Emergency under our feet #soil #thomasfire

I wrote a little piece for UC Food Observer last week in which I noted the convergence of CA Soils Week and the Thomas fire. In short, I recognized the damage done to the soil by the fires, and the need to help them rebuild. Link here:


Don’t soils come back on their own? Well, yes…. given time. But before they do, they are subject to further damage from both wind and rain. It is in our interest to give them a boost. If we do not, the consequences are clear: loss of topsoil in hillside orchards and grazing land, mudslides that threaten neighborhoods downhill, and sediment that impacts our waterways.

My good friend Margot Stewart has taken up the idea I suggest in the post. Laying in a stock of seed to distribute to farmers, ranchers, and hillside property owners will help us get out in front of this second wave of destruction that are sure to follow in Thomas’ wake. Link here:


With the devastation around us, there are many ways that people can contribute. I know there are many demands for your attention and support and they are all worthy. But please don’t forget the emergency under our feet.



Q&A with @UCFoodObserver

It was my pleasure to sit down with UC Food Observer, a social media project of the University of California focused on food and agriculture. They’ve had some great interviews, but I’m really proud to be one of the first farmers featured!


Getting #farmers #talking

A friend of mine hosts the UC Food Observer blog, and shared an interesting article on the declining political prospects for America’s farmers.

Please check those out, but in a nutshell: declining rural populations and aging farmers are demographic trends with terrible implications for farm policy.

What are farmers to do? It’s hard to swim against the demographic tide, but one thing we can do is speak up. Personally. Too often, those of us who grow crops for a living leave the talking to our advocacy groups or the PR firms and lobbyists on the payroll of our customers and suppliers. We let other people speak for agriculture, and while their voices are welcome, they must not be alone. Most people don’t know a farmer personally anymore, and we need to change that.

Farmers are only about 2% of the population, so each of us needs to make 98 new friends. Let’s shoot for 196, since we all know at least one person who won’t make the effort. Church, school, community group, local media, social media… doesn’t matter. We need to introduce ourselves. That’s it… simple, right?

Well, it is simple, but it isn’t easy. I’ve been out there and I’ll be the first to say it can be tough. Despite the fact that few people actually know any farmers anymore, they feel like they know about farming. A lot about farming. (The internet makes everyone an expert, and besides… how complicated can it be? It’s just farming. They did that in the olden days)

Most of your audience will have a short attention span and a desire to have their beliefs confirmed. You will have about 10 seconds to either disrupt their certainty, or tell them what they want to hear. It’s easier and more fun to tell them what they want to hear, but less useful. A talk that goes too smoothly deserves another talk.

Let me know how it goes!