Investing in soil health building practices and other agricultural solutions to climate change are vital economic stimulus strategies. California’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs invest in rural economies, create jobs and ultimately support growers’ bottom lines by bolstering farm resilience. The Healthy Soils Program is one such program that puts resources in the hands of agriculture producers who need it most. Below are a few stories from California farmers and ranchers who have received Healthy Soils grants that help sequester carbon on their land and also directly invest in local economies.
Boonville Barn Collective, Mendocino County
In the Anderson Valley, co-owners Krissy Scommegna and Gideon Burdick work alongside Nacho Flores and Martin Flores to produce a specialty chili powder that they ship all over. The shutdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on their primary market because their popular product, Piment d’Ville chili powder, is sold to restaurants across the nation. While scrambling to shift their majority wholesale operation to online direct-to-consumer, they received good news: the Healthy Soils Program application they had submitted, with support from the Mendocino Resource Conservation District, had been funded. With this grant, they will establish a hedgerow of native plants. Not only is this an investment in the future of their farm during a particularly challenging financial time, but it also supports the local economy because they’ll spend the majority of the grant money on native plants from a nearby nursery, key at a time when many small businesses are struggling during the pandemic. The hedgerow itself has multitude of benefits for the environment and the Boonville Barn Collective crew, including reducing pesticide drift from nearby wineries and dust from a nearby road, while sequestering carbon and creating pollinator habitat. Read more about Krissy and Gideon’s project here.
Benito Valley Farms, San Benito County
Linda Chu farms 700 acres of Asian vegetables in northern San Juan Bautista. With a Healthy Soils Program grant, Linda applied compost to her fields and established a hedgerow along a canal that lines her property, both practices that increase soil carbon sequestration. The soil in Hollister is primarily clay and applying compost has improved the soil structure so it water penetrates better and improves water use efficiency. The compost has also replaced the use of synthetic fertilizers and improved local water quality by reducing chemical runoff. Importantly, the funding reduced her fertilizer costs, improving her bottom line and supporting the business of producing food for the vibrant Asian food market in the Bay Area and beyond. Linda joined us recently for a Zoom meeting with Senator Caballero to share the benefits she has experienced from the Healthy Soils Program grant. Read more about Linda’s project here.
True Grass Farms, Sonoma County
After taking over his family’s ranching operation, True Grass Farms, almost 15 years ago, Guido Frosini been focusing on the health of the grazing land under his stewardship. With the support of a Healthy Soils grant, Guido established hedgerows to sequester carbon and act as a windbreak and restore riparian areas on his family’s land. Guido is also practicing silvopasture – grazing his cattle in pastures that have been planted with trees – to offer shade and alternative food sources for his livestock, all while providing vital wildlife habitat and drawing carbon down into the soil. This grant was also a direct investment in Sonoma County, as Guido hired local labor for the plantings and purchased plants from a local nursery. Read more about Guido’s project here.
You can learn more about these farmer climate leaders and read about dozens of others here.