ANR Employees
University of California
ANR Employees

UC SAREP receives USDA grant to strengthen local food networks

Pre-pandemic, Farmer Al sells products to visitors at Frog Hollow Farms. Agritourism operations have faced drastic business disruptions.

With the emergence of “shelter-in-place” directives at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, California's small-scale direct-marketing farms and agritourism operations faced drastic and immediate disruptions to operations causing major losses in revenue and layoffs for staff.

Particularly hard-hit were agritourism operators who had to cancel visitor activities, often reducing staff or not hiring for seasonal employment. On the positive side, the disruptions in food supply and mobility brought the existence and importance of local farms and ranches to the public's attention. 

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service recently awarded the Farmers' Market Promotion Program 2020 grants. The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP) received $283,644 for its project "Strengthening California local food networks with agritourism and direct sales."

UC SAREP Director Gail Feenstra and Penny Leff, UC SAREP agritourism coordinator, are leading this three-year project in collaboration with a team of Cooperative Extension advisors and staff to provide education, technical assistance, promotion and networking support for farmers and ranchers throughout California who are engaged in direct marketing and agritourism activities.

The UC ANR team includes Laura Snell, UCCE Modoc County director; Luis Espino, UCCE Butte County director; Margaret Gullette Lloyd, UCCE small farms advisor in Solano County; Karen Giovannini, UCCE agriculture ombudsman in Sonoma County; and Laura Crothers, UC SAREP communication specialist. They plan to partner with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and established producer-based agriculture associations Modoc HarvestSonoma County Farm TrailsSierra Oro Farm Trail in Butte County and Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association in Solano County.

Read more about the project at

Posted on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 11:07 AM

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