UC ANR meets new stakeholders at EcoFarm conference
Farmers, financiers, people from government agencies and nonprofit organizations who work with UC Cooperative Extension advisors, as well as beginning farmers seeking to contact their local UCCE advisors visited the UC ANR exhibit at the EcoFarm Conference Jan. 24-27 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove.
Marketing assistant Tyler Ash apprised visitors perusing the racks of UC ANR publications of the resources available in their home counties and online.
Nearby, Alda Pires, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, and Ph.D. candidate Laura Patterson had their own booth to meet people raising small livestock and discuss their research projects. Patterson is studying pigs raised outdoors and Pires studies farming systems using raw manure as fertilizer.
“Sow Good” was the theme of the 38th annual EcoFarm Conference, which focused on regenerative agriculture.
Outside the exhibit tent, breakout sessions enlightened participants on dozens of topics from soil health to organic production practices to marketing. Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Yolo County, was one of three panelists discussing the benefits of hedgerows. Because hedgerows provide habitat for beneficial insects, fewer insecticide sprays are needed for adjacent tomato fields, according to her study. Long said the hedgerows saved growers $260 per field per year.
For backyard gardeners and urban growers, Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture advisor in the Bay Area, gave a talk on improving soil quality for growing food in urban areas. Before planting food crops in an urban plot, Bennaton advised the audience members to test the soil for contaminants such as lead, arsenic, chromium and mercury and to map where they sample the soil.
After listening to participants in one session discuss the efficacy of cats for rodent control – orange tabby cats were deemed most effective – one attendee remarked that meeting new people at events such as EcoFarm helps reveal opportunities for UC ANR outreach.