In early November, I attended the Carbon Sink Farming Convergence hosted by the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians on their 87-acre Pauma Tribal Farms in northern San Diego County. I was joined by farmers, technical assistance providers, tribal leaders, policymakers and grassroots organizers to share ways of turning farms into carbon sinks.
One of the key themes was recognizing tribal leadership. The keynote speaker, Loren Birdrattler of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana, spoke to the importance of listening and partnering with tribes because of their long history of being environmental stewards and leaders of conservation. The Pauma Tribal Farm is a great example of this leadership.
The Pauma Band practices reduced tillage as a way to minimize the disturbance to their top soil and increase water retention. They have also planted native shrub windbreaks to provide habitat for pollinators and birds of prey. During the convergence we watched as they planted their first cover crop in a no-till olive orchard, as a result of a Healthy Soils Program grant. The tribe is utilizing cover crops as a way to reduce invasive weeds and increase soil organic matter. Additionally, they are partnering with UC Riverside to provide analysis on the role no-till and cover cropping can play in sequestering carbon. To learn more about their healthy soil grant, see our Farmer Climate Leader profile. Needless to say, the Pauma Band is truly leading the way for better understanding agriculture’s climate solutions.
This convergence was unlike any other healthy soils demonstration event I’ve attended all year mainly because it brought together more than just farmers and technical assistance providers. We heard from food systems advocates, grassroots organizers and tribal leaders to see how we can all work together to change the food system to be more resilient, adaptive, equitable and just.
For example, I met people who were working to build healthy communities through a focus on nutrition and fresh food in schools, people working to ensure their communities had clean drinking water, people wanting to campaign against pesticides, people focused on increasing compost infrastructure … the list goes on.
The convergence highlighted the large ecosystem of partners each working on their piece of the climate solutions puzzle. At CalCAN, we look at the role agriculture can play in reducing climate emissions and advocate for greater investment and support for climate-smart agriculture. However, it’s events like this where I can look around and see that we are all doing necessary work to minimize the impacts of climate change. By meeting, listening and learning from one another we can find common ground and make connections in order to be stronger together.
There is so much more work to be done and we have only scratched the surface. It was clear to me that we need more such convenings in order to continue to learn from each other, continue to strategize and continue to strengthen partnerships, so that we can evolve our food system.
I would like to thank the organizers, for putting together such a thought-provoking event and for bringing together over 80 stakeholders.
Thank you to The Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, Ellee Igoe, Solidarity Farms, Mai Nguyen, National Young Farmers Coalition, The Rural Coalition, InterTribal Agriculture Council, Indian Health Council, San Diego Food Systems Alliance, Chia Café Collective, Climate Science Alliance, The San Diego County UC Cooperative Extension, Kitchen Table Consultants, Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego, Mission Resource Conservation District and the Carbon Cycle Institute