Explorer Course Offered by Center of Land-based Learning

New Introductory Farming Course to be offered by Center for Land-Based Learning


In response to an unmet need in the region for entry-level beginning farmer courses, the California Farm Academy, a program of the Center for Land-Based Learning, is offering a new program in 2021: the CFA Explorer Course.

The Explorer Course will last for six weeks and accept a small cohort to allow for social distancing while exploring the field of farming firsthand. A combination of online learning classes, farm tours, and hands-on field sessions, the CFA Explorer Course offers adults interested in farming their first introduction to the field. The Explorer Course will be offered for the first time May 22-July 3, 2021 and then again August 21- September 25.

California Farm Academy Director, Dr. Sridharan (Sri) Sethuratnam, said of the program, “The Explorer is the ideal first step for someone who has been dreaming of farming for a while but did not know where to start. The Explorer will provide them with the formative knowledge and guide them to tangible next steps in their farming journey.”

A Beginning Farmer at the Center for Land-Based Learning in Woodland

The California Farm Academy’s 7-month Beginning Farmer Training Program will be taking a hiatus in 2021 to thoughtfully and strategically prepare for its second decade. Be on the lookout for announcements on the 2022 CFA Beginning Farmer Training Program’s application deadlines later this year.

Mary Kimball, CEO of the Center for Land-Based Learning, commented on the program innovation for 2021, “We’re very excited to add the Explorer Course to our CFA Program offering this year. It’s been something we’ve long been evaluating, and it turns out that this year is the perfect year to start it. We know that many people aren’t quite ready to take the full 7-month Training Program plunge, and we hope that the Explorer Course will be something that we can continue to offer in future years as well. There is already a great deal of interest, and we look forward to welcoming new people into the exciting opportunities that farming provides.”

There are limited spots left in the spring Explorer course!​If you are interested, email ​sri@landbasedlearning.org​today. The application portal will open in July for the fall Explorer course.


2021-05-13T16:03:59-07:00March 18th, 2021|

New Location for Center for Land-Based Learning Breaks Ground

$1.5 Million Lead Gift Launches Campaign for Center for Land-Based Learning’s New State Headquarters

News Release

The Center for Land-Based Learning announced a lead gift of $1.5 million from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation at a groundbreaking celebration today for the Center’s new site in Woodland.

The gift officially launches the Center for Land-Based Learning’s $4 million Growing Our Future Campaign to build a new statewide headquarters and expand its programs and services. In recognition of this generous gift, the Center for Land-Based Learning will name its new administrative building the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Farm House.

The Center For Land-Based Learning Groundbreaking today.

The groundbreaking, which coincided with the Center for Land-Based Learning’s 25th anniversary, took place on part of the original Patwin Tribal Land. The site, a historic 50-acre farm in Woodland known as The Maples, is owned by Clark Pacific, which is providing the Center with substantial support, including a no-cost, 25-year+ lease for major portions of the property and buildings.

“We are extremely grateful to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation for their remarkable and inspiring gift,” said Center for Land-Based Learning Executive Director Mary Kimball. “Their donation, in conjunction with the generous support of Clark Pacific, gives us the capacity to train, support, and resource stewards as we look forward to the next 25 years.”

A rendering of the new Center For Land-Based Building.

The Center will include:

-Yocha Dehe Farm House — A 5,400 square-foot building to house new administrative offices, community services, and classrooms.
-New and existing barn buildings — For storing training equipment and supplies and housing a produce washing, packing, and cooling station.
-Three farm fields totaling 30 acres — This is six times more acreage than the current site in Winters.
-Cache Creek riparian habitat and restoration area — Nearly nine acres of creek-side habitat and floodplains for restoration education.
-Space for training in resource conservation and “beautification” — Landscaping and designated areas for farm and conservation training and education in aesthetically-designed spaces.

“The Yocha Dehe people have a deep connection with the land of the Capay Valley, where our ancestors lived for hundreds of years, and we are committed to protect and preserve it,” said Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Tribal Chairman Anthony Roberts. “One of the best ways we can do that is to work together as a community to educate about the importance of and ways for caring for the beautiful valley, soil, and environment around us. For 25 years, the Center for Land-Based Learning has led the way in developing agricultural leaders and natural resources stewards among us, and we are proud to partner with the organization to support what we are confident will be an incredible success over its next quarter century.”

Established in 1993 by walnut farmers Craig and Julie McNamara, the nonprofit Center for Land-Based Learning inspires, educates, and cultivates future generations of farmers agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards.

“Agriculture is our heritage and our future,” said Craig McNamara. “By training a new generation of farmers and decision makers, the Center is helping ensure the long-term prosperity of California. Their passion and their mission deserve our support.”

2019-05-11T07:57:48-07:00May 10th, 2019|

Eighteen New California Farm Academy Graduates!

Eighteen New Farmers Graduate from California Farm Academy


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director


The California Farm Academy, a part-time, seven-month, beginning farmer training program run by the Land-Based Learning, graduated 18 new farmers on Sunday, September 18, 2016.


With more than 250 hours of classroom and field training behind them, these enterprising graduates were honored by notables such as Karen Ross, secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA); Craig McNamara, president and owner of Sierra Orchards, as well as president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture; Sri Sethuratnam, director, California Farm Academy (CFA); and Mary Kimball, executive director, Center for Land-Based Learning, based in Winters California.

new farmers graduate from California Farm Academy beginning farmer training program run by the Land-Based Learning.

Eighteen new farmers graduated from California Farm Academy’s beginning farmer training program run by the Center for Land-Based Learning.


“The impetus of our program,” said Christine McMorrow, director of development for Land-Based Learning, “is the need for more farmers as the current ones age out. According to the USDA, over 700,000 new farmers will be needed in the next 20 years to replace those who retire.


CFA teachers, farmers, academic faculty and staff, and agricultural, natural resource and business professionals, teach CFA students basic production agricultural practices; crop planning; soil science; pest management; organic agriculture; irrigation and water management; marketing; ecology and conservation; obtaining loans, insurance and permits; farm financials; human resource management; risk management; farm safety; regulatory compliance and problem-solving.


McMorrow stated, “These folks have been with us since February, following a rigorous application process. A lot of these folks either have land they have dreamed of farming but did not know how to put it into production. Some of them come from farming families, but they wanted to get involved in the family business on their own. They may have been in a different career and now want to do something new or different. Perhaps they haven’t studied agriculture or they have not seen much agriculture other than what their family does, so this is an opportunity for them to learn and to explore a new business idea.


“We only take people who are serious about production agriculture. This is not a program for somebody who thinks, ‘I’ve got an acre in my backyard and I really want to grow something.’ While that’s a cool thing to do, the academy is not for those people.”


“Our graduating farmers, who range in age from their late 20s to early 50s, each wrote a business plan and presented it to folks within the agriculture industry,” said McMorrow. “They also planted some of their own crops on a farm in Winters.


McMorrow elaborated, “These new farmers have been able to create their own networks, having made contact with more than 40 different folks within the agricultural industry throughout the time they spent with us. These networks include local farmers around Yolo County, Solano County, Sacramento County, and other regions, and will help our graduates realize their dreams.”


California Farm Academy (CFA) We grow farmers

“This is the fifth class that has graduated,” explained McMorrow, “and mind you, these folks are doing lots of different things. Some of them already have their own land, some are going to work for someone who has land, some will work other farmers, and some will go into a food-related business.”


“Still others will stay and lease small plots of land from us,” McMorrow commented, “to start their own farming business. Beginning farmers face huge barriers to getting started, the biggest of which is access to land, capital and infrastructure. So, to get their farming businesses started, California Farm Academy alumni are eligible to lease land at sites in West Sacramento, Davis and Winters at a very low cost.”

The Center for Land-Based Learning exists to cultivate opportunity.

For the land.

For youth.

For the environment.

For business.

For the economy.

For the future of agriculture.
2021-05-12T11:00:49-07:00September 19th, 2016|

SAGE Welcomes Poppy Davis as New Program Director, One of Our Own

SAGE’s New Program Director Poppy Davis to Expand Organization’s Capacity for Cultivating Urban-Edge Agricultural Places

Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) welcomes Poppy Davis as Program Director to expand the organization’s capacity and develop and implement strategies for revitalizing urban-edge agricultural places that sustain and define cities. SAGE is a lean, entrepreneurial nonprofit organization headed by Sibella Kraus, recipient of the 2014 Growing Green Regional Food Leader Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Sibella Kraus, SAGE President

Sibella Kraus, SAGE President and recipient of 2014 Growing Green Regional Food Leader Award

Working through multi-partner collaborations, SAGE develops place-based projects, toolkits and conceptual frameworks to demonstrate strategies for urban-edge farmland preservation, regeneration, and re-connection with healthy cities.  SAGE also provides agriculture-related technical services such as foodshed and agricultural economic viability assessments, implementation plans and business plans. Partners include public agencies, land trusts, agricultural enterprises and associations, planning and economic consultancy firms, public-interest organizations working in the area of public health, healthy food access, education and conservation, and community groups in urban and rural areas.

Sibella founded SAGE in 2001 to use her background in agricultural marketing, education and journalism, to help diverse stakeholders embrace urban-edge agricultural places as keystones of urban and regional sustainability. Bringing Poppy on board strengthens the organization’s capacity to work with the agricultural community, particularly retiring landowners and beginning farmers and ranchers who are eager to benefit from new opportunities at the urban-edge.

Poppy Davis, New Program Director at SAGE

Poppy Davis, New Program Director at SAGE

Poppy began her career as a California Certified Public Accountant specializing in family-scale agricultural businesses and associations. She translated her intimate knowledge of agricultural issues and farm-family decision-making to the policy arena, working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), first for the crop insurance program in the Western Region and most recently as the National Program Leader for Small Farms and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Washington, D.C.. While at the USDA she served as a member of the management team for Secretary Vilsack‘s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative,

Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.

Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.

and co-founded the USDA 4 Veterans, Reservists & Military Families, and Women and Working Lands workgroups. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis; a Masters in Journalism from Georgetown University, and a Juris Doctor with a certificate in Agricultural Law from Drake University Law School. Poppy is also a past fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 35) and has served on a number of nonprofit boards including the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, Center for Land Based Learning, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

Farmer Veteran Coalition

Farmer Veteran Coalition

“We are delighted to welcome Poppy to SAGE,” says Kraus. “Poppy’s breadth of experience – providing services to farmers, working for ag-focused nonprofits and for the USDA – and the respect she commands in the California and national agricultural communities, make her the ideal person to help SAGE grow our mission to cultivate urban-edge places that model sustainable agriculture integrated with resilient communities.” For her part, Poppy says, “I have long respected Sibella’s vision and work, and I think we will make a great team. Sibella already has many forward-thinking projects in the works, and I’m looking forward to working with SAGE’s diverse partners, as well as bringing in collaborations of my own.”

California Agricultural Leadership Foundation

California Agricultural Leadership Foundation

SAGE’s areas of expertise, services and publications include:

  • Technical consulting and visioning on the agricultural components of land-use projects and policy documents
  • On-the-ground models and best practice toolkits that integrate farming with public engagement and natural resources stewardship
  • Foodshed  and local agriculture assessments  for land trusts, local and regional governments, associations and businesses
  • Conceptual frameworks that bridge sustainable agriculture and graphic models that depict the inter-relationship of urban and agricultural land uses
For more information, please contact Sibella Kraus or Poppy Davis at 510-526-1793 or via email at sibella@sagecenter.org or poppy@sagecenter.org, or see www.sagecenter.org.
2016-08-03T20:54:37-07:00March 13th, 2015|

California FARMS Leadership Program Aims to Get Youth in Ag Business

Christine McMorrow Heads up FARMS Leadership Program

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

California-based “Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability,” or FARMS Leadership Program, is a special Center for Land-Based Learning program that provides innovative, hands-on experiences to urban, suburban and rural youth at working farms, agri-businesses and universities.

“We currently serve students in 10 California counties, seven sites throughout the state, and because agriculture is becoming such a key issue in California and more people are becoming interested in farming practices, knowing where their food comes from, and how it’s grown,” said Christine McMorrow, FARMS Leadership Program Director.

McMorrow said, “Our primary goal is to get high school students out on farms and ranches, into Agri-businesses, learning about jobs in agriculture, especially jobs that go beyond production agriculture. Those jobs that involve science, technology, engineering, and math,” said McMorrow.

As industry partners are always looking for qualified people, McMorrow explained, “We want to help generate those qualified people, so we are getting students from ag backgrounds and students who are not from ag backgrounds and exposing them to the wide variety of careers available to them in agriculture.”

She said the best way to enable those students to know what all the different jobs in agriculture is to get them to where the work is happening.“We give them opportunities to do work on these farms and in these businesses. We also make sure they have plenty of opportunities to speak with people working there and find out how they became interested in agriculture and how they got to where they are today,” said McMorrow.

For more information the program, go to the FARMS website. If you represent an agricultural company that needs good qualified help, go to the Center for Land-based Learning website for contact information.


2016-05-31T19:32:18-07:00October 23rd, 2014|

From Service to Harvest – Military Veteran Deploys Aquaponics on the Farm

By: Blair Anthony Robertson; Sacramento Bee

Farming wasn’t Vonita Murray’s first choice, but after making a drastic career change, the 38-year-old Navy Veteran, former office manager and longtime fitness enthusiastic now believes digging in the dirt, growing food and being her own boss may be the dream job she has always wanted.

The transition to farming for Murray, 38, happened gradually over the past several years. She eventually took stock of her life, sized up her talents, sharpened the focus on her dreams and decided she was no longer cut out for a desk job.

For several years, Murray had been an office manager and a CAD, or computer-assisted design, technician for an architecture firm. Much of her work focused on remodeling floor plans for a major fast food chain’s Northern California stores. But when the economic downturn hit the architecture and design industry, Murray got laid off. She saw it as a chance to make a change in her life.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said.

Using a $5,000 grant she received from the Davis-based Farmer Veteran Coalition, Murray bought some basic farm equipment and managed to launch her new career. She also enrolled in the first class of the California Farm Academy, a six-month farming course run by the Center for Land-based Learning in Winters.

Murray knows it will take hard work and several years before she can make a comfortable living as a farmer. But she has a long-term plan and says farming – including many 12-hour days – is exactly the lifestyle she was seeking.

“I’ve never been so tired, so broke and so happy,” she said with a laugh. “For the first time in my life, I have worth and a purpose. What I do has value in people’s lives.”

More and more veterans are turning to farming to connect in a similar way. “We’re all a family and we all try to help each other succeed,” Murray said.

When Michael O’Gorman founded the Farmer Veteran Coalition in 2009, he searched throughout the U.S. and found just nine veterans interested in going into farming. By the end of that year, the number was up to 30. These days, O’Gorman and his group have helped 3,000 veterans transition into farming.

“What’s really attracting veterans to agriculture is it offers a sense of purpose and a sense of mission,” said O’Gorman, who has farmed for 40 years. “It’s about feeding their country, offering food security and a better diet.”

O’Gorman is seeing more women get into farming and says Murray is a great role model.

“Vonita is dynamic, creative, energetic and smart. Whatever she does, she will do it well and take it places,” he said. “She’s a growing phenomenon. About 15 percent of those who serve in the military are women and that’s about the same percentage we hear from.

More and more women are going into agriculture. The military and farming are both male-dominated. The women who have taken on both of them just seem like a really exceptional group.”

Those who encounter Murray are often impressed by her energy and her holistic, lead-by-example approach to farming. Not only does she want to grow good food, she sees the work she does as a way to help people be healthy.

Indeed, Murray’s physical presence says plenty. Though she no longer trains as a bodybuilder, she remains noticeably lean and muscular. Her workouts these days focus on functional training and she is a big advocate of Crossfit, which combines classic weightlifting with mobility exercises.

“I’m doing all this because I want to get people healthy,” said Murray, noting that she hopes to someday build an obstacle course on the property so people can use it to work out.

She also has a penchant for unorthodox and innovative approaches to growing food. Standing on a portion of the land she leases in rural Elverta next to the renowned Sterling Caviar facility, Murray watches water stream past. It’s runoff from the tanks where sturgeon are raised for their prized caviar. It’s also the key to what she will grow on her new “farm” site.

Murray essentially harnesses the water, 3 million gallons a day and loaded with nutrients, to create an innovative style of growing food called aquaponics, which combines modern hydroponics with forward-thinking environmental awareness.

The water goes through a settling pond to separate solids from liquids, travels through a moat and into small ponds where Murray is growing produce she sells to restaurants and to a growing number of customers at the Saturday farmers market in Oak Park.

The outgoing and optimistic Murray has put some of her energy into tapping resources that can help get her going in farming. She obtained a $35,000 low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Murray, whose produce operation is going to specialize in watercress, says she would have been at a loss as to how to proceed as a farmer without the education she got at the California Farm Academy. The program costs about $2,600 and various grants subsidize the tuition, according to Dawnie Andrak, director of development for the Center of Land-Based Learning.

Those who enroll run the gamut of age and work background. About 20 students graduate each year. To make it a real-world experience, they write a business plan and present it to a panel composed of people from the banking, business and farm community.

“There are more women like Vonita getting into farming,” Andrak said. “You will not find someone more dedicated and more clear about what it is she wants to do. She is certainly not one to give up.”

Jennifer Taylor, the director of the Farm Academy, is herself an example of a woman who made the career leap into farming. She was a research biologist who had no idea until well after college that a life in agriculture might appeal to her. She landed a four-month internship on a farm, was given four calves and eventually rented a barn and started dairy farming.

“If you have no connection to agriculture, it’s very difficult to imagine yourself doing it, Taylor said. “It’s a way many people want to live, an opportunity to be your own boss, work outside with your hands and be your own boss.”

But can you make a living?

“That depends,” said Taylor, noting that one young farmer from the program now sells to about 50 Bay Area restaurants and nets about $75,000 a year.

Back in Elverta, Murray is busy tending her crops and her chickens. She’s not making a profit yet, but she knows it takes time. More than anything, she loves the work, the lifestyle and the mission. She sometimes feels the stress of having debt and not knowing whether her crops will thrive.

But her farm is called Thrive Acres for a reason.

“You have to keep dreaming,” she said with a smile. “This is just the beginning.”


2016-05-31T19:35:25-07:00June 17th, 2014|

Benefits of Hedgerows on Farms in the Sacramento Valley

Hedgerows Benefit Farms


On April 30th, the Center for Land-Based Learning will host a workshop that will focus on the benefits of hedgerows of California native plants in agricultural landscapes, including enhanced populations of native bees and beneficial insects on farms.

They will also discuss establishment and maintenance practices for planting habitat on field crop edges and provide an overview of plant species appropriate for hedgerows in the Sacramento Valley and beyond.


When: April 30, 2014 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Where: The Center for Land-Based Learning, 5265 Putah Creek Road, Winters


  • 10:00 – Welcome and DPR Grant Project Update
  • 10:10 – The Farm on Putah Creek
  • 10:20 – Tillage, Crop Bloom and Ground Nesting Bees
  • 10:35 – Hedgerows and Rodents
  • 10:50 – Establishing Hedgerows on Field Edges
  • 11:10 – Hedgerows, Birds and Codling Moth
  • 11:25 – Hedgerows and IPM
  • 11:40 – Hedgerow Plant Selection
  • 12:00 – Summary and Audience Survey

For more information, please go to https://www.facebook.com/CaPesticideRegulation

2016-10-16T21:10:58-07:00April 28th, 2014|

California State Fair Announces 2014 Agriculturalist of the Year

For over 160 years, the California State Fair has showcased the progress and advancements of the State’s agricultural industry. The extraordinary contributions of many individuals and businesses committed to advancing our robust agricultural industry has resulted in growing public interest. In celebration of these accomplishments, the California State Fair annually presents a series of prestigious awards.

The California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors unanimously approved the nomination of Craig McNamara as the 2014 Agriculturalist of the Year.

“The State Fair has been recognizing California’s best for over 160 years, and honoring Craig is in keeping with this tradition of excellence,” said Rick K. Pickering, Chief Executive Officer of the California State Fair. “His leadership on critical policy issues facing California’s farmers, his passion to inspire the next generation of farmers, and his tireless dedication to responsible land stewardship, are samples of how he has positively impacted our great State for generations to come. California is a better place because of leaders like Craig McNamara.”

California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross also praised McNamara, “I wish to offer my congratulations to my colleague and friend Craig McNamara for being named Agriculturalist of the Year by the California State Fair. Craig is a uniquely visionary leader – someone who is highly deserving of this prestigious award.  Beyond his deep commitment as a farmer and as president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, Craig has a passion to bring disparate parties together to focus on the big challenges of our time. He has demonstrated his understanding of the need to reach our next generation through the great work of his groundbreaking Center for Land Based Learning in Winters, which connects students to nature and agriculture and, in the process, helps to groom our future farmers and leaders. Again, my heartfelt congratulations to Craig. He’s an agriculturist for all-time.”

The Agriculturalist of the Year award is presented to an individual who has contributed extensively, in a professional capacity, to California’s agricultural industry. Award criteria stipulates this individual must have demonstrated leadership and clearly represented the industry over a number of years in one or more of the following areas: finance, government, production agriculture, education, labor, research, communications, trade and public service.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” said honoree Craig McNamara, President of the State Food and Agriculture Board. “Todays farmers face daunting challenges but the opportunities available to us have never been more robust or promising. Our state is fortunate to have visionary leaders and informed citizens who care deeply about the future of our farms and our food.”

The Agriculturalist of the Year Award will be presented to Craig McNamara at the annual State Fair Gala held on Friday, June 27th, 2014. To learn more about ticket and sponsorship opportunities, contact Linda Hunt at lhunt@calexpo.com.  

To learn more about Craig McNamara, please click here to see his biography.

2016-05-31T19:38:03-07:00April 9th, 2014|

Center For Land-Based Learning Issues Official Statement On Chipotle’s “Farmed And Dangerous” Series And Cancelled Fundraiser

Chipotle’s “Farmed And Dangerous” Series Designed To Divide The Agricultural Community


By Laurie Greene, Associate Editor


After significant discussion among the Center for Land-Based Learning’s (CLBL) Board of Directors, they cancelled a Burrito Day! fundraising event with Chipotle, scheduled for Thursday, February 20, 2014.


Historically, the highly popular, nationwide Chipotle Mexican Grill chain, with its image closely tied to sustainable agriculture, has strongly supported the CLBL, which provides programs that create and nurture the next generation of farmers. That’s great because sustainability is key to all California farmers.


The Center, based in Winters, first became concerned about the fundraiser after Chipotle launched trailers one week prior to the fundraiser about a comedy series called, “Farmed and Dangerous.”


As stated on the Chipotle logo-identified Farmed and Dangerous website, “The series explores the outrageously twisted and utterly unsustainable world of industrial agriculture.” The series launched on HULU on February 17, three days prior to the event, and the company issued a press release stating that it “provides a satirical look at the lengths the agriculture industry goes to manage perceptions about its practices.”


The trailer narrative reads, “Industrial agriculture giant Animoil thinks it has the solution to feeding the world—and its own interests. But when activist Chip Randolph sets out to expose what happens before the meat gets butchered and the products hit the shelves, things get messy, literally.”


The Center cancelled the fundraising event citing the series’ animosity toward production agriculture as a marketing strategy, thus hurting agriculture at all levels, and called for critical-thinking and dialogue rather than divisive marketing.


Mary Kimbel, Executive Director, CLBL, said the Center had worked with Chipotle as a mutually beneficial partner for about 2.5 years. First, a Chipotle project last fall got the Center’s attention.


On September 12, 2013, Chipotle released “Scarecrow” and an accompanying press release with the following description:


Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) today launched “The Scarecrow,” an arcade-style adventure game for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, along with a companion animated short film of the same name. Both the game and the film depict a scarecrow’s journey to bring wholesome food back to the people by providing an alternative to the processed food that dominates his world.


“The Scarecrow” film and game are designed to help educate people about the world of industrial food production that supplies much of what they eat.


“The more people learn about where their food comes from and how it is prepared, the more likely they are to seek out high-quality, classically prepared food like we serve in our restaurants,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing officer at Chipotle. “We created ‘The Scarecrow’ game and film as an entertaining and engaging way to help people better understand the difference between processed food and the real thing.”


“More recently,” Kimbel said, “We made a decision to do a fundraising with 43 Chipotle restaurants from Chico to Visalia, including Napa and Sonoma as well.”


“We were to receive 50% of the proceeds from customers who mentioned CLBL or produced a fundraising flyer (on paper or cell phone),” Kimbel continued. “We would have received $20,000 to $40,000, but it is hard to know of course.”


What CLBL did receive was a strong agricultural industry response to Chipotle’s marketing strategies. “Out of concern,” said Kimbel,  “the CLBL Board watched the trailers and observed that this was a whole different level of marketing than prior Chipotle releases. It was stronger from the standpoint of really vilifying large-scale production agriculture, and our organization has always stood for working with all parts of agriculture, whether it’s a small-scale farm or a large-scale farm.”


She believes the series is too one-sided and agriculture is not black and white. “Agriculture is complex, has many challenges and we need to work on getting solutions,” explained Kimbel.


CLBL reached out to Chipotle management to have a discussion and is appreciative that Chipotle agreed and arranged it quickly. It was to have occurred on Friday (after press time).


“We want to understand their reasoning for the marketing campaign the way it is, and we want to present some of the information that we have here and why we think that there can be a positive kind of campaign without tearing down production Agriculture,” Kimbel commented.


“Chipolte has done a lot of very important things for the agricultural industry and they have made very positive changes, and we wish that that would be what was portrayed instead of tearing down part of agriculture that doesn’t need to be torn down.”


“All of agriculture is very important to our society,” she said. 


Regarding an outcome, Kimbel said, “Hopefully we will be able to come to a decision that we will be able to work together in the future with regards to discussions about marketing campaigns or and at least to be able to weigh in and provide input and feedback as it allows.”


“We have no idea what the ability to do that is, but those would be the things we would be asking for.”



Here is the Center for Land-Based Learning’s official statement dated February 20, 2014:


Chipotle has been a strong supporter of Land-Based Learning programs, and we have appreciated Chipotle’s partnership and enthusiasm for our mission. However, the Board unanimously feels that Chipotle’s current “Farmed and Dangerous” mini-series crosses a line by fostering animosity toward production agriculture. This strategy hurts agriculture at all levels, not just large-scale production agriculture.


The Land-Based Learning board represents a broad range of leaders in the community, including farmers, educators, financial professionals, and policy experts. Land-Based Learning is not dedicated to any particular farming approach; instead, we aim, through education, to produce future leaders in agriculture, whether small or large, organic or conventional.


We are disappointed in Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous” series. Land-Based Learning has always advocated for an open and honest dialogue about agricultural production; accordingly, we agree with Chipotle’s goal to promote critical thinking and discussion about the sources of our food. Chipotle’s previous contributions to the discussion have been challenging and provocative in a positive way.


We disagree, however, with the tone and approach of this new series, which appears designed to divide the agricultural community into big production (inherently malevolent) and small production (inherently virtuous). This is a false choice. Rather than educate the community about where its food comes from, we view the series as pitting some farms against other farms and inaccurately portraying the overwhelming majority of responsible food production operations.


The reality is that production agriculture is large and small, organic and conventional, and everything in between. Our programs, which educate high-school students about agriculture, conservation and sustainability on working farms and ranches throughout the state, are strongly supported by a wide range of agricultural interests, all of which see the value in education and training for a new generation of farmers and leaders in California. We have no doubt that this diversity of supporters is one of our greatest strengths as an organization.


The Land-Based Learning leadership team has scheduled a meeting with Chipotle’s senior management to personally convey this message, to attempt to understand the reasoning behind the “Farmed and Dangerous” series, and to request that Chipotle reconsider its divisive marketing strategy. Through constructive dialogue with Chipotle, it is our hope that their campaign might be transformed to promote productive discussion on the values we share related to a healthy and sustainable food supply.



The Center for Land-Based Learning is dedicated to creating the next generation of farmers and teaching California’s youth about the importance of agriculture and watershed conservation.

2016-05-31T19:38:56-07:00February 23rd, 2014|

PASSING THE HOE: Farmer Training

Beginning Farmer-Training Program Accepting 2014 Students


The Center for Land-Based Learningdedicated to creating the next generation of farmers and teaching California’s youth about the importance of agriculture and watershed conservation, is getting ready for it’s third California Farm Academy class beginning in February 2014. The Farm Academy still has a few spots available.

The California Farm Academy, a one-of-a-kind beginning farmer-training program, was established to inspire and motivate people of all ages, especially youth, to promote a healthy interplay between agriculture, nature and society through their own actions and as leaders in their communities.

Admission requirements include:

  • A strong desire to become a specialty crop farmer
  • A commitment to participate in 7-10 hours of training per week, and
  • Transportation to attend classes near Winters, CA and at other nearby locations.
  • Some previous experience with farming is preferred. Classes and activities are conducted in English.


The program provides approximately 270 contact hours from Feb. 11th to Sep. 13th, 2014, including classes, hands-on experience, one-on-one consultations, farm visits and field trips. Printed curriculum materials are provided, as are the necessary machinery, tools and supplies for the activities. Partial tuition assistance may be available for admitted applicants who demonstrate financial need.
Another CLBL program, FARMS (Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability) Leadership Program, provides innovative, hands-on experiences to urban, suburban and rural youth at working farms, agri-businesses and universities. Participants develop leadership skills and learn about agriculture practices that contribute to a healthier ecosystem, and connect to agricultural, environmental, and food system careers.
CLBL envisions a world where there is meaningful appreciation and respect for our natural environment and for the land that produces our food and sustains our quality of life. CLBL Founder, Craig McNamara was awarded the 2012 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. He is also President, California State Board of Food and Agriculture.
2016-10-24T15:28:53-07:00December 23rd, 2013|
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