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Significant Goal Achieved: 16,000 Acres of CA Farmland Protected
Elk Grove, CA– California Farmland Trust (CFT), a Sacramento County based non-profit, has recently reached permanent protection of over 16,000 acres of California farmland – and CFT is celebrating! Why is this noteworthy?
“16,000 acres represents a huge milestone in CFT’s vision of a California where farmland is seen on par with land uses such as houses and shopping malls, or other environmental initiatives,” says Charlotte Mitchell, CFT’s Executive Director. “Public opinion is shifting and we see it in the form of more donors and more agency funding. From small, humble beginnings, and a still small staff, our community of supporters has helped 50 farming families. We’ve also built relationships with agency funders who now come to us seeking more farmland projects.”
This achievement exemplifies the findings in a recent scientific survey conducted by Valley Vision and California State University, Sacramento. The study found 89% of respondents felt preserving farmland is more important than creating retail and office space. Further, respondents ranked protecting farmland from conversion more important than protecting open space and wild space from the same threat.
In a state where development is booming, these 16,000 acres mark a significant acknowledgement that landscapes not often accessible to the public, although very beneficial to them, are a substantial part of a thriving lifestyle.
Farmland on the valley floor competes with land uses directly connected to the publics’ needs – housing, transportation, and amenities. Landscapes with wildlife habitat or environmental designations get much of the attention while the loss of farmland often takes a back seat when public funding is concerned. “While there are many funding sources that can give huge grants for wildlife, wetlands, urban open space, and coastal lands; there is very, very little available for preserving working farms,” says Maxwell Norton, retired county extension agent and a founding CFT board member. “We have been resourceful in digging up resources to do projects throughout the Valley.”
“This success will act as a key motivator for residents, foundations, and agency funders in recognizing farmland conservation is a fundamental priority in sustaining our way of life now and for future generations,” said Mitchell.
California farmers keep producing more food on fewer acres, while our population keeps increasing. Farmland conservation efforts go hand in hand with the recent Farm to Fork movement, enabling the local eating movement that has exploded in popularity. Farmland is a vital component of a lifestyle that is full of fresh and healthy food and jobs; plus it gives open space that provides for cleaner air, ground water recharge, and wildlife habitat.
“It is amazing what a small organization can accomplish when it has a clear mission and stays focused on the one thing that will make a difference in the long run – protecting our working lands,” said Norton.
16,000 acres is 25 square miles, dotted across California’s Central Valley, of highly productive and unique land ideally suited for growing a wide variety of food from grains to specialty produce. That land will forever feed Californians, plus much of the US and even the world.
If we consider that recent research indicates a family of four that eats meat, dairy and eggs would need around two acres of land to feed themselves for a year, that’s 9,000 families forever fed.
“Just think of how much more we can do if the momentum to make farmland conservation a priority is continued,” said Mitchell. “9,000 families can become 100,000 in a few short years.”
For more information or photos, please contact:
Melanee Cottrill, firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 687-3178
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The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date we have protected 16,011 acres of farmland on 50 family farms. Visit us: www.cafarmtrust.org
Local students get the full farm-to-fork experience:
Field Trips on the Farm start in April – come join us!
BRENTWOOD, CA: Many of us ‘get’ the farm-to-fork concept in theory, but how many of us really get to see it in action? How many kids get the chance to see where their food comes from? Although we are surrounded by farmland, most students have little to no understanding of where their food grows.
California Farmland Trust (CFT) is excited to announce the continuation of Raley’s Field Trips on the Farm. Sponsored by Raley’s, with educational materials provided by the California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom, field trips bring the farm-to-fork concept to life.
“This program helps students gain an understanding of the process to get food from the farm to their lunch boxes and appreciation for the farmland that surrounds them.” said Melanee Cottrill, CFT Associate Director. “Our hope is that these kids will see farmland is inherently valuable and a fundamental, irreplaceable part of our food system, not just open space to be built upon.”
In April and May students will visit First Generation Farmers, an organic farm in Knightsen, with an educational tour led by several first generation farmers and owner Barbara Cecchini.
Tours are hands-on with educational activities. Students will discover the differences between conventional and organic farming, how to make vermicompost, how to identify various fruit trees, and get up close and personal with chickens, ducks, goats, and sheep.
The tours will culminate at the local Raley’s grocery store, where managers show students how produce is delivered to the store, is organized, and then readied for purchase. The students will finish off with a nutritious lunch provided by Raley’s – bringing the farm to fork concept full circle for them.
Part of the mission of the California Farmland Trust is to connect the next generation with the farms and farmers that grow their food. In doing so, we hope to give them a memorable experience that deepens their understanding of the preciousness of these resources – and the necessity to protect them.
“Raley’s is committed to growing the next generation of healthy eaters and in that vein, we need farmers who are focused on sustaining our farm land,” said Becca Whitman, Raley’s Community Relations Manager & Executive Director, Food for Families. “Our partnership with California Farmland Trust allows us to show youth how their food is grown and at the same time, emphasize the importance of preserving agricultural lands. It’s a great combination of nutrition education, sustainability education, and workforce development.”
Media interested in attending may contact CFT for more information. We invite you to come see for yourself the light in these kids’ eyes as they learn about their food, touch and taste on the farm, and make the full circle connection at Raley’s. Upcoming tour dates are: April 4, April 9, May 16, and May 30.
As the California Farmland Trust (CFT) works with more farmers and protects more farmland, the team is growing to meet the demand. We are pleased to announce Chelsea Molina as our new Conservation Project Coordinator.
Chelsea has a dynamic style and the experience needed to deeply connect farmers and CFT. A deep connection is paramount to building the trust and rapport required through the lengthy process of protecting farmland among agency funders, farmers and their family members, and CFT.
“Chelsea has in-depth knowledge of agriculture and the diversity of the participants involved in conservation work. This knowledge will contribute greatly to the overall success of the California Farmland Trust,” said Charlotte Mitchell, CFT executive director. Chelsea will be in charge of conservation easement coordination and helping the CFT project team and landowners with a clear, concise, and orderly transaction process.
Chelsea comes to CFT from the California Waterfowl Association as director of development and prior to that managed the Political Affairs Department of the California Farm Bureau Federation. Thanks to an internship in Washington DC where she worked on the Farm Bill and agricultural policy, Chelsea has a keen awareness that it takes many contributing parties to succeed in conservation. “For long-term and widespread farmland conservation across a diverse state like California, the future will require support and consideration of many stakeholders, such as environmentalists, agriculturalists, agencies, and the public,” said Chelsea.
“Here, we are all part of this mission and want to move it forward as a team – to protect ag land in CA,” continues Chelsea. “I am very detail oriented, enjoy working with people (especially farmers), and towards a common goal. Agricultural easement transactions take all three. I look forward to moving us forward to protect more of the best farmland in the world.”
Chelsea is a native of Elk Grove and a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she majored in Agricultural Communications with a minor in Ag Business.
The California Farmland Trust is proud to have been an accredited land trust since 2008. We were one of the first land trusts ever to be accredited. The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation. It is awarded to land trusts meeting the highest national standards for excellence and conservation permanence. Each accredited land trust completes a rigorous review process and joins a network of organizations united by strong ethical practices.