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Friday, April 17, 2015

Old Mill Farm in Mendocino has a live and work opportunity!

Old Mill Farm, on the coast near the town of Mendocino, has a rental cabin and part-time work opportunity! They are actively looking for a couple that wants to rent the cabin and work with Doug, their farm manager. He has tripled the amount of crops in the ground and needs help. He actively working toward CCOF certification, participates in two farmers markets, and sells wholesale to a grocery and restaurants. 

Old Mill Farm is an off-grid family homestead consisting of over 40 acres of farmable land and 280 acres of sustainably managed timberland. As they express it, “We wish to live so that Old Mill Farm is one harmonious working body whose actions create a symbiotic relationship between all organisms, from the microorganism in the soil to the greater summation of energy which encompasses this land, and to the community in which we live.” Learn more about the farm at

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Barbara at or (707) 937-0244.

Frederick Smith
North Coast & Bay Area Program Coordinator

California Farmlink

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Water Efficiency for Vineyards and Diversified Farms Workshop, Rose Ranch, Kenwood, CA

The Sonoma RCD and Community Alliance for Family Farmers are sponsoring a water efficiency workshop next Tuesday morning!
When: Tuesday April 14, 8:30-11:30 Workshop; 11:45-1pm Lunch
Where: Rose Ranch, Kenwood, CA

  • Keith Abeles, Sonoma RCD, will explain the irrigation system evaluation process and the importance of establishing good distribution uniformity to benefit crop production and maximize the efficient use of water.
  • Rachel Petitt, CAFF, will discuss water management practices including resources and technical expertise.
  • Tom Shapland, PhD, Tule Technologies, will discuss the influence of soil characteristics of irrigation management with benchmarks for comparing strategies.
  • Jodi Wilson, CSWA, will provide an overview of water management tools and resources including an online metrics calculator to track water use and other BMPs found in the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing, 3rd Ed.
  • Ellen Hopkins, Zero Waste Consultant, will demonstrate a compost system on-site for food waste, chicken bedding, and green waste to produce compost for the vineyards and gardens to increase soil health and fertility while reducing water needs.
  • Steve Rose, Rose Ranch/Vineyards Inn owner/Chef, will discuss and demonstrate holistic/biodynamic approaches to vineyard and farm management including compost and vermi-compost applications, grazing and cover crop techniques.
Cost: $15

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CFL is co-sponsoring an East Bay Lease Clinic on April 15!

Creating Secure Land Tenure Agreements:
Grazing Leases that Work for Beginning Ranchers

April 15, 2015, 3:30-6:30pm
Sunday School Building at Heritage Park, Dublin

Are you a new rancher looking to lease land in San Francisco’s Bay Area or a landowner interested in grazing your property? Are you interested in learning more about what makes a good grazing lease?California FarmLink, the Alameda County Conservation Partnership and UC Cooperative Extension invite you to join us for a Rangeland Lease Workshop and Mixer!

This introductory workshop is geared towards ranchers in the first ten years of production who are looking to better understand components of a good grazing lease, differences between public and private leases and background on how to secure a grazing lease in the Bay Area’s highly competitive environment. Specific topics will include the legal and financial risks of poorly developed leases, leasing best practices, alternative lease clauses, and lease development and negotiation. Join us afterwards for refreshments and networking.

DATE:   Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

TIME:    3:30 – 6:00PM  Workshop; 6:00 PM Mixer

LOCATION:    Sunday School Barn at Heritage Park,6600 Donlon Way, Dublin


·       Sheila Barry, UCCE Bay Area Livestock Advisor

·       Clayton Koopmann, Rancher & Midpeninsula Open Space District

·       Frederick Smith, North Coast & Bay Area Regional Coordinator, California FarmLink

·       Carissa Koopmann Rivers, Rancher & Audubon California

·       Additional speakers TBA 

COST: Free – but space is limited so be sure to RSVP 

For more information on this workshop, visit: 

Pre-registration is requested – please email Susan Ellsworth at or call (925) 371-0154 x 103 to reserve your spot. Include your name, ranch or organization, email and phone.

Land Access Opportunity at Shone Farm in Sonoma County!

Land Access Opportunity at Shone Farm in Sonoma County!
Shone Farm, Santa Rosa Junior College’s educational farm in Forestville, CA, is offering 6 intermediate growers an opportunity to farm on 3 acres of their land, producing for sale to their 100-member CSA, restaurant customers and Culinary Program at the college.
This is a revenue-sharing opportunity for those who are working towards establishing their own independent farming enterprise and want the experience of taking responsibility for a parcel of land. You will have the chance to grow for established markets within a supportive environment with access to mentorship and shared resources like equipment, irrigation infrastructure, etc. You will also be able to establish new sales channels for your products, including the farmers market.
Participation in the Enterprise Program requires:
• Minimum of 2 FULL seasons of experience growing mixed vegetables in a commercial environment
• Availability to plant, maintain, keep production records of and harvest your parcel
• Willingness to grow according to our 4-year crop rotation and pre-established 2015 crop plan
• Registration in Santa Rosa Junior College’s Ag 98 (Independent Study) and Ag 56 (Ag Enterprise) courses (Total of $216/year).
For more information or to apply for the program, contact Vince Trotter at or call 707-327-9798.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Growing Our Farms: a forum to connect farmers and ranchers in Sonoma County! Thursday April 23, 1-5:30 pm

Please join Sonoma County Food System Alliance's "Ag and Natural Resources" Team at a forum to discuss the issues related to finding land to farm in our county, and to assist in connecting farmers and ranchers with public and private land. 
Landowners should come if they are interested in learning how to make use of their farm or ranch land. Potential outcomes from having a farmer or rancher on your land could include, soil building, revenue, brush control, rotational grazing to enhance land, improvements on the property, access to the food being raised.
Farmers and ranchers seeking land will have the opportunity to meet with landowners during the meeting in small group discussions, as well as the social hour from 4:30-5:30pm.

Hosted by:
  • Ag Innovations Network
  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers
  • California Farmlink
  • Farmers Guild
  • Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District
  • Greenbelt Alliance
  • Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
  • Sonoma County Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures
  • Sonoma County Department of Health Services
  • Sonoma County Fair Events Center 
  • Sonoma County Farm Bureau
  • Sonoma Land Trust
  • Sonoma Resource Conservation District
  • UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma County

Thursday, March 12, 2015

NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program Deadline is March 31!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications to re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program through March 31, 2015.  This renewal option is specifically for farmers and ranchers who enrolled in CSP initially in 2011.  Those 2011 enrollees have CSP contracts that expire at the end of 2015.

CSP is a comprehensive working lands conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to actively manage and maintain existing conservation systems and to implement additional conservation activities on land in production.  Through CSP, participants take steps to improve soil, water, air, and habitat quality, and can also address water quantity and energy conservation issues.

CSP contracts last for five years, at which time they are eligible for renewal.  There are approximately 74 farmers and ranchers with CSP contracts in California that will expire this year, totaling over 85,000 acres that can be re-enrolled to preserve and expand upon critical environmental benefits. 

It Pays to Renew
It is optional to renew an expiring contract, and participants who do not re-enroll can always re-apply and compete for funding in future annual CSP signups.  However, there is significant benefit to renewing now: the process for renewing is non-competitive and much simpler than re-applying through the competitive process later, and participants will avoid any gaps in their CSP payments that would otherwise occur.

NRCS has already mailed letters to all CSP participants with contracts that are set to expire this year.  The producer must then sign up for the renewal offer by March 31, 2014.  Local NRCS offices will then follow up with the producer to discuss renewal criteria and new conservation options; the producer then can decide whether to sign up for another five year contract.  

Renewal Criteria
Participants will need to meet additional renewal criteria.  Under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill, CSP contract holders can renew their contracts provided: they have met the terms of their initial contract; agree to adopt and continue to integrate conservation activities across the their entire operation; and agree to either meet the stewardship threshold of at least two additional priority resource concerns or exceed the stewardship threshold of at least two existing priority resource concerns by the end of the renewed contract period.

These terms are slightly different than the terms for renewals under the 2008 Farm Bill that were in effect at the time farmers and ranchers with contracts expiring this year signed-up, so it would be wise for producers interested in renewing to check in with their local NRCS office for precise information about how the 2014 Farm Bill renewal terms will work in practice.  

For more information on the program and the process for signing up, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has released two free resources.  NSAC’s newly revised Information Alert includes not only sign-up details, but also a complete listing of all of the 119 conservation enhancements available to those considering a contract renewal. 

The Information Alert lists these conservation activities in order of their conservation and environmental point values.  The higher the point value, the greater the expected environmental benefit and thus the greater weight they have in terms of both ranking the application among other CSP applications, and calculating the ultimate CSP financial assistance payment the producer will receive.  

NSAC has also published an updated version of our Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program.  Download the comprehensive guide the NSAC website.

The renewal process should be fairly simple.  Producers with expiring contracts can contact their local NRCS office with any questions about the renewal process.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Farm Bill Decisions: Are You Sure That’s the Right Program for Your Farm?

ARC or PLC? That’s the million dollar question. How can you be sure?

Farmers across the country are biting their nails, flipping a quarter and praying they pick the farm bill program that is best suited to their farm. It’s no wonder, too. This is the most complicated farm bill our country has ever had, and you’re stuck with your choice for five long years.
So, which is it going to be—for the next five years—Agriculture Risk Protection (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC)?
Don’t panic just yet. You have until March 31 to update your yields, reallocate base acres and make your final decision.

Here’s what you need to know:

As deadlines near, decide if you prefer payments today or protection tomorrow. Katie Humphreys, Farm Journal managing editor, outlines the seven steps to making a decision.
Paul Neiffer’s blog, The Farm CPA, is a wealth of information on ARC, PLC, payment estimates, yield estimates and more. A quick scroll will uncover information that might help you make your decision.

Landowners and Farmland Renters

Land owners and farmland renters face their own unique challenges when deciding between the two farm bill programs.
For farmland renters, you might be asking yourself if it’s really worth nagging your landlord to update yields and reallocate base acres. Experts say, yes! Only landowners can complete the paperwork and if they don’t update the numbers, you could be stuck with old yields for years to come, which could lead to financial consequences down the road.
For landowners, it’s important to talk to your renters. Jonathan Coppess, ag law and policy specialist at the University of Illinois, says it’s an easy decision and you could be in and out of the FSA office in as little as 10 minutes. Landowners just need to make two initial decisions:  1) Yields, 2) Base acres.

Decision Made Easy

Is your head spinning yet? After you take a few deep breaths to calm yourself, sign up for a free Farm Bill Decisions Webinar. Upcoming Webinars are scheduled for March 10, March 17 and March 24. Experts will walk you through what you need to know about both programs, give examples to help you understand, offer tips, tricks, tools and more.
Need a bit more help? There’s also the Farm Bill Decisions eBook you can download. Click here for the details.

How has the process been for you? What questions remain unanswered as these deadlines approach? Let us know on the AgWeb discussion boards.