Looking ahead – December is Farm to Food Bank Month

By: Monique Bienvenue; Social Media Manager/Reporter

California produces one half of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables and is also the largest dairy producing state. Yet in California, the nation’s largest agricultural producer, one in four children and one in six adults regularly go hungry. Join the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Association of Food Banks, and CA Grown  in combating hunger.

This is why December is ‘Farm to Food Bank Month’. It is an opportunity to not only recognize the great work that is occurring on an ongoing basis – Ag Against HungerHidden HarvestYoung Farmers and Ranchers, and Farm to Family – but also provides a chance for California farm families to give back to their communities.

CDFA is working in collaboration with its State Board of Food and Agriculture to try to increase annual farm-to-food bank donations to 200 million pounds by next year.

Help join the cause and participate at our upcoming Farm to Food Bank event on Wednesday, December 3rdfrom 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose.  Let’s work to end hunger in California!

Secretary Ross Teams Up With Visit California to Promote Agritourism

Two top state officials for agriculture and tourism paid Fresno a visit Monday to talk about how local growers can benefit from the fast-growing trend of agritourism.

About 60 agriculture and business leaders gathered at the California State University, Fresno campus to hear Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and Caroline Beteta, Visit California’s chief executive officer, explain how the CA Grown and Visit California brands will work with Sunset and Food and Wine magazines to promote agritourism.

Self-proclaimed foodies want to see where their meals comes from and meet the farmers behind this farm-to-fork movement.

“It’s about, ‘here’s what farmers and ranchers are doing as your neighbors,’ their environmental stewardship,” said Ross. “It’s about the pride of what we produce here, and it’s about this wonderful lifestyle and supporting the economy at the same time.”

Fresno County is the top producing agriculture county in the nation with the value of the 2012 crops reaching $6.5 billion. Of the $112 billion spent on tourism in 2012 in California, about a fourth of that was spent on food.

That same year, tourism brought $1.3 billion to Fresno County, according to Ross. Much of this is due to Yosemite tourists, the Blossom Trail and Fruit Trail, she said.

The Blossom Trail is a self-guided motor and bike tour of blossoming orchards along Fresno Country roads. The Fruit Trail is similar to a wine trail and features a drive through the county where visitors can taste and purchase local produce fresh from the farm.

The University of California at Davis runs the agricultural tourism directory for the state. Penny Leff, the agritourism coordinator with UC Davis and the Small Farm Program, said that from 2007 to 2012, agritourism has really picked up in California.

“Most families don’t have anyone on the farm anymore to go visit,” said Leff. “Farmers are interested in educating the public in what’s going on, what goes into making the food. They really want to share with the public and make them understand.”

According to UC data, the amount of sales from agritourism and recreation services has increased 84% in the state from 2007 to 2012, to $64.5 million.

A Sanger couple has seen the rise of agritourism first hand. Debbie Van Haun and her husband, Jim, own a bed and breakfast with a winery attached. She said that during the busy summer season, the area could use more businesses to handle all the tourists.

Van Haun said that most of their business comes from tourists traveling to Yosemite or Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks, but they do see local couples trying to get away for an anniversary weekend.

“It’s a lot of hard work and is a labor of love,” Van Haun said. “We moved here thinking agritourism would make a difference in the area and it has.”

The couple opened Sequoia View Bed and Breakfast first about 15 years ago, and fixed up the vineyard in 2003. They produce 130 barrels, or 7,800 gallons, of mostly red wines annually.

Van Haun said that the Blossom Trail and Fruit Trail have increased the agritourism in the Sanger area, and the couple attributes much of the credit to the Fresno County Office of Tourism.

With the booming wine industry and traffic picking up at the bed and breakfast, Van Haun said she is seeing their revenue return to what it was in 2008.

Through CA Grown and Visit California, the state hopes to create the kind of interest in locally grown food to rival the desire people have for California wine, Beteta said.

California Grown Branding Becomes Available to Farm Bureau Members

Through a new strategic partnership between the California Farm Bureau Federation and the Buy California Marketing Agreement, Farm Bureau members in California now have access to a 50 percent discount on California Grown branding and licensing for their agricultural commodities.

CFBF, a member of the marketing agreement, will help to promote and strengthen its California Grown brand, popularized through use of a blue-and-gold “CA Grown” license plate logo affixed to agricultural products. The joint venture provides a discounted channel for Farm Bureau members to connect with shoppers who enjoy and seek out California-grown foods and farm products.

“Farm Bureau and California Grown each recognize that people are eager to learn more about where their food comes from and how it is produced,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said. “California Grown is a powerful brand that resonates with shoppers, and we look forward to helping widen its reach.”

The purpose of the California Grown brand is to increase awareness and consumption of the state’s agricultural products among California consumers. Established 12 years ago, the California Grown program has been successful in maintaining the integrity behind the California Grown brand.

The California Grown service mark is designed to be used in advertisements, collateral materials, in-store materials and other places to indicate support of the California Grown campaign. Farm Bureau members interested in the program and seeking more information about California Grown branding may visit the California Grown website at www.californiagrown.org or phone 916-441-5302.


The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 78,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

Ag Day at the State Capitol

WHAT: On Wednesday, March 19, The California Department of Food and Agriculture will partner with the California Women for Agriculture and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom to host the annual California Ag Day. This year’s theme is, “Common Ground: Celebration, Innovation, Education.”

Exhibits will include advances in aquaculture and a demonstration of robotics featuring an electronic milking cow named Buttercup.

Ag Day will recognize the centennial anniversary of the University of California’s Office of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which has helped stimulate a culture of innovation in California agriculture during its 100-year history of bringing knowledge from academic research laboratories to farmers and ranchers throughout California.

The event will also include the announcement of a new partnership between CA Grown and Visit California – celebrating the collaboration between farmers and chefs to make California a culinary destination for millions.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ~ Legislators and staff tour booths

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ~ Open to the public

WHO: CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

California Women for Agriculture President Lynn Figone

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom Executive Director Judy Culbertson

University of California Office of Agriculture and Natural Resources President Barbara Allen-Diaz

Visit California President and CEO Carolyn Beteta

California Farm Bureau Federation First Vice-President Kenny Watkins

WHERE: California State Capitol Building, west steps.

WHY: Ag Day is an annual event to recognize California’s agricultural community by showcasing the numerous commodities that are produced in our state.

It is also a day for the agricultural community to show its appreciation by bringing together state legislators, government leaders and the public for agricultural education and healthy treats.