Advice on Blue Elderberry Cultivation Available

New Guide Shows how Elderberry Activates Hedgerows, Ecologically and Commercially

A farm-edge hedgerow can be more than a boundary or barrier. When it comprises blue elderberry, it can be a way to integrate biodiversity in an often-simplified agricultural landscape – and connect with a legacy of stewardship and use by California’s Native peoples.

A new guide, published by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, provides detailed instructions and advice for California farmers on growing, harvesting, and marketing blue elderberry. It is available as a free download in the UC ANR catalog at

“It’s the only publication of its kind, that we know of, that focuses on commercial production of a native species from within a hedgerow, which people normally think of as a conservation feature,” said Sonja Brodt, one of the publication’s authors and associate director of UC ANR’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

In addition to illustrating the plant’s many ecological benefits, “Producing Blue Elderberry as a Hedgerow-Based Crop in California” highlights the economic viability of the products made from its flowers, berries, and other components.

“Consumer interest in elderberry products is booming,” said Brodt, “and blue elderberry has the potential to meet local needs with a locally adapted species that is climate-resilient, and can be produced in a relatively low-input way that supports – rather than displaces – our native ecosystems.”

The guide incorporates the findings of a UC SAREP project exploring the farm management practices, nutritional content, and market potential of elderberry products. And Brodt emphasized that this resource also draws upon the deep knowledge of Indigenous people, as well as best practices of growers such as Katie Fyhrie, formerly of The Cloverleaf Farm in Dixon and another author of the guide.

“We originally got the inspiration to do this work from local farmers who are pioneering the use of blue elderberry harvested on their farms, and from Native Americans in California who have long stewarded and utilized blue elderberry for food and other cultural uses,” Brodt explained.

2021-09-26T21:10:53-07:00September 26th, 2021|

Open Burning to Phase Out in 2025

Open Ag Burning Part of a Series


Open Ag Burning To Phase out

By Mike Stephens with the Ag Information Network

In an unanimous decision, the Air Resources Board (CARB) recently approved a plan to phase out all open agricultural burning by 2025.

Open burning of agricultural materials has started to be phased out in the San Joaquin Valley  chipped materials, a byproduct that needs to be disposed of.

Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, describes some of these hurdles. “Specifically in orchards those materials in most cases were hauled off to a co-generation plant to make energy. The number of those CoGen plants has been significantly declining here recently because they lose their power purchase agreements with the utility companies and therefore they shut down. And so therefore, we lost a very important stream of our ability to send our materials,” Jacobsen said.

Incentive funding is available.

Part of the incentive funding is giving growers the ability to incorporate chipped material  back into the soil, and they’ll pay you some money to do that. In some cases, there is still the desire to haul the material off.

Reincorporating the chips into the soil is being discussed.

“Not only do you have these chips that you reincorporate in the soil, but this comes at a time when we’re experiencing significant drought. You know, these materials don’t break down very quickly without adding water and nitrogen to it,” noted Jacobsen.  “That is definitely a concern for some growers reincorporated. And so for some, they want to continue to find some other avenue for it to remove that wood waste from the field, particularly if it’s maybe for some growers. They just don’t want the wood back in there. But secondarily, it could be diseased wood that becomes an issue as well.”

2021-09-24T19:32:10-07:00September 24th, 2021|

Want Better Heart Health? Consume Walnuts!

Effects of Walnut Consumption for 2 Years on Blood Lipids and Lipoprotein Subclasses Among Healthy Elders


By:  Rajaram S, Cofan M, Sala-Vila A, Haddad E, Serra M, Bitok E, Roth I, Freitas-Simoes TM, Kaur A, Valls-Pedret C, Domenech M, Oda K, Corella D, Sabate J, Ros E.


Frequent consumption of nuts, an important component of plant-based diets, is associated with 15% lower total cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 23% lower CVD mortality rates. Small, short-term randomized controlled trials (RCTs) indicate that diets supplemented with nuts have a consistent cholesterol-lowering effect; however, no trials of nut-enriched diets for lipid changes focused on elderly individuals, recruited participants from diverse geographical locations, or lasted 2 years. Also, there is little information concerning effects of nuts on lipoprotein subclasses.


We hypothesized that incorporating walnuts into the usual diet would improve the lipid profile irrespective of differences in geographical and dietary background.


Methods: The Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study is a two-center (Barcelona, Spain and California, USA), 2-year, parallel-group RCT testing the effects of walnut-supplemented diets in healthy elders. Lipoprotein changes were a pre-specified secondary outcome. Eligible candidates were cognitively healthy elders (63-79 years old) without major comorbidities. Participants (n=708) were allocated to either a walnut-free (control) or walnut-supplemented diet (≈15% of energy, 30-60g/day). In 2 monthly visits, compliance, tolerance, medication changes, and body weight were recorded. At each visit, 8-week allotments of raw, pieced walnuts were delivered to the corresponding group.


Results: 636 participants completed the study (90% retention rate), and 628 had full data for lipoprotein analyses (mean age 69 years, 67% women, 32% treated with statins). Mean baseline LDL-C and triglycerides were 117 and 105 mg/dL, respectively. The walnut diet significantly decreased (mg/dL) total cholesterol (mean -8.5 [95% CI, -11.2, -5.4]), LDL-C (mean -4.3 [-6.6, -1.6]), and intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL)-C (-1.3 [-1.5, -1.0]), corresponding to reductions of 4.4%, 3.6%, and 16.8%, respectively, while triglycerides and HDL-C were unaffected (Figures-B, C). Total LDL particles and small LDL particle number decreased by 4.3% and 6.1%, respectively (Figure-D). Results were not different by study site. Lipid responses to the walnut diet differed by sex: LDL-C was reduced by 7.9% in men and by 2.6% in women (P-interaction=0.007).


Conclusion: The results demonstrate that incorporating daily doses of walnuts (≈15% of energy) to the habitual diet of free-living elders with an essentially normal lipid profile resulted in a mean 4.3 mg/dL LDL-C reduction, which is modest, although greater responses have been observed among individuals with hypercholesterolemia. Our data also support a beneficial effect of the walnut diet on NMR-assessed lipoprotein subfractions, with reductions of IDL-C (a sizable contributor to remnant-C) and total LDL particles. Prospective studies have reported that LDL particle number consistently outperforms LDL-C in CVD risk prediction and that remnant-C causally relates to CVD independent of LDL-C. That lipid responses were not different in two cohorts consuming diverse diets strengthens the generalization of our results. WAHA is the largest and longest nut trial to date, overcoming the limitations of prior smaller and shorter nut studies. The novel finding of sexual dimorphism in LDL-C response to walnut supplementation needs confirmation.

WAHA was conducted in free-living individuals, who chose their daily foods, which may be viewed as desirable since it is closer to real life than the situation in controlled feeding studies. On the basis of associations ascertained in cohort studies, the observed shift of the lipoprotein subclass phenotype suggests a reduction of lipoprotein-related CVD risk by long-term consumption of walnuts, which provides novel mechanistic insight for their potential cardiovascular benefit beyond effects on the standard lipid panel. Our data reinforce the notion that regular walnut consumption may be a useful part of a multi-component dietary intervention or dietary pattern to lower atherogenic lipids and improve CVD risk.

2021-09-22T14:17:04-07:00September 22nd, 2021|

Raw Milk Recall!




Raw cow milk produced and packaged by Valley Milk Simply Bottled of Stanislaus County is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni in the farm’s packaged raw whole cow milk sampled and tested by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The raw cow milk is distributed in one-gallon (128 oz) and half-gallon (64 oz) plastic jugs with brown colored bottle caps and labeled as “Valley Milk Simply Bottled Raw Milk” or “DESI MILK Raw Milk”. The recall order applies to products marked on the container with expiration code dates of SEP 26 2021 through OCT 03 2021.

Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators, and retailers are to pull the product immediately from their shelves.  Products from the firm marked with other expiration code dates or with bottle caps of a different color than brown are not subject to the recall order.

CDFA found the campylobacter bacteria in a routine sample collected at the Valley Milk Simply Bottled production and packaging facility.  No illnesses have been reported.

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever.  Most people with camplylobacteriosis recover completely.  Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week.  The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all.  However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection.  A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection.  In addition, a rare disease called Guillian-Barre syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.

2021-09-22T13:02:21-07:00September 22nd, 2021|

Walnuts in Plant Based Diets

Walnuts Are Part of Plant Based Eating


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor


The California Walnut Board & Commission are working hard to position walnuts as a perfect plant-based protein food. Jennifer Olmstead is Marketing Director for domestic public relations for the California Walnut Board & Commission. She said you definitely don’t want to overlook walnuts when talking about plants.

They have so many different nutrients to offer. One of them is the fact that they’re the only nut that’s significantly high in essential plant-based Omega-3 ALA.

And she said that’s the kind of Omega-3 fatty acid that you can get only by consuming this type of food. And then of course, they offer a nice amount of plant-based protein and fiber and are also a good source of magnesium.

Olmstead comments on the Have A Plant eating guide, that’s available. “It’s available through the Produce for Better Health Foundation website. And we worked with Produce for Better Health Foundation to develop this Plant-Forward eating guide that’s really targeted to health professionals, retailers, and food professionals,” noted Olmstead.

We have also provided all of those people with a toolkit of recipes, social media posts, graphics, and other assets that they can use to then take the information from the guide and share it with their own customers.

You can find out more information at, where you’ll find that Have A Plant information also information at

2021-09-21T19:31:55-07:00September 21st, 2021|

LearnAboutAg Classroom Conference 2021

Save the Date for the Virtual 2021 California Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, September 24-25, 2021, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom has scheduled its  34th annual conference for educators—an online class

California agriculture is diverse—producing everything from vegetables, to milk, to fruits and nuts, and to field crops and livestock. Farming shapes the local landscape in each California county. The goal is to make sure students learn about agriculture and how it contributes to each and every one of our lives each and every day.

Teaching students about the journey their food and fiber undergoes from the farm to their everyday lives is an important message. Using Agriculture in the Classroom allows students to experience real-life lessons that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Although the conference lasts only two days, it’s hoped that teachers continue to LearnAboutAg® all year long! LearnAboutAg is here to help you continue incorporating the theme of agriculture into your classroom, or for those of you new to our program, how to get started!

We look forward to your registration and “seeing” you on Zoom!

2021-09-16T19:29:18-07:00September 16th, 2021|

State Allocates $15 Million for Pollinators

Villapudua Leads Critical Investment Opportunity for Agriculture Community

California Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) celebrated the Assembly’s approval of $15 million recently to support our state’s pollinator habitats.

“Our agriculture community, and thus the world’s food supply, is greatly impacted by the wellbeing of our pollinating populations,” said Assemblymember Villapudua. “By prioritizing investments to support these pollinators and their habitats, we take the needed steps to care for and strengthen our agricultural output and further sustain California’s economy. These funds have never been more important as we navigate the difficult challenges our changing climate has presented for the Central Valley and will work to advance our biodiversity, climate resilience, and sustainable agriculture goals. I want to thank the Legislature and our Governor for recognizing this need and taking action to fund enhancements for these habitats.”

Our pollinators are responsible for bringing us one-third of every bite of food we take. Their pollinating activities help sustain our ecosystems and facilitate the reproduction of many flowering plants the produce fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, fibers, and raw materials, and helps draw down carbon into plant material and soils to reduce erosion, suppress invasive weeds, and allow native plants and species to thrive.

“California almond farmers know that every almond exists because a honey bee visited an almond blossom. Honey bees and other pollinators need a varied and nutritious diet. State funding will help growers implement those important conservation practices that benefit honey bees as they forage for pollen and nectar in the orchard,” said Almond Alliance President, Elaine Trevino. “The Almond Alliance is pleased that the State Legislature has approved funding for this important activity. We thank Assemblymember Villapudua for his leadership on AB 391, which highlighted the need for funds to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices designed to integrate pollinator habitat and forage on working lands.”

The co-beneficial opportunity to expand pollinator habitats on working lands progress California towards our goals of conserving 30 percent of habitat biodiversity, enhancing our climate resilience, and bolstering our food supply.

2021-09-15T19:24:39-07:00September 15th, 2021|

Coating Crops For Protection

Crop Enhancement Developing Crop Camouflage


By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 


With increased consumer and regulatory pressure on crop protection products, many companies are looking to develop alternatives to legacy chemicals. Crop Enhancement is one such San Jose-based company that’s taking a novel approach to protection from insect pests.

“Our approach at Crop Enhancement has been to focus on the plant surface and we wanted to make that surface harder to attack. We’ve created non-toxic plant-based coatings that protect crops from pests and diseases. We supply them as a concentrate that gets diluted in a spray tank and applied just like other crop protectants,” said Company CEO Damian Hajduk.

Hajduk likens the product to camouflage, so that certain pests don’t recognize the plant as food.

“You know, we thought we were creating a shield on the plant surface that would block insects from reaching the fruit or the plant. But when we look closely, we saw something different. We were actually creating camouflage for plants. So when we place insects on a treated plant, they wander aimlessly over the surface. They don’t recognize it as something they want to eat or reproduce on. So they rarely stop to feed. They become malnourished and they gradually starve,” Hajduk said.

Learn more about the product, which is still in the development phase, at their website

2021-09-14T19:37:21-07:00September 14th, 2021|

Elaine Trevino is Tapped as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the United States

Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino Nominated as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator 

Almond Alliance of California President Elaine Trevino has been nominated by President Biden as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the United States Trade Representative. The position is responsible for conducting and overseeing international negotiations related to trade of the nation’s agricultural products – including California almonds.

Almond Alliance Chairman Mike Curry commented, “Although we will miss Elaine’s leadership and energy, we are excited for the almond industry, the Central Valley (where she grew up) and California agriculture to have such a passionate and committed person serving in the Chief Agricultural Negotiator role. We are thrilled to see Elaine nominated for this position and know that her experience with us at the Almond Alliance will carry over into her new role – working for farmers and ranchers, their families and the workers and businesses in the rural communities where we live.”

Curry noted that Elaine’s nomination requires U.S. Senate confirmation. “We assure our members that the Board of Directors of the Almond Alliance will lead a smooth transition in partnership with Elaine to identify and hire her successor. While we’re transitioning, the Board, Elaine and the Almond Alliance team will not skip a beat in our advocacy work on behalf of California almonds, both on the state and federal levels.”

As President of the Almond Alliance of California (AAC), Elaine leads a member-based trade association that advocates on regulatory and legislative issues in areas of international trade, food safety, water quality and availability, crop protection, air quality, worker safety, supply chain and feed quality.

Elaine has worked on advocating for funding for COVID-19 relief, addressing retaliatory tariffs, climate smart farming, public private partnerships for opening new markets and strengthening existing markets and addressing technical sanitary and phytosanitary barriers. Elaine works at the local and federal levels on addressing port congestions and supply chain disruptions and excessive costs.

Elaine served as a Deputy Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis.  She was responsible for the oversight of the international export and trade programs, specialty crop block grant funding, division of marketing services, plant health and pest prevention and the statewide county fair network. Elaine serves on USDA’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC).  Born and raised in the Central Valley of California, Elaine has a long history of community service and has a great respect for agriculture and the value of the industry to California’s economy. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California Berkeley and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

2021-09-14T17:05:19-07:00September 14th, 2021|

South of Delta Water Deliveries Not Hopeful


More Conveyance Needed for Ag Water


By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network


What’s the future look like in terms of water deliveries from the Delta for farmers? David Orth is a principal at New Current Water and Land based in Fresno, a consulting firm helping growers navigate SGMA.


“I believe that the long-term solution for the San Joaquin Valley is that we restore some of the surface water from Delta exports that we developed a lot of our property around to levels that pull us away from and allow us to sustainably use ground water.


“Again, having fought the battle of Delta exports for a couple of decades, I’m not optimistic that we’re going to solve that problem,” said Orth. “There are these little issues relative to the Endangered Species Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Water Quality Acts that really impact our ability to export surface water back into the valley. And so we can talk about creating recharge basins, we can talk about in creating conveyance where there’s really high flow storm sewers and keeping more of that water here as opposed to flowing out of the Delta,” Orth said.

And Orth said, if something doesn’t seriously happen fast, it doesn’t look real good for the future.

There’s not 2 million-acre feet of water that can be developed under those strategies. There’s a fraction of that 2 million, so the reality is we’re going to see a shrinking of production land. There’s just, in my view, no way to get around it.

2021-09-09T20:27:50-07:00September 9th, 2021|
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