Farmer Friday: Healthy Soils Grantees Spotlight

Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2020 by
Photo credit: USDA NRCS

California’s Healthy Soils Program (HSP) current grant cycle is open until June 26, 2020 – or until funding available runs out, which may be sooner than expected.

As of April 20, 2020:

  • Over 300 incentive applications have already been submitted; if they are all fully funded, they would receive $21.5 million of the $25.2 million available
  • Seven projects for a total of over $500,000 have already been awarded


Since its launch in 2017, the program invested $17.8 million in farmers and ranchers to promote soil building practices as a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. This is a record year for funding, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity and apply now.

The current pandemic continues to show us how innovative, adaptable, and resilient Californian farmers and ranchers are. All over the state, they have been employing different climate smart agriculture practices, conserving precious natural resources. You can read some of their stories here.

Climate Leaders

Many Healthy Soils grants are supporting farmers and ranchers on a range of operation sizes and production types, offering incentives for new practices or expanding existing practices to different acreage. Here are a few examples of the diversity of approaches and farming operations that are taking advantage of this trailblazing program, the only one of its kind in the country.

Rebecca King, Monkeyflower Ranch

Rebecca King is the owner of Monkeyflower Ranch, a 40-acre farm in Monterey County that raises dairy sheep, hogs, chickens, and lamb. In 2017, the farm was awarded a $98,830 Healthy Soils demonstration project grant to apply compost in their pastures. They are also using the grant to establish hedgerows – woody shrubs, trees and bushes with extensive root systems – to minimize prevent erosion in their sandy soils during extreme rain events, likely to increase in frequency and intensity with a changing climate. The hedgerows also increase soil moisture and encourage biodiversity by attracting pollinators and providing wildlife habitat. Read more about their project here.


Dominic Bruno, River Garden Farms

In Yolo and Colusa Counties, River Garden Farms grows predominantly rice and walnuts on 15,000 acres. They also produce alfalfa, onion seed, processing tomatoes, wheat and honeydew melons and in 2017 received a Healthy Soils demonstration grant in partnership with Audubon California. They have planted cover crops in the rice fields and established a riparian forest buffer to increase soil nutrient and bird habitat. Read more about their project here.

Jessica Wohlander and the team at Terra Cultura

Terra Cultura, a community farm in San Benito County, has adopted a number of healthy soils practices on their quarter acre area of production. A space for food, arts and environmental education, their site is an excellent example of how many climate smart agriculture practices can work together, even in a small area. They keep soil covered and plants in the ground all year long with mulch and a winter cover crop. They are minimizing soil disturbance and adding organic matter by reducing tillage, applying compost, and silvopasture – incorporating animals into their orchard. The installation of a hedgerow provides habitat for pollinators and wildlife as well. Read more about their project here.


Interested in applying for a Healthy Soils Program grant?

Learn more and spread the word among your farmer network with this flyer in English or Spanish.

The program, administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is reviewing and awarding applications on a rolling basis until the June 26, 2020 deadline. Technical assistance providers (see frequently updated CDFA list here) are available to support grant application processes, implementation and monitoring.


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