Friday, June 26, 2015

Organic Trumps Conventional Across the Board! according to The Rodale Institute’s 30-Year Report


 
After a 30-year, side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agricultural systems, the Rodale Institute reports that organic systems match, or even outperform, conventional systems in terms of yield, profitability, and energy efficiency, while having positive effects on soil health, water quality, and rural communities.

The Farming Systems Trial (FST) at Rodale Institute is America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture. Started in 1981 to study what happens during the transition from chemical to organic agriculture, the FST surprised a food community that still scoffed at organic practices. After an initial decline in yields during the first few years of transition, the organic system soon rebounded to match or surpass the conventional system. Over time, FST became a comparison between the long term potential of the two systems.
As we face uncertain and extreme weather patterns, growing scarcity and expense of oil, lack of water, and a growing population, we will require farming systems that can adapt, withstand or even mitigate these problems while producing healthy, nourishing food. After more than 30 years of side-by-side research in the Farming Systems Trial, Rodale Institute has demonstrated that organic farming is better equipped to feed us now and well into the ever changing future.
CLICK HERE to read the complete 30-year Farming Systems Trial report.

Procurement Specialist
Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Davis or Oakland, California


Location: Based in Sacramento Valley (Davis) or Bay Area (Oakland) but operates statewide
Hours: 1.0 FTE
Target Start Date: August 15, 2015
The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for California family farms and sustainable agriculture. CAFF is a farmer member organization that works statewide to increase the economic viability of California family farmers and to connect communities with their local producers. The organization is headquartered in Davis and has 4 regional offices throughout Northern California. At the state level, CAFF works on policy advocacy and runs networks such as the CA Farm to School Network and CA CSA Network. At the regional level, CAFF runs Farm to School projects, Buy Fresh Buy Local campaigns, and provides technical assistance in accessing new markets to farmers around the state. See http://www.caff.org for more information. 

The Procurement Specialist will work on a variety of projects that provide technical assistance to farmers in selling their products to different markets, primarily institutions such as schools and hospitals. The Procurement Specialist will support some projects and lead others, depending on the project. The ideal candidate will have a strong competency in sustainable procurement work, farm to institution, and regional food systems in California. This position reports to the Chief Operating Officer.

Essential responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Farm to Institution Project Management:
  • Lead and coordinate various Farm to Hospital and School projects as funding allows
  • Work with institutional food service buyers to provide education on local food and food systems, coordinate demand, and support staff training and cafeteria marketing
  • Facilitate development and sales of local products with distributor/processor partner(s)
  • Conduct outreach to and develop relationships with local farmers and distributors for institutional sales
  • Stay up to date on current procurement regulations and practices
  • Track sales volumes & produce regular progress reports
  • Develop and grow relationships with institutional buyers
  • Provide supply chain consulting to partner institutions
  • Attend related meetings in the project regions
Project Support:
  • Provide technical assistance on projects throughout CAFF’s other regional offices in working with suppliers on local sourcing
  • Develop and grow relationships with institutional buyers
  • Recruit and develop relationships with local farmers and distributors
  • Develop and deliver procurement trainings for partners statewide
Other Duties:
  • Serve as the Bay Area Regional Lead for the CA Farm to School Network (depending on location)
  • Manage project data collection and funder reports
  • Support in fundraising as needed
  • Support regional farm to market activities and actively promote CAFF membership with farms & businesses
  • Represent CAFF by participating in community activities and events as necessary
  • Other duties as assigned
  • Participate in staff meetings and collaborate with regional staff statewide
  • Handle some administrative duties in the regional office
Qualifications:
  • At least 5 years of professional experience in the field
  • Experience and demonstrated knowledge of working with farmers, distributors, and/or supply chains required
  • Experience in working with institutional buyers required
  • Experience in working with non-profits strongly preferred
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Resourceful and able to perform a variety of administrative and organizational tasks with a creative approach to problem solving
  • Flexibility to work independently, with minimal supervision, as well as collaborate with others in a team setting
  • Flexibility to work on a variety of projects
  • Strong ability to multi-task
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office, especially Excel
  • Willingness to work occasional weekends and evenings
  • Applicant must have own vehicle as frequent driving throughout the region and beyond is required. Proof of valid auto insurance.
To apply: Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information of three references with the subject line “Procurement Specialist” tojobs@caff.org by July 8, 2015.
CAFF’s policy is that all persons are entitled to equal employment
 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Exciting Land Opportunity at Sunol Ag Park!

There are at least 2 vacant acres at the Sunol Ag Park that will be leased beginning in September of 2015. This land is located within the 18 acre organic Ag Park in Sunol, CA and is adjacent to farms currently in production. The Sunol Ag Park is a project of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) in conjunction with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). The Ag Park itself is located near the Sunol Water temple on land in the Sunol Valley owned by the SFPUC. 
The land has a long history of agricultural production over the past century ranging from walnut orchards, hay fields, to row crops. Two creeks, Alameda Creek and Arroyo de la Laguna border the property. This is an ideal setting for a new or existing farmer to grow a farm business as there is not only easy access to water with meters adjacent to each acre it  is also conveniently situated in the Tri Valley region of Alameda County, only miles away from major market outlets.  

Water is billed at $496.58/ac/ft. Land is leased at $1000/ac/yr.

http://www.mesaprogram.org/files/images/terrabella4_0.jpg
The following is some criteria which will help a farmer be successful at the Ag Park:

  • Prior knowledge and experience in organic farming principles
  • Must have or be working towards organic certification
  • Ability to manage land without compromising the ecosystem
  • Have a business plan and the resources to sustain a business
  • Can successfully and respectfully cooperate and interact with farmers and other Ag Park community members

      Any interested farmer or prospective farmer is encouraged to apply! Basic written and spoken English language is required. English language learners are welcome to apply. Please fill out the prospective farmer interest form which can be found on the SAGE website: http://www.sagecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Prospective-Sunol-AgPark-farmer-form_2014.pdf

Please send requests for more information or completed interest forms to Aspen: aspen@sagecenter.org
Applications are due at the end of June. SAGE and Sunol Ag Park would like to select a farmer by the end of July.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CAFF's Dry Farming Workshops

The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is now more than ever focusing on working with farmers to promote the adoption of on-farm water management practices. Their workshop series aims to connect growers with information and resources necessary for on-farm practice adoption. Workshop topics include dry farmingfor winegrape growing as well as irrigation management. Handouts and case studies from past workshops can be found here, and stay tuned for news on upcoming workshops.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Whole Farm Management Online Course for Beginning Farmers—Registration Open


 Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management is now available nationally as an online, self-paced course.  Registration is open through June 30th at Growing Farms.

The course has an organic/sustainable agriculture focus and provides farmers with the tools and knowledge needed to develop and manage a successful farm business. The course is intended for people who are considering starting a farm business, those within their first five years of farming and others who may be considering major changes to their farm business.

The course was developed by the Oregon State University Small Farms Program in partnership with Oregon Tilth, the organic certification non-profit. Although the course has an Oregon focus, it is relevant to farmers nationwide.

The core of the Growing Farms course is a series of six online modules covering a variety of topics related to farm management. The course is presented in an interactive and graphically rich format and features six farmers who share their experience and insights about farming in more than four hours of video.

Six online modules lead you through the basics of managing a successful farm business. Check them out here.
  • Dream It. Laying the groundwork for success through planning, assessing your resources, and creating an identity for your farm.
  • Do It. Building the farm through smart investments in equipment and infrastructure, hiring and managing employees effectively, and monitoring energy consumption.
  • Sell It. Developing successful markets for your farm products with strategies that are compatible with your personal and financial goals, and that capitalize on customer needs and trends.
  • Manage It. Strengthening your farm business through better financial management, tracking production costs and pricing, and establishing procedures for record keeping and accounting.
  • Grow It. Working with nature to create and manage a farm ecosystem that is productive, able to resist pests, and enhances the quality of your land and other natural resources.
  • Keep It. Sustaining the farm business over the long-haul through entrepreneurship, development of good communication within the family and business team, careful attention to regulations, and risk management.

Farm Employee
Riverhill Farm
Nevada City, California


One of our employees is leaving to go to graduate school, so we have an immediate opening for a full time employee starting in June.
 
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 three 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 at www.riverhillfarm.com, and you can find photos of the farm via the Riverhill Farm Facebook page.
 
The term of employment is through the end of the season in December.  For an interested employee, there may also be winter work, and the whole crew restarts employment in March.  Employees are paid hourly (the typical week is a 40-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 farm stand 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 fourteen 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 involved in:
 
•    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 1-2 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 two 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.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Intern
Spreadwing Farm
Capay Valley, California


Do you want to learn to milk a goat, ferment sauerkraut, save garden seeds, slaughter a chicken, prune an orchard, mix and apply clay plaster, make cheese, harvest produce for market, install drip irrigation, make tortillas from home-grown corn, graft fruit trees, pour a foundation, use a walk-behind tractor, and cook a delicious meal in an earthen oven?

Spreadwing Farm in the Capay Valley (Yolo County, California) is looking for one more intern. We are a small organic farm and homestead being developed by Cathy Suematsu, Michael G. Smith, their 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. Our goal is to provide a healthy, balanced, and inspirational home environment for our family and visitors, while eventually generating enough on-farm income to meet our financial needs. A lot of our energy goes into food production and preparation and caring for our children, with farm infrastructure, permaculture and natural building projects fitting in whenever possible. We recently completed an earthen pizza oven, composting toilet, and a major expansion of our fruit orchard.

Projects planned for the near future include a solar fruit dryer, a grey water system, a solar shower, and a new straw bale packing shed and walk-in cooler, starting with the restoration of a century-old water tower. We'd like to share our decades of experience with others who are excited to learn these skills. We provide amazing organic food, beautiful surroundings, a small cabin or tent site, and endless learning opportunities in exchange for about 40 hours a week of your help.

Some experience is helpful, but the most important qualifications are enthusiasm, compatible personalities, and a desire to learn and to work hard. We prefer interns who can commit to between six and twelve months, but we can sometimes take people for shorter time periods. For more info please email 
michael@emeraldearth.org or cathy@emeraldearth.org. Thank you!

In the words of one recent intern, "Working at Spreadwing Farm has been one of the most consistently challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. It has been an absolute privilege to learn from Michael and Cathy's collective wealth of knowledge. I have gained so many skills that I came here without, and have had the chance to hone skills I brought with me. I know that I have also grown personally, and understand myself in a way that I never have before. And that doesn't even begin to cover the incredible landscapes, wildlife, community and food that sustained me through all of it."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

National Young Farmers Coalition

http://www.youngfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Western_water_survey_banner.jpg
Are you a farmer or rancher? 
The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) wants to know what you think about water. NYFC represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success. They just launched an online survey to develop grassroots advocacy on water for young farmers in the arid West and they want to hear from you. TAKE THE SURVEY NOW (youngfarmers.org/watersurvey). 
NYFC is offering you one year of free membership (whether new or existing member), which includes discounts with Johnny's, High Mowing Organic Seeds, FarmTek, Grower's Supply, etc.. Just fill out your name and email at the end of the survey. 

For more information contact Kate Greenberg at kate@youngfarmers.org or (518) 643-3564 x 204.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Farm Coordinator Position for IRC's New Roots Sacramento!

BACKGROUND:
Founded in 1933, the IRC is a leading nonsectarian, voluntary organization providing relief, protection and resettlement services for refugees and victims of oppression or violent conflict.   One aspect of the IRC is to provide assistance to refugees resettling in the US. Since opening its doors, the IRC in Sacramento has assisted more than 15,000 refuges, asylees, survivors of human trafficking, and other vulnerable populations across Sacramento and has had a crucial impact on the development of vibrant and thriving communities in which they live.   IRC’s New Roots program is designed to assist refugees to reestablish their ties to the land, celebrate their heritage, and nourish themselves and their neighbors by planting strong roots in their new communities. Through community gardening, nutrition education and small-business farming, New Roots provides refugee farmers with the tools and training they need to grow healthy and affordable food and become self-sufficient. Across a network stretching from New York to Oakland, refugees are revitalizing urban spaces, sharing their farming know-how with their new neighbors and providing healthy, fresh food to their families and communities.

SCOPE OF WORK:
Through the New Roots Farm Program, IRC provides refugees with resources and training to support small business farming, community gardening, and nutrition education. The Farm Coordinator is primarily responsible for providing on-site farm management and leading agricultural education programs. This position reports to the New Roots Program Manager and works between the Sacramento, CA office and on the farm site.

ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS:
I. FARM MANAGEMENT:                                                                                                                    
Provide technical assistance and coordinate farm site development and management, including but not limited to irrigation system management and scheduling, crop planning, soil fertility management, integrated pest management, nursery operations, and postharvest handling practices
Coordinate training workshops on agricultural practices and agribusiness development
Determine farm site needs, implement practices, and document services
Facilitate access to resources needed for the farm business, such as legal, marketing, and technical assistance

II. EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT:
Coordinate farmer training education program, using existing curriculum and develop ing new materials
Organize and lead workshop s and trainings and maintain ongoing technical assistance support
Build connections with local organizations and refer participants to relevant resources

REQUIREMENTS:
•Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Sciences or related field experience
1. Three + years of related work experience ; in fields such as farming; agricultural training; business development,
2. Demonstrated understanding of field-based farm management skills
3. Strong organizational skills including: multi-tasking, prioritizing, planning, and effective time management
4. Ability to get along with a team and supervise volunteers
5. Strong communication skills, ability to communicate with limited-English speakers
6. Fluency in written and spoken English, with bilingual ability preferred
7. Knowledge of and ability to use Microsoft Offic e Suite; including strong keyboarding skills
8. Ability to safely lift light loads (35 lbs) and physically demonstrate use of farming techniques and tools
IRC leading the way from harm to home. 
IRC is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
IRC considers all applicants on the basis of merit without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status or disability.

Posted: 02 Jun 2015 07:45 AM PDT
On Wednesday, May 27, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released their long anticipated online portal for conservation activities. This new Conservation Client Gateway, is a streamlined online approach to be used by farmers, ranchers, and private landowners who have or are looking to secure NRCS funding for conservation programs. This Client Gateway is a secure and efficient way for farmers, ranchers, and other producers to work with NRCS planners online and acquire assistance.
What is possible on the Conservation Client Gateway?
  • Request NRCS technical and financial assistance
  • Complete and sign conversation program applications
  • Review and sign conservation plans and contracts
  • Track payments for a requested conservation program
  • Track conservation progress and request documentation of completed practices
  • Report practice completion
  • Obtain and store financial and technical documents and files
What type of information can be accessed in the online Gateway?
  • NRCS Financial Assistance Conservation Program applications submitted during the current fiscal year
  • NRCS Financial Assistance Conservation Program active contracts
  • Conservation Plans connected with an active NRCS Financial Assistance Conservation Program contract (specifically the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP))
This NRCS online portal will allow users to make fewer trips to their local field office and will allow individuals to complete all administrative tasks in a timely manner online. NRCS staff will be able to focus more on the users’ resource opportunities rather than paperwork by working with users through the online Gateway.
In order to access the Client Gateway, two steps are required for new users:
  1. Confirm your Service Center Information Management System (SCIMS) record – confirm that you have a SCIMS record that is linked to an email address by contacting your local USDA Service Center.
  2. Obtain a Level 2 eAuth Account – create your Level 2eAuth account that is linked to your SCIMS record by visiting the USDA eAuthentication Service website.
Access the Conservation Client Gateway here, and read more about the benefits of this innovative conservation resource.