Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guest Post: Linking Farmworkers with the Care They Need

When I used to think of a migrant workers, I often envisioned a massive monoculture field of lettuces in the Salinas Valley, or a similar scene of industrial agriculture. It’s easy to forget that these workers also play a role in the local and sustainable food movements; even smaller organic farms face the economic pressures and regulatory realities that push farmers toward hiring migrant or seasonal farmworkers.

Farmers need to provide safe working conditions, culturally-sensitive training, and a living wage to all their workers. Today, migrant farmworkers still suffer mortality and morbidity rates greater than the vast majority of the American population, due in part to the combination of poverty, limited access to health care, and hazardous working conditions. Yet, small-scale farmers may face language and cultural barriers with their farmworkers, which can inhibit proper training and impair communication between farmers and their workers.  Even farmers who share the language and culture of their workers may not know how to access services for their workers.

How does a new farmer access the tools they need to keep their farmworkers safe? At Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN), we work closely with clinicians who have dedicated their professional lives to serving migrant communities. Here are a few ways you can help migrant and seasonal farmworkers gain access to care and prevent workplace injury, to assure that their health needs are met:
  • Connect with your local migrant health center. Many of these workers are eligible for low-cost health services, designed specifically for them.  Community health centers across the US receive funding just to serve the migrant and seasonal farmworker population.  These centers often provide outreach materials, transportation, and health screenings in multiple languages.  Another list of centers is maintained on the website of HRSA, the government agency that is responsible for funding community health centers.
  • Provide culturally-appropriate trainings in their language. MCN’s website has a wealth of resources for community outreach workers that farmers can utilize for training purposes, including bilingual comic books on workers’ rights on the farm and proper pesticide application, information on the Affordable Care Act, and more.  In MCN’s Resources and Tool Box sections, click “Patient Resources” in the left sidebar.
  • Help them continue care as they move.  One of the biggest frustrations for migrant clinicians is the inability to keep patients with chronic illnesses in care as they move. MCN’s Health Network is a bridge case management program for mobile workers with chronic illnesses.  This means that a farmworker with an illness like HIV, diabetes, or TB in California is assisted by MCN to continue treatment as they travel to Oregon or Washington for the next season’s work.  The health center can sign up a worker with Health Network, and HN will then assist the worker to establish care in their next location.  Encourage your community health center to utilize the program.
  • Get to know your workers. Many of these workers find themselves isolated from the larger community, as Margaret Gray writes in her book, Labor and the Locavore. Get to know their stories, better understand their day-to-day-lives,  and learn why they’re working with you.
  • Encourage your fellow farmers to do the same. We’re all in this together. Let’s ensure that our workers can have healthy, safe working lives just as we hope for ourselves and for our families.
Claire Hutkins Seda is the writer and editor for Migrant Clinicians Network, a nonprofit focused on health justice for the mobile poor.  To learn more about what MCN is up to, you can read MCN’s blog at http://www.migrantclinician.org/community/blog.html, or follow MCN on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Central Coast Regional Program Coordinator

FarmLink is looking for a Central Coast Regional Program Coordinator to coordinate FarmLink programmatic activities along the Central Coast of California. This position is based in Santa Cruz.  Responsibilities include:

Provide farmers, ranchers, and landowners with the following Technical Assistance: 

o   Information on land leasing,  purchasing, and alternative land tenure options
o   Facilitating communication and negotiation of strong agricultural leases and purchases
o   Information on farm financing options and credit education
o   Communication/translation support and resources for Spanish-speaking clients

Relationship Development/ Outreach: 

o   Outreach to farmers, landowners, and regional service providers to increase awareness and resources of FarmLink programs
o   Organize and present Lease Clinics, Farm Finance Expos, workshops, and seminars

Data  (Salesforce)

o   Track Technical Assistance activity in Salesforce, to assist in grant reporting 
o   Assist in maintaining Land Listing database (an online hub of agland for lease or sale)

  Communications (Website)

o   Maintain familiarity with online registration process to provide customer support 
o   Update website with small changes on an as-needed basis
o   Stay up to date on resources and contribute to Communications Committee


  -Spanish fluency 
  -Experience in Central Coast agricultural, emphasis on small and mid scale farms
  -Familiarity with California agricultural organizations
  -Experience working with farmland leasing, real estate transactions, and conservation easements 
  -Experience in and understanding of farm financing and farm business management
  -Oral communication skills, including ability to present complex information to groups
  -Writing skills, including the ability to prepare professional letters, newsletter articles, and reports
  -Computer skills including basic familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite, email and calendar management, Google apps, Salesforce or similar database, Soapbox or similar website platform
  -Valid California driver’s license, ability to travel locally and regionally on a regular basis and spend overnights out of the area on occasion
  -Ability to work in a team atmosphere 
  -Ability to complete self-directed projects with minimal day-to-day supervision
  -Experience in nonprofit project management

Compensation and Terms:

Salary range $37,000-$50,000 depending on experience.  California FarmLink offers a generous benefit plan, including health insurance after 60 days, retirement, and vacation. California FarmLink maintains a drug-free workplace and is an equal opportunity employer.  

Position open until filled.  Please send resume, letter of interest, and three references to Eric Winders: eric@cafarmlink.org.  No phone calls please. 

Drought Update Workshop

Nevada County – before the Agricultural Advisory Commission meeting
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 4:30 PM to 6 PM

Board of Supervisors Chambers, Rood Center
950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City

Agenda for both workshops:
·       Water Agency Update
·       Rainfall Update
·       Drought Monitor Overview
·       Learn how you can report drought impacts and precipitation information directly to the Drought Monitor
·       Range and Pasture Update
·       Crop Update
·       Key Considerations for Drought Planning

These workshops are funded in part through a grant from the USDA Risk Management Agency

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Food Safety Modernization Act Comments Due December 15, 2014

Please read the new issue of Small Farm News, published online. Problems with the revised Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rules are discussed in this issue. Your comments to the revised proposed rules are very important for creating rules that are fair to small-scale and organic growers.
Please read and submit your comments to FDA by December 15, 2014.
Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Farm Employees, Riverhill Farm, Nevada City

Riverhill Farm is now accepting applications for three farm employee positions for the 2015 season.  Riverhill Farm is a thriving, successful twenty-acre farm three miles from Nevada City, California near the canyon of the Yuba River.  The farm is at the end of a dead end road.  It's always quiet, and the farm is teeming with wildlife.  We cultivate ten acres of mixed vegetables and perennial berries, and we’re certified organic.  Our markets include two farmers’ markets, our farm stand at the farm, our local natural foods co-op and local restaurants.  We sell our produce direct to customers through our innovative Friend of the Farm program.  More information about the farm can be found on our website atwww.riverhillfarm.com, and you can find photos of the farm via the Riverhill Farm Facebook page.

The term of employment is March 2, 2015 through the end of November.  Employees are paid hourly for a forty-hour work week and, in rotation with the rest of the crew, one farmers’ market per month on a Saturday.
We pride ourselves on the quality of our produce, the beauty of our farm, and our relationship with our community.  We are a small, tight-knit group working together to bring beautiful produce to our community, and to enhance the lives of our community through healthy food, a healthy and diverse ecosystem, and by maintaining a farm that is open to the public.  Many of our customers have children that have grown up coming to our farm, and those weekly visits to our farmstand encourage a deeper understanding and experience of our dependence on a healthy environment as well as an appreciation of the quality of good, tasty food.
Over the thirteen years that we've been in business, we've constantly adapted to enhance the economic, environmental and social viability of the farm.  We've developed many systems and made many choices about what we grow for the farm to be economically viable and for the work load to be balanced, manageable and productive.  Our sales are strong in the various markets we grow for.  As farm owners, we are fully engaged in the process and products of the farm, and we personally attend all of our farmers' markets in order to maintain a strong relationship with our customers and with our community.
Together with the farm owners, farm employees at Riverhill Farm are responsible for:
  • Greenhouse production of transplants;
  • Care of transplants, including thinning, irrigation and fertilization;
  • Field planting;
  • Field cultivation and weeding;
  • Drip installation and irrigation management;
  • Pruning, trellising and other crop maintenance activities;
  • Harvesting and packaging;
  • Record keeping;
  • Farm stand and farmers’ market sales;
  • End of season preparations for winter, including cover cropping.
The preferred applicant will have at least 2 years of experience in agricultural production and be able to demonstrate increasing responsibility over time.  An applicant should be internally motivated to help operate a diversified organic production system, and be able to work independently with close attention to quality and detail.
Applicants should be energetic, physically fit and without significant physical limitation. In order to be successful, applicants should be able to demonstrate experience and knowledge in one or more of these areas: organic seedling production, vegetable crop production and management, cane berry production and management, knowledge of general organic production practices, and experience in direct sales of farm products.  Familiarity with farm machinery and equipment operations is desired but not required.
The preferred applicant must make a commitment for the full term of one season, and will be given preference if he or she is competent to take on increased responsibility for farm operations and management over time, including staying on for multiple years.  Areas of increased responsibility include production planning and management, irrigation management, tractor work, and yearly planning.
Housing is available, and pay is commensurate with experience.  To apply, please send a detailed letter of interest and a complete resume, including at least three professional references, preferably farm related, to alan@riverhillfarm.com.
All qualified applicants will receive a reply.  A farm visit is a condition of an offer of employment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Placer County Drought Workshop

The University of California Cooperative Extension office 
for Placer County will be hosting a Drought Workshop for 
commercial farmers and ranchers. The workshop will be 
held at the Placer County Planning Commission Hearing Room 
(in the Community Development Agency Building, 3091 County 
Center Drive, Auburn, CA) on Monday, December 8, from 5:30
to  7:00

The workshop will feature updates from local water 
agencies regarding water storage and delivery prospects 
for 2015, information on drought management strategies for 
farmers and ranchers, and an overview of the U.S. Drought 
Monitor and opportunities for local input.

UCCE works in partnership with local farmers and ranchers 
to build and strengthen the local food system. The 
organization is dedicated to supporting the local 
agricultural community and helping it grow and thrive 
through a variety of educational and community building 

For more information, please contact Dan Macon at 
dmacon@ucdavis.edu or at (530) 889-7385.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Federal Funding Guide Released for Sustainable Agriculture Practitioners

Producers, landowners, NGO’s, and researchers who are seeking resources to help them reach their sustainable agriculture goals need look no further than the recently updated Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities Guide. The 86-page guide covers 63 programs, which coincide with changes reflected in the 2014 Farm Bill.  It provides a one-stop reference for governmental resources, information, and financial assistance on topics ranging from investment opportunities in agricultural entrepreneurial ventures to technical assistance and grant funding for renewable energy projects, and everything in between. Each program entry provides a description, eligibility requirements, application process information and resources, in addition to websites, agency contact information, and project examples if available.

Andrew Bernhardt, a University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension staff member and Wisconsin SARE Coordinator observes: "This guide is the single most valuable resource at the workshops we do around Wisconsin to help people access programs that can offer resources for their sustainable agriculture-related farms and businesses.  It's efficiently put together, which makes it very easy to use, and always gets terrific reviews from participants."

“The Guide”, as it is colloquially known, pertaining to the 2014 Farm Bill is the culmination of a partnership between the National Center for Appropriate Technology, The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, with support from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, The McKnight Foundation, Farm Aid, and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation.

Julia Sampson, Executive Assistant at Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in Arkansas, states “The clear and comprehensive layout of the Guide provides the user with simple explanations of the myriad of federal program available to farmers, ranchers, and community food groups. The Guide serves as an excellent foundation for those interested in learning more about federal programs.

Over the years, and throughout its many iterations, the guide has amassed quite a bit of fanfare and praise from users and practitioners across the country.

Lorna Donaldson, a Tennessee farmer and national sustainable agriculture enterprise consultant says, “I use these wonderful Guides with start-up nonprofits all over the country.  The Guides are especially valuable because most groups I work with aren't familiar with federal programs.  It's great having something that's so concise and also helps people understand how to go and look for additional resources."

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is a non-profit organization with the mission to nurture the ecological, social and economic resiliency of food and farming systems through education, research, policy, and market development.


"Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities provided me with concise, comprehensive, well-organized and user-friendly information on federal grant programs," says Midwestern regional food systems entrepreneur Mary Holland, who attended the first of this year's statewide grant-writing workshops in Wisconsin.

To download a free copy of Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities as well as order paper copies please go to: http://bit.ly/1sLLerq

Interested parties can also call The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) at 1-800-346-9140 for free hard copies of the guide.

For those who find programs within the guide that they are interested in exploring a bit further, please feel free to contact Michael Fields Agricultural Institute’s Grants Advisor Deirdre Birmingham for additional assistance on grant applications and grant planning/writing.

Deirdre Birmingham
MFAI Grants Advisor

Grants Advising Website: http://www.michaelfields.org/grant-advising-resources