Farm Shorts

Dec 23, 2013

Small-scale, sustainable farming is a more-than full-time occupation, which leaves little time for marketing and promotion. So a local filmmaker is stepping in to help out. KRCB’s Bruce Robinson talked with her.

A Napa chicken rancher is the subject of one of the first Farm Shorts videos to be completed.

Convenience Shop Meets Health Food Store

Dec 17, 2013
Susan Butler

One Sebastopol woman is working to make eating healthy and locally as easy as stopping at the convenience store for a bag of chips. We visit a the construction site of a local business aiming to change the way food is bought and sold in Sonoma County. Susan Butler is starting Locastore -- a micro-franchise focusing on local-only products. 

Watch a video about Susan Butler's Locastore project, or donate to the project at

Lessons of the Medfly

Dec 12, 2013
UC Davis

The Mediterranean fruit fly is a serious threat to California agriculture. But widespread yearly pesticide spraying has not been effective in eradicating the pest, and state officials seem unwilling to acknowledge that.  Bruce Robinson reports.

UC Davis Entomology Professor Carey says he used the state’s own data on medfly appearances to conclude that eradication efforts have failed.

  But he also understands why CDFA is reluctant to publicly acknowledge that failure.

In a 1,000 year old village in Germany (Juehnde), methane is not a dirty word. The recovered methane from a manure-fueled bioreactor feeds the burners that heat water for every household in the village. The same hot water provides heating. These households benefit from living adjacent to a livestock economy whose manure was once just a smelly nuisance.

Made Local magazine debuts

Nov 20, 2013

There are countless interesting stories within Sonoma County’s farms and food, and a glossy new publication is out to find and tell them. Made Local magazine released its first issue this week.

To read the full issue online, click here.

Vineyards Respond to Climate Change

Nov 14, 2013

  Global warming poses a real and serious threat to California’s wine industry, but vineyards throughout the state—and other agricultural lands—can also take steps to blunt the pace of climate change.

  It is increasingly clear, says Ted Lemon, co-owner of Littorai Wines in Sebastopol, that monoculture farming has not succeeded in feeding the world, so a new approach is clearly needed.

Updating the Sebastopol Grange

Oct 7, 2013
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

Old ideas and a new generation have combined to revive the Sebastopol Grange, and brought statewide attention to the refreshed agriculture support group.

The upwelling of interest in the Sebastopol Grange is far from unique, says Vice President  Lawrence  Jaffee. The local group is part of a growing trend.

Farmers turn to social media to prevent food waste

Oct 1, 2013

From uneaten leftovers to unsold produce at the farmers market -- food waste is everywhere. By some estimates, 40% of the food grown or raised in the U.S. isn't eaten. Some local groups are trying to change that. CropMobster, a new Sonoma County-based startup is turning to social media to find homes for food that would otherwise go to waste. 

Biodiversity Drives Heirloom Expo

Sep 11, 2013
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  Where can you see, touch and even taste hundreds of varieties of rare and unusual fruits and vegetables? At the “World’s Pure Food Fair” --better known as the National Heirloom Exposition -- currently underway at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

Exposure to this vast array of things to grow can be inspiring for home gardeners as well as more serious farmers, suggests heirloom seed collector William Woys Weaver. It can also foster thinking differently about how to eat.


Mandatory Agricultral Use Easements

Aug 21, 2013

Protecting farm and ranch lands from residential or commercial development is one thing. Ensuring that they remain in active agricultural production is taking things a big step further. It’s a step now underway in Marin County.

  As part of their Mandatory Agricultural Use requirements, explains MALT Executive Director Jamison Watts,  the property owners must develop a carefully thought-out plan to live up to that obligation.

New Vineyard Pest Approaching from the North

Aug 18, 2013

Conventional pesticides are highly effective in combating a new vineyard pest that has already worked its way south as far as Hopland. But for organic growers, it can pose a much bigger problem.

New Database Captures the Benefits of Biochar

Jul 18, 2013

  The origins of biochar, a charcoal-based soil amendment, are almost mythic. In the Amazon Basin, a rainforest region with typically infertile soils, some areas have been discovered to have ground that is almost black and rich in nutrients. The soil’s dark color is derived from its high organic matter content, believed to originate from charcoal added to the soil some 2,500 years ago, either intentionally or as a waste product from cooking. 

Teaching Permaculture

Jun 17, 2013
Kelly Ryan for KRCB

Practicing sustainability in small scale farming is a good start. But an even bigger impact can be had by teaching it. That’s what a new enterprise near Sebastopol is out to do.  Reporter Kelly Ryan takes a closer look.

Winemakers Prep for Climate Change

Apr 16, 2013
Flickr user Jessica Wilson

The art of making wine is tied intimately to land and the climate. Changing weather patterns, with hotter, drier growing periods, will call on North Coast growers to adapt. As KRCB’s Danielle Venton reports, wine makers are already experimenting with techniques that will enable them to make great wine for many years to come. 

Connecting Faith and Food

Apr 3, 2013

Food, faith, and sustainability go hand in hand with the support and encouragement of a new initiative that is taking root in Sonoma County.

Although he is coordinating the local effort, Steve Schwartz points out that it is modeled on some like-minded national initiatives.

Sonoma's Biochar Initiative

Mar 14, 2013

It cleans water, sequesters carbon underground, and boosts agricultural production. Yet the material known as biochar is just beginning to be appreciated and used in the 21st century. Bruce Robinson chats with an advocate.

More information  about the Sonoma Biochar Initiatve, including how to join, can be found here.

Peter Hirst of New England Biochar explains how the stuff is made in this video.