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Posts Tagged: Small Farms

San Diego is a hub for small farms

UC ANR advisor Ramiro Lobo with pitahaya starts in the greenhouse. (Photo: Shermain Hardesty)
With 5,700 small-scale farms, San Diego County bills itself as having the state's largest concentration of small farms, reported Tatiana Sanchez in the San Diego Union-Tribune. About 4,000 of the farms are from 1 to 9 acres in size.

"We have 3 million consumers in San Diego County and maybe 17 to 18 million consumers in Southern California. It makes an opportunity for someone to find a niche and find a place to succeed in this world and sell their product," said Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has an advisor dedicated to agricultural economics and small-scale farm production in San Diego County. Ramiro Lobo, who is based in the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Diego, said new and veteran small farmers face tough odds.

"Most of the land that is available in San Diego County is already being farmed. People are paying (standard) real estate prices for agricultural land," he said.

For existing farmers, the challenge is simply to stay afloat financially, Lobo said.

Decades ago, most small farms grew avocados and citrus, the article said. Because of water challenges, today's small-scale farmers typically grow high-value crops like cut flowers and other nursery items. Another crop that is growing is popularity is pitahaya, or dragon fruit. Lobo is testing pitahaya varieties at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. Each summer he invites farmers and the public to the center to sample the fruit and learn about pitahaya production.

Posted on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 10:15 AM
Tags: Ramiro Lobo (4), small farms (12)

Farmers invite visitors with new farm trail maps

The Sacramento River Delta Grown Agritourism Association map brochure invites, “Drive along winding rivers and sloughs in the heart of the California Delta; Visit quaint historic towns, shop at rustic farm stands or pick your own fresh fruit and vegetables; Taste Delta wines, picnic by the river, and enjoy the peaceful pace among generational family farms.”

The Capay Valley Farm Trail Map lists more than 40 farms in the Cache Creek watershed, and explains, “Capay Valley is a remarkable stretch of fertile land and rolling hills, home to a host of small and mid-size farms, natural wonders, and outstanding events…”

The North Yuba Grown Farm Trail Map brochure encourages visitors to “Enjoy the Flavors of North Yuba … Some olive trees in the area are more than 100 years old, and are still producing excellent olive oils. The vines cultivated for wine are forced to dig deep for water and nutrients, resulting in smaller yields but expressing intense flavors.”

As Californians' interest in local food and farming increases, farmers in many parts of the state are finding ways to invite their urban and suburban neighbors out to the farms to taste, tour, play and learn. Three groups of growers, Capay Valley Grown in Yolo County, North Yuba Grown in Yuba and Butte, and Sacramento River Delta Grown in Sacramento County, have just published new farm trail maps that promote agritourism in their unique farming regions. The maps are part of a UC Small Farm Program project, funded by a CDFA Specialty Crop Block grant, called, “Building a Farm Trail: Developing effective agritourism associations to enhance rural tourism and promote specialty crops.”

Each of the map brochures is a product of collaboration among the region's farmers and vintners, coordinated by the Small Farm Program and supported by a team of marketing, tourism and economic development professionals. The goals of the project include creation of maps, but also, more importantly, training and support for each group of growers in building sustainable and effective collaborative marketing associations that connect with the larger rural tourism community in their regions. Each group is now distributing their new maps, and is also working with a website designer to redesign their websites for clarity and customer appeal.

The Sacramento River Delta group put on their Wine and Produce Passport Weekend in early August to debut their maps. North Yuba Grown is sponsoring the North Yuba Harvest Festival, to be held on September 27 and 28, and Capay Valley Grown is planning an Open Farm Day on October 5 this year. The groups of growers will have a chance to share their experiences with each other at a regional workshop in November, and with other California agritourism operators at a statewide agritourism summit to be held in April 2015.

The California Statewide Agritourism Summit, organized by the UC Small Farm Program as part of the same project, will bring together agritourism associations and others involved in California agritourism from throughout the state to learn from each other. The summit will include planning sessions for the continuation of statewide farm trail and agritourism association networking and skill-sharing. For more information, please click here or contact UC Small Farm Program Agritourism Coordinator Penny Leff, (530) 752-7779.


Visitors tour a farm in the Sacramento Delta region during pear harvest season.
Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

New food safety law could hurt small farmers

A behind-the-scenes battle is raging in the Senate over how to regulate small and organic growers without ruining them - and still protect consumers from contaminated food, according to a story published yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The crux of the legislation gives the Food and Drug Administration greater authority to regulate how products are grown, stored, transported, inspected, traced from farm to table and recalled when needed.

Small-scale producers may face compliance with tough laws.
Small-scale producers may face compliance with tough laws.

Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 9:52 AM

Upscale magazine celebrates Hmong cuisine

A brief article in this month's issue of San Joaquin Magazine gave readers a glimpse of one of the more unusual research plantings at the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center by UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor Richard Molinar and his assistant Michael Yang.

The publication, which the title page claims "is found in affluent homes of Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Ripon, Manteca, and Mountain House," said "evocatively-named" herbs Siberian motherwort, Vietnamese coriander, Black nightshade and Jewels of Opar and others are grown in the UC "garden" to celebrate Hmong culture.

"We want to enlighten people about these herbs," Molinar was quoted in the story.

Yang, an immigrant from Laos, explained that the preparation of chicken soup has a special significance in Hmong kitchens.

"We prepare a bundle of at least five different herbs, usually including such herbs as koj liab and pawj quaib, and simmer in chicken soup stock. It is a common practicie for Hmong women to drink this soup for the first month after they give birth," Yang was quoted.

San Joaquin Magazine.
San Joaquin Magazine.

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:18 AM
Tags: Hmong (4), Michael Yang (13), Richard Molinar (16), small farms (12)

UC ag research seasons Hmong cooking feature

A plot of Southeast Asian medicinal and culinary herbs at the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center made an appearance in a Fresno Bee food story published yesterday.

The article centered on "Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America," a cookbook for Americans who wish to try the exotic cuisine introduced by Hmong immigrants. A large population of Hmong settled in the San Joaquin Valley after the Vietnam War. The Hmong collaborated with the CIA during the conflict and were promised protection in the event of a loss. They were ultimately relocated to enclaves in California, Minnesota and other areas.

Writer Joan Obra says some of the recipes in the new cookbook evolved from Southeast Asian traditions and others as Hmong families assimilated to American life.

The plot at Kearney, she noted, is the collaborative effort of UC Small Farm Program advisor Richard Molinar, based in Fresno, and his Hmong-descended research assistant Michael Yang.

Obra says the Hmong garden, which she recently toured, may be the only such research collection in the United States.

In fact, "(The plants) are not really common on California farms," the article quotes Molinar.

Michael Yang, left, and Richard Molinar, center, talk to a Southeast Asian farmer.
Michael Yang, left, and Richard Molinar, center, talk to a Southeast Asian farmer.

Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 11:47 AM
Tags: Hmong (4), small farms (12)

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