture of the grape industry. Grapes are a well-researched and plentiful agricultural product with a much-desired outcome in the tasty wines that are produced from the region. But enough is enough!

The Small Farms Advisor will be able to help new and smaller farmers develop crops that are valuable and desired and can be grown in our area.

I have been farming a small holding for about 20 years. While I did not use the personal services of our Small Farms Advisor at that time, I did study the outcomes of his research, his crop recommendations and his methodologies in all the publications provided. I took all the information available, and, along with my own goals and desires, came up with a crop mix for my farm that was suitable for my area, my abilities and my lifestyle. Most of the things I grow are ‘specialty crops’ and not so much ‘commodity’ crops. All are sold at local farmer’s markets.

I would hope that the Small Farms Advisor position would be funded in Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties so that farmers, old and new, can continue to learn about the diversity of crops that can be grown in our area and so that the Small Farms Advisor can continue to share the knowledge they develop with those farmers, old and new, who may be considering their next move in agriculture and how to support themselves from their land.

Additionally, I supply local chefs with fresh, growing microgreens. One of them is working to develop a school garden in a low-income area of Marin County. He and his small team are feeling frustrated because of the (seeming) lack of information available to them. I recommended that the UCANR and UCCE offices in Marin might be useful to them. I think this is another area where the Small Farm Advisor could be useful. Helping advise people willing to work on teaching kids about healthy food --- maybe even helping them to source buyers for some of their product – a specialty product, perhaps, along with the teaching garden, to help support the garden financially.

Shelley Arrowsmith
Arrowsmith Farms
Sonoma, CA 95476

Posted Jul 8, 2014 9:24 PM by shelley arrowsmith
2
I own and operate an 22 acre organic/specialty row crop farm in Bolinas and have worked in organic/specialty agriculture in Marin County for 26 years. So much of the evolution and, in effect, reinvention of our local, community scale agriculture has been a long process of individual trial and error. Many of the success stories and innovative ideas move through the farming community at a snail's pace via word of mouth. While we live just down the road, we are independent and often too busy to socialize and share ideas.

A local farm advisor focused upon the multitude of small, diverse operations is essential. This one person with his/her hand on the pulse is a crucial link the makes the difference between a scattering of independent farmers across the land, and an inter connected community of farmers. The success and failure of small farms has a delicate, low tipping point. An active small farm advisor insures that market trends, solutions to disease problems, and farm innovations are immediately shared and able to benefit all local producers.

Consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area are eager to buy high quality local foods. As the demand is constant, I frequently turn away restaurants, stores, and offers to join local farmers markets. My produce has long been sold-out to existing accounts. We need to bring more local food to market to meet this demand. A small farm advisor is a major facilitator in guiding new farmers as they get established. My neighbors, The Mann Family, established their farm 3 years ago and were struggling to figure out what to produce. A temporary advisor(similar to the job proposed) from UCCE/County of Marin was instrumental in providing the Manns with the range of small farm opportunities and examples of success in the region. Today they raise heritage sheep, cattle and produce eggs. All of which is marketed right here in Bolinas and is now a cherished food resource in our community.

I am hopeful that local farmers in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa are blessed with an advisor soon.
Peter Martinelli
Posted Jul 9, 2014 10:02 AM by Peter Martinelli
3
Hello, I am a Consultant for the Community Activity & Nutrition Coalition of Sonoma County. I've been working with the Healthy Food Outlet Project for 7 years. One of the emerging and large issues we have is how to connect local markets of all sizes with local farmers and products. This has proven to be a very challenging issue, even with the formation of the Healthy Eating Action Team and the Food System Alliance. Sonoma County would greatly benefit from having a person dedicated to connecting stores (and even schools and other partners) with local farmers. We don't have someone that can really help nurture those relationships. I fully support this position, and I can guarantee that this person would have no problem connecting with others trying to come up with solutions. Thank you.
Posted Jul 11, 2014 2:57 PM by Laurie Hiatt
4
I am a member of the Community Activity & Nutrition Coalition of Sonoma County, and of our local Food System Alliance. Both of these coalitions are working to improve the food system by increasing access to local and healthy food for all. One of the challenges we face is how to connect local markets of all sizes with local farmers and products. Sonoma County would greatly benefit from having a person dedicated to connecting stores (and even schools and other partners) with local farmers. I fully support this position, as we need a person who is dedicated to strengthening current connections and collaborations in this effort. Thank you.
Posted Jul 14, 2014 1:17 PM by Shan Magnuson
5
The desire to buy local, sustainably grown and organic specialty row crops has fueled the evolution of small scale farming. There is great need for central information regarding market trends, disease problems, farming innovations, product selection, organic understanding, small scale expertise and packaging and marketing advice. These small scale farmers are very busy growing their crops and have difficulty finding the time to share their information with others. A Small Farms Adviser would be able to connect growers with local markets of all sizes as well as offer education to and between farmers.

Sam Dolcini, President
Marin County Farm Bureau
Posted Jul 15, 2014 3:53 PM by Marin County Farm Bureau
6
A Small Farm Advisor to serve Marin, Sonoma and Napa is an essential position needed to encourage and support small scale agriculture in the region. While our farmers markets provide an important marketing outlet for many small scale producers to be economically viable, the need for advice on crop selection, growing practices, diversification and water issues, for example, is great. In order to create and support a sustainable, local and diversified food system in our region, ongoing technical advice is needed. UC has specific tools, knowledge of farming practices, and expertise to offer new and beginning farmers, as well as those who have been farming for some time. A Small Farm Advisor would bring this information directly to small producers to improve their outcomes.
Posted Jul 17, 2014 1:46 PM by Leah Smith
7
A Small Farm Advisor, who serves Marin, Sonoma and Napa, is an essential position needed to encourage and support small scale agriculture in the region. While our farmers markets provide an important marketing outlet for many small scale producers to be economically viable, the need for advice on crop selection, growing practices, diversification and water issues, for example, is great. In order to create and support a sustainable, local and diversified food system in our region, ongoing technical advice is needed. UC has specific tools, knowledge of farming practices, and expertise to offer new and beginning farmers, as well as those who have been farming for some time. A Small Farm Advisor would bring this information directly to small producers to improve their outcomes.
Leah Smith, Director of Programs
Agricultural Institute of Marin
Posted Jul 17, 2014 1:47 PM by Leah Smith
8
For generations, Napa County has acknowledged the value of agriculture as the highest and best purpose for land. This philosophy is evident in the rural, agricultural nature that our county has retained despite urban growth in surrounding areas. Napa County has a strong commitment to agriculture and agricultural producers, and local policy and laws protect agricultural resources such as land and water. Within Napa County, wine grapes represent the vast majority of agricultural production. In 2013, wine grapes represented 99.1% of total agricultural products. With less than one percent of agriculture devoted to products other than grapes, we find a growing need to support small farmers who produce products other than grapes. The need for locally raised farm products available at affordable prices is evident. Local farmers markets provide an avenue for many, but not all, to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and other products. However, due to limited availability, prices are out of reach to many in our community. Napa has land and resources that could support a more diverse agricultural economy that would benefit all residents and provide greater food security. As local agricultural production becomes more diverse within Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties, quality produce at prices affordable to more people should become available. Given the benefits across all of our local communities, Napa County supports the inclusion of a Small Farm Advisor for Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties within the UC ANR programs.
Posted Jul 18, 2014 10:19 AM by Nancy Watt, County Executive Officer, County of Napa
9
As a young farmer, and as an agricultural organizer of new and young farmers across Northern California, I see the strong need for support among those embarking upon the challenging and yet vital role of agriculture in our community. There are many great organizations already serving farmers in our region, but to have an experienced, knowledgable full-time position dedicated solely to assisting those growing on a small, local scale would hugely improve the effectiveness of their work.

The tools, information and resources required to succeed in farming today are often hard to come by, and remaining competitive within a conglomerating market proves difficult for those new to farming, especially for those starting out lacking land, capital or family networks. For them in particular, a Small Farms Advisor could make a huge difference, empowering a new generation to grow our local economy and provide our community with healthy food.

If the Small Farms Advisor works collaboratively with existing organizations, I believe that the prospects for the future of agriculture in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties would increase, promoting safer, stronger, and more equitable communities. Our organization works with hundreds of farmers--both established and aspiring--from all three counties, and I personally see the struggle these young entrepreneurs face when working to build their livelihoods. With so many obstacles in any given season, the reliable and in-depth support of a Small Farms Advisor would not only increase their chances of success, but strengthen our mission as an organization.

-Evan Wiig
The Farmers Guild, Executive Director
Sonoma County Food Systems Alliance, Member
Sebastopol Grange, Board
Posted Jul 18, 2014 12:55 PM by Evan Wiig
10
I'm writing in strong support of a Small Farms Advisor who would serve Sonoma and surrounding counties. For 15 years I've been involved with Santa Rosa Jr. College's Shone Farm, first as staff coordinating the educational market garden, then as Adjunct Faculty with the Sustainable Ag Program. Although the educational opportunities offered by this Ag Department and at Shone Farm are outstanding, there are needs for both much more information to be disseminated and other ways of reaching farmers and would-be farmers. Class attendance and interest in student work at Shone Farm have increased dramatically in recent years. Class offerings are increasing, but there are many subjects that are not covered. And I speak with people often who would love to take a class but cannot.

In addition, I serve as Vice president of the North Coast Chapter of Community Alliance with Family Farmers. We have been hosting on-farm workshops to help meet the need for technical information on topics like irrigation efficiency for specialty crops, packing and post harvest handling and on-farm composting. We have a long list of other topics that farmers have expressed interest in, but as volunteers, have very limited capacity.

It would be wonderful to be able to partner with a local Small Farm Advisor to help boost our region's agricultural diversity, productivity and food security.
Posted Jul 20, 2014 9:28 PM by Wendy Krupnick
11
The California Rangeland Conservation Coalition (Rangeland Coalition) would like to express support for the Small Farms Advisor position for Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties.

The Rangeland Coalition is an unprecedented group of ranchers, environmental organizations, scientists and government agencies who are major California rangeland stakeholders. Together, signatories strive to enhance and preserve private working landscapes. We feel strongly a need for this position to support small farmers and ranchers. Working landscapes California are not only producing food and fiber but also provide multiple environmental benefits such as wildlife habitat, open space, recreation and others.

Rangeland Coalition signatories are confident that this position would provide the expertise required to allow support farmers and ranchers diversify their income, support local food systems and increase the viability of working landscapes in California.


Sincerely,

Pelayo Alvarez
Conservation Program Director
Posted Jul 21, 2014 10:12 AM by Pelayo Alvarez
12
We have been specialty farmers in Sonoma County for over 30 years and have had many interns. Corps in included fruit trees, vegetable and flower seeds, vegetables, chestnuts and grain. Farm Advisor Paul Vossen was a great help in getting us started and along the way. Currently we have leased our farm to 2 farmers, one is a young couple who are farming our orchard and raising vegetables, There are many like them wanting to start farms that we have met through CAFF and the Farmer's Guild. This position will be a great help to these starting farmers to help them succeed.

Terry and Carolyn Harrison
Posted Jul 21, 2014 2:40 PM by Terry Harrison & Carolyn Harrison
13
I am happy to have the opportunity to show my support for a Small Farms Advisor within the UC Cooperative Extension. As you may know, the Napa County Board of Supervisors has appointed a 15-person Napa County Local Food Advisory Council (NCLFAC). The Council’s mission is “to help achieve a more sustainable local food system in Napa County” and have identified the goals of providing advice to the Board on the following critical areas:
• Community education on healthy eating and local food choices;
• Promoting an increase in local food production and distribution; and
• Increasing consumer access to fresh local agricultural products.

There is already tremendous momentum in the local food movement as we to strive to help emerging farmers and existing small farms, on a local and regional level. We are already engaged in some of these regional efforts to collaborate and partner on strengthening the North Bay food system by leveraging the many things already going on. The position assignment area has a $1.3 billion annual agricultural production value. The area is characterized by approximately 5,700 family farms that raise livestock and/or dairy, or grow tree and row crops. These operations are underpinned with off-farm incomes and include small-scale, semi-urban farms close to the S.F. Bay Area.

A Small Farms Advisor would link emerging farmers and those participating in direct marketing channels such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmer’s markets, institutional purchasers, grocery stores and farm-to-school program with the tools needed to develop opportunities for innovation and adaption of niche production and marketing, resource sustainability, and appropriate-scale equipment and technology.

As small family farms continue to grow and agriculture becomes more diversified in Napa County, there will be a dire need for a Small Farm Advisor to serve Napa, Sonoma, and Marin Counties. The Advisor, working with the Local Food Systems Advisor across all three counties, will provide the necessary conduit of small-scale agriculture production in the local food systems.

For these reasons, I highly support the addition of a Small Farms Advisor position for Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties within the UC ANR programs.
Posted Jul 21, 2014 5:02 PM by Gregory Clark, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures
14
I strongly support the creation of a Small Farms Advisor position. For 41 years, Sonoma County Farm Trails' membership has been comprised almost entirely of small, family farmers who benefit from our dedicated marketing efforts to connect the public with their producers. We recognize the educational value of UCCE extension programs, as well as other resources such as CAFF, and we believe that our farming community would benefit from additional, complementary technical support. Small scale farmers and gardeners are essential to a sustainable and thriving food system, and we hope that the funding of this position would further encourage and assist the next generation of farmers.
~ Carmen Snyder, Executive Director, Sonoma County Farm Trails
Posted Jul 21, 2014 5:11 PM by Carmen Snyder

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