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September: Free EBT Sales Terminals for CA Farmers, "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" Screening + More
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In this Newsletter
Weekly Blog Round Up
"The Real Dirt on Farmer John" Film Screening & Discussion
Consumer Reports Food Label Conference
CCOF Fee Waiver Offer
National Heirloom Expo
CA Legislation Tracker
California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) is the only California non-profit with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California's rural communities.
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California Institute for Rural Studies Weekly Blog Round UpIn the last month on our blog, we tackled a variety of topical subjects around the state. “Fields of Fear” by Lily Dayton, “Fruit Growers Adapt to Warmer Winters, Drought” by Sharon Licht, “California Water Agency Wins Damage Suit Against Feds” by Michael Doyle, “Drought Spurs Policy Changes” and “CalFresh EBT: A Win-Win for Farmers” by Annie Beaman, which is below.
All articles are featured on our website in the Rural California Report Blog, and are available there as free downloadable files.
CalFresh EBT: A Win-Win for Farmers
By Annie Beaman
California is offering free wireless devices that allow farmers to accept money from CalFresh recipients at farmers markets, farm stands, and CSAs. The grant-funded program covers the $1000-value POS (point of sale) device for scanning CalFresh cards, and provides complimentary training for using the device. Farm marketing and promotion are built in as well: CalFresh customers have access to lists of farms and farmers markets that participate in the program, and the Foodies Project, and likely others, will promote individual farm participants online.
Farms should apply now to take advantage of this ultimate win-win program for the rest of the season. Food and food justice advocates, health workers, CSA members, and anyone with a favorite farm should encourage their local producers to sign up. Continue reading
"The Real Dirt on Farmer John" Film Screening & Discussion on Sunday, September 21, 4-7pm, Vallejo
“In the end, it’s really an optimistic story about the resurrection of the American soul, and it starts with the soil."
Free & Open to the Public!
Documenting 70 years — the Petersons were prolific filmers of their own lives — The Real Dirt on Farmer John paints a picture of a man whose enigmatic passions went against the grain of life in tiny Caledonia, Ill., a town about 75 miles west of Chicago. But Peterson's idiosyncrasies, which once brought death threats and rumors, eventually led him to go the organic route, adopting the Community Supported Agriculture model of farming. His company, Angelic Organics, is thriving. It now sends herbs and vegetables to over 1,600 CSA subscribers in the Chicago area.
We are so lucky to have many wonderful CSAs in our area. Come and learn about how CSA models are as different as the farmers and community groups that use them, and how they create an even stronger community. Our guests are wonderful local examples, they are innovative and feed thousands of people.
Our Special Guests Are:
Nigel and Lorraine Walker, owners and operators at Eatwell Farm. Nigel has been farming for 30+ years. He and Eatwell Farm are widely known across the greater San Francisco Bay Area as a skilled farmer & producer of top-quality eggs and veggies, one of the foremost CSA’s in the area, as well as one of the founding farmers of the famous San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market. Nigel is also enlarging the farms poultry program, with the successful Barnraiser project. By breeding their own cruelty-free, dual-purpose, heritage flock, they will increase the resilience, productivity and happiness of their birds while eliminating the need to buy from hatcheries where hatchling destruction is practiced. They aim to set the example to the community for how to transition to this more humane and sustainable system. Lorraine, along with being a partner on the farm is also the developer of the delicious fermented beverage, Drinkwell Softers. They’ll be binging treats to share and CSA boxes plus a discount code for anyone who wants to sign up to be a member of the farm!
Dr. Gail Myers, Moses Omolade and Janell Lee, of Farms to Grow, Inc. Farms to Grow is working with California’s Black farmers, urban gardeners, food preservers, and a worker owned food cooperative of the Freedom Farmers Market Cooperative, to build a new CSA program. Their 'Harvest Box' CSA share membership program will serve low wealth families, daycare centers, elders, and other CSA supporters.
Annie and Jeff Main, of Good Humus Produce, in the Capay Valley. Now in their early 60s, the Mains, like many farmers, are being confronted with the future of their working family farm. It is a story being echoed across the nation. The Mains, true to their pioneering spirit, are now creating an alternative for their farm’s succession that ensures its productive future. And BONUS, we'll show the NEW trailer for "The Last Crop" which tells their story. The film captures the intractable nature of sustaining a small local farm, and the stakes we all have in making certain they can survive and thrive. This film has been six years in the making.
After the film we'll have a lively Q&A session with the guests and you!
And next month we'll be showing our own "Fair Food - Field to Table" as part of a special Food Day presentation on Sunday, October 19th! Save the Date!
Consumer Reports Food Label Conference "America's Most Wanted Labels"
On September 19th, 2014, Consumer Reports is holding an all-day labeling event at San Francisco's City Hall, which will be hosted by Dr. Urvashi Rangan, the Executive Director of Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center.
The event will cap a three-month campaign to kill the very misleading natural label and spread awareness about true sustainable production practices like fair trade, animal welfare and organic -- and the claims in those areas that truly meet consumer expectations and those that don't. Unlike the natural label, credible labels are underwritten by meaningful practices and are verified, which advance the overall safety and sustainability of the food system and marketplace. Free & Open to the public, but please RSVP here.
CCOF Fee Waiver Offer Ends September 30
FarmsReach and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) earlier this year launched a new program to attract more California farmers to get their organic certification. Until September 30th, any member of FarmsReach and their Farmers Guild Network can request a CCOF application fee-waiver, which saves farmers $325. While many believe the application fee is a small investment for the premium prices earned selling certified-organic products, for many farmers the $325 application fee is cost-prohibitive.
Cathy Calfo, Executive Director/CEO of CCOF explains that “this partnership is partly inspired by the USDA National Organic Program, which aims to ensure that organic certification is affordable, accessible and attainable, specifically for small operations.”
To request a fee-waiver letter, visit www.farmsreach.com/ccofwaiver. You must be a (free) member of FarmsReach or their Farmers Guild Network to be eligible. While you’re at the FarmsReach website, check out their great new Community Map tool, and don’t miss their extensive Events section, too!
4th Annual National Heirloom Exposition September 9-11, Santa Rosa
The National Heirloom Exposition, in Santa Rosa, is a not-for-profit event centered around the ‘pure food’ movement, heirloom vegetables, and anti-GMO activism. Created by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, last year’s event drew more than 18,000 people from around the country and beyond. With more than 100 speakers and 300 natural food vendors, the event was enormous. The Heirloom Expo has gained incredible interest among home growers, farmers, school groups and the general public. The displays are always incredible, there are breeds of fruits, vegetables & animals you have never seen before, great prepared food, and many other great vendors. This year they have a whole separate track on Biodynamics, “Demeter's Biodynamic Garden & Lounge.” More Information
California Legislation Tracker
Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) tracks legislation in Sacramento and at times takes positions on bills of interest to their constituency. They have a list with very brief summaries, and then have created a handy chart with updates about the ones they have been following that made it through the Legislature and to the Governor's desk. Links to all the bills, along with CAFF's positions can be found here.
It's Still Hot!
Water. Rest. Shade. Remember, when you realize you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so keep ahead of it and drink plenty of water. Stay safe!
Thank you for your continued support!
Executive Director, California Institute for Rural Studies
California Institute for Rural Studies
P.O. Box 1047, Davis, CA 95617
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