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.

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.

Constructive Dialogue Follows Conflict: Center for Land-Based Learning Has Discussion with Chipotle

CHIPOTLE JUSTIFIES USING SATIRE, DENIES INTENTION TO VILIFY AG

By Laurie Greene, Associate Editor

 

Last Friday, Craig McNamara, Founder, and Mary Kimball, Executive Director, both of Center for Land-Based Learning, had a good conversation with Chris Arnold, Communications Director and Official Spokesman at Chipotle Mexican Grill, after cancelling a fundraiser with the restaurant chain due to the eatery’s launch of a miniseries that fosters “animosity toward production agriculture”.

Kimball said that Arnold has been the lead on all of the company’s marketing campaigns for a very long time, 15 years or so. Kimball commented, “We spent the majority of the time discussing our perspectives.” She conveyed that from Arnold’s perspective, the 4-part HULU Series provided the ability to reach millions more people, to achieve what he called ‘a longer shelf life of a campaign’, and to benefit from the kind of free PR that they have already received just in the form of so much talk, discussion and articles, which have already reached over $10 million in value.

“He said that there was no intention to pit large Ag against small Ag,” said Kimball, “or to vilify it in any way. In his mind, because it is such a satire, he doesn’t see how anyone would think that it was real.”

“We discussed the importance of education,” Kimball continued, “and, in general, the work that Land-Based Learning does to inform eaters. We talked a great deal about the perspective of our board, as well as what we are hearing from other agriculture folks – large, small, and everything in between.”

Kimball concluded, “There is no way to influence the current campaign, that was clear. We did ask if we (or other farm groups) could be a part of future marketing campaigns from the standpoint of giving feedback. He didn’t rule it out but certainly didn’t agree to it.”

“We also asked if he was ever in Northern California,” she said, “would he think about coming to the Farm on Putah Creek and continue the conversation. He was very interested in that option – as he will be in Monterey in May, and then back in the Bay Area in June.”

Kimball said the upshot is, “We will stay connected to him and absolutely continue to urge for this meeting.”

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.

CENTER FOR LAND-BASED LEARNING CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Happy 20th Anniversary!

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross reported TODAY, “I had the honor and pleasure to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Center for Land-Based Learning, a non-profit organization in Winters started by California State Board of Food and Agriculture president, Craig McNamara, and his wife, Julie, to help connect young people with nature and agriculture.”

 

“In the last two decades, the Center has become a force in this state for its extremely effective youth development and beginning farmer education,” Ross continued.  “I want to commend Craig for his vision, passion and commitment of resources to make the Center an entity that touches so many people in such positive ways and is absolutely contributing to a better future for California agriculture.”
 

“Happy 20th Anniversary, Center for Land-Based Learning!”

_______________________________________

 

The Center for Land-Based Learning strives 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.

 

The Center for Land-Based Learning 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.