agriculture

Agriculture Pitching in to Battle Climate Change

Jun 28, 2016

  Now that California is collecting billions of dollars from greenhouse gas emitters, some of that money is being directed to programs that help farms and dairies reduce their carbon footprints.  But while additional funds are being sought, the entire program’s future is uncertain.

GMO Debate Lands on Sonoma County Ballot--Again

May 24, 2016

More than a decade after the divisive and expensive political battle over Measure M—which would have enacted a 10-year moratorium on growing bioengineered crops in Sonoma County—the issue will be back on the local ballot this fall.

During the lengthy public hearing, Taft Street Winery owner and former Santa Rosa City Councilman Mike Martini suggested three changes he said would make for a better proposal to limit local use of GMOs.

Building Acceptance for ‘Ugly’ Produce

May 18, 2016
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, ugliness is only skin deep, while flavor and nutrition go all the way through. But is that enough to win over consumers?

Ben Simon, co-founder and CEO of Imperfect Produce, says the company's slightly pejorative name was deliberately chosen.

The “Imperfect” brand also gives farmers an alternate way to find a market for their less-than-ideal produce, Simon explains.

Incubator Farm Revisions Offered to Mollify Neighbors

Apr 20, 2016
Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District

  A proposed hands-on "incubator farm” for young would-be farmers next to Rohnert Park has generated protests from nearby residents. So the project is being revised to ease their concerns.

The 45-acre Young-Armos property was purchased by the county’s Ag and Open Space District for $370,000 in 1997. Rohnert Park Mayor Gina Belforte is sympathetic to the Rohnert Park residents who would strongly prefer that nothing be changed on it.

Alternative Approaches to Vineyard Frost Protection

Mar 28, 2016

Recent warm weather has triggered the onset of bud break in the vineyards, yet the lingering threat of cold nights carries enormous risk. But some new research suggests there are chemical and botanical measures that can deflect the danger of freezing, without requiring the use of large amounts of water or electricity. We get details from reporter Valerie Kim in Hopland.

Economic Concerns Dominate Food Forum

Mar 17, 2016

Five years after Sonoma County’s first Food Forum laid the foundation for the county’s Food Action Plan, a second session yesterday focused on the economic forces that challenge farmers and the long-term prospects for sustainable local agriculture.

High costs for both land and housing in Sonoma County are hurting small and new would-be farmers, notes Agriculture Commissioner Tony Linegar. And he’s got a suggestion to help ease that bind.

Legislation Would Aid Beleaguered Bees

Mar 10, 2016
Pesticide Action Network of North America

  Pollinating honeybees in California could gain some protection from pesticides believed to be contributing to their decline, under a measure now under consideration in Sacramento. Reporter Suzanne Potter has more.

GMO Foes Again Push for Sonoma County Ban

Mar 4, 2016

  Eleven years after local voters rejected a ballot measure to restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crops in Sonoma County, a new initiative with the same goal is working to win a spot on the ballot next November.

GMO Free Sonoma County leader Karen Hudson was not active in the 2005 campaign for Measure M. But she says they have tried to incorporate some lessons learned from that bitterly contested election as they drafted their new initiative.

Cover Crops Improve Soil, Mitigate Climate Change

Feb 16, 2016
UC Riverside

  Last year, according to a UC Davis report, the drought cost California’s agricultural economy about one-point-eight-billion-dollars. One response to this—and to climate change in general—has been an expanded use of cover crops, as Byrhonda Lyons reports.

Local Granges Face Unwanted Identity Choice

Jan 25, 2016

  From the outside, it looks like business as usual at local grange halls across northern California. But a bitter internal power struggle between the state and national offices is forcing each community group to choose sides.

  The 180 local granges in California have a long history that added an unexpected new chapter in recent years, as younger and progressive new members infused fresh energy and activism into a number of formerly moribund chapters. That political advocacy has been embraced strongly within the Sebastopol Grange, says local leader Lawrence Jaffee.

Queen of the Sun

Dec 18, 2015

  Honey bees have been pollinating plants all over planet Earth for millennia. But now, rather abruptly, there are far fewer of them around to do the job. A new documentary examines the history of bees—and worries about their future.

  

An abridged version of Queen of the Sun: What Are The Bees Telling Us? opens the new season of Natural Heroes  Monday evening at 7:30 on KRCB Television. See a trailer for the full-length film below.

Understanding Roots

Nov 24, 2015

  What we see growing in our gardens and landscapes is only part of what’s actually happening there. So effective cultivation requires Understanding Roots.  

As the importance of fungi in the soil has become more widely recognized, commercial products have come onto the market offering “inoculants” to be added to yards and gardens. But Robert Kourik warns they may do more harm than good.

A Prolific Year for Michele Anna Jordan

Nov 22, 2015

With two dozen books on food and cooking to her credit already, Michele Anna Jordan now divides her time between savoring new projects and updating past works.

  Unlike celebrity chefs, who produce beautiful but impractical coffee table books, Jordan writes hers for people who want to increase their culinary confidence through experimentation.

In More than Meatballs, Jordan says she was out to "feminize" the subject.

Michele Anna Jordan’s radio program, Mouthful, can be heard weekly on KRCB, Sunday evenings at 6 pm.

Goji Berries Take Root in Sonoma County

Oct 12, 2015
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  A century and a half after they were first introduced to California, Chinese Gogi berries are getting a fresh start, with their anti-oxidant benefits front and center. They’re now being grown at a single location in Sonoma County.

In their native China, Goji berries are grown on outdoor farms, but Jay Jensen isn't sure that would ever be practical in California.

Court Ruling Benefits Bees

Sep 11, 2015
PANNA

  A California court ruling will soon take off the market a potent pesticide that is suspected of harming or killing thousands of honeybees. Suzanne Potter has details.

Bees Still Facing Multiple Threats

Sep 8, 2015
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

In its fourth year at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, the National Heirloom Expo is bigger and more diverse than ever. And in addition to the vast array of fruits and vegetables on display, attention is being paid to the tiny animals that make all that abundance possible -- bees.

The Heirloom Expo continues through Thursday evening at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Follow these links to find a schedule of speakers and  musical performances and other special activities.

EPA to Expand Pesticide Ban

Jul 2, 2015
Chris Jordan-Bloch/Earthjustice

  The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it plans to ban the commonly-used agricultural pesticide, chlorpyrifos. But, as Suzanne Potter reports, the decision is not quite final yet. 

The Next Generation of Food

Jun 30, 2015

  

  A website offering positive reinforcement for close-to-home food choices is out to bolster the economic viability of local agriculture.

When Evan Wiig, Director of the Farmers Guild in the North Bay, talks about their new Follow the Rooster campaign, an example he likes to cite is the little Estero Café in Valley Ford.

 Although the Farmers Guild has labeled their new efforts the Next Generation of Food, it’s not really about demographics at all, observes Terry Garrett, co-manager of Go Local.

Spreading the Word About Soil

Jun 4, 2015

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

North Bay Bountiful is a new focused programming initiative being introduced this month. As with our ongoing Health Connections reporting, it will include radio, television, web and community-based components to tell stories that are unique to our region, our food system, and our way of life. Learn more about it here.

Composting’s Cloudy Future in Sonoma County

May 29, 2015
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  From modest beginnings in the 1990s, commercial composting in Sonoma County has grown into a sizable enterprise, one that has been embraced by both consumers and farmers. But with big changes about to kick in, the future of composting here is uncertain.

  Alan Siegle, co-owner of Sonoma Compost, recalls how they had to persuade county supervisors to launch the operation more than 20 years ago.

Implementation of Riparian Corridor Rules Begins

May 27, 2015
Sonoma County Department of Agriculture

  Sonoma County’s Riparian Corridor ordinance is the culmination of an effort that began 25 years earlier. But a late addition to the new rules is causing some grumbling among growers.

Vineyard Water Conservation

May 20, 2015

  By using drip irrigation systems sparingly, vineyards can improve their crop while also saving water, a group of local growers were told yesterday. They were at a Vineyard Irrigation Efficiency workshop held at the Benzinger Winery in Glen Ellen Wednesday morning.

Connecting New Farmers with Land

Apr 21, 2015
Image courtesy The Farmer's Guild

Sonoma County prides itself on its agricultural history, but high land costs are making it difficult for the next generation of farmers to get a foothold. An alliance of farmers, landowners and public agencies are hoping to change that.  

'Tiny Steps' Toward Groundwater Management

Mar 17, 2015
Sonoma County Water Agency

For the first time ever, California is moving to protect and monitor groundwater resources and ensure their sustainability. But it will be up to local governments to implement the measures—with a threat of state intervention if they fall short.

  ut as the regulatory roll-out gets started, there is a big question looming over the whole long-range process, points out David Keller of Friends of the Eel River:  how much more water will be allocated to additional users, such as wineries and residential developments, in the meantime.

Schooling McDonald's on Localism

Mar 13, 2015

  Filming a TV spot for a McDonald's egg sandwich in Petaluma may have seemed cute to their marketing team—and the former Egg Basket of the World does look good in it—but the fast food giant is getting some pushback from local advocates for localism.

You can see the full McDonald's ad, and the hometown response to it, below.

Sonoma County’s Hunger Index

Feb 18, 2015
Redwood Empire Food Bank

 Sonoma County is widely known for the quality and variety of foods and beverages grown and produced here. But a lot of people aren’t able to enjoy that bounty. A public forum Thursday afternoon hopes to refocus attention on the problem and what can be done to address it.

 Sonoma County’s 35.5 million missed meals in 2014 is a stunningly large number. Gail Atkins, Director of Programs for the Redwood Empire Food Bank, explains how it was calculated.

 

Environmental Groups Sue State Over Pesticide Plan

Jan 30, 2015

  A sweeping plan to give the California Department of Food Agriculture free rein in applying pesticides statewide is being contested by a broad coalition of food and environmental groups that contend it violates the state’s Environmental Quality Act.

   During the public comment period, before the environmental document was finalized, thousands of people offered thoughts, suggestions and feedback. Yet very little of that was acknowledged, says Nan Wishner of the California Environmental Health Imitative.

Natural Gift Flows Through Water Dowser

Dec 30, 2014
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  As California’s severe drought continues, farmers, ranchers and vineyard owners are desperately searching for new or additional water sources. So Santa Rosa’s Rob Thompson is keeping busy. 

Rob Thompson’s water dowsing success rate is remarkable, even to him. He attributes it to a combination of a natural gift, and lots of concentrated practice.

Local Potato Variety Stages Comeback from near Extinction

Dec 23, 2014
Danielle Venton/KRCB

The Bodega red potato was once a mainstay of life in the North Bay. But, after years of neglect, the heirloom spud nearly died out before being rescued by food historians. Today, the Bodega red is once again a thriving commercial success. A survey of farmers suggested that around 30,000 pounds of Bodega reds were grown for consumption this year. 

Living with Migrant Farmworkers

Dec 2, 2014

  To learn about the harsh realities of a migrant farm worker’s life, researcher Seth Holmes took a first-person approach, living and working alongside them for a season.

The group of farmworkers he joined were willing enough to allow him to work and travel with them, Holmes recounts, but gaining their trust took more than five months.

Pages