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

Monday, November 24, 2014

USDA Announces Availability of Whole-Farm Revenue Protection

USDA Risk Management Agency has announced that the new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance policy is now available for the 2015 crop year. The policy allows producers to insure 50-85% of their whole-farm revenue and makes crop insurance more affordable for fruit and vegetable growers and organic farmers and ranchers. Contact a local insurance agent for more information about the program.

Learn more: http://www.rma.usda.gov/policies/2015/wfrpfactsheet.pdf

Monday, November 17, 2014

The December Farmer-to-Farmer breakfast is one you will not want to miss.
We have invited Paul Muller of Full Belly Farm to talk with us about farm economics, scale, and sustainability. It should be a very interesting and enlightening conversation. Flyer with more details is attached.

Farmer-to Farmer Breakfast,
Wednesday, December 3rd 7 AM at
Loomis Vet Hall, 5945 Horseshoe Bar Rd in Loomis

Our Specialty Crops programs staff will be preparing the breakfast, so we need to know how many will be attending
Reservations and pre-payment are required.  Cost is $10 per person.
Please make your reservation by 11 AM Monday, December 1st. Reservations are online at http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=14184 and payment is by credit card.

Breakfast is at 7 AM, Paul will talk around 7:45 or 8 AM, then we'll have a discussion.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Work with Say Hay Farms!

Say Hay Farms is a certified organic farm in Yolo County, CA, entering its fifth season. We currently raise a diversity of vegetables on more than 20 acres plus 800 laying hens, 5 acres of almonds, and an acre of oranges for providing high quality produce to our CSA, farmers’ market, and wholesale customers in the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco Bay Area. 

We are a people-focused farm intent on operating a great workplace with serious and skilled farmers.  We do not have a separate harvest crew and management.  Instead, our small size allows us to focus on leveraging each person’s unique skills while sharing the responsibility of harvest, marketing, and day-to-day management of the farm. We are seeking seasoned farmers to join our tight crew and help us grow.

Activities include:
·      Harvest, wash, pack and grade crops for our CSA, farmers’ markets, and wholesale customers.
·      Transplant crops.
·      Cultivate and weed crops.
·      Basic irrigation using buried drip and sprinkler pipes.
·      Raise and care for laying hens – including brooding, feeding, monitoring, cleaning coops plus collecting, washing, and packing eggs.
·      Drive box trucks, pickups, and small tractors in our fields, between properties, and when making deliveries in busy cities. 
·      Educate our customers and provide an excellent experience when participating in sales and deliveries.
·      Light construction.
·      Actively help to improve our systems as we grow into a new space.

Desired Skills & Qualifications:
·      Two or more years experience on a production vegetable farm, including harvest duties.  This includes repetitive heavy lifting of up to 50 pounds.
·      Demonstrated understanding of vegetable crops.
·      A natural ability to hustle, move quickly, and enjoy working hard.
·      A desire to understand the economics of small farming.  Experience a plus.
·      Team player with a positive attitude and good sense of humor who can also work independently.
·      Ability to assess, plan, and organize.
·      Basic mechanical skills necessary to operate vehicles, tractors, and farm equipment.
·      Willing to make a 2-year commitment.

The Farmer position is salaried and competitive, with 2 weeks of paid vacation.  The average workweek is 50 hours - more in the summer, less in the winter. 

·      Email a resume highlighting your field experience to sayhayfarms@gmail.com
·      Answer the question, “Why do you want to work at a small farm like Say Hay Farms?” and give a brief description of your agricultural career goals.
·      A timeline of your availability.
·      Please include 2 farm references.

If your application seems like a good fit, we will contact you to schedule a phone interview.  After that, we ask for a field trial day.  For this reason, local applicants are prioritized. 
If offered a position, we have a 60-day probationary period that is hourly wage.  At the end of 60 days, we will mutually assess whether you are a good fit for a salaried position on our team.

This is a unique, excellent opportunity for those who have owned a small farm or would like to own a small farm and appreciate the economic difficulty of fresh-market organic farming to join a collective of skilled professionals who love what we do.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Roots Farm Program Manager

The Sacramento office of the International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org)  has posted for a Program Manager to run their Sacramento New Roots refugee farming program. The position will be responsible for planning and implementing the various components of their program including nutrition education to refugee families, development of community garden sites, and the establishment of our urban farm in partnership with Sacramento farm to fork restaurants. Please pass along the link to anyone you feel might be interested in applying.

New Roots Program Manager:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Newly Revised Publication Details Federal Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Program

Federal programs can be a helping hand for people who want to develop innovative, sustainable, enterprises in agriculture and the forestry. A newly updated publication, Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities: A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems, and Community Development, is a one-stop guide to find the details about those programs and how to apply for them.

The programs detailed in the publication cover a variety of areas:

 Natural Resources Conservation and Management

 Sustainable Ranching and Farming Practices

 Value Added and Marketing Innovations

 Nutrition and Consumer Food Access

 Economic Development for Farms, Small Businesses, and Communities

 Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation

The publication provides a description along with eligibility and application requirements for each of nearly 70 individual programs. They range from grants and loans to technical assistance and informational resources.

The programs can help farmers, entrepreneurs, community developers, private landowners,  conservationists, as well as private and public organizations whether they are for-profit or nonprofit.

“I use these wonderful guides with start-up nonprofits all over the country,” said "Lorna Donaldson, a Tennessee farmer and national sustainable agriculture enterprise consultant. “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."

The publication is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was produced in cooperation with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). USDA agencies and programs that provided major support for the publication include Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), U.S. Forest Service; and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities: A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems, and Community Development, is available as free download on the NCAT’s ATTRA program website at www.attra.ncat.org. Paper copies also can be purchased from the website for a small handling fee.

Friday, November 7, 2014

5 Farm Internships Available Mountain Bounty Farm, Nevada City, California

Contact: John Tecklin

Email: info@mountainbountyfarm.com 

Website: http://www.MountainBountyFarm.com 

General Description: At Mountain Bounty Farm we grow 16 acres of mixed vegetables and fruit for our local 500+ member CSA and Farmers Market. Our thriving small farm is nestled in the beautiful Sierra foothills, surrounded by forest and a short distance from the scenic Yuba river. Since 1997, Mountain Bounty Farm has grown into a successful and inspiring cornerstone of the local community. The farm is known for its top quality produce, cutting edge farming techniques, and fun work environment. We have an amazing veteran crew and welcome newcomers. For more information about the farm and for internship application materials and information please see our website: www.MountainBountyFarm.com

Internship Starts: April 1
Internship Ends: mid November
Number of Interns: 5

Meals: Interns are responsible for their own meals and have full access to all farm produce including eggs and fruit.

Skills Desired: Prior farm experience is preferred, but not a requirement. Successful candidates usually have experience with some type of outdoor labor and/or a strong athletic background. We are also looking for people who are serious about farming as a career. This is a top notch training opportunity for someone who is ready to take on the challenge. We are looking for people who are organized, curious, outgoing and personable, wacky and fun, and very motivated. Applicants should be able to work hard and fast in all weather (it can be cold and wet here in spring and fall, and summer temps are very hot) do heavy lifting, repetitive grasping, standing, bending, and lots of walking. Although we keep the work varied, farming is inherently challenging. Ideal candidates are committed to the farming lifestyle and all that it entails. Must appreciate palindromes.

Educational Opportunities: The majority of the educational component comes through the experience of working directly on the farm: learning by doing. Over the years we have developed a successful system that is also relatively simple and elegant. As an intern, you get the benefit of our many years of learning -- passed along to you. Interns are also, to the extent they are individually ready, gradually given more and more responsibility. We believe that being allowed to take charge of something important, and also being allowed to make mistakes, is one of the richest and most effective ways to learn. Additionally, each intern is responsible for a project of their own: managing chickens, irrigating crops, greenhouse care, farmers markets, etc. Toward the end of the season, we occasionally take field trips to other farms in the area. And periodically we take time to sit down after work for intern directed Q and A discussions (topics like “farm business management”). We love to teach and are stimulated by people who are excited about learning. Long hours in the field provide the perfect opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t, as well as plenty of discussion about why.

Stipend: $1,000/month plus housing and produce (includes vegetable, fruit, and eggs)

Housing: Interns share a common furnished kitchen/bathing/hangout facility complete with a stove, refrigerator, sink and couches. Each intern has their own small private cabin (cozy, but no electricity or heating) in a shady grove at the edge of the fields.

Internship Details: Interns are a core element of our farm crew (total 12-14 people including interns) and participate in all farm activities from greenhouse work to harvest, delivery, and farmer’s markets. Interns work closely with the farm managers to maintain this complex and dynamic vegetable farm. This includes driving tractors, seeding, transplanting, lots of weeding and other crop care, irrigation, harvest, washing and packing produce, driving deliveries, and small amounts of animal and fruit tree care. Interns work 5 days a week (Mon-Fri), 8+ hours a day and are also responsible for doing one CSA delivery per week, twoSaturday farmers markets per month, and occasional minor irrigation duties after hours. We average a 40 hour work week over the season, with slightly shorter weeks in spring and fall, and slightly longer weeks at the height of summer. Internships at Mountain Bounty are challenging, highly sought after, and immensely rewarding. The vast majority of Mountain Bounty alumni go on to either work at other farms or start their own farms. Interns who excel in their first season may be offered management positions and permanent employment here at Mountain Bounty.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Apprenticeships Soil Born Farms Sacramento, Californi

Phone: (916) 363-9685

Website: www.soilborn.org

Soil Born Farms is seeking five full-season farm apprentices for the 2015 season. The apprenticeship runs from March 2 to October 31Please submit your application by December 1, 2014.
The goal of the apprenticeship program at Soil Born Farms is to provide training for aspiring farmers by teaching the basic concepts and practical applications of organic food production.  At Soil Born Farms, organic food production is a piece of the broader work of the organization, tying food systems into the larger social issues of food security, social justice, and public and ecological health.
This full-time apprenticeship is designed for people who want to pursue a career in sustainable “specialty crop production” or mixed fruit and vegetable farming.  Interested applicants can apply with an intention to participate in only the first-year apprenticeship, but the ideal candidate will be interested in pursuing the second-year apprenticeship as well.  Apprentices are exposed to all aspects of food production through hands-on field work (40-45 hours/week), formal classes on sustainable crop production farm business skills (30-35 hours total), monthly readings and discussions, and monthly regional farm tours.  Three positions are available each season for Second-Year Apprentices, taking on increased responsibility at either the American River Ranch or the Farm on Hurley Way.

Required Qualifications:
-          Ability to commit to a full-time eight-month apprenticeship (March – October)
-          Commitment to sustainable agriculture
-          Strong interest in pursuing a career in farming or community food systems
-          Interest in working in a physically-demanding position in all kinds of weather
-          Ability to lift at least 50 lbs.

Preferred Qualifications:
-          An interest in pursuing a career in sustainable agriculture in the Sacramento region
-          Some experience working or volunteering on farms and/or doing outdoor manual labor

Housing & Compensation:
10’x10’ canvas platform tents with access to shared kitchen, living room and bathroom.  Apprentices will receive a stipend for a portion of the hours worked on the farm.  Staff sit down together daily during the work week to eat a prepared lunch.  Apprentices will also receive food from the farm (vegetables, eggs, etc) and a stipend for supplementary food.

Application deadline: December 1, 2014
Start date: March 2, 2015
More information and application available at:

Contact apprenticeship@soilborn.org with questions.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kingbird Farms seeks a full time farmer

Kingbird Farms seeks a full time farmer (or couple) to conduct and oversee all aspects of the farm operation beginning as soon as October. Farmer receives room and board, a guarantee minimum income, and all profits. This is a potential long term opportunity and preference will be given to applicants who could (after a trial period) envision a long term commitment. 

Kingbird is a diverse, year-round growing operation about 25 miles south of Sacramento, in the heart of California's Great Central Valley. Kingbird is a long-time WWOOF host site. Kingbird sells direct to consumers through a Shopify-based web store and sells to a cafe and caterer in Sacramento and a restaurant in Galt. Kingbird is active in "Slow Food" and received a "Snail of Approval" from the local chapter. 

The work varies by season including soil prep, planting, weeding, harvesting, customer box assembly, compost management, greenhouse work, and orchard maintenance. We use sustainable and chemical-free practices. Production is intensive, substantially greenhouse-based, and year-round. We are semi-mechanized, with a larger BCS two-wheeled tractor and Hoss seeder. We have a 120-tree fruit orchard and a large "insectivary" of native plants. 

About the owners: Mike Eaton and Charity Kenyon have been married for 38 years. Mike worked for The Nature Conservancy and other conservation organizations and has been a passionate farmer/gardener for forty years. He serves on the board of the Delta Conservancy, a state agency. Charity is a retired attorney who specialized in First Amendment, environmental, and appellate law. Both are active in Slow Food; Charity is currently the Slow Food USA Governor (liaison to the national organization) for the Central Valley and a US delegate to the international organization. Both of us are serious amateur naturalists and birders. 

About the place: Kingbird is a 5-acre inholding within the 50,000-acre Cosumnes River Preserve (www.cosumnes.org). The Preserve is a world-renowned refuge for a variety of resident and migratory birds including the Sandhill Crane, which winters here. It is one of the best remaining examples of the Valley landscape as it used to be. Kingbird Farms takes its name from the Western Kingbird, our most colorful and abundant summer migrant songbird. We are six miles west of the small town of Galt, CA, about 25 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco. 

Kingbird's farmer will assume responsibility for Kingbird's third season of commercial operation. The owner (Mike) provides advice, capital, and a substantial amount of labor. Farmer will largely have autonomy to continue to shape the operation in directions that reflect his or her values and sense of commercial potential. The farmer for 2014 has been Katie Koch, who will be leaving to start a family in Davis, CA. Katie will be assisting in the review of applicants, will be available for consultation with serious applicants, and will be available to advise and answer questions in 2015. 

The ideal candidate: 
• Has substantial growing experience in California 
• Has worked on a farm 
• Has managed people 
• Is computer and web savvy 
• Is outgoing and self-promoting 
• Comfortable dealing with complexity 
• Has an eagerness to learn 

Interested applicants should do the following: 
Send a cover letter including statements of interest, qualifications, experience, and any specific questions to kingbirdfarms@gmail.com 
Qualified candidates will be asked to provide references, scheduled for a phone or Skype interview, and scheduled for a farm visit. We will respond promptly to queries. 

For additional information: 
- Review the Shopify web site (www.kingbirdfarms.com) for additional details of operation. 
- Review http://www.kingbirdjournal.com/, Mike's journal of the place and the farm going back 5+ years.

Farmer-to Farmer Breakfast is Thursday, November 13th

The next Farmer-to Farmer Breakfast is
Thursday, November 13th at
Riverhill Farm, 13500 Cement Hill Road, Nevada City.

We'll meet at 8 AM, have a light breakfast, and a farm tour from Alan Haight & Jo Proud. Cost is $5, cash only, please, at the door.
Please RSVP by 9 AM Wednesday, November 12th. Please show up if you RSVP. We buy food for the number who RSVP. If you RSVP and don't show up, it costs us money for which we have no budget!

From Grass Valley, take Hwy. 49 north towards Downieville at the 20/49 split. The first right after you pass the County Government Center is Cement Hill Road. If you are coming from Nevada City, this intersection is also the top of West Broad Street. Take Cement Hill Road 3 miles to the end, where Cement Hill Road intersects with Bodie Ridge Road. Do not turn onto Bodie Ridge Road but proceed straight onto the road marked as a private road. During the farm season, you will also see our farm sign at this location, directing you to go straight.  Please drive slowly to respect our neighbors. You will see two more signs as you drop down the hill towards the farm.  At the bottom of the hill after less than 1/4 mile you will see our address-13500-and a sign directing you to the right onto a gravel driveway. Enter the farm and park in the designated parking area. Walk the short distance from your car to the farmstand. See you there!