Steve Quirt, Program Coordinator
The "Grown in Marin" program helps strengthen the viability and long-term success of agriculture in Marin by assisting farmers and ranchers with business and crop diversification. This program is made possible with the support of the County of Marin and the Marin Board of Supervisors.
The next generation is here to stay.
Marin agriculture is continuing to diversify its products. In the past 10 years the amount of locally produced products sold directly to consumers annually has doubled from $600,000 to $1.2 million, according to USDA data. Ten years ago the county had two local cheese makers, today there are nine. Marin also has 20 livestock producers growing for the local organic and grass-fed beef markets. Ten years ago there was none. But, the average age of Marin and the nation’s farmers is fast approaching 60.
North Coast Food System Network takes hold
In our region there is strong and growing interest in developing sustainable food systems that contribute to food security. This is evidenced by agriculture and food summits held in Sonoma in 2011, and in Marin, Napa, and Mendocino in 2010. A 2010 American Farmland Trust report outlined Bay Area opportunities for direct marketing and food system development and reinforces the need for region wide solutions to infrastructure problems. In 2011 area leaders initiated a North Coast Regional Food Systems Network. The group is composed of representatives from five Northern California counties including a county supervisor from each county, producers, farm bureau leaders, retail food outlets, local government departments, financial sector, and underserved communities. There are currently 85 individuals working on this multi-county effort focused on aggregation, processing infrastructure, marketing, and financing guided by a 15-member steering committee. USDA Rural Development is funding this effort with possibilities for a second 3-year phase.
“UCCE Marin has staff for every area of agriculture--whether you're interested in livestock, row crops, cheesemaking, or anything else--there is someone who has your answers. Farm advisors would come out to the ranch to brainstorm about my business ideas at no cost to me. Now that I'm in the permitting phase, I'm especially grateful to have help in figuring out what I need and who to talk to at the County level. Without assistance from UCCE Marin, I would have a much longer road ahead of me!"
– Marissa Thornton
“It was an awesome and inspiring Fair. We were so impressed with the amount of time, energy and execution of the history of agriculture in Marin. I believe that so many people were unaware of how agriculture has been the foundation of this verdant County where we are blessed to live. We appreciate the efforts of all.”
– Lynette Lafranchi