agriculture

Agricultural and Rural Lands Fire Recovery and Resource Town Hall  

Monday, October 30, 2017 
Sonoma County Fairgrounds – Garrett Building 
Doors open at 5 p.m., program begins at 5:30 p.m  

In response to the recent wildfires in Northern California that have impacted the agriculture community, Sonoma County Farm Bureau is convening local, state and federal leadership to address concerns and provide information to rural property owners. 

Squash at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The National Heirloom Exposition returned to Santa Rosa last week. You may have seen photos of the enormous piles of squashes that have become the event’s calling card. But the fair is about more than simply showing off the shapes and colors of fruits and vegetables. It’s about growing food that’s tasty and also fits a sustainable worldview, as Steve Mencher reports.

Erick Gonzalez

Harvest season is in full swing for vineyards in the North Bay but many winegrowers are seeing a shortage of laborers to work in their fields. KRCB’s Tiffany Camhi spoke with Karissa Kruse of Sonoma County Winegrowers to find out what’s causing the labor crunch and what growers are doing to make sure no grape goes unpicked.

Calves on dairy farm
KRCB/Steve mencher

Earlier this week we visited the orchards of Torrey and Lucy Olson on a Climate Smart Agriculture tour, to learn about soil management techniques and the challenges of farming as the climate warms. Today we visit a local dairy farm with an eye to learning about manure and water, and how effective management can benefit both farmers and the environment. Our visit was organized by the California Climate and Agriculture Network.

Carbon Farming Taking Root in California

Aug 1, 2017
Marin Carbon Project

Carbon is essential to all living things—even dirt. Which is why concentrated efforts to get more carbon out of the air and into the soil is an accelerating trend in California agriculture.

Even as research is continuing into the methods and merits of carbon farming practices in differing areas and types of agriculture throughout California, carbon farming consultant Calla Rose Ostrander notes that funds to support implementation of those measures will soon be forthcoming.

Tiffany Camhi

Lavender is known for its sweet scent and its vibrant purple flowers. The plant is native to Mediterranean areas like Spain and France, but as KRCB’s Tiffany Camhi reports, more and more farmers in Sonoma County are beginning to grow the popular plant. 

Lives of California Farmworkers, In Their Own Words

Jun 14, 2017
Illustration by José Cruz / Heyday Books

California‘s agricultural bounty feeds millions, but much of that is made possible by legions of little-seen farmworkers. A new collection of oral histories lets them tell their own stories.

Through his conversations with the agricultural workers featured in Chasing the Harvest, journalist Gabriel Thompson reveals that despite the undeniable challenges they face, these are people who find much to appreciate about their lives.

Falcon Kites a New Tool to Protect Vineyards

Jun 12, 2017

Falcons are a proven deterrent to the birds than can raid and damage ripening grapes.  Now a North Bay innovator with a background in bird management  is promoting a look-alike kite to do the same job.

Roger Snow of Falcon Crop Management, the new company he has formed to promote the Falcon Fright Kites, believes they are a far more effective --and economical--deterrent than any of the commonly used alternatives that are currently available.

Bruce Robinson / KRCB-FM

Sheep can chew down grasses that might later burn, snack on unwanted poison oak, and fertilize the soil as they go. And they can co-exist with human users of parklands while doing all that.

Sheep are an alternative to using tractors dragging discs to plow grass under and create firebreaks. But unlike the machines, says Aaron Gilliam, the sheep will graze around ground-level bird nests, and positively coexist with the native fauna in other ways, too.

Secrets of Successfully Dry-Farming Grapes

May 16, 2017

For vineyards, dry farming means no irrigation, relying only on what Nature provides—with an assist from composting and other supportive measures. An experienced practitioner shared his insights at an on-site workshop Tuesday morning.

Using cover crops to add organic material to the soil is another important step in Bernier's dry-farming process.

The dry farming workshop was co-hosted by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the Sonoma Resource Conservation District.

Seeking Consensus on Composting

Apr 25, 2017

Sonoma County has been without a local composting operation for a year and a half. And it will be at least twice that long before a new one can get started. But the process is inching forward.

 When commercial composting was introduced in Sonoma County, roughly 20 years ago, by Sonoma Compost, the pioneering local operation was widely studied and imitated, recalls Patrick Carter, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.

Project Drawdown's Climate Change Solutions

Apr 17, 2017

In agriculture, building, urban design transportation, energy production and use and more, there are steps already being taken to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. And according to a serious new book, scaling up those actions—all of them—could be a pathway to reversing global warming.

Many of the 100 climate change solutions examined by Project Drawdown have interlocking effects. Editor Paul Hawken says their analyses work scrupulously to keep their projected benefits separate.

Composting Toilets as an Aid to Sustainability

Mar 28, 2017

For decades, composting toilets have been an off-the-grid novelty. But in a time of limited fresh water and burgeoning interest in sustainable living, they are ripe for re-examination.

Sonoma County is hardly the only place that composting toilets have been put into use for remote rural residences. But Miriam Volat believes this area may be more receptive than most to the wider use of such fixtures.

Hops Making a Low-Profile Comeback in Sonoma County

Mar 21, 2017

Hops were once a major agricultural product in Sonoma County. Now they’re starting to come back, but mostly as a specialty crop for the craft beer market.

 It's not hard to get started growing hops,  says Mike Stevenson of the NorCal Hop Growers Alliance. And its even easier to keep them going once the field has been established.

Making beer is by far the primary use for hops. But not, says Stevenson, the only one.

A Hands-On Farming Showcase for Kids

Mar 14, 2017
Bruce Robinson / KRCB-FM

Ag Days returned to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds this week. The annual event, hosted by the local Farm Bureau, gives thousands of elementary school students some first-hand exposure to this region’s agricultural heritage and its products. 

Carbon Farming with Biochar

Feb 21, 2017
Raymond Baltar, Sonoma Biochar Initiative

In centuries past, bio-char helped grow food for the indigenous people of the Amazon basin for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years before the first Spaniards arrived. Now it could help the 21st century world to slow global climate change.

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative is hosting a workshop on the process this Friday at Circle Bar Ranch south of Sonoma. Find details here.

Expanding Agri-Tourism in the North Bay

Feb 16, 2017

An informational meeting about the expanding business of agri-tourism drew an intensely interested cross section of farmers, promoters and others to the Petaluma Community Center yesterday. 

Tim Zahner, Chief Marketing Officer for the Sonoma County Tourism office, says that the agricultural and culinary diversity of Sonoma County is one of the area’s greatest attractions.

Nancy Fiddler sees expanding operations to bring more visitors to her Rollin’ F Ranch near Sebastopol as a critical step to maintain her business viability.

Roots of Peace

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the beginnings of the San Rafael-based humanitarian non-profit Roots of Peace. The group, founded by fifth-generation Marin County resident Heidi Kuhn, converts war-torn land in countries all over the world into rich and bountiful farmland. KRCB’s Tiffany Camhi reports that with new federal funding, the organization can now take their efforts further.

Returning Commercial Composting to Sonoma County

Dec 12, 2016

The process of setting up a new composting operation in Sonoma is finally taking its first steps. But in the meantime, both residents and compost users are paying significantly more.

New Marijuana Strains Mimic Winegrape Flavors

Dec 7, 2016

Cultivators of cannabis breed their plants for specific characteristics—potency, medicinal efficacy, even appearance. Today we meet someone whose emphasis is primarily on flavors—which can be manipulated in some divergent directions.

Cannabis has long been combined with other things in foods—brownies being a classic example. But Jay Michaels says his cross-breeding efforts have been able to simulate the tastes of some other foods—and quite a range of them.

 

'Symphony of the Soil' Digs Beneath the Surface

Nov 25, 2016

Dirt is ancient, alive, and essential to agriculture. But it is not necessarily eternal. And that can be a big problem.

You can see the trailer for Symphony of the Soil below. And watch the entire documentary on KRCB television Saturday afternoon, Nov. 26 at 3 pm, or next Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 10:30 pm.

Tiffany Camhi

Women farmers have been a backbone in agriculture for hundreds of years, but according to some their voices and stories are not being heard. Now a group in Sebastopol is trying to break that mold. KRCB’s Tiffany Camhi reports.

The event included many local Bay Area farmers and food advocates. To find out more information about the speakers check out the Foundations and the Future website.

Calls Are Mounting to Restrict Glyphosate

Oct 13, 2016

Thanks in large part to the widespread use of genetically modified corn, soy and other crops, herbicides containing glyphosate are being more widely used than ever before. At the same time, new concerns about the health and environmental damage that the chemical causes are prompting calls to restrict it.

The Role of Exotic Fruits in Biodiversity

Sep 6, 2016
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  The Heirloom Expo, a colorful celebration of old, rare, exotic and bountiful produce, returned to the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa yesterday, with scores of vendors and nearly as many speakers. We hear from one of them on today’s North Bay report.

  All of the abundance and diversity of fruit that can be grown around the Bay Area tends to belie the fact that very little of it is actually native to the region, explains John Valenzuela.

The National Heirloom Exo continues through Thursday.

Surveying the Upper Reach of the Russian River

Aug 24, 2016
Russian Riverkeeper

  The Russian River is the primary water way in the North Bay, but for most of its length, it flows quietly out of sight. This week, a group of river stakeholders, organized by LandPaths and Supervisor James Gore, are beginning a firsthand exploration of the waterway by kayak. Russian Riverkeeper Don McEnhill is leading the group, and checked in with KRCB to tell us about what they saw today.

Making Beef Sustainable

Jul 20, 2016
True Grass Farms

  Self-sufficiency is a cornerstone of sustainability, and it can even be applied to raising prime grass-fed beef. On today’s report, we hear from a young farmer who is doing just that.

The best time of year for butchering beef cattle is usually late summer, explains True Grass Farms’ Guido Frosini. But exactly when is determined by the growth cycle of the grasses that the cattle feed on.

Beyond his own farming practices, Frosini is also determined to build new bridges between consumers and food producers.

Growing Grain in Mendocino County

Jul 17, 2016
Mendocino Grain Project

  Agricultural diversification in Mendocino County doesn’t just mean adding new varietals, or even preparing for legal cannabis cultivation. For a small but growing number of farmers, it includes growing traditional and specialty grains. Reporter Valerie Kim visited the man at the center of this incipient trend, Doug Mosel of the Mendocino Grain Project.

Farm School Digs Deeper Than Dirt

Jul 7, 2016

Northern California is home to a growing number of innovative and holistic farms and farmers. A new Farm School program in Sebastopol is out to help export those practices more widely.

  The Farm School doesn’t just teach aspiring agrarians what to do on and with their land, says Director Miriam Volat, it also strives to help those students find land they can work.

Vineyard Sustainability Campaign Showing Progress

Jul 5, 2016

Sustainability is on the rise in Sonoma County’s vineyards, and that movement is gathering attention much further afield.

    To assist local vineyards in moving toward sustainability, the Sonoma County Winegrowers organization has compiled a fat binder of best practices, many of them developed by a team at UC Davis. It’s not a series of steps that must be taken, says Executive Director Karissa Kruse; more like a menu of possible actions.

Sonoma County Water Agency

  As local well owners, water suppliers, and other stakeholders begin to implement the state’s new groundwater management law, they’re having to find ways to make something designed for central and southern California still work locally.

A series of three local workshops on implementation of the state’s the Groundwater Management Act hav e been planned in Sonoma County. See the full schedule below.

Thursday, June 30
Sonoma Valley Workshop
6-8 p.m.
Sonoma Charter School
17202 Highway 12, Fetters Hot Springs

Pages