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`A Century of Sausage Making – And More – at Panizzera Meat Co.

Panizzera Meat Co. is just a little old country place in the hamlet of Occidental but the 107- year-old company is gaining ground in the wider world for its high-quality, locally sourced meats and masterfully crafted sausages. Just think of Italian sausages made in Old World ways and dry aged steaks so tender it’s sinful. These two items are among the dozens of meat and sausage products offered by the historic meat company on the edge of Occidental where food is the town’s identity. Panizzera Continue reading →MORE

Tobacco: Sonoma County’s Other Weed Crop

In the 1850s David Hetzel emigrated from Baden, Germany to the United States. He served with the Union Army during the Civil War, fighting at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. After the war, he opened a cigar shop in Atchison, Kansas. By 1877 Hetzel had arrived in Guerneville where planted a small tobacco acreage along the western slopes of Mount Jackson.   In 1880, Hetzel and his partner, Charles O. Schuler, moved the operation to rented land along the Russian River where they cultivated about two and Continue reading →MORE

Bring on 2022

Just a year ago I was writing about how I had hoped 2021 would be different than 2020. I was hopeful for a year of recovery and growth.  But as this year comes to a close, I think 2021 was just as much of a struggle as 2020. It’s important to acknowledge that we figured out how to best manage Covid protocols and the vaccine became largely accessible this year. We also made it through fire season with no massive disasters. These accomplishments definitely deserve Continue reading →MORE

Resolutions, Julius Caesar, and Peacocks

I have something to share. Some of you may find it odd, but I often watch television with a tablet, laptop, or smartphone at the ready. Only a few programs hold my attention, so I often check email or work on projects while sitting in front of the “tube”.  What I enjoy most about this pastime is the in-the-moment opportunity to look up an actor’s bio, find the real story behind one of those movies that are “based on a true story” or research stuff Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Taft Street Winery

Taft Street Winery gets its name from the place the business started- an old house on Taft Street in Oakland, California. Rather than parking cars in their garage, Mike & John Tierney and Mike Martini had a garage full of barrels, stainless steel tanks, a basket press, hand corker, and big dreams for their garage-born business. Formerly known as Taft Street Garage, the Tierney brothers and Martini referred to themselves as “garagistes.” The term “garagistes” originated in Bordeaux in the 1980s and referred to a Continue reading →MORE

New Healthy Soils Incentives Program Assistance Provider

My name is Amanda Charles and I am one of the newest members of the UC Cooperative Extension serving as the Community Education Specialist for the Healthy Soils Program (HSP). Born and raised in Sonoma County, I was an active member in 4-H and FFA. I grew up exhibiting dairy cattle and market lambs at the local county fairs where my interest in hometown agriculture first began. Throughout my youth, my family has owned and operated a small-scale, Pinot Noir vineyard in West Petaluma where Continue reading →MORE

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Tito Sasaki Honored with the 2020 California Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award at the 102nd Annual Meeting

Tito Sasaki, a Sonoma Valley grape grower, scientist, and businessman, 35-year member and past president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County, is the recipient of the 2020 California Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award.  The California Farm Bureau has presented the Distinguished Service Award annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau members from California. Over the last century, Farm Bureau has had dozens of strong leaders. However, few have devoted the time and energy that Tito Sasaki has given, Continue reading →MORE

The Seeds of Sonoma County’s Third Largest City

Waldo Emmerson Rohnert was already an established pioneer in the seed industry when he leased 500 acres from the Cotati Land Company in 1930. This initial Sonoma County investment would grow to become part of the largest wholesale seed company in the United States, and eventually the site of Sonoma County’s third-largest city. Seed growing was nothing new to Waldo Rohnert, a native of Detroit and graduate of the Michigan Agricultural College; he moved to San Benito County, California in 1897, where he worked for Continue reading →MORE

2021. Let’s Hit the Ground Running

I would like to take a minute to formally introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Beretta, and I am a 4th generation dairywoman. I have the privilege of working alongside my dad, Doug, and brother, Ryan, on our dairy in Santa Rosa. They have allowed me the time and opportunity to follow my goals, which has led to the opportunity to lead this organization as your new President. Farm Bureau has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As Continue reading →MORE

Looking Forward

No looking back, only looking forward. That is what 2021 means for the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, our board, and staff. Where 2020 was a year of a pandemic, protocols, and rude awakenings, 2021 will be a year of resolve, tenacity, and perseverance. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and with every dose of vaccine that light shines brighter. In the early stages of this world crisis, in my monthly editorial I suggested that history has proven that with every plague, Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile E.R. Sawyer Jewelers

Sonoma County Farm Bureau has been promoting and protecting agriculture for 104 years in Sonoma County. Our member and great supporter E.R. Sawyer Jewelers, however, has been serving our community for even longer than our organization– for 141 years! The family-owned jewelry store is located in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa and on Main Street St. Helena. They offer many different jewelry lines, do beautiful custom work, as well as watch and jewelry repair with 5 in-house goldsmiths.  Today, E.R. Sawyer Jewelers is owned Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Named 2020 County Farm Bureau of the Year at the 102nd CFBF Virtual Annual Meeting

Thanks to our diverse, dedicated, and hardworking members, we were awarded the 2020 CFBF County Farm Bureau of the Year! President Jeff Carlton said he is thrilled that the hard work of our Sonoma County Farm Bureau members, directors, and staff are being recognized at the state level. “We all know that Farm Bureaus across the state do a great job of protecting and promoting agriculture and I would like to congratulate all of the other nominees,” Carlton said. “It is especially meaningful to be Continue reading →MORE

Jennifer Beretta Elected Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board President

4th generation dairy farmer, Jennifer Beretta, is Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s newest President—only the 2nd woman to hold the position in the organization’s history. Beretta will bring a passion for agriculture and a dedication to Farm Bureau, which she said she has had for as long as she can remember, to her role as President. “I am passionate about agriculture and making sure Sonoma County farms and ranches continue to thrive,” Beretta said.  She has served on the SCFB board of directors for 6 years Continue reading →MORE

Happy and Hopeful about 2021

As we bring this tumultuous and unprecedented year to a close, we reflect on the chaos that has ensued and the healthcare and economic strain that has gripped our communities. Many lives, businesses, and livelihoods have been lost along the way and we have lost a lot of human contact, the ability to say goodbye, and the opportunity to celebrate. On top of the pandemic and the associated health crisis, we have once again become the victims of disastrous fires in the county and the Continue reading →MORE

Citrus of West County: DMS Ranch’s Revival of Sebastopol’s Citrus-Growing Heritage

Vestiges of West County’s agricultural past can be found scattered across Sonoma County’s rolling hills. Retired hop kilns repurposed as storage barns and apple sorting barns turned remodeled artist studios are mainstays along the Bohemian Highway going out toward the coast. What about the lesser-noticed reminders of the past such as the leaning fruit trees that can be found scattered across the landscape? They too are remnants of our agricultural past and perhaps also indicators of our future. Doug Michael, Joan, and Dan Smith, and Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County’s Citrus Belt and Cloverdale’s Annual Citrus Fair

It’s not clear who came up with the idea to call Cloverdale the Citrus Belt of Sonoma County, but George E. Baer, owner, publisher, and editor of the local newspaper and all-around promoter was likely involved. Baer, a native of Pennsylvania, emigrated to California in 1884 at the age of 20. In 1885 he purchased the Cloverdale Reveille from W. S. Walker – becoming the paper’s publisher and editor while simultaneously operating a real estate business, an insurance agency, and a fruit brokerage firm. In Continue reading →MORE

February Editorial: The Next Generation of Agriculturalists

Well, 2021 started with a bang, but not the kind we hoped for. Temperatures soaring to 80 degrees in January, yet another power shut off notice, most schools are still closed, extracurricular programs are happening in a limited format, and we face the reality that our hard-working ag kids may not see the show ring, again, this summer. This makes me worried for the next generation of agriculture students. As an FFA program graduate myself, and as someone who is still involved with the local Continue reading →MORE

February Editorial: A Shot in the Dark

The excitement and giddiness many of us are feeling awaiting our turn to get the COVID vaccination is likened to a child on Christmas Eve forcing themselves to stay awake to hear Santa coming down the chimney. In both situations, the adult and the child believe there is a gift waiting for them soon. “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” but, Virginia, I am starting to disbelieve that fairy dust has been sprinkled on the holy grail we see as the COVID vaccination program. Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Sonoma Mountain Beef Company

Every day for Jamie Mickelson, the one-woman show who owns and operates Sonoma Mountain Beef Company starts early in the morning with feeding and then checking her cattle to ensure their welfare. Following that, she said that there are always deliveries to be made and bookkeeping to attend to. “I think people are surprised when they meet me in-person, as the meat business is generally dominated by men,” Mickelson said. “They also don’t realize that I really do the work of taking care of my Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Welcomes Two News Staff Members

Lauren Kelly  Lauren Kelly is the Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s new Compliance Division Manager. She grew up in Tuolumne County where she raised many animals and grew plants and veggies for various 4-H projects. She attended Columbia Community College and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she studied Wine and Viticulture and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree. She completed numerous harvest internships, but after college she became the Assistant Vineyard Manager at Mesa Vineyard Management Company in Santa Maria. From there, Lauren worked at Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Resident Deputy Program

Many have asked the question about the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Resident Deputy Program. The program has a long and colorful history throughout the county.  The coast resident program started in the early ’70s with Corky Carr covering the south coast and Wayne Dunham covering the north coast. Before these two residents, the coast was covered by Deputies who came from the Guerneville Substation.  Today we have three resident positions (King1, King 2 & King 3). King 1 covers the north end of the coast from Continue reading →MORE

Department of Agriculture Weights/Measures

AWM Announces New Consulting Contract with EBA Engineering AWM is happy to announce that on January 5, 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved a new contract with Santa Rosa based EBA Engineering. With over 40 years of experience consulting in engineering and geology, we believe EBA Engineering will be an excellent fit in our VESCO program. In 2013, AWM took over the review of agricultural grading and drainage projects from Permit Sonoma (then PRMD) in order to make AWM a one-stop-shop for VESCO project permitting. Continue reading →MORE

Clover Sonoma- A Certified B Corporation Doing Their Dairy Best

For three generations, Clover Sonoma, a family-owned and operated company, has championed a healthy, sustainable way of life for their producer dairy farms, precious land, and the animals entrusted to their care. Following their founder, Gene Benedetti’s example, the company places paramount importance on giving back to the community. In 2016, Clover Sonoma took that commitment to the next level when it became a Certified B Corporation. B Corporations are for-profit companies, certified by the nonprofit B Lab, who have met the highest standards of Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Ag and Land Use History Part of Endangered Archival Collection

Hidden away off Highway 12 at the base of Hood Mountain is a 1950s warehouse, once part of the Los Guilicos School for Girls. Since 1995 the building has housed the Sonoma County Archives (Archives). This treasure trove of historical records narrowly escaped destruction by both the Nuns Fire in 2017 and the Glass Fire in 2020. The Sonoma County Library was established as the official Archives in 1965 by a joint resolution of the County of Sonoma and the City of Santa Rosa. The Continue reading →MORE

Climate Goals

I am sure we are all tired of hearing about climate change, and climate goals because we in the agricultural industry seem to be at the forefront of these issues every day. Whether we are being told that farmers and ranchers are killing the environment, complying with strict regulations for our diesel motors, or all the paperwork we must fill out to comply with many regulatory agencies, it is sure frustrating to feel like we have not been asked what we can do to help, Continue reading →MORE

Missed the Mark

I owe you an apology. As often as my editorials discuss systematic flaws or failed plans of others, it is only right that I admit when I failed to protect our members. During the 2020 election cycle, Sonoma County Farm Bureau was more politically engaged than ever. We were a founding member of the 2020 Sonoma County Tax Moratorium Coalition and actively participated in the No on Prop 15 campaign. Unfortunately, there was another Proposition on the ballot that should have shared our close attention—Proposition Continue reading →MORE

March Farm News Member Profile Garton Tractor

Garton Tractor Inc. is a full-service dealership serving the agricultural and construction markets in Sonoma, Marin, Napa, and Lake Counties. The long-time Sonoma County Farm Bureau member and supporter provides service, parts, sales, and rentals for New Holland, Kubota, and Takeuchi Brands. The company mission is “To consistently provide our customers with an experience that exceeds their needs in sales, service, parts, and rentals with quality people, products, and facilities.” Established in 1954 by the Garton and Nance families in Turlock, Garton Tractor has always Continue reading →MORE

Seasonal Reminders and Updates from Department of Agriculture Weights & Measures

As crop protection efforts ramp up, we would like to offer a few reminders to help protect your employees and stay in compliance with regulations.  Following are a few reminders: Employees and field workers who handle pesticides must be trained annually and must be trained on all specific pesticides they will be handling. All trainings must be documented. As you begin your spray programs for the new season, please remember to adjust your application equipment to match the current conditions in your vineyards and orchards. Continue reading →MORE

How to Sell at Certified Farmers Market

Have you considered selling at a certified farmers market? Perhaps you want to expand your customer base, or you really like interacting with the public and educating them about your operation, or you grow niche produce. These are all great reasons to consider selling at certified farmers markets. The purpose of certified farmers markets is to allow farmers to sell their produce directly to customers, getting the freshest produce from the farm to the consumers. The high quality, fresh produce brought to the farmers markets Continue reading →MORE

The near demise of the monarch butterfly and what we can do to save it

The monarch is America’s best-known butterfly and their seasonal migration from their spring and summer breeding grounds to overwintering sites is regarded as one of the world’s great natural wonders. However, the monarch butterfly is now on the verge of extinction. A friend of mine recently said that he simply doesn’t see many butterflies around anymore and it used to be that he couldn’t avoid collecting large numbers of them on his truck windshield as he traveled around West Marin. Now they are rare. In Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farmers and Ranchers Combatting Climate Change with On-Farm Innovations

Want to help solve the climate crisis? Just head to the grocery store. There, the food consumers purchase supports the efforts of the farmers and ranchers who grew or raised it while simultaneously providing clean air, fresh water, open space, viewsheds, wildlife habitat, and climate change solutions. From using renewable energy and organic practices to protecting riparian corridors and building healthy soils, farmers and ranchers are at the forefront of battling the climate crisis.  Loren Poncia, owner of Stemple Creek Ranch, said that, like most Continue reading →MORE

Fun Finds in the Farm Bureau’s Archives

You might expect to find pictures of Luther Burbank among a collection of historical materials housed at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s office, but it was a photo of Elizabeth Waters Burbank, widow of the famed horticulturist, that sent me down a rabbit hole. Gaye LeBaron, who interviewed Elizabeth Burbank in 1968, confirmed Mrs. Burbank’s identity. Rebecca Baker, archivist for the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, recognized the item in Mrs. Burbank’s hands as a paper mache lacquered Russian jewel box presented by Soviet agriculturalists Continue reading →MORE

Working Hard for our Members

This last month we have been working hard on a topic that is very touchy for most of our members, but over time, has been something that we have seen and heard a lot more about—cannabis. For those that aren’t aware, the Ag Commissioner has come out with a Cannabis Ordinance, Previously, to grow cannabis an individual worked with Permit Sonoma to receive a permit. Now, a new ordinance would require individuals to work with the Sonoma County Agriculture Commissioner’s office. This proposed ordinance is Continue reading →MORE

Ode to the 4-H Mom

If you are a faithful reader of my monthly editorial, you would agree that I usually write about ineffective government, overreaching regulations, or bad policy. But this month I am using my editorial privileges to celebrate 4-H moms.  4-H moms have been on my mind quite a bit lately. I am mourning the recent loss of Connie Nunes who was not only a 4-H mom to me, but a constant in my younger years as the neighbor a few fields down the road that was Continue reading →MORE

Local partners launch innovative North Bay Forest Improvement Program to provide financial incentives to private landowners to improve forest health and mitigate wildfire risk.

The North Bay Forest Improvement Program (NBFIP) has been developed by Rebuild NorthBay Foundation (RBNF) in partnership with the Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) of Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma County, and Clear Lake Environmental Research Center (CLERC). This is a cost share program, providing public funds to support private investment in forest stewardship activities. Funding will support reducing vegetative fuel loads, insect infestation, and disease epidemics on forested private properties in Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma County. Specific methods supported by the program may include forest Continue reading →MORE

Drought Strategies for Beef Cattle

Strategies for managing livestock through a drought can include the selling of livestock or the addition of supplemental feeds. Selling cattle is the primary method to address drought because it reduces consumption of the limited forage. When making decisions on which animals to sell, it is important to analyze all phases of your cow-calf operation.  Current Conditions: Sonoma And Marin Counties’ rangelands are currently in a moderate to severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, The California Cattlemen Association (CCA) encourages ranchers to Continue reading →MORE

April Farm News Member Profile Lace House Linen Supply Inc.

How many loads of laundry are you able to do in a week? Lace House Linen Supply Inc. is capable of washing a whopping 350,000lbs of items per week. Today, Nicole Marzo, Owner / Health and Safety Officer, said that the scale of an industrial laundry facility is achieved by utilizing equipment including washers, dryers, and ironers that most people have never previously seen. Lace House Linen Supply is a fourth-generation, family-owned company founded in 1915 by the Libarle family. The 100-year-old company has been Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board President Jennifer Beretta Selected Recipient of the North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Forty under 40 Award

Jennifer Beretta was recognized as a recipient of the North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Forty under 40 award recipient. Locally raised and educated, working on a multi-generational dairy that has a history of giving to our community; Jennifer is a worthy recipient of this distinction, which adds to the already impressive list of previous honors. Jennifer got involved in agriculture when she was just big enough to push the tractor pedals to help her father, Doug Beretta, feed heifers.  She instantly loved working alongside her Continue reading →MORE

Seasonal Reminders and Updates from Department of Agriculture Weights & Measures

After several setbacks and delays due to COVID-19 and fires, we were able to complete the 2019 Sonoma County Crop Report and present this document to the Board of Supervisors for adoption. The presentation of the report was completed through the Board’s Consent Calendar agenda on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 without much ado.  The reported total value for 2019 was $958,546,600 which represented a 13% decrease from our 2018 value of $1,106,662,100.  This decrease was attributed to decreases in the value of fruit and nut Continue reading →MORE

Help Your Neighbor

As I sit here attempting to write this month’s editorial realizing I’m a week behind the dealing the amazing staff at farm bureau set for me and thinking “what am I going to write on”? I wanted something positive but unfortunately 2021 has not turned out as most of us hoped. Some wins are the vaccine roll out (the state is set to open June 15th), Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma is going to run a one-day style show for livestock, and youth sports are happening. Continue reading →MORE

They Know Best.

They know best. Who are they? “They” are elected officials, public agencies, activists, and community members. And what are they experts at? Developing policies and crafting regulations for agriculture, an industry many of them know very little – or nothing about. I am wary when I see a new project or funding program that declares it has been created to “support farmers” or “sustain agriculture”. I immediately dig into who developed the program and project, which organization funded the plan development, and most importantly, what Continue reading →MORE

Are you Ready for Disaster?

Within Sonoma and Marin Counties, disaster has played an increasing role in our lives. Recently a California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA)- sponsored bill, AB 1103 was introduced by Assembly member Megan Dahle (R-Bieber). Assembly bill 1103 is aimed at facilitating livestock producers’ wildfire response efforts. Specially, the bill provides a statewide framework for counties to adopt an “Ag Pass” program.  Under this program, ranchers and framers receive training in fire behavior and emergency response protocols and upon enrollment in the county’s Ag Pass program, are permitted Continue reading →MORE

Seasonal Reminders and Updates from Department of Agriculture Weights & Measures

On March 9, 2021, the Sonoma County Supervisors Board directed the Department of Agriculture/ Weights & Measures (AWM) to amend Chapter 36 of the Sonoma County Code within the VESCO Ordinance.  This amendment created an alternate pathway for a specific type of vineyard replanting that could warrant an expedited review process. The specific type of replanting is being referred to as Low-Impact Vineyard Replanting, colloquially referred to as “pluck and plant”.  This amendment followed a significant amount of stakeholder outreach and input. The parameters of Continue reading →MORE

Drought Preparedness and Resources

California and several other western states are currently experiencing extreme drought conditions that will continue to worsen throughout the 2021 season. Many ranchers are comparing the current conditions to the 1976-1977 California drought, which was the worst drought in the California history. In Marin and Sonoma Counties, the situation for farms is grim and progressively deteriorating. To date, the area has only received 40% of average rainfall. Many other parts of California are experiencing similar conditions or will be in coming months.  Additionally, many reservoir Continue reading →MORE

May Farm News Member Profile The Stornetta Family

The Stornetta family has been a part of the Sonoma County agriculture community for 6 generations. With a wide background ranging from dairy cows to sheep, they are not new to the game of production agriculture. For the past 50 years, their focus evolved into breeding the most structurally sound sheep while keeping in mind the style and power necessary to find success in the show ring. Originally established in beautiful West Sonoma County, now Stornetta Club Lambs has expanded to the Midwest in the Continue reading →MORE

Scrapbooks Provide A Window into Mid-Century Sonoma County “Farm Labor Doings”

Richard Conger, an antique and pinball collector and former Analy High School auto shop teacher, purchased seven scrapbooks at a garage sale in 2015 and gave them to Steve Dutton. Steve, a fifth-generation Sonoma County wine and apple grower, was president of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau at the time. Steve donated the scrapbooks, which document post World War II Sonoma County farm labor, to the Farm Bureau this past March. Charles D. Grant (1896-1971), a Farm Placement Representative for the California Department of Employment, Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma Botanical Garden, a Horticultural Treasure Trove in the Middle of the Sonoma Valley

Scot Medbury, the dedicated steward of Sonoma Botanical Garden, points to rare magnolias and twisting conifers collected from the wilds of China as he drives a golfcart over pathways meandering through a wonderous Asian woodland in the Sonoma Valley. This other world oasis thrives in what was once a sandstone quarry where rock was mined to build roads in Sonoma County and beyond. Medbury, 62, has been the executive director of Sonoma Botanical Garden for little more than a year, returning to California after 15 Continue reading →MORE

Jordan Winery Joins Global Efforts to Protect Pollinators in Peril

While crafting one of the world’s finest cabernets at its Healdsburg estate, Jordan Vineyard & Winery is creating safe havens amid the vineyards and oak woodlands for bees and butterflies – hummingbirds too  – threatened by habitat loss and the deleterious effects wrought by climate change. For John Jordan, the owner of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, a sprawling and spectacular 1,200-acre wine estate in the Alexander Valley, the devastating wildfires of recent years were an alarming wake-up call about the loss of habitat and the Continue reading →MORE

Friedman’s Home Improvement: Celebrating 75 Years of Trusted Service and Community Engagement

Since 1946, when its first store opened in Petaluma, Friedman’s Home Improvement has been an integral part of Sonoma County’s history serving the building trades, farmers, ranchers, gardening enthusiasts, DIYers, and others while also supporting countless nonprofit causes, including several which benefit ag education such as 4-H and FFA programs and the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County. Seventy-five years ago, World War II veterans and brothers Joseph and Benny Friedman purchased a second-hand hardware and junk business from Meyer Lerer. The property was located Continue reading →MORE

Getting Back to “Normal”

This past month I had the opportunity to represent Sonoma County agriculture at the California Farm Bureau as a member of the Animal Welfare Issue Advisory Committee. Participating in committees at the state level gives members the opportunity to advocate for the policy that is most important to them. As a member-driven organization, our participation helps shape the policy that the California Farm Bureau will push in Sacramento as well as in Washington D.C. The policy changes committee members suggest have a long road ahead Continue reading →MORE

What Do Death and Taxes Have in Common?

“Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” is an often-used quote originating with Benjamin Franklin. In 1789, Benny penned this famous phrase in a letter to his friend, Jean-Baptiste Leroy, a French scientist. In the lengthy, handwritten letter the referenced sentence reads, “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”  Lately, it seems the amount of taxes collected and how those taxes are being used continues to be Continue reading →MORE

June Member Profile – Parsons Homegrown

What started as a means to farm from home, Kelley Parsons’ hydroponic tomato business, Parsons Homegrown, has supplied our county with delicious off-season beefsteak tomatoes for 25 years.  Her niche in the produce market are tomatoes harvested ripe, from January through August.  This unconventional tomato season is made possible by cultivating the plants in a large greenhouse, located on the Parsons’ farm in Fulton.  Endearingly known as the “tomato lady”, Kelley is an admired vendor at restaurants and grocery retailers across Sonoma County. Before the Continue reading →MORE

Seasonal Reminders and Updates from Department of Agriculture Weights & Measures

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Offices Resuming Normal Business Hours We’re excited to announce that the Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures resumed normal business hours.  Normal business hours at our main Santa Rosa office are 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Our Sonoma office also resumed normal hours, which are Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.  The Petaluma office is available by appointment only. The front door will remain locked so we can continue to Continue reading →MORE

The Wildfire Fuel Mapper: A Tool for Landowners to Reduce Fuels

In Sonoma County and across the west, fires have grown larger and more destructive.  In the past five years alone, fire has consumed about 25% of the county’s landscape, destroying 7,500 structures and killing dozens of residents. To respond to the growing need for vegetation management to reduce fuels, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Sonoma, in partnership with Pepperwood and Tukman Geospatial, developed the Wildfire Fuel Mapper, a set of tools and resources, provides Sonoma County landowners with the information they need to Continue reading →MORE

Maverick Farmer David Little is Growing the Perfect Potato on the Sonoma-Marin Coast

Longtime Farm Bureau Member’s Dry Farmed Potatoes Land on the Menus of Priciest Bay Area Restaurants   Like many farmers, David Little, the owner of Little Organic Farms, is rebuilding markets and farm sales in the aftermath of the pandemic that turned the world upside down – even his little corner of it in the rolling hills around Bloomfield in west Sonoma County. Over the last 25 years, Little’s flavorful, dry-farmed potatoes and other produce have graced the menus of high-end Bay Area restaurants like Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Agriculture Shows Up for Redwood Empire Holstein Association Spring Show

As a Sonoma County Farm Bureau member and dairy farmer, it has always been a goal of mine to make a sincere effort to advocate and support the dairy industry and our next generation of farmers and ranchers. The COVID-19 Pandemic was devastating to many industries and community groups in our county. These large losses we experienced can often overshadow smaller efforts and projects we often take for granted. Our next generation of farmers and ranchers who participate in 4-H and FFA clubs were met Continue reading →MORE

An Agricultural Industry that Leads with Heart

The beginning of summer traditionally signals the onset of many wonderful activities at your Farm Bureau office. Although delayed, we are back on track this year to come together to celebrate the many accomplishments of our agriculture stakeholders, including celebrating decades of success in farming like our Love of the Land honorees or relishing in the afterglow of high school graduation. The summer starts with our successful golf tournament in late July. Usually a sold-out event, this tournament pits the dairyman against the banker and Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Terry Lindley

When it comes to the many roles Terry Lindley occupies in the agricultural industry in Sonoma County, there are few that match his commitment and involvement in our community. His genuine willingness to lend a helping hand to any farmer, rancher, or grower in Sonoma County shines through no matter the circumstance. After retiring from a 40- year career at American AgCredit, a business that provides loans and other financial services to agricultural and rural customers, Terry shows no signs of slowing down. As an Continue reading →MORE

Introducing the Sonoma County 2021-2022 4-H All Stars!

Hello everyone, My name is Angel Lopez I am one of the new All-Stars for the 2021-2022 year. I am part of Green Valley 4-H. I am 15 years old and looking forward to making this next year as fun as possible. I would like to bring 4-H back to a full year filled with fun events and making sure every single 4-H’er is feeling welcome and comfortable because to me 4-H is one giant family that is a part of my life and I Continue reading →MORE

Forest Health and the Effects of Drought

As someone who has studied forest health for a while, I have developed the rather unfortunate habit of noticing only the red and brown canopies that appear in a sea of green (my wife says it makes visiting the forest with me rather depressing). Unfortunately, the tell-tale sign that a tree just died has become a common sight in the coastal forests over the past few years. While there is a suite of forest health issues (invasive species, fire suppression, and climate change to name Continue reading →MORE

2021 Love of the Land Award Recipients

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is pleased to be honoring this year’s award winners at Love of the Land on August 19, 2021. Although these award recipients were chosen a year ago as the 2020 award winners, the Farm Bureau felt these people and their families were too important to the success of Sonoma County agriculture and the Farm Bureau miss a celebration in their honor. Farm Bureau Hall of Fame: Domenic Carinalli For more than 50 years Domenic Carinalli has been a recognized leader Continue reading →MORE

Celebrating Petaluma’s Poultry Heritage Through the Ages: Parades, Rodeos & More

When people think of a Sonoma County poultry-themed celebration, Petaluma’s Butter & Egg Days Parade likely comes to mind. This event has taken place on the last weekend of April for the past several decades. However, looking further back in time, we find a similar annual event occurred in August. On August 31, 1918, Petaluma’s Chamber of Commerce sponsored the first Egg Day. Conceived by their newly hired secretary, Herbert Kerrigan, the idea was to educate people about the importance of the local poultry industry. Continue reading →MORE

Your Membership Matters

The last six months being on the Sonoma County Farm Bureau staff have been an exciting learning experience bother personally and professionally. In this half-year, I have been able to experience firsthand all that Sonoma County Farm Bureau does for its members. I have also had the opportunity to hear from our members about their hopes, desires, and the challenges they face. Over the whole time, it is easily and abundantly clear that Sonoma County Farm Bureau is the natural outlet for farmers, ranchers, consumers, Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Perucchi Dairy

A now third-generation family farm, Perucchi Dairy was established in 1952 by Henry and Clara Perucchi along the rolling hills of the Bodega Coast. Having started the family business in their teenage years, Henry and Clara did all the labor and running of the dairy for the first 26 years of operation. Now in their early 90’s, Henry and Clara have created a legacy that is followed by their children and grandchildren. Henry and Clara’s son, Steve, and his wife Nancy currently run the dairy Continue reading →MORE

Building New Regional Food System Partnerships: Opportunities for Local Producers in Emergency Food Systems

To support local producers and strengthen regional food systems, UCCE is building a new partnership with local organizations and coalitions in Sonoma County and the North Coast to connect local producers with emergency food systems. By creating this burgeoning regional food systems partnership, we hope to help emergency food systems be more responsive to local producers’ needs, while also making them more resilient. Over the past five years, Sonoma County has experienced a unique set of challenges from catastrophic wildfires, persistent drought, floods, and the Continue reading →MORE

Giant Steps, Harnessing Horsepower to Enrich and Empower

The grace and healing power of horses brings clients and instructors together at Petaluma’s Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center where the lives of people facing challenges are enriched and, often, miraculously transformed, on or off a saddle. “The people are great but the horses are saints,” said Beth Barker, a lifelong horse lover who drives from her home in San Francisco one day each week to volunteer at Giant Steps. She works with riders and lends her extensive horse sense to the well-being of the Continue reading →MORE

A Place to Call Home: The Sonoma County Farm Bureau – 104 Years and Six Locations

A piece of Farm Bureau history disappeared last month when its former offices, a modest 4,200 square foot structure located at 970 Piner Road, was razed. The building served as the Bureau’s center of operations for nearly 50 years. How many meetings, workshops, and celebrations took place within these four walls is not documented, but it was here in the early 1970s that plans were discussed and acted upon that resulted in restrictions on urbanization within growth management areas and protected agricultural land in the Continue reading →MORE

The Day Didn’t End as Planned

It was a normal Tuesday at Beretta Dairy. The morning chores had been completed, cows were nearly finished being milked, and the calves had been fed. Later in the afternoon, I went to check my beef cows who are going to calve soon. On my way up from the backfield, I could see Todd Road and a few small fires scattered about. I told my nephew Brayden, who was driving around the property, to drive faster. As I got to the yard, I told him Continue reading →MORE

Fire Resiliency: Privatization Would Help

Living in the home you grew up in is comfortable. It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm, worn blanket. Although I drive down the familiar roads slower than I did in my high school and junior college years, the houses and properties I pass are all familiar to me. Some have changed ownership, and a new family has moved into our neighborhood, while other properties have the next generation occupying the domicile. With new inhabitants, the house colors change, a new fence is built, or Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Serres Ranch

The Serres Family has worked the same land in Sonoma, California for six generations. The ranch in Sonoma started as the General Fighting Joe Hooker Ranch, but when the owner, Joe Hooker, wanted to re-enlist to fight in the Civil War he sold the ranch on the steps of the San Francisco Courthouse to George Watriss. Watriss quickly found a partner with an agricultural background and farming expertise, John Pierre “Toots” Serres, who remained managing partner working with Franklin Watriss, George’s son, until he died. Continue reading →MORE

Landscape / Community Resiliency – Can it be Achieved?

In the past few years, our local and statewide wildfires have increased in both size and frequency. They have been unpreceded; causing a great cost to human health, property, and lives. Every year, there’s a new leader in the “largest” fire in state history. Is this a record we want to keep happening? When and why did this trend begin; and better yet, how can we mitigate it? What do we need to do to make our county, state, and the west become more resilient? Continue reading →MORE

Pumpkin Farmers Put on a Show for Fun in the Fall

Sonoma County pumpkin growers are not only dirt farmers but entertainment impresarios who each October stage mini-fairs amid fields of plenty for city folks seeking a farm experience. After all, if you just want a plain old pumpkin there are bins full of them at supermarkets. But for those who want to wander a corn maze, scare yourself silly in a haunted dungeon or scout a field to find the perfect pumpkin, the farm is the place to go for outdoor fun and a genuine Continue reading →MORE

A History of Collaboration

October is American Archives Month, and this year’s theme is the power of collaboration. How fitting that it was a collaboration between several parties that resulted in the temporary relocation of the Sonoma County Archives, a collection of primary source materials that document the county’s history. The Sonoma County Library, which has managed the collection since 1967, paid to have these priceless records – 26 truckloads of materials – moved from a warehouse at the county’s Los Guilicos campus to the Farm Bureau’s Westwind Boulevard Continue reading →MORE

4-H: My Past, Our Future

Well, here we are in October! When I think of October I think of shorter days, vineyard harvest, and colorful fall leaves. Normally we begin to think about Halloween at the end of the month, then start to make plans for Thanksgiving meals, and then begin making plans for Christmas which I swear starts appearing sooner every year! However, the first thing that comes to mind when I start to see the leaves change and the fog sticks around longer in the mornings is that Continue reading →MORE

What’s in a Title?

I think I am turning into a grumpy old lady. There are several signs – my frustration with people who use foul language in public settings around kids, terror when someone refers to me as “ma’am” and what seems to be new definitions or overuse of many words in the English language. The Pandemic has spawned the excessive use of the words pivot, transition, and the phrase “new normal”. In the last few years, words like an influencer, social distancing, and poser have taken off Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Golden State Lumber

Golden State Lumber was established in 1954 in San Rafael, California under the name San Marin Lumber. After three decades in business, San Marin Lumber changed their name to what they are still known as today, Golden State Lumber. In 2019, Golden State Lumber bought Burgess Lumber, a member of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau at the time of the acquisition, and continued on their membership. Golden State Lumber felt that the membership benefits the Farm Bureau offered were too important to pass up. Eric Continue reading →MORE

Supporting local agriculture – then, now, and in the future

Over thirty years ago, Sonoma County voters made a commitment to preserving the agricultural character and beautiful open space lands that define our region. By creating the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) in 1990, the people of Sonoma County vowed to protect forever the working farms and ranches, scenic hillsides, and natural areas that make our county a unique place to live. They voted to tax themselves to preserve agricultural and open space lands, making a smart long-term investment in Continue reading →MORE

Bagrada Bug

The Bagrada bug, Bagrada hilaris, is a small invasive stink bug originating from East Africa and is considered a major pest in Africa, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Italy, Sri Lanka and India. It was first reported in southern California in 2008 and has slowly spread in agricultural areas of California. Bagrada bug was reported in Marin County in 2015 and was reported for the first time in Lake and Mendocino counties in 2021. Although bagrada bug has not yet been reported in Sonoma County, future movement Continue reading →MORE

Hunt & Behrens Inc. Stands Tall in Petaluma Following a Century of Change

For 100 years, Hunt & Behrens Inc. has carefully crafted feed rations for the cows and chickens producing the butter and eggs that have played an enduring role in Petaluma’s history, culture and economy. Hunt & Behrens’ century-old logo, a basket of eggs, says it all. Through wars and the Great Depression, booms and busts, a pandemic, wildfires and earthquakes, Hunt & Behrens has kept its mills humming and trucks rolling to deliver the hay and grains that support the family ranches north and south, east Continue reading →MORE

An Ambitious Santa Rosa Brewery Plan Fizzes Out

The Sonoma Valley Brewing Corporation was organized in 1933 within just a few months of the passage of the 21st Amendment and repeal of Prohibition. Original officers and directors included: Michael J. Hanrahan, promoter and president; Dr. Maximilian A. Buchner, vice president; Edith A. Humphreys, secretary; Clarence Tauzer of the Santa Rosa law firm Geary, Geary and Tauzer; and Walter G. Chanslor of the Chanslor and Lyon Stores. Frank P. Doyle, President of Exchange Bank, was Treasurer. On August 18, 1934, Mr. Doyle hosted a barbecue Continue reading →MORE

One Million and Counting

One million of anything is a big deal, no matter what. The fact that it is the number used to represent the number of women employed in US agriculture is a bigger deal. Today, one-third of agricultural workers are women. As I look at the landscape of the agricultural community here in Sonoma County, I can’t help but burst with pride when I see so many women involved in a male-dominated industry. We are so fortunate to have so many incredible women who have become Continue reading →MORE

Count Your Blessings

Are you feeling it too? You know that soul-grabbing feeling of new opportunities and rebirth – a sense that we have turned a corner and good things are ahead of us. I normally would equate this giddy, new beginnings feeling with the spring season, not the fall; but the twists and turns, and start and stops of the catastrophic events that have gripped Sonoma County in the last four years has held our internal, seasonal clocks hostage. For me, October was a month of exhaling Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Norm Yenni

Norm Yenni grew up on his father’s small dairy farm in Sonoma County. As a child, Norm helped with daily chores around the dairy. One of the tasks that Norm remembers most was growing hay to support the dairy. As time went on it became clear to Norm’s father that in order to keep their operation viable they would either need to expand their dairy or focus on growing crops and phase out the dairy. The decision was made that the family business would explore Continue reading →MORE

4-H programs help youth improve their public speaking confidence

Public speaking is one of the most dreaded activities and yet a necessary skill to be workforce ready. Lack of confidence is the most reported reason for anxiety of public speaking. While developing communication skills involve learning content, practicing skills, and improving attitudes, one of the most essential outcomes of any public speaking education program is to strengthen confidence itself. Providing opportunities for youth to practice and develop their confidence and skills in public speaking have been a cornerstone of the 4-H Youth Development Program Continue reading →MORE

Hit the Backroads for a Country Christmas at the Crane Barn and Other Farm Outlets

Like energetic elves, the Crane Family – Cindy and Richard and their daughter Jennifer  – worked for weeks transforming their historic melon barn into a glittering Christmas boutique that offers a uniquely Sonoma County experience. Around Sonoma County agricultural producers like the Cranes are welcoming visitors who, emerging from the pandemic, want Christmas to be about the bounty and beauty of the special place we call home. When the Crane family’s famed melons ended their seasonal run at the old barn in mid-October, the Cranes Continue reading →MORE

A Sonoma County Olive Oil Pioneer

Credit for producing Sonoma County’s first commercially produced olive oil is often given to George F. Hooper, a native of Virginia, who served as a colonel in the Mexican-American War of 1846. Following the war, he established a trading post at Fort Yuma. In 1867 he founded the First National Gold Bank of San Francisco, serving as its president until retiring to Sonoma County. Hooper purchased an 870-acre Sonoma Valley ranch in 1872 that his second wife, Maria Carroll Hooper, named Sobre Vista. By 1873, Continue reading →MORE

And That’s a Wrap

I want to thank everyone who attended the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in November. The support from our sponsors, members, the Board of Directors, and our staff has made my first year as President run so smoothly. As I look back on this past year it’s easy to think, “Wow I thought 2021 was supposed to be better than 2020.” Sonoma County ag took hit after hit in 2021. Whether it was drought, the everchanging Covid policies our business had to follow, or Continue reading →MORE

Farmers are the Other One Percent

In late November, I monitored the preliminary hearings held in Sonoma County Superior Court for four of the DxE leaders that terrorized three of our local farm families a few years ago.  DxE (Direct Action Everywhere) is an international animal rights organization that started almost a decade ago with its headquarters in Berkeley. More prevalent than their interest in animal rights is their mission to have the world’s population switch to a completely vegan diet.  Under the ruse of protecting livestock and poultry, they preach Continue reading →MORE

Dutton Estate Finds Success in Hard Cider

As we approach year-end and the typical season of reflection and planning, wine businesses might benefit from giving some serious thought to the idea of testing new or different product offerings. Brand extensions in new categories are trending across the broader beverage sector, where even giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola recently announced that, after years of eschewing the idea, they are launching new alcoholic offerings. I recently sat down with Joe Dutton and his daughter Kylie of Dutton Estate Winery in Sebastopol, Calif., to discuss their Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Ron Crane

Ron Crane farms on the same piece of land his family has lived on since 1852 when they settled in California during the Gold Rush. After serving in the Army as an Apache helicopter fighter pilot, Ron moved home to continue the family business. Ron is one of the newest members of the Sonoma County Board but a long-time member and support of the organization. Ron joined the Board of Directors a year ago to help better support local agriculture through consumer education. He is Continue reading →MORE

UCCE’s Wildfire Vegetation Mitigation Division and New Agricultural Ombudsman

The UC Cooperative Extension is a valuable source for the best available science and information when it comes to land, grazing and livestock. Moreover, the depth of UCCE’s research and technical services apply to wildfire vegetation and agricultural land management in terms of aiding in decisions for the long-term resiliency of land against any hazard whether it is fire, flood, drought, or climate change. UCCE is proud to announce the launch of our new Wildfire Vegetation Mitigation Division with the hire of Sashi Sabaratnam as Continue reading →MORE

SRJC’s Ag Department Evolves with Sonoma County’s Changing Farmscape

Ag Department celebrates 50 years as a partner providing talent to the agriculture industry When the Santa Rosa Junior College Agriculture Department was established 50 years ago, the livestock and dairy industries ruled Sonoma County agriculture, producing the prime rib, butter and sour cream that fed Americans’ meat-and-potatoes appetite. But that all began to change in the early 1970s when an emerging wine industry, coupled with the increasing awareness of a healthier Mediterranean diet, transformed Sonoma County’s economy, landscape and way-of-life.  Cow country became Wine Continue reading →MORE

Will a Final Origin of Livestock Rule for Organic Dairy Farms Take Effect in 2020?

After being stalled for nearly five years, amendments to the Origin of Livestock Rule governing standards, required for dairies to be certified as producing organic milk and milk products, has moved closer to reality. The latest step was the announcement by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in early October that the comment period would be reopened for another 60-days ending at midnight on December 2. The goal of the second comment period was essentially the same as the first, to give all interested parties Continue reading →MORE

January Editorial: New year, New Challenges

I think it is safe to say that most of us in Sonoma County are all too happy to see 2019 in the rearview mirror.  It was a year that brought many hardships to the agricultural community.  However, no matter what is thrown at us, I am always in awe of how our farmers and ranchers take challenges in stride with a positive attitude.  We can always count on friends and neighbors coming together to help each other during the tough times. Although 2019 was Continue reading →MORE

January Editorial: A New Year and A New Decade

We are ringing in a new year and a new decade. Moving from one decade to the next is significant…after all…trends, statistics, and history are often categorized and track by decades. In recognition of the recent 100th anniversary the Sonoma County Farm Bureau celebrated, I thought it would be fun to look back in time (and to our archives) to a century ago. What were the hot topics, crops and economic milestones worth writing about in 1920? As is often said, history repeats itself, and Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Andrew Ryan, Realtor. McCall Team at Keller Williams

There are three things you need to know about Sonoma County Farm Bureau Premium Member Andrew Ryan. He likes dirt, he likes numbers, and he likes helping people smile. His strong agricultural background, educational experiences, and dedication to community service make him an outstanding member of the Sonoma County agricultural community and a successful realtor. He said that his life has been impacted by three major events that all happened in 1983. “Bruce Aidells started Aidells Sausage Company, Gary Keller started Keller Williams Realty, and Continue reading →MORE

Carbon Farm Plans with the Gold Ridge RCD

Building soil organic matter with various forms of carbon has multiple benefits to the farm and the environment including increased water holding capacity, better tilth, lower erodibility, and carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere into the soil. Carbon farming is employing farming practices specifically to realize these benefits. Examples of carbon farming practices include cover cropping, compost applications, woody hedgerows/windrows, and no-till seeding. A carbon farm plan helps a grower identify opportunities to sequester carbon while achieving multiple farm production goals. By identifying what practices Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures January Update

2019 Fall Plastic Container Recycle Day Recap On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures held its’ second container recycling event for 2019.  This free event gives our local farmers, nurseries, pest control businesses, golf courses, parks, and government agencies the opportunity to recycle empty, non-reusable plastic pesticide containers which would otherwise end up in the landfill. During the fall event, 46 participants recycled roughly 10,800 pounds of plastic.  All participants must fill out a Pesticide Container Rinse Certification, which Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau 1st Vice President Jennifer Beretta Elected Chair of the State Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee

Jennifer Beretta, Sonoma County Farm Bureau 1st Vice President and dairy farmer, was elected to chair the California Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. Beretta has been involved in YF&R since she was 18 years old and with the State YF&R Committee for four years. Now, she will increase her leadership responsibility to include a 1-year term and seat on the CFBF State Board of Directors. She will be the lone newcomer to the CFBF Board of Directors. Her role on the CFBF State Continue reading →MORE

The Changing Tides of the Fishing Industry Father and Son Team Up to Provide Top Quality Seafood from The Tides Wharf

What is the main ingredient for the largest crab feed in California? Crab, of course—but not just any crab. Thanks to the Tides Wharf, year after year, the Great Sonoma Crab & Wine Fest has fresh, mouth-watering crab for over 2,000 people to enjoy.  Made famous in the early 1960s as the backdrop for scenes of Alfred Hitchcock’s film classic, “The Birds”, The Tides Wharf remains an attraction for locals and travelers from around the world. It is also where father and son Tony and Continue reading →MORE

Exploring options for PG&E’s future

UNCERTAIN FUTURE — PG&E’s bankruptcy has spurred critics to imagine new ways that PG&E’s delivery system, like the Fulton substation pictured above, might be owned and operated. Some big decisions about PG&E will be made in the next few months, and local officials are realizing this could have enormous implications for Sonoma County. By June the utility hopes to resolve its bankruptcy, which it filed in January because it faced an estimated $30 billion in wildfire liabilities. The bankruptcy has opened the door to a Continue reading →MORE

February Editorial- Election Season

Next month on March 3, Sonoma County and the rest of California will head to the polls to take part in this seemingly perpetual election cycle we are in. As soon as one ends, the next one begins. So, if it seems extra early to you, you’re right. California, in its infinite wisdom, has bumped up our primary election in an effort to become more relevant in a Presidential election. Will it have an effect? That remains to be seen, however, I don’t think it Continue reading →MORE

February Editorial- Agriculture: The Sacrificial Lamb of Corporate America

Did you notice your February Farm News arrived a week later than usual? No, your mail delivery person didn’t fail you and our printing presses didn’t breakdown. We purposely held production of our much-loved monthly publication to allow for us to include stories, accolades, and pictures from our 31st Great Sonoma Wine & Crab Fest held on February 1st. What a night it was! Fun was had by all as they strolled through the reception area, enjoying food and libations from our many local restaurants and wineries Continue reading →MORE

February Farm News Member Profile Costeaux French Bakery

Most people especially think about carbohydrates each year starting on January 1st as a part of new year’s resolutions. Will Seppi, CEO of Costeaux French Bakery, however, thinks about carbohydrates every single day. Costeaux French Bakery offers a wide range of carbohydrates including crafted baked goods from sourdough artisan breads, to rolls and buns, cookies, and cakes that are distributed throughout the North Bay including Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa and Marin counties.  One of their most unique products is a familiar and fun feature at the Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau First Vice President Attends American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention

The American Farm Bureau Federation held its Annual Convention & Trade Show on January 17 – 22, 2020 in Austin, TX. The theme of the 101st Annual Convention, which was held at the Austin Convention Center, was “Sustaining America’s Agriculture.” Workshops focused on steps farmers and ranchers can take to enhance soil health and improve water quality and others featured precision agriculture technology’s role in helping with labor shortages; increasing competition; mitigating risk and protecting food safety. Sonoma County Farm Bureau First Vice President Jennifer Continue reading →MORE

Vigilance Against Illegal Marijuana Grows

Over the last several years, state legislature along with California voters have created and formed legal framework which enables the cannabis industry to be a regulated commercial market. In response to the state law changes, elected officials in Sonoma County have adopted ordinances in order to establish comprehensive programs in order to permit and regulate medical cannabis. The information provided should be used as a guide for the safety and protection of persons and property. Even though marijuana has been legalized and regulated, there are still Continue reading →MORE

31st Annual Great Sonoma Crab & Wine Fest

On Saturday, February 1, 2020, the Hall of Flowers and Grace Pavilion were filled with an ocean of support for youth education and advocacy at the 31st Annual Great Sonoma Crab & Wine Fest, which is the largest crab feed in California, and possibly the U.S. Nearly 2,000 guests and nearly 400 volunteers and reception participants attended the event to enjoy local bites, premier Sonoma County wine and brews, a fun party atmosphere, an impressive silent and live auction, and of course, a mouthwatering crab Continue reading →MORE

Professional Pollinators Trevor and Claire Tauzer and their Beehives Call Sonoma County Home

When most people think about bee keeping, honey is the first thing that comes to mind. However, Trevor and Claire Tauzer say that it’s important to remember that the sweetest thing about bees is the essential function they fulfill for agriculture—pollination. Trevor and Claire Tauzer of Tauzer Apiaries pride themselves on nurturing healthy honeybee hives in Sonoma County that travel throughout Northern California pollinating crops like almonds, apples, cherries, melons, and alfalfa. “Bees pollinate one out of every 3 bites of food,” Trevor said. “The Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County GSA Planning Process Ramps Up to Address Sustainability Concerns

The plan development process that began in 2018 is halfway toward the state deadline set for June 31, 2022, as Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) focus on defining exactly what sustainability management should look like in the three Sonoma County basins – the Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley. Public workshops will continue as key milestones are achieved for technical work performed to date, and an online survey is planned in 2020 to gather public input. “At the heart of the GSA planning process Continue reading →MORE

Supporting our Agricultural Community

Wow! What another fantastic Crab Feed!  Thank you to all who were able to attend the 31st Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest!  It is a real privilege to visit with everyone and witness the tremendous support for agriculture every year.  Once again, our community stepped up to contribute to our scholarships, agriculture education and Farm Bureau. Thank you to all our local, state and nationally elected officials who attended as well. Thank you to the 4-Hers, FFA students and volunteers who helped create Continue reading →MORE

Every Day Should Be Ag Day

March is National Agriculture Month with March 22-28 being National Agriculture Week and March 24th is National Agriculture Day. Since 1973, Americans have been asked to recognize and celebrate the contribution that agriculture has made in their lives. Those of us in farming are asked to host Ag Day events, encourage teachers to do classroom lessons focused on agriculture and our Elected officials are expected to rally around the celebration. Although I didn’t realize it then, I participated in the first-ever Ag Week celebration. As Continue reading →MORE

February Farm News Member Profile: Encore Events Rentals, Bridget Doherty

Do you have an event coming up and are not sure where to start? Need a professional designer’s eye? For the past decade, Encore Event Rentals has been helping clients to make each and every celebration from formal weddings to casual barbecues, corporate parties to winery events and more, into an unforgettable event. Encore Events Rentals is a local family-owned and operated, event rental company with three locations serving greater Wine Country including the Windsor Showroom, Petaluma Showroom, and St. Helena Design Studio. Bridget Doherty, Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Receives Grant Funding from the California Cattle Council

If you travel up and down the US 101 you may have noticed the Sonoma County Farm Bureau logo proudly displayed on a series of digital billboards near the Golf Course Exit promoting beef ranching and dairy farming in Sonoma County. These billboards were produced thanks to funding Sonoma County Farm Bureau received from the California Cattle Council. Sonoma County Farm Bureau staff will travel across Sonoma County to capture images of beef ranchers and dairy farmers to disseminate positive messaging about cattle producers to Continue reading →MORE

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi’s Weekly Segment on Wine Country Radio

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi will be covering all things Sonoma County agriculture from the ground up in her new 10-minute segment called From Farm to Table on Wine Country Radio’s The Krush 95.9 FM. Tesconi made her debut on the airwaves on Thursday, February 6, with retiring Sonoma County Ag Commissioner Tony Linegar as her first guest. They discussed Tony’s outlook on agriculture in Sonoma County and he reflected on his time serving as the Sonoma County Ag Commissioner. Each week, Tawny and her guest Continue reading →MORE

Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Says “Aloha” to Tony Linegar

Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Says “Aloha” to Tony Linegar Tony Linegar retired from his position as the Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures for the County of Sonoma on February 13, 2020.  Tony has held this position since January 3, 2012.  He graduated from Chico State University in 1993 with a B.S. degree in Biological Science and began his career in 1995 in Shasta County as an Agricultural Inspector I. He worked his way up to an Agricultural Inspector III before moving to Mendocino Continue reading →MORE

Hemp Being Explored as a New Farm Crop in Sonoma County

Some farmers are looking at hemp as potential cash crop to bolster revenues on their family land  Dr. George Sellu is an agriculture instructor who led the Santa Rosa Junior College’s effort to become the first community college in California to develop a hemp agriculture program. The hemp program brings together courses from the horticulture, sustainable agriculture and plant science programs at SRJC. Sellu said that the hemp program provides hands-on opportunities and training for students and provides knowledge and skills for Sonoma County Farmers Continue reading →MORE

Value of Bay Area Working Landscapes Fuels the State’s Economic Powerhouse

California and Bay Area statistics show the value of working landscapes as a key driver of the state’s robust economy. As the nation’s largest agricultural producer and a primary contributor to the state’s fiscal vitality, California has working landscapes that support more than 1.5 million jobs among those whose livelihoods are tied to the land. With more than 71,000 farms producing 400 different commodities, the Golden State is the nation’s most agriculturally productive and diverse region. California’s working landscapes include farmland, ranches, forest wetlands, mines, Continue reading →MORE

April Editorial: Hard Times Make for Strong People

I did not think that you could have a more impactful year in Sonoma County than 2019, but we have quickly discovered that is not true.  The COVID-19 pandemic is something that we have never experienced before or likely ever will in our lifetime. People are attempting to adjust to these current norms, hour by hour, every day while new information floods in. I believe everyone is doing his or her best to limit the spread of this virus as much as possible.  Where we Continue reading →MORE

April Editorial: Pandemic Heroes

These are unsettling times. What our world is going through is horrific. Locally, this pandemic combined with the last few years of fires and floods makes me wonder if our county will ever catch a break. The health of our residents is threatened, and our economy is faltering, but in these trying times, I believe in the American grit. We are a nation that has proven its resiliency and history shows that when faced with adversity our Country rights itself and comes back stronger. For Continue reading →MORE

April Farm News Member Profile: Definition Films

Have you noticed our new video content featuring local farmers and ranchers on our website and social media platforms? If not, go check out the impressive videos that were shot, edited, and produced by the local video production company Definition Films who traveled up and down Sonoma County and in and out of pastures to capture the beauty, integrity, and heritage of local agriculture.  Definition Films was founded by Justin Liddell during his freshman year of high school in 2008. The local company started as Continue reading →MORE

New Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures

It is with excitement, happiness, and humility that I get to address the Sonoma County Farm Bureau as the county’s new Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures. I would first like to tell you all how much our Department values our relationship with the Farm Bureau for our shared interest in promoting and protecting agriculture and ensuring the safety and well-being of our families, employees, and environment in which our county’s agricultural operations are situated. This cannot be understated. Secondly, I would like to express Continue reading →MORE

Crane Fly Infestation

Crane flies, Tipula oleracea, have once again appeared on Sonoma and Marin County’s range, pasture and cultivated lands this season. I have seen their presence only 3 times during my career, but when in large numbers, the done significant damage. The seasonably warm, average 68 degrees, November, followed by a December that lack proper chilling days, resulting in the survival of excessive Crane fly larvae. Weather conditions have led to current infestations on range, pasture and cultivated lands. Larvae are usually killed when a hard Continue reading →MORE

Joe Pozzi, Recognized by Whole Foods Market for Supplier Of The Year for Northern California

Recognized for his commitment to providing a local 100% grass fed lamb product to all 47 Northern California Whole Foods Stores. Joe Pozzi – of  Pozzi Ranch Lamb was honored by Whole Foods Market with their Supplier of the Year Award  for Perishable Products. Recognized for their incredible achievements in 2019, Pozzi Ranch Lamb was recognized at a reception held in Austin, Texas, on February18. The annual awards recognize suppliers that embody Whole Foods Market’s mission and values through proven commitments to quality, environmental stewardship, Continue reading →MORE

Ag Leader Domenic Carinalli Honored with Farm Bureau’s Hall of Fame Award

Sebastopol dairy rancher and grape grower has devoted more than 50 years of his life advocating for agriculture For more than 50 years Domenic Carinalli has been a recognized leader on the farm front, spending countless hours away from his Sebastopol ranch to fight for the interests of all farmers in Sonoma County and beyond. In his straightforward, no-nonsense way, Carinalli, who is 79 and still going strong, emerged as the voice of reason on topics ranging from land-use to milk marketing and wine grape Continue reading →MORE

Agriculture is Essential to Life

How much more can we take in Sonoma County? I did not believe I would be writing about the same topic two months in row, but here we are. The Coronavirus or COVID-19 has taken over everyone’s lives around the world.  Thank you to all in the healthcare industry who continue to work and care for those who are impacted.  Thankfully, we are better off in Sonoma County and California than other areas of the United States. Between fires, floods and now pandemics we’ve seen Continue reading →MORE

May Editorial- Battling Two Pandemics

My editorial for this month is difficult to write because it is on such a sensitive topic. Typically, I am not bothered if my comments spark controversy or cause a valued member to fire back a letter disagreeing with my opinions. After all, the intent of an editorial, as opposed to a news story, is to express the views of the writer while suggesting a contrary or less popular viewpoint of a topic. In many ways, editorials, commentaries, op-eds and nowadays social rants and raves Continue reading →MORE

May Farm News Member Profile Grow West

Grow West, which formally operated as AG Unlimited and Agro Tech representing 30 years in Sonoma County, began doing business under its new name in February 2019. The company operates throughout Northern California with 5 North Coast Stores as well as locations from Walnut Grove to Maxwell along the I-5 corridor. Mike Boer is the Sales Manager for the North Coast. He graduated from Davis in 1982 with a Plant Science Viticulture Degree. About 20 years ago he started working in the agricultural chemical industry Continue reading →MORE

COVID 19 Community Stories

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted our community, state, and nation in countless ways. We know that it has created severe challenges for many and has tested the resiliency of our community. The Pandemic has reminded us now, more than ever, that our community supports one another when times get tough. Listed as essential business, agriculturalists across the county continue to provide a stable, healthy, local food source for our community. We asked our diverse members to share how the Pandemic has impacted their lives and Continue reading →MORE

Remembering Steve Reese—Rancher, Farm Bureau Member, Tireless Volunteer & Advocate for Agriculture Posthumously Inducted into the SCFB Hall of Fame

Beloved rancher, who died March 27,  remembered for his dedication to family, Farm Bureau, fair and farm youth Steve M. Reese, a Sonoma County cattle rancher and grape grower who was a familiar and beloved fixture in the agriculture community and a stalwart volunteer at Farm Bureau and the Sonoma County Fair, died unexpectedly on March 27, 2020, at the family ranch in west Santa Rosa. He was 70. He will be posthumously inducted into the SonomaCounty Farm Bureau Hall of Fame for his dedication Continue reading →MORE

Serving Essentially Through Crisis

These are very dynamic and rapidly changing times as our county reacts to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) community health crisis. As the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures (AWM), it is our job to provide essential services necessary to keep agriculture going and to advocate for our stakeholders to ensure that agriculture is acknowledged as an essential function in our community. As the County drafts and disseminates the Shelter in Place orders, we want everyone we serve to know that we are here to help. Continue reading →MORE

Exploring the Archives as the Sonoma-Marin Fair Goes Virtual

California has been conducting fairs for more than 140 years, with the first state agency fairs established by law before the Civil War. Today, the state’s network of fairs includes 78 fairs operating under a variety of governance structures, including 52 district agricultural associations (state agency fairs) of which the Sonoma-Marin Fair is one; 23 county fairs; two citrus fairs; and the California Exposition and State Fair. Because of the 2020 COVID 19 pandemic many of these fairs have had to cancel or will occur Continue reading →MORE

Victory Garden or Victory Farm?

It seems like everyone is talking about victory gardens these days as people find ways to keep busy and healthy while sheltering in place.  The many articles, TV and radio programs sharing information about “pandemic gardens” or 21st Century Victory Gardens got me thinking about the history of Sonoma County victory gardens. So, I started poking around in a few online newspaper databases since I don’t have access to brick and mortar libraries. I came across quite a few interesting items from both the World Continue reading →MORE

June Editorial: Open up Sonoma County

Open up Sonoma County I am sure for most of us these last two months have seemed like an eternity. Whether you are fortunate enough to still be working or are at home, I think the days all seem to meld together. People in our county are struggling to make ends meet and get work done. Many of us have taken on the task of homeschooling our kids while somehow completing all normal tasks and also wondering where the money will come from to keep Continue reading →MORE

June Editorial: The Process of Getting Local Food from Farm to Table

The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought with it hardship and tragedy. As a community, we are adapting to a new normal that includes social distancing and the shuttering of local businesses and restaurants. Now, we are gathering at home for meals more often. Thankfully, in Sonoma County, we have a diverse, safe, and abundant local food supply that our residents can rely on even while so much of the economy is shut down. Daily, farmers and ranchers are producing crops but how do these products become Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Wise Acre Farm

You have probably bought a bag of chips or a soda from a vending machine, but have you ever purchased eggs out of a vending machine? If not, you can right here in Sonoma County at Wise Acre Farm. Located in Windsor, the farm is owned and operated by Tiffany Holbrook and her husband Jason. Although they had no previous agricultural experience they bought the business from a hobby farmer in 2018. “My husband and I had a small backyard chicken flock for years so Continue reading →MORE

COVID-19: Spreading Positivity

Micah & Michelle Sawyer Micah and Michelle Sawyer, who own Sawyer Construction, build custom homes that are primarily vacation homes. Therefore, during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Shelter in Place Order they felt they were not essential and shut down business as of March 18th. While at home they have been keeping themselves busy making cloth masks and giving them away. In addition, they have been distilling alcohol to 190 proof and making lavender-infused “Sawyer Sanitizer.” While all this is going on they have a Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture Update

Essential Services Provided During the Shelter in Place Order The Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures has a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) in place to respond to an emergency.  The COOP was developed to identify those essential services and programs performed by our Department should an emergency be declared.  The COOP that was developed and in place in March prior to the Shelter in Place Order was designed to respond to an emergency lasting up to a week.  As we worked through this emergency, we Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Welcomes Two Summer Interns

Avery Essick I was born and raised in Sonoma County. I grew up in Cloverdale and attended Cloverdale schools and then went to Santa Rosa Junior College after graduating high school. There, I received two Associate’s Degrees in Communications and Political Science. My family has deep ties to Sonoma County agriculture. I am a member of the Duer family which has been in Sonoma County since the 1890s. Our family had a well drilling business and provided water services to agriculture in Sonoma County. I Continue reading →MORE

Petaluma’s Neve Family Prospers as Premier Producer of High-End Roses & Other Floral Delights

Neve family, now in the fourth generation, is Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Farm Family of the Year For more than a half century, the Neve family of Petaluma has strategically adapted to not only survive in the highly competitive flower business but to thrive and prosper, becoming the West Coast’s premier producer of show-stopping roses and other floral delights. Lou Neve, 68, who runs Neve Bros. with his wife Raelene, and his sons, Nick, 37, and Chris, 34, fourth generation flower growers, said it takes Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Once Fed Region’s Poorest Residents

The “Chanate property” is in the news again as the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors plan to put this prime piece of Santa Rosa real estate on the market – again. What’s not in the news is that this property was once occupied by a farm that fed some of the county’s poorest residents and grew grapes used in wine and brandy produced by Isaac DeTurk during the late 19th century. The 71-acre parcel located on Chanate Road is packed with history. Not only is Continue reading →MORE

Award Winning Leaders

This has certainly been a stressful year for all of us. While these are new times and we do not have a “normal” quite yet (I refuse to believe this is a new normal), we must change with the current times. It is unfortunate that we had to cancel our Love of the Land event this year. I truly enjoy seeing everyone, visiting, catching up on how their year is going and what they see for the remainder of the year. It is such a Continue reading →MORE

Can We Save Our Local Fairs?

As the days grow longer and warmer, if you’re like me, you are pining away from not being able to make your traditional visit to our local fairs and festivals this summer. As a fair junkie, I usually attend at least fifteen fairs a year. There have been a few mornings when, just after waking, I ponder what fair I will be experiencing soon, only to get railroaded by reality. Oh yeah, we’re on lockdown and have to social distance – there are no fairs Continue reading →MORE

July Farm News Member Profile Solectrac, Inc.

Solectrac, Inc., located in Northern California, has developed 100% battery powered, all electric tractors for agriculture and recreational applications. Their tractors allow farmers around the world to power their tractors by using the sun, wind, and other clean renewable sources of energy. Founder and CEO Stephen Heckeroth said that Solectrac is on its way to becoming the standard of electric agricultural and utility equipment around the globe. Heckeroth has dedicated his life to finding alternatives to burning fossil fuels. He received a degree in Architecture and for Continue reading →MORE

2020 Jamison Merit Award Winners

The Rotary Club of Santa Rosa Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 Jamison Merit Award Grants to assist local FFA members to purchase market lambs, pigs, goats and steers for the Sonoma County Fair. Thirty FFA members received merit awards this year ranging from $200 for pig and goat exhibitors to $250 for lamb exhibitors and $1,000 for steer merit awards. The amount of the award is targeted to 50% of the cost to purchase a high quality market animal. The Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Article: Hardened Targets

With the country in seemingly ever-increasing turmoil, whether due to global pandemics or civil unrest, having a sense of security and peace of mind surrounding your home and property has likewise ever-increasing importance. Many of you have invested countless hours to decades of your lives towards managing a business, building a home, or raising a family here in Sonoma County. You deserve to experience a level of security where you are not impacted by the criminal element of society.  Unfortunately, the criminal element of society Continue reading →MORE

Rhonda Smith Wraps Up Long and Fruitful Career as Sonoma County Viticulture Advisor

Smith described as icon and heroine for work in advancing wine grape production Rhonda Smith has been heralded as the “heroine of the vineyards” for her groundbreaking work in helping combat the parade of pathogens and other problems that have plagued grapevines – and alarmed growers – during her more than 30 years as Sonoma County’s viticulture advisor. A scientist first and foremost, Rhonda steadily emerged as Sonoma County’s resident expert on all things wine grape during her nearly 34 years as the viticulture advisor Continue reading →MORE

Sangiacomo Family’s Culture of Care at the Root of Farm Bureau’s Luther Burbank Conservation Award

Sonoma Valley farming family balances economic viability with environmental stewardship For nearly a century, the Sangiacomo family has farmed in the Sonoma Valley, not only passing down farming skills from generation-to-generation but their Italian ancestors’ Old World reverence for the land and the miraculous bounty that comes from it. The Old World belief that if you take care of the land, it takes care of you is deeply embedded in the DNA of the third generation Sangiacomos now managing the family farming operation established by Continue reading →MORE

When a Show Becomes a Fair

When asked to write an article about the history of the Gravenstein Apple Fair my thoughts went to images of elaborate exhibits constructed solely of apples. Those exhibits were part of the Gravenstein Apple Show which served as inspiration for the Gravenstein Apple Fair, but they are not one in the same. The first Gravenstein Apple Show was held on August 10 thru 13, 1910, in a tent on Main Street across from the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad Depot (now the West County Museum). Continue reading →MORE

Deja Vu?!

Well, here we go again.  Another round of business shutdowns, ruining people’s livelihoods for what our governor says are perceived threats.  If masks and sanitization work and businesses can reduce capacity, there is no reason why any business cannot be open under these guidelines. I only wish our county leadership viewed it this way and could pave the way for all our businesses to operate. I want my friends’ and your friends’ businesses to survive. The mental health toll of closing and opening and closing Continue reading →MORE

Small Businesses, Big Challenges

Local small businesses, like many of our members and businesses that support our members, are facing unprecedented times. Sales most likely are down, the cost of doing business has risen due to safety protocol measures, companies are having to invest in unplanned technology upgrades and the older population with a higher amount of discretionary income are cocooning and not spending money. Small businesses are corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietors with 1-500 employees are less. 500 employees? That seems big to me and our County leans Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Mike Meyer Jr., Manager of Meyer Farming’s Apple Orchards

Mike Meyer Jr., is the youngest apple grower in Sonoma County and he’s proud of it. The 4th generation farmer said that being a farmer is tough work, but that he wouldn’t change a thing.  “Not many people can say that they enjoy what they do for a living,” Meyer said. “But I do. I was raised by great parents, Mike and Bobbie Meyer, and enjoyed growing up on an apple orchard with my younger brother, Kevin.” He said he has many fond memories of Continue reading →MORE

Farming in a Digital Era: Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Brand Webinar Series Launch Seminar

On Monday, June 13 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sonoma County Farm Bureau in partnership with American AgCredit hosted the first of four virtual seminars in the Farming in a Digital Era: Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Brand Webinar Series. Former Google executive Steven Lerch of Story Arc Consulting gave a presentation titled, “Building Trust and Connection in a Digital World”  Steven Lerch is an award-winning international public speaker and digital strategist. Since 2015 Lerch has specialized in the food and agriculture industry working Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Hosts Successful Take Home BBQ Fundraiser

In lieu of the beloved Love of the Land event, which couldn’t be held because of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Shelter in Place Order, Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted a take home BBQ fundraiser on Thursday, July 16. Farm Bureau staff and volunteers distributed almost 400 dinners, which included a total of approximately 800 lbs. of tri-tip. Dinners, which were available only by preordering, served 4 or 8 people and included a whole tri-tip roast, Lombardi’s BBQ baked beans, Franco American garlic bread, Lori Bianchi’s Continue reading →MORE

Climate Smart Agriculture – Sonoma is leading the effort

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is proud to join our County partners to promote climate smart strategies and engage in the Climate Ad Hoc Committee. This committee is a directive from Supervisors Gorin and Hopkins that will inform the Board’s strategic goal to achieve carbon neutrality in Sonoma County no later than 2030. The guiding principles of this plan are to (1) prioritize equitable outcome that improve quality of life for all; (2) connect local priorities to climate action and resilience; (3) identify Continue reading →MORE

Manzana Invests $9 million to Reposition Company for the Long Haul in Sebastopol’s Apple Country

Sonoma County’s last apple processor committed to preserving remaining apple orchards Amid all the dire economic news caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a positive, good-news story emerging from Sebastopol where the county’s last apple processing plant is investing more than $9 million to secure the future of the apple trees still standing in west Sonoma County. Manzana Products Co., which has been producing applesauce, apple juice and apple cider vinegar for nearly a century, is making a bold financial move to upgrade its Continue reading →MORE

A Small Taste of Sonoma County’s Food Processing History

Learning that Manzana Products Co. is Sonoma County’s last surviving apple processing plant inspired me to research a handful of related businesses that preceded Manzana.  When and where did these businesses exist? Who, and how many people, did they employ? What fruits and vegetables did they process? Where did it all go? How did it get there? When and why did they cease operating? To begin answering these questions I spoke with local historians, reviewed county histories, historic maps, photograph collections, and newspaper articles. The Continue reading →MORE

September Editorial: Just say “NO” to Prop 15

If ever there was something that would have a devastating and detrimental effect on Agriculture in Sonoma County and California, then Prop 15 is it.  Prop 15 seeks to remove some of California’s Prop 13 property tax protections for commercial and agriculture parcels.  Once that is gone, it will be very easy to repeal Prop 13 altogether, which Sacramento desperately wants. How else will they and other municipalities across the state fund their exorbitant pensions and mismanaged budgets?  Don’t be fooled. How many times has Continue reading →MORE

September Editorial: No, Not Now

These are unprecedented times for our county, particularly for the agriculture industry that drives our local economy. We are in an economic crisis that is unparalleled. Neither the Great Depression nor the Great Recession nor any other slump over the past two centuries have ever caused such a negative jolt to our economy. Farmers, ranchers, our business suppliers and community supporters need help, especially financially.  You do not have to be an economist to see the train wreck coming, yet for some unfathomable reason, local Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Scott’s Miracle Gro

Scott’s Miracle-Gro is widely considered an industry leader in the lawn and garden consumer space. The Farm Bureau member, headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, is where O.M. Scott began selling lawn seed in 1868. The Scotts Co. came together in the mid-’90s with Miracle-Gro, which was originally founded by Horace Hagedorn on Long Island, New York.  Today, the company manufactures and sells consumer lawn, garden, and pest control products. In the U.S., Scott’s, Miracle-Gro and Ortho brands are well known, but there are many other products Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Welcomes New Board Members

Nicolas Hernandez Ramirez Nicolas Hernandez Ramirez works for Bevill Vineyard Management as a Viticulturist with Pest Control Advisor and Qualify Private Applicator License. He got his start in the winegrape industry as an intern at Bevill and has continued to grow and learn as a viticulturist.  “I started working in the field picking grapes and vegetables and now I have a degree in Viticulture,” Nicolas said. “I graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) in 2015 and transferred to California State University, Fresno where I Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County is Home to New Animal Hauler– Mattern Livestock Hauling

With over 10 years of experience as a dead animal hauler, Jack Mattern said that he is excited to begin his new business venture– Mattern Livestock Hauling. The Sonoma County native and marine corps veteran is ready to provide a vital service to the local agricultural community in Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Mendocino, Lake and other counties.  He specializes in safe, professional, dead animal removal and disposal for both small and large animals. Some examples include bulls, steers, horses, donkeys, mules, alpacas, cows, llamas, goats, pigs, Continue reading →MORE

It’s Time to Join the Fight to Defeat Prop 15

Help us defeat Prop 15, the $11.5 billion-a-year property tax increase on the November ballot. Now is not the time to increase our cost of living and make our economic crisis worse. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is actively engaged in the effort to defeat prop 15 and to spread the word about this devastating legislation at the local level. We are developing an outreach campaign, created signs, and will be conducting studies to determine the potential costs of this legislation locally. To support our Continue reading →MORE

Log it, Graze it, or Watch it Burn

The West seems to be on track to have catastrophic wildfires annually. Diverse interests place blame on a wide variety of causes including climate change and decades of inadequate land management. Meanwhile, here in Sonoma County as the smoke dissipates from our latest fire, landowners continue to assess the feasibility of implementing fire resiliency measures on their properties. Though a wide variety of tools are available, barriers including high costs, lack of labor, time constraints, regulatory red tape, and absentee landowners leave many wanting to Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County’s First Breweries

Petaluma’s popularity as a hotspot for beer enthusiasts began long before the current craft beer renaissance.  During the 19th century, Sonoma County’s southernmost town was home to several breweries – the first of which was established in 1855 by Frederick Christlich on North Main (today’s Petaluma Boulevard North) at West Street. The Petaluma Brewery, as it was aptly named, was not only the first Petaluma brewery, but also the first Sonoma County brewery. After a succession of owners, the brewery was purchased by George Robuson Continue reading →MORE

Death, Taxes and Sonoma County Fires

Well, it is fire season again in Sonoma County and I guess we are going for some kind of record here with four years in a row of dealing with fire or smoke. Maybe now the State will take forest management more seriously. When the entire state is ablaze, someone in Sacramento should take notice. For far too long logging and land management have taken a back seat here. Stifled and restricted by legislators and environmental groups, our forests are overgrown, and rangeland is left Continue reading →MORE

Vote No on Prop 15

Proposition 15 is bad. There is no other way to put it and my dislike of the measure is not just because it hurts our farmers, ranchers, and small businesses. Proposition 15 is ill-intended, poorly written, and ambiguous.  I wish I could say the poorly constructed language around Proposition 15 was an anomaly, but sadly, I cannot. Without debating the merits of term limits, now that our state legislators have a limited amount of time in office, the frenzy to author bills and to build Continue reading →MORE

October Farm News Member Profile: Che Casul

Meet our newest Farm Bureau member, Che Casul. His father was Puerto Rican born on the island and raised in the projects of NYC and on his mother’s side, Che is a 7th generation rancher on the same land his family settled in Bodega in 1851.  Che said that both of his parents were in helping professions, which has been a part of his family’s legacy for generations.  “A prime example of this is that after he finished building a house for the family the Continue reading →MORE

2020 Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County Grant Program in Partnership with the Alvin James Hansen Foundation Now Accepting Applications

Apply today to fund efforts that support ag education!  Minimum Grant Funding= $500 & Maximum Funding = $15,000 The Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County is proud to administer a grant program utilizing funds contributed by the Alvin James Hansen Foundation to support agriculture education. Grant requests can be made for programs and projects that further agriculture education, especially efforts that further youth education in agriculture. The type of grants to be awarded vary and may include: Equipment Purchases, Educational Program Funding, School Farm Projects, Brick Continue reading →MORE

2020 Voter Guide

Vote No on Prop 15 Farm Bureau Members, it’s time to take action. Help us defeat Prop 15, the $11.5 billion-a-year property tax increase on the November ballot. Now is not the time increase our cost of living and make our economic crisis worse. Thank you for fighting to defeat Prop 15! Here’s how you can help us defeat this legislation: 1)Donate to the Family Farmers Alliance PAC. Support our efforts to defeat Prop 15 by donating to our PAC- Family Farmers Alliance (ID Number Continue reading →MORE

County Lands for Food Production (CLFP) – 2020 Reboot

In 2011, UCCE lead efforts to explore the use of County owned lands for farmers, ranchers and communities to produce food. This effort, The County Lands for Food Production (CLFP), brought together a team from several Sonoma County Departments to assess currently vacant lands owned by the County and managed by the different County departments. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors directed staff to assess the opportunities for growing food; in either community garden or through production agriculture. County departments involved in this program included Continue reading →MORE

Barnyard Buddies and Agricultural Assets. The integral role working dogs play on Sonoma County farms and ranches

Did you know that many domestic dog breeds were originally developed as working farm dogs? Many readers may think of dogs primarily as man’s best friend, but in the agricultural industry, they serve essential daily roles in our food system. From herding and guarding to sniffing and controlling pests, dogs are integral to the success of our local agricultural industry. Check out the wide array of functions dogs perform here in Sonoma County from riding shotgun in the pickup to herding 400 head of cattle. Continue reading →MORE

History We Nearly Lost at Los Guilicos

Before October 2020, some may have thought of the Hood House, constructed in 1858, for its proximity to the temporary shelter site known as Los Guilicos Village. Or perhaps know of the landmark property from attending a Funky Fridays @ The Hood concert. Because of the Glass fire, there is now an increased awareness of this county-owned property – a property rich in architectural and agricultural history worth preserving. The Hood House is a two-story brick structure that is listed on the National Register of Continue reading →MORE

Vote for Agriculture and Fewer Taxes

A couple more months to go in 2020 and I think many of us are, oh so happy to see it go. Although as fire season continues, it will be difficult to be restful until we see substantial rain. By now I believe most everyone has finished their harvests for this year and have their sights set on a better, more prosperous 2021 season. As you read this article, most likely the election will be over as well. If not, I urge you to get Continue reading →MORE

2020. What a Year.

In most people’s minds, November signals the start of the holiday season, but for Farm Bureau, it is the beginning of a new business year. Wouldn’t we all like to get 2020 behind us a few months early and be starting a new year? In retrospect, 2020 has been anything but normal for our organization, our members, and the world in general. What started out to be one of our most successful years ever for the Sonoma County Farm Bureau suddenly became a period of Continue reading →MORE

November Farm News Member Profile The Gambonini Family

Fifth-generation farmers, Frank and Stacey Gambonini own and operate their family farm, Gambonini Family Ranch, which was formerly known as Gamlake Dairy, in Petaluma. There they proudly celebrated the dairy’s 100th year in 2013.  Frank Gambonini grew up on the ranch following his father, George Gambonini, around in his little rubber boots, thinking he was a “big-time” farmer. Today, that perception has become his reality, and he said he loves every minute of it. “Being a farmer has always been my passion,” Frank said. “Now, Continue reading →MORE


What is Match.Graze? From small semi-rural communities to large open spaces, grazing can provide an affordable solution to the inevitable accumulation of fire fuels. Grazing can be more cost effective for reducing fuels on landscapes that are too steep, rocky or remote for mowing or chemical treatment, or in the wildland-urban interface where burning is not an option. Every property is different and requires thoughtful consideration of how it should best be grazed. Cattle, sheep, goats and other grazing animals all have different roles to Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office FIREWISE ON THE FARM

Since the Tubbs Fire of 2017, Sonoma County land has been destroyed and thousands of houses turned to rubble. In 2019 the Kincade Fire destroyed the beautiful, agriculture-rich hillsides of Geyserville. This year, after a lightning storm that set the entire state of California ablaze, Sonoma County had to manage the Meyers and Walbridge Fires. We are still wrapping up the most recent fire, the Glass Fire, which started in Napa County but ended up swiftly making its way into eastern Sonoma County. With these Continue reading →MORE

Fire recovery: what your RCD can do for you

Dear Neighbors, As fire season continues, we are both heartbroken by the losses and inspired by the tenacity and resilience of our community. And, as ever, we’re here to help. We are grateful to the firefighters for their heroic efforts, and to all the helpers in our community offering a hand to those impacted. We are here for you now, as always, with our own forms of help. The article below provides information on how we can help you determine your next steps, and resources Continue reading →MORE

Bodega Bay’s Landmark Meredith Fish Company is Lost

The Meredith Fish Company pier and cannery at Bodega Bay is gone. The demolition took three weeks to complete. According to County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, what happens next with property is yet to be determined; however, it will likely include “a nod to the tremendous history of the wharf.” That history dates back to 1942 when the Meredith Fish Company bought a lot from local ranchers Charles and Mary Columbo for approximately $1,500, where they built a $50,000 fish processing plant and pier. The Meredith Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Partners with Business Stakeholder Group to Address COVID-19 Challenges

The negative impacts of COVID-19 have and continue to put a strain on Sonoma County’s business community. Recently, local business leaders are taking action to support one another during the continuing shutdown by forming a diverse stakeholder group to represent the business community’s interests, concerns, and innovations. Now, in the 8th month of the Pandemic, local leaders reflect on how they have weathered the numerous challenges brought on by the Pandemic and subsequent shutdowns and hunker down for the winter as a third COVID-19 wave Continue reading →MORE

It Has Been an Honor

Has it really been two years already?! We have had so much happen in Sonoma County that time has flown by. As I reflect on my time serving as the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board President, I am very proud of all the work we have and continue to accomplish at Farm Bureau. Strengthening and preserving agriculture in Sonoma County has always been and continues to be our number one priority. This year we made a concerted effort to help defeat Prop 15 and in Continue reading →MORE

2020 Reflections

We are in the last 31 days of 2020 and I am sure most of us are looking forward to the new year. But with the end of this year, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau adds another successful presidential term into the history books. As you may know, our officer team tends to serve in their position for two years and as we transition, I thank Jeff Carlton for his two years of service as our board leader and welcome Jennifer Beretta to the post. Continue reading →MORE

December Farm News Member Profile Environmental Resource Solutions, Inc.

Environmental Resource Solutions, Inc. is the largest forestry consulting firm in the southern redwood region and the newest Sonoma County Farm Bureau member. For local landowners who grapple with the impacts of persistent wildfires and seek to improve their land management, ERS is here to help. The company, headquartered in Sebastopol, works with clients including small private landowners, large industrial landholders, non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies on lands throughout the western United States to manage their forest land and natural resources. Their professional staff Continue reading →MORE

Monarchs on the Brink

SPECIES BACKGROUND: The monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic species of wildlife in all of America. These incredible butterflies undertake one of the world’s most remarkable and fascinating migrations, traveling thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada. During winter months, monarchs find seasonal refuge in carefully selected forested groves along the Pacific Coast and the mountains of central Mexico–these special refuges are called overwintering sites. Overwintering sites provide a very specific microclimate to help monarchs conserve Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures

PERMIT RENEWALS AND CONTINUING EDUCATION REMINDERS The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures is now accepting appointments to renew Operator Identification Numbers and Restricted Materials Permits. If your Operator Identification Number or Restricted Material Permit expires this year, you must renew prior to applying pesticides in 2021. Please call (707) 565-2371 to schedule an appointment. An inspector will evaluate your needs prior to your appointment time and, in some cases, a renewal may be allowed through email or other remote/minimum contact method. For the Continue reading →MORE

Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County Grant Program in Partnership with the Alvin Hansen Trust Accepting Category B Grant Applications

$$$ for Agriculture Education Available! Apply today to fund efforts that support ag education. Minimum Grant Funding= $500 Maximum Funding = $15,000 The Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County is proud to administer a grant program utilizing funds contributed by the Alvin James Hansen Foundation to support agriculture education. Grant requests can be made for programs and projects that further agriculture education, especially efforts that further youth education in agriculture. The type of grants to be awarded vary and may include: Equipment Purchases Educational Program Continue reading →MORE

Agriculture Continues to Be a Major Driver of Today’s Robust Sonoma County Economy

Building on over two centuries of agricultural history, North Bay farmers are considering their options when it comes to continuing to produce what they have been doing for decades, while also keeping a close eye on consumer trends that could signal a shift toward more diverse offerings, including a possible return to crops that once represented a major part of the region’s output. Evidence of this is seen in the rise of craft breweries (with a need for hops), the advent of the hard cider Continue reading →MORE

Happy Cows, Happy Water Buffalo

Driving along Valley Ford Road in Petaluma, passersby might think they are catching a glimpse of a zoo. What some might guess is a part of a roadside attraction is actually a milking water buffalo herd and the dairy of new Sonoma County Farm Bureau member Andrew Zlot. Why would someone want to start a water buffalo dairy? Surprisingly, in the case of Double 8 Dairy, the answer is mozzarella cheese. Andrew Zlot, owner of the only water buffalo dairy in Sonoma County said he Continue reading →MORE

Taking up the Torch

I will never forget when I first became involved with Farm Bureau. At a Young Farmers and Ranchers meeting a great friend, Sam Dolcini, gave an incredible speech that motivated me to get active. Another great friend, John Azevedo, got me to become a member. Twenty years later, I am ecstatic that I became involved in this organization that promotes and protects agriculture. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a vineyard manager for the Dutton Family in Sebastopol. I am a Continue reading →MORE

January Editorial

A Moment of Reflection John F. Kennedy said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Great words to live by and 2019 will be a year of change for your Farm Bureau. But before sprinting into changes for our new Farm Bureau year, I need to reflect on 2018, lest it becomes a speck in the rearview mirror. Not only are we welcoming in a new calendar year of doing Continue reading →MORE

Balletto Vineyards

John Balletto, President and Founder of Balletto Vineyards, said that he is proud to raise his family and to make a living in the agriculture industry in Sonoma County. “We are honored to a be a member of our farming community,” Balletto said. “We truly have a great community. I think it really showed last year when the fires hit our area, and everyone came out to help their neighbors.” Like many in Sonoma County, John and Terri Balletto are no strangers to adversity. Together, Continue reading →MORE

Tim Tesconi Honored with Spirit of Sonoma Award

Past Sonoma County Farm Bureau Executive Director and all-around friend to the agriculture community, Tim Tesconi, received the Spirit of Sonoma Award on December 14. The event sponsored by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board was held at the Double Tree Hotel in Rohnert Park. Tesconi was recognized alongside 21 other recipients at the annual awards ceremony. The Spirit of Sonoma Awards recognizes the leadership and positive contributions that business and agriculture leaders, chambers, and trade groups give to our local economy and community. To Continue reading →MORE

Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Report

Container Recycle Recap The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures held its fall plastic container recycling event on November 13, 2018. This free event gives our local farmers, nurseries, pest control businesses, golf courses, parks, and government agencies the opportunity to recycle empty non-reusable plastic pesticide containers, which would otherwise end up in the landfill. All participants must complete a Pesticide Container Rinse Certification from, certifying the containers are clean and have been triple-rinsed in accordance with Section 6684 of the California Code of Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma RCD

Rainwater catchment projects gear up in key watersheds By Christine Kuehn, Education & Communications Manager, Sonoma RCD The Sonoma RCD recently installed its largest single rainwater catchment system to date, coming in at 60,000 gallons located in the Mark West Creek watershed. This system will support a large community garden to reduce the amount of water withdrawn from an existing groundwater well near an unnamed tributary. The project will improve summer streamflow in the watershed to benefit endangered coho salmon in critical dry, summer months. Continue reading →MORE

With Nearly 2,500 People in Attendance the 30th Great Sonoma Crab & Wine Fest Boasts the Largest Crab Feed in California… and Maybe Even the U.S.

If you thought last year’s Great Sonoma Crab & Wine Fest was impressive… this year’s event exceeded all expectations. With the conclusion of this highly anticipated event on Saturday, February 2, 2019, Sonoma County can now safely boast the largest crab feed in California, and maybe even in the U.S. A sea of almost 2,100 guests and nearly 400 volunteers and reception participants attended the biggest and best crab feed yet. In total, nearly 2,500 people gathered to support Sonoma County agriculture. New this year, Continue reading →MORE

Penalties for Poultry Barn Break-Ins Go From Misdemeanors to Felony Charges, Plus a Court Order for $332 K Restitution

The rise in animal activist so-called “open rescue” missions involving trespassing on private farm property to save alleged “abused, starving and dying chickens” has increased steadily in recent years, including break-ins to hen-houses in violation of strict biosecurity protocols. While police have arrested and detained some demonstrators, in many cases perpetrators have been charged with misdemeanors and quickly released. In the past, authorities have often reduced or downgraded charges rather than prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law, even though several of these Continue reading →MORE

As Cicero said, “The more laws, the less justice.”

As another year is underway in Sonoma County vineyards are being pruned and pastures are being grazed. This time of year we hope for rainfall to recharge our groundwater and keep our fields green throughout the year. As farmers and ranchers, we attempt to strategize and plan for the future, but more often than not we adapt and change on the fly because mother nature always likes to keep us on our toes. However, unlike mother nature’s unexpected curve-balls, one thing you can always count Continue reading →MORE

February Guest Editorial: Water Supply is Dam Important

The Potter Valley Project (Project), which has been operated by PG&E since 1932, started a re-licensing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2017 to prepare for the current license expiration in April 2022. On May 10, 2018, PG&E decided that they were going to sell the Project, related infrastructure and FERC license through an auction process. It is unknown as to how many individuals or entities were considering the submittal of an indicative proposal to PG&E to start the negotiation process, however Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Dairy Delivery

In 1988, when Amy Cramer was a senior in high school looking for a part-time job she landed an order entry position at Dairy Delivery. Little did she know, she would work for the company full-time and eventually own it. Dairy Delivery has been delivering local natural foods and dairy products in the greater California Northern Bay Area since 1978. Some of their brands include Clover Sonoma, Redwood Hill Farm, Straus Family Creamery, Three Twins Ice Cream and Wallaby Organic. The company purchases already packaged Continue reading →MORE

SRJC Natural Resources Program

Students in Santa Rosa Junior College’s Natural Resources program learn strategies and practices for the use, management, and stewardship of our natural resources. They receive introductory instruction in forestry, watersheds, and parks and recreation management; and at the end of their program receive a 20-unit certificate or 27-unit major. After this ‘year-to-career’ program, students have a solid understanding of the basic science behind key natural resource practices and the conservation and protection of different ecological systems. The Natural Resource program covers key concepts related to Continue reading →MORE

UCCE Sonoma Engages in Post Fire Food Safety Research

The Northern California fires of October 2017 created poor air quality and distributed toxic air contaminants over the region. Following the fires and the incredible response from local farmers, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Sonoma embarked on a “Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire” citizen science project to help answer community concerns about whether the safety of local produce might have been impacted by contaminants carried in the smoke and ash from the fire. With the support of UCCE Sonoma, community members concerned about the Continue reading →MORE

Tito Sasaki honored with Gold Resolution

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at the first Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting of the new year Sonoma Valley grape grower, scientist and businessman, past president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County Tito Sasaki was honored with a Gold Resolution on the occasion of his retirement from the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Supervisor Susan Gorin congratulated Sasaki and thanked him for his many contributions to Sonoma County agriculture and past Sonoma County Farm Bureau President Steve Dutton spoke Continue reading →MORE

MILK WARS! Soybeans Do Not Lactate and All “Milks” Are Not Created Equal

For thousands of years, the words milk and cream have meant a fluid from the mammary glands of a female animal used as food by people in liquid form and as butter, cheese and yogurt. Today, that definition has been blurred by those wishing to apply dairy terms to identify and sell liquids derived from vegetables and marketed as non-dairy alternatives. Increasing demand for plant-based products—especially among vegans, vegetarians and others who consume soy-based alternatives to cheese and nut-based alternatives to milk—has created a variety Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Native Returns as Registered Professional Forester

Jason Wells is a California Registered Professional Forester (RPF) for the Sonoma and Gold Ridge Resource Conservation Districts. In his role, he provides technical and planning assistance to landowners, is working to build a forestry program capable of addressing vegetation and fuels management concerns throughout the county and is addressing post-fire recovery efforts. Wells was born and raised in Petaluma and graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.S. in Forestry with an emphasis in Forest Conservation. After graduating he worked for six years in Continue reading →MORE

We are Blessed in Sonoma County

I hope most of you had a chance to attend the 30th Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest. What an event! It was another huge success with a record crowd of nearly 2,500 people! We have come a long way since our first crab feed at the Sebastopol Veterans Memorial Building. Now, 30 years later, we filled both the Hall of Flowers and the Grace Pavilion. I am very grateful for the continued support for agriculture and agriculture education in Sonoma County. The generosity Continue reading →MORE

Labeling of Plant-Based Products

Our advocacy article in this month’s publication discusses the ongoing debate over the labeling of plant-based products as “milk” and other descriptors for non-milk products that suggest a faux product is made from mother’s milk. Farm Bureau nationally represents farmers on both sides of the commodity fence, but here in Sonoma County; our agriculture heritage is based strongly in milk production. I love dairies, and I also have an affinity for our vegetable growers, but I believe we need to be transparent to our consumers. Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Merry Edwards Winery

One of the first women to become a California winemaker, Sonoma County Farm Bureau Member Merry Edwards, began her career in 1973 after she earned a BS degree in Physiology from UC Berkeley and a MA degree in Food Science with an emphasis in Enology from UC Davis. She has earned titles like Winemaker of the Year, One of America’s Top Fifty Most Influential Winemakers and one of The 50 Most Influential Winemakers in the World. Merry and her wines are world renowned. However, Edwards Continue reading →MORE

SRJC Animal & Equine Science Program Update

2019 brings change, growth, and opportunity to the Animal and Equine Science programs at SRJC. The Animal Science program was awarded a $250,000 grant to support renovations to the Porter Animal Science Center at Shone Farm. Some of these renovations are maintenance related, but others will involve restructuring the barn to house a more diverse group of animals at Shone Farm. Sonoma County is home to many niche livestock operations. The Animal Science program at SRJC is uniquely positioned to introduce students to the alternative Continue reading →MORE

Prescriptive Grazing as a Vegetation Management Tool

Working landscape ecosystems provide benefits to the landowner and to all life forms living or passing through that land. Neighbors benefit with open viewscapes, to clean water and air, and carbon sequestration from well-maintained working landscapes – rangelands, grassland, and open space. There also a potential health benefits received from working landscape from properly managed vegetation removal to reduce the fire fuel loads. However, there are many challenges for landowners to control excessive vegetation on working landscapes, including vast roadless areas that limit access for Continue reading →MORE

Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation Invests in Agriculture Education Projects

This year, the Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation has approved $343,652 in grant funding for 22 technical education programs among 11 Sonoma County schools. Now in its sixth funding cycle, the CTE Foundation has invested over $3 million since its founding in 2013, creating new programs that connect students to employers for career exploration and skill-building and spurring over 100 new classes in local schools that focus on career and technical education in industries including engineering, manufacturing, agriculture, health, and the construction trades. Amber Figueroa, Continue reading →MORE

Tito Sasaki, the Water Warrior Honored with Farm Bureau Hall of Fame Award

Photo by Will Bucquoy- Sonoma Valley grape grower, scientist and businessman emerged as respected leader on water issues. The walls of Tito Sasaki’s office are lined with resolutions and proclamations from elected officials recognizing – and praising – his contributions to agriculture, particularly, his leadership in navigating complex water issues. The tributes to the longtime Farm Bureau director and former president are testament to Tito’s role as agriculture’s water warrior. Over the years, Tito has led efforts to develop a blueprint to find a balance for Continue reading →MORE

Two NorCal Dairies Use Methane Digesters to Help Reduce Electricity & Fuel Costs

Authors’s Note: Methane from farm animals is included among greenhouse gases that must be reduced to protect the environment. In this issue, we feature the first of a two-part series focusing on the use of methane digesters, followed by a second article in May about research at UC Davis designed to help offset methane production through feed modification and other sustainable practices. Removing methane from the atmosphere can also save money on energy with the potential for making a contribution to farm revenue if biogas Continue reading →MORE

April Editorial: Landowner’s Ability to Manage Waterways

Can we catch a break here in Sonoma County? If it’s not fires, then it’s floods. At the end of February, we witnessed the Russian River cresting at 46.1 feet and then experienced one of the worst floods since 1986 when the river crested at 49.5 feet. I saw roads and portions of the county underwater that I have never seen before. Could any of this have been prevented? We will probably never know. State government policies prevent many of us from managing our waterways Continue reading →MORE

April Editorial: Labeling of Plant-Based Products

I am sure many of you are following the progress of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) project. I use progress, but that term doesn’t quite fit the path that the Groundwater Sustainability Plan(GSP) seems to be taking, and no disrespect is meant toward the GSA Board, Advisory Committee or staff that are diligently working toward a mandate put on Sonoma County by the State. They have spent months working on one controversial piece of the puzzle: who pays to develop the plan Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Steve & Kathy Reese

Kathy and Steve Reese are common figures at the Great Sonoma Crab & Wine Fest, Ag Days, and numerous 4-H and FFA events around Sonoma County. They are quick to offer a helping hand and their time, energy and talents to the benefit of the agriculture community. Together, they live on and operate Denner Ranch, which was established in 1890, alongside Kathy’s cousin Russ Denner and his wife Joanne. “The ranch started out with my great-grandfather and it’s been passed down generation to generation,” Kathy Continue reading →MORE

SRJC Sustainable Agriculture Program

SRJC’s Sustainable Agriculture program is working on a number of fronts to create high quality, community-oriented, hands-on learning opportunities in ecological farming. The program provides students with skills to grow and market organic vegetables and offers both a one-year career training certificate and a two-year A.S. degree. The program also welcomes students who take a few classes to build their farming and gardening skills. The Sustainable Agriculture program actively uses Shone Farm as a learning laboratory. During the past few years, Sustainable Agriculture classes have Continue reading →MORE

Weed Management after Wildfires

Severe fires can substantially affect the environment. Lack of vegetation on burned hillsides increases the likelihood of soil erosion from rain; in turn, the water quality of streams and rivers is degraded. However, the most environmentally and economically damaging impact of wildfires is the post-fire invasion and aggressive reestablishment of noxious weeds, which compete aggressively with desired native species for space and nutrients. Minimizing the impact of noxious weeds requires good post-burn weed management. Many kinds of native plants will survive and reinitiate growth soon Continue reading →MORE

2019 Sonoma County Farm Bureau Ag Days: The Year of Technology on the Farm

For some in Sonoma County, every day is an Ag Day. Farmers and ranchers rise early to tend their livestock, monitor their crops throughout the day, attend regulatory meetings to stay current on the latest information, and stay up late researching new production methods or technologies. However, for the 5,000 people, including nearly 4,100 inquisitive and excited students, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Ag Days provided a unique and exciting peek into the world of agriculture. On Tuesday, March 12 and Wednesday, March 13, students Continue reading →MORE

Western Farm Center, a Uniquely Sonoma County Trading Post for Pets and Farm Animals Iconic store, now in its 52nd year, to be honored as “Friend of Farm Bureau”

Western Farm Center, a feed, seed and pet emporium anchored along a stretch of railroad tracks in west Santa Rosa, is the kind of place national magazines would describe as uniquely Sonoma County. It’s a delicious blend of Wine Country charm, old-world values and new age trends, particularly, when it comes to the care of pampered pets. For the store’s appreciative – and loyal – customers it’s the place where the varied lifestyles in Sonoma County come together seven days a week for everything from Continue reading →MORE

Livestock Methane Raises GHG Concerns as Researchers Assess Various Reduction Methods

Widespread concern over livestock produced-methane (CH4) emissions, as a major component of greenhouse gases (GHG)—often depicted in pie charts—, can be misleading, according to a UC Davis waste management specialist. A state inventory analysis indicates that methane associated with agriculture practices is 8% to 9% of the GHG equivalent, while carbon dioxide (CO2) accounts for upwards of 81% to 84.6% in terms of its global warming potential—depending on which data sources are used. However, dairy and non-dairy livestock (beef and sheep) are responsible for only Continue reading →MORE

May Editorial: Dams are a Damn Good Thing

Have we had enough rain yet? It is finally drying out in Sonoma County and I love seeing all the tractors in the fields again. Another month has gone by, so it is probably time to talk about water again. Mother Nature has given over 50” of rain to me this year and well above average for the entire county. I think we would all agree that our goal is to store that excess water to get us by in dry years. With that said, Continue reading →MORE

May Editorial: The 4-H ChickenQue, A Family Tradition

It’s May and we see the signs that Sonoma County is emerging from the cold winter and unpredictable spring. Daffodils are everywhere, the hillsides are lush and green and there are 4-H ChickenQue signs dotting corners, fences and storefronts across the county. The 4-H ChickenQue (or “CQ” for this author) is Sonoma County’s slice, or drumstick, of Americana. In its 58th year, the “CQ” has been in existence slightly longer than I have – with emphasis on slightly. Fond memories from my childhood frame the Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Tina Wallis

For some, reading through a legal document that is 200,000 pages long could feel like corporal punishment, but Environmental Lawyer Tina Wallis said she finds it quite enjoyable. Her parents said that they knew from when she was a young age, that their inquisitive and hardworking daughter who loved to read would become a lawyer. They were right. After years of schooling and a stint as a bike racer, Wallis began her law career and eventually landed a job in Sonoma County in 2001. She Continue reading →MORE

Program and Facility Updates from SRJC Agriculture and Natural Resources Department

2019 marks a significant milestone in the agricultural history of Sonoma County: the 50th anniversary of the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Agriculture and Natural Resources (Ag/ NR) Department. Founded in 1969 through the grit and determination of agricultural education pioneers, today the SRJC Ag/NR Department provides high-quality education and training to over 1800 students and awards 140 degrees and certificates every year. Shone Farm, acquired from the Federal Government in 1972, has grown into a 365-acre diversified agricultural education center and community gathering place Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures May Update

Product Labeling Requirements Identity, Responsibility, Quantity (IRQ) In 1939, California’s legislative body adopted the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act into state law. The Fair Package and Labeling Act requires manufacturers of packaged commodities to meet minimum product label standards. The most important of these standards is the I.R.Q. statement. The “identity, responsibility, and quantity” of the product must be clearly stated on the label, allowing consumers the ability to make informed decisions about what they chose to purchase. The product’s identity statement identifies what Continue reading →MORE

Trespassing issues/Noise complaints/O.A.N.

With spring upon us, it’s time to start gearing up for the busy seasons ahead. Whether you are preparing for another crop harvest, calving season, 4-H projects, or just cleaning up around your rural property, we should all be thinking about how to keep our properties safe. In 2018, we saw some unprecedented activities in Sonoma County by animal rights activist groups. The Sheriff’s Office fielded numerous questions regarding trespassing and how to combat it. Here are some tips to better protect your home, ranch, Continue reading →MORE

Beretta Family’s Culture of Care Recognized with Luther Burbank Conservation Award

Beretta Family to be honored at Farm Bureau’s Love of the Land Celebration A sign over the breakfast table lays out the “Beretta Family Rules.” Some of the rules are common-sense admonitions like “Love Your Family” and “Forgive and Forget,” daily reminders that keep the close-knit family moving forward as they live and work on their multi-generational dairy just beyond Santa Rosa’s urban edge. The sign also inspires both life and the business of farming with the words “Try New Things” and “Do the Right Continue reading →MORE

Sheep and Goat Grazing is On The Rise as a Wildfire Abatement Tool

Heavy rains produced higher than average grass and weed fuel loads in many Northern California areas this year, causing landowners, municipalities, businesses and non-profit organizations to search for options, such as contracting with sheep and goat owners to help reduce fire danger through prescribed grazing. Thirty-six inches of rain fell between November 2018 and March 2019 in the greater Santa Rosa area, as reported by UCCE Sonoma County. This amount of water stimulated seasonal grass and weed growth reaching heights of five feet or more Continue reading →MORE

June Editorial- Taking Farm Bureau on the Road

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the California Farm Bureau Federation Roadshow in Santa Rosa. CFBF revamped an event that took place nearly a century ago in California. CFBF staff used to travel around the state to talk with farmers about the issues that were impacting them and how CFBF could better serve them. We all know that list was, and still is today, long and cumbersome. The Roadshow on May 2 provided time to meet and engage with our CFBF President Jamie Continue reading →MORE

June Editorial- The California Farmer: Burdened by Rising Regulatory Costs

Lynn Hamilton and Michael McCullough, two agribusiness professors at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, recently published a study titled “A Decade of Change: A Case Study of Regulatory Compliance Costs in the Produce Industry”. Working with Poly students, they updated a similar study that had been done in 2006 and used the decade between 2007 and 2017 as their base. Bottom line – through their research it was determined that in a 10-year period, lettuce growers in the Salinas Valley realized a 795% increase in Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Friedman’s Home Improvement

From foundation to finish, Friedman’s Home Improvement stores have been serving Sonoma County residents for 73 years. The family-owned and operated home improvement business supplies products for contractors, DIYers, and agriculturalists alike. Need a gallon of paint? Looking to remodel your kitchen? Have a line of fencing that needs to be fixed? Friedman’s has you covered. “Our strength is in having that breadth of product,” Friedman’s President and CEO Barry Friedman said. “Our stores are full of everything from rebar, lumber, windows and doors to Continue reading →MORE

Award-Winning Shone Farm Winery Supports SRJC Wine Studies Students

Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm Winery won four awards at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc was awarded a Double Gold Medal, while the 2016 Pinot Noir and 2016 Syrah were both awarded Gold Medal, and the 2017 Chardonnay was awarded a Silver Medal. Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm Winery is a premium commercial wine operation and educational facility in the heart of the Russian River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). Shone Farm Wines are produced by our Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures June Update

Board Of Supervisors Approves Temporary Moratorium On Industrial Hemp On April 2, 2019, the Board of Supervisors (Board) approved a moratorium on industrial hemp in the county that is set to sunset on April 30, 2020. Sonoma is one of about 27 counties that have passed a moratorium. In my presentation to the Board, I outlined my concerns that led to a recommendation that Sonoma County approve a temporary moratorium. First and foremost of those concerns is the fact that the California Department of Food Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Welcomes Summer Intern, Ariel Scholten

Ariel Scholten, daughter of Vince and Lynn Scholten and granddaughter of Jim and Wendy Porter, grew up in Sebastopol on a plant nursery with her grandparents’ cattle and sheep ranch a short drive away. Involvement in 4-H as a Sonoma County All Star Ambassador and the Gold Ridge 4-H Club President as well as the Sonoma Section FFA President and Sebastopol Chapter President led her to participate in a variety of projects and competitions. Her hard work and dedication to the agricultural community paid off. Continue reading →MORE

Sanchietti Family Celebrates a Century on Land They Love

Sanchiettis are Farm Bureau’s Farm Family of the Year and will be honored at Love of the Land Celebration For 100 years, four generations of the Sanchietti Family have done what it takes to stay on their land, adapting and changing with the times to grow the kind of crops -from pears to pinot noir – that allowed them to keep doing what they love: Farming. It’s all unfolded on a piece of ground between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol where over the last century the Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Supervisors Consider Lifting Some Farm ADU Restrictions in August

The Sonoma County Planning Commission is recommending to the Board of Supervisors that farmers on certain qualifying parcels be allowed to build one Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), defined as a non-farm residence on their property. Such a decision would lift the second dwelling unit exclusion for Ag property within the Z Combining District that currently excludes ADUs. This exclusion has been in place for 26 years despite several attempts to remove it. The recommendation came during a Planning Commission public hearing on May 2. The Continue reading →MORE

July Editorial: Just Because You’re Offended Doesn’t Mean You’re Right

How do some people choose to fill their time once all of their basic needs of food, water and shelter are met?  The answer for some is to attack and terrorize farmers and ranchers simply because they don’t approve of their business.  Animal rights groups, such as Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) specifically, are descending upon Sonoma County and their protests have become the norm here as of late. Their actions vary from blocking traffic on farms, trespassing, chaining themselves to equipment and outright theft.  People Continue reading →MORE

July Editorial: The Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County Awards $158,650 in Scholarships

The beginning of summer is a favorite time of mine – not necessarily for the warm weather and long days (although I enjoy that) but for the opportunity to see and welcome home our ag kids. Sonoma County does a great job of nurturing and growing amazing young people that have a passion and the smarts to take on 2-year college, 4-year college and trade school curriculum. During the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County’s interviews, I had a chance to see some of these Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Van Bebber Bros., Inc.

The family-owned steel service center, Van Bebber Bros. Inc., is the oldest family-owned business in Petaluma. The Premium Farm Bureau member has served the greater Bay Area since 1901. Royce Van Bebber is the 5th generation to carry on his family’s steel legacy. He took over the business in 2015, after his father passed away after a battle with cancer. “My dad and I used to share the same office and worked closely together,” Royce said. “I was 37 years old when he passed, and Continue reading →MORE

SRJC Shone Farm Winery receives awards, announces new initiative to train Sonoma County wine industry workforce

Santa Rosa, CA—Shortly after receiving four medals at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Shone Farm Winery launched a revamped wine club to provide students with real-world learning opportunities in the direct-to-consumer sales channel. The goal is to provide students with valuable real-world experience utilizing wine club software, planning and managing winery events, and employing effective wine marketing techniques. “We are responding to an overwhelming industry demand for a trained workforce familiar with wine club management, tasting room Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures July Update

Chlorpyrifos Ban In a move to protect workers, public health, and the environment, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is acting to ban the use of the pesticide and toxic air contaminant chlorpyrifos in California by initiating cancellation of the pesticide. The decision to ban chlorpyrifos follows mounting evidence that the pesticide causes serious health effects in children and other sensitive populations at lower levels of exposure than previously understood. In April, chlorpyrifos was formally listed as a “toxic air contaminant,” which California law defines Continue reading →MORE

Meet Your Perfect Match – “Match.Graze” to Reduce Fire Fuels

As previously mentioned in the September 2018 issue of the Sonoma- Marin Farm News the frequency, intensity, and size of wildfires in northern California have increased. This trend is alarming given that California’s fire season is expected to become longer and start earlier. The fire season started in early June this year as Sonoma County experienced smoke from Sand Fire in Yolo County. To mitigate future fire, the County of Sonoma has adopted a new hazardous vegetation abatement ordinance which mandates that parcels of five Continue reading →MORE

Steam, Smoke and Sawdust. Sturgeon’s Mill Brings a Vital Piece of Northern California’s Logging History to Life in Sebastopol

Just 7 miles off the Pacific Ocean, nestled beneath towering redwood trees, is a picnic ground, office, blacksmith shop, working sawmill, and layer upon layer of history covered in sawdust. Sturgeon’s Mill is powered by steam, a dedicated volunteer crew, and a strong desire to preserve an important piece of Sonoma County’s history. It gives visitors the opportunity to experience the historic sawmilling processes in action. The mill is a place where “limbing”, “bucking”, and “skidding” are commonly shouted phrases and where visitors learn the Continue reading →MORE

CWGA Seeks to Modify Ag Overtime Pay Law to Add Longstanding Sheepherder Exemption

Sheepherders have always been exempt from traditional state hourly minimum wage and hourly pay overtime requirements due to the distinctive nature of the remote, nomadic work—but not anymore. This comes at a time when wildfire prevention is a high priority in California, in which grazing plays a vital role in many communities. Under provisions of AB 1066, a bill signed into law by Governor Brown on September 12, 2016, followed by an amended wage order in January 2019, the state’s sheepherders are now subject to Continue reading →MORE

August Editorial: For the Love of the Land

It has been said many times, but we are truly blessed to live, farm and ranch in Sonoma County. Farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists. They maintain the land and its beauty for generations and simultaneously feed the world. Last month at our Love of the Land awards dinner, I had the privilege to help recognize several stewards of the land. We were also happy to partner with the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce as they presented their Leadership in Agriculture Award as Continue reading →MORE

California Farm Bureau in Washington D.C.

In mid-July, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. with a small delegation of California Farm Bureau Federation representatives. Josh Rolph, CFBF’s Manager of the Federal Policy Division, organized this trip to meet with California’s representatives to discuss critical issues facing our state’s agriculture industry. Besides me, there were two other county managers on the trip, each representing two central California counties. During a few pre-trip phone conference calls, we determined that of the three counties represented all had the same significant areas Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Park Avenue Catering

For the past 30 years, Park Avenue Catering has served up quality food and service with a side of philanthropy and community involvement. Bruce Riezenman is the owner and executive chef of Park Avenue Catering. His approach to food and life is similar—savor the flavor of wine and food and the way they taste together, but also savor the moment, the place, and the people we share them with. This philosophy guides the most highly regarded catering company in the North Bay, which serves sophisticated Continue reading →MORE

New Scholarship Program Launches at SRJC

On July 12, at Shone Farm, Santa Rosa Junior College and the Wild Goat Foundation launched the WG Edge scholarship program. This program provides significant scholarship support for four local young women to study agriculture at SRJC, and connects them with a “village” of teachers, mentors, and internship sponsors who can guide, inspire, and open doors for them. WG Edge was created out of gratitude to the local agricultural community by Judy Jordan, formerly of J Vineyards and Winery and founder of Geodesy Wine, with Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures August Update

Pesticide Use Report Reminders The promptness of submitting pesticide use reports and the accuracy of the information is extremely important. This information is not only used by regulatory agencies, but also by wineries, packers, and other end-use processers. Additionally, Pesticide Use Reports, along with the many of the documents kept by the Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures, are subject to the California Public Records Act. The public has the right to request and access much of the information on file with the Department. There has Continue reading →MORE

UC IPM is Celebrating 40 Years

The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Established July 1, 1979, with funding from the California Legislature, UC IPM built upon a growing movement to reduce dependence on pesticides. Drawing on expertise across the University of California system, UC IPM develops and distributes UC’s best information on managing pests using safe and effective practices that protect people and the environment. Over the years, UC IPM expanded its efforts beyond agriculture to include residential audiences such as Continue reading →MORE

Farmstead Cheese Fresh Off Highway 1. Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery Opens Shop Featuring Award-Winning Cheese & Local Products

The lights go on at the Valley Ford Cheese Plant long before dawn. Head Cheesemaker and company Vice President Joe Moreda, Jr. (31), spends his mornings in full production, adding new flavor to five generations of his family’s dairying legacy by making cheese. Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board Member Karen Bianchi-Moreda is the founder and president of Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery. Alongside her oldest son Joe, she has crafted a successful business born of her passion for the dairy industry, commitment to the Sonoma Continue reading →MORE

What is Direct Action Everywhere? And Why Farmers Should Be Wary

By now everyone has heard disturbing reports about Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) in connection with farm protests, trespassing, illegal break-ins, as well as stealing livestock during interventions disguised as animal “rescues”. Many of these demonstrations have resulted in damage to farm fences, broken doors, and other property as well as caused possible bio-contamination introduced to animals in Northern California and elsewhere. On August 8, Wayne Hsiung, co-founder and leader of DxE, announced plans to step down as head of this militant, controversial animal rights organization Continue reading →MORE

The Foundation of Sonoma County

It certainly has been busy out in the fields for all of us this year. It is great to see the grape harvest beginning and it will only continue to get busier around the county. Harvest is always my favorite time of year as we work long hours to bring in the wine grape crop that we’ve grown all year. From dairy to hay, no matter what agricultural crop we produce, harvest time repeatedly creates happiness in all that we have accomplished throughout the year. Continue reading →MORE

A Day at the Gravenstein Apple Fair

A few weeks back I got to experience one of Sonoma County’s true jewels – the Gravenstein Apple Fair. Produced by the Sonoma County Farm Trails small team of staff and board members, the festival-like event is held at Ragle Park in Sebastopol. Sonoma County Farm Bureau was fortunate to be a fair sponsor and, as part of our participation, had a promotional booth with activities for the many kids in attendance. Brytann Busick on our team did a beautiful job getting Farm Bureau in Continue reading →MORE

September Member Profile: Manzana Products Co., Inc.

Located on Green Valley Road in Sebastopol, Manzana Products Co., Inc. has produced apple sauce, apple juice, and apple cider vinegar since 1922. The company originated in 1922 as a small dryer operation known as Oehlmann Evaporator. Although rolling vineyards blanket today’s current landscape, Manzana Products Co., Inc. serves as a steadfast reminder of Sonoma County’s diverse agriculture industry which once boasted dozens of canneries that produced products from locally grown apples, prunes, pears, and hops. Today, the historic apple cannery is the last of Continue reading →MORE

SRJC Agriculture Fall 2019 Update

The Fall 2019 semester at SRJC kicked off on August 19th with a lot of activity in the SRJC Agriculture and Natural Resources Department and at Shone Farm. • Most agriculture courses are full, with several maintaining a waitlist of students. Animal Science 20, Basic Animal Science, has the highest enrollment of any single ag class at 45 students and is taught 100% online. • The Wine Studies Program has added new tank capacity at Shone Farm Winery to enable students to gain additional technical Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Ag/Weights & Measures September Update

Sonoma County Crop Report Exceeds One Billion Dollars! On August 20, 2019, the 2018 Sonoma County crop report was presented to the Board of Supervisors. The gross value of agricultural commodities produced in 2018 is $1,106,662,100. This marks the first time we have exceeded the one billion dollar mark. The previous record was $899 million for the 2014 crop. As would be expected, winegrapes represent the majority of that value in 2018 with a crop value of $777,675,300, which works out to 70% of the Continue reading →MORE

2019 Gold Cup Award Recipient- Derrick Pomi

Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County President Jeff James presented Derrick Pomi of Petaluma with the coveted 2019 Gold Cup Award on Sunday, August 11 at the Junior Awards Breakfast at the Sonoma County Fair. The Gold Cup is based on leadership, citizenship, character, project work, academic achievement, speaking ability, participation and performance at the 2019 Sonoma County Fair. Pomi received a $2,500 check and a $500 cash prize for his 4-H Club or FFA Chapter. Pomi,18, has been a Petaluma FFA member for 4 Continue reading →MORE

Bounty of the County. Father and Son, Humberto and Gabriel Castañeda, Bring in a Successful Harvest

Humberto Castañeda Produce is nestled on a stretch of fertile ground at Denner Ranch along River Road between Santa Rosa and Forestville. Together, Humberto Castañeda, 62, and his son Gabriel, 26, work to grow high quality, fresh produce. On their 180 acres, they grow the most produce of any farmers in Sonoma County. The family plans, prepares fields, plants, cultivates, fertilizes, harvests, markets, and sells the product of their hard work. The Castañeda’s fields are filled with vegetables for as far as the eye can Continue reading →MORE

What Farmers and Wineries Can Do to Prepare for PG&E Power Shutoffs

The fire season started on June 1, but wildfires in recent years did not become a local issue until October and November in Sonoma County – even though some blazes started earlier in other parts of Northern California as we see today. The question being asked by farmers, vineyard owners and winery operators is what can be done at this late date to implement a last-minute power continuity plan, and will generators, installers, electricians and equipment deliveries be available before (or when) they are needed? Continue reading →MORE

Potter Valley Project Update

Water. A key ingredient to the powerhouse agriculture industry we are a part of here in Sonoma County. Hopefully, like me, you have stayed up to date with the latest developments regarding the Potter Valley Project. The Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission is still in the licensing process to take ownership and control of the power plant and water supply from the diversion from the main stem of the Eel River to the Russian River that many here in Sonoma County rely on. The Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farms on Lockdown?

An article that appeared in the Press Democrat in mid-September reported on the Futurewell Summit held at the Stemple Creek Ranch in West Marin. There were two primary messages that came from the summit: that consumers need to connect with farmers and source their food locally and that there needs to be more programming that brings healthy food directly from the farmer to areas that are underserved and considered “food deserts”. Through our community farmers markets, on-farm food stands and sourcing of locally grown products Continue reading →MORE

Larry Peter and the Great Peter Pumpkin Patch

For most, Autumn is filled with fond memories of school visits to the pumpkin patch, carving jack-o-lanterns, sipping cider, and enjoying the beauty of the colorful fall landscape. For members of the agricultural community though, fall is all about harvest. While many Farm Bureau Members spend long days and nights bringing in the winegrape or apple harvest, longtime Farm Bureau Member and successful dairyman Larry Peter spends his days with a farm full of pumpkins and children. Since 1994, Peter has generously opened up his Continue reading →MORE

SRJC Agriculture Department Developing New Hemp Program

The Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Agriculture Department is developing a new Hemp Agriculture program that will train students in the cultivation of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.), with a goal of launching the program in fall 2020. SRJC is the first community college in California to develop a certificate and degree program focused on hemp. Beginning spring 2020, students can take hemp-focused courses within the existing SRJC Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture programs. Courses include Introduction to Plant Science, Soil and Plant Nutrition, Integrated Pest Management, Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Ag/Weights & Measures October Update

Pesticide Use Near Public Schools and Licensed Day Care Centers A new regulation went into effect January 1, 2018, that requires growers (agricultural production sites) within ¼ mile of a K-12 public school or licensed daycare center to notify the school administrator of anticipated pesticides that may be used during the next fiscal year (July 1st – June 30th). These notifications are due to school site administrators by April 30th each year. Of the 306 school sites notifications required for the 2019/2020 fiscal year in Continue reading →MORE

Rebecca Pate Joins Sonoma County Farm Bureau as the Director of Community Outreach and Membership

Previously, Rebecca Pate was on the leadership team at Sonoma Media Investments, known to many as the Press Democrat, where she managed a team of marketing consultants whose focus was to help local small to medium-sized businesses increase revenue. In her 6-year career with SMI, she was awarded the California News Publishers Association, Best Mass Media Campaign, for her work on Destination Lake County and has since been the idea generator behind marketing campaigns for some of the North Bay’s top companies. Her most recent Continue reading →MORE

Gourmet Mushrooms 365 Days a Year

Sonoma County is home to fine wine, an abundance of local produce, generations-old dairy farms, and surprisingly, to Gourmet Mushrooms, which grows more varieties of organic culinary and nutraceutical mushrooms than any farm in America. For 42 years, Gourmet Mushrooms as been producing premium mushroom products used by the world’s finest chefs. They harvest eight varieties of organic specialty mushrooms for America’s finest restaurants, specialty food wholesalers and gourmet grocers. The company was founded in 1977 in Sebastopol and was the first to commercially grow Continue reading →MORE

Regulatory Barriers Are Reduced For Ag ADUs and Other Housing Statewide

The lack of adequate and affordable housing has reached a critical tipping point in California, prompting a series of landmark decisions made locally in Sonoma County as well as in Sacramento in September and October designed to eliminate regulatory constraints to housing development. These actions also make it easier to obtain approvals for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) –even on some agricultural parcels in Z Combining Districts previously excluded.   Lifting Z District Restrictions On Tuesday, September 17, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved an Continue reading →MORE

November Editorial: The High Cost of Regulation

Recently, the California Legislature passed bill AB 1482 and Governor Newsom promptly signed it into law, establishing rent control for all of California. Once the law is in effect on January 1, the state will begin to regulate how much Californians’ rent can increase every year, limiting it to 5 percent, plus the local rate of inflation.  Rent control will be applied mostly to apartments and other multi-family buildings—with some exceptions—along with some single-family homes. Condos and single-family homes will be exempt unless owned by Continue reading →MORE

November Editorial: Is Brand New Better?

Warning: the thoughts of the writer are her own and do not necessarily represent those of the Board she serves. I feel like I need to be transparent with this month’s editorial since I have never discussed my opinions expressed below with my bosses. But – this is my editorial, right? Doesn’t it afford me some leeway? A little over a year ago, the Sonoma County Tourism organization threw out the brand they were using to promote our county and crafted an image based on Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: At 93-Years-Old the Pasta King Still Reigns Supreme

How many 93-year-olds do you know who still put in a 12-hour workday, 7 days a week and can, more often than not, be found at the helm of a 35-gallon marina saucepot stirring it to perfection? Most in Sonoma County know of one person who fits the description—the Pasta King, Art Ibleto. Ibleto is famous for his signature Italian cooking, generosity, and a resiliency that brought him safely through WWII. His recipe for success includes a blend of family, hard work, community service and Continue reading →MORE

Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Agriculture Day

Tomorrow’s Leaders Today partnered with Sonoma County Farm Bureau to support the organization’s agriculture program. Nearly 100 juniors from high schools from Sonoma County participated in Agriculture Day. Through connections with local farms and businesses in Sonoma County, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau introduced Tomorrow’s Leaders Today students to the diversity of local agriculture. “We are proud to continue our partnership with Tomorrow’s Leaders Today,” said Sonoma County Farm Bureau executive director Tawny Tesconi. “During Agriculture Day students learn from our farmers about crops, livestock Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures November Update

Regulating Hemp in Sonoma County On April 2, 2019, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on the recommendation of the Agricultural Commissioner voted to approve a temporary moratorium on the cultivation of industrial hemp.  The moratorium is set to sunset on April 30, 2020.   During the public hearing, the Board gave direction for the Agricultural Commissioner to develop and have in place a local ordinance for the regulation of hemp by the time the moratorium was to sunset.  At that time, the justification for the Continue reading →MORE

Farm Safety

In the last two years, and most recently in June of 2019, we have seen unpredictable, and sometimes chaotic events in Sonoma County brought on by animal rights activist groups. Since the mass arrest of 98 activists in June, the animal rights groups are adapting and coming up with unique strategies to enter and sabotage our Sonoma County farms. The animal rights activists have gone to such extremes as to disguise themselves as United States Department of Agriculture inspectors to enter farms and conduct reconnaissance. Continue reading →MORE

Healdsburg Dairy Rancher Takes a Stand to Protect Land and Livelihood during Kincade Fire

Bucher Family and their ranch workers shelter-in-place with 1,400 cows When mandatory evacuations were ordered for much of Sonoma County during October’s Kincade Fire, Healdsburg dairy rancher and grape grower John Bucher couldn’t just pack up his 1,400 Holstein and Brown Swiss cows and head out of town. And, of course, like most ranchers, Bucher would never abandon his livestock. Instead, Bucher, self-reliant and a strategic thinker, implemented the shelter-in-place plan he has been fine-tuning since the 2017 Tubbs Fire when it became apparent that Continue reading →MORE

AB 5 Re-Classifies Independent Contractors, Including Some Farm/Ranch Service Providers

A new series of tests are being used to further define the legal status of independent contractors (IC) in California, as well as those engaged in the so-called “gig” economy (such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates, DoorDash, etc.). These criteria are included in Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) signed by Governor Newsom on September 18 and set to take effect January 1, 2020. This law presumes that a worker performing services for hire is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits under wage Continue reading →MORE

December Editorial: Always Sonoma Strong

Tragedy has once again struck Sonoma County.  A mere 8 months ago our county was inundated by massive flooding, a year ago it was weeks of smoke from the Camp Fire, two years ago the devastating Tubbs and Nuns Fire ripped through our homes and communities and now another fire, the Kincade Fire, has ravaged our county yet again. Compounding the matter was that most of the county was evacuated from their homes and/or had no electricity and gas from the forced power shutdown for Continue reading →MORE

December Editorial: California Wildfires. The New Abnormal?

It is interesting. Starting in kindergarten and up until high school, there were emergency drills focused “on the big one” – the earthquake that was going to hit the west coast with a vengeance like previous generations experienced in 1906.  Our fear of a devastating quake has now been replaced, or at least duplicated, but what seems to be a reality – the next wildfire. And these fears are warranted and supported by statistics and data induced observations. My Dad only spoke of one major Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Barlas Feeds

Located in the north end of Petaluma, just off the Boulevard, Barlas Feeds has been a feed store, grain and hay facility for the past 30 years. Reminiscent of Petaluma during its heyday as the egg basket of the world, Barlas Feeds is actually located in an old chicken barn. The Barlas family of Petaluma originally owned Barlas Feeds. In 1996, John and Lynn Cunningham were looking for a business that could complement Cunningham Bros. Hay Brokerage, which is owned with brother Charlie Cunningham and Continue reading →MORE

Put It in Action: Fire Safety on Your Property

We all know the danger is real, but have each of us taken the time to prepare? Without a doubt, preparing your property and your daily operations for fire safety is a complex task. But there is no greater reward for all of your hard work should your farm and home be spared from a wildfire. Reducing Fuel: Your Property from a Fire’s Point of View Walk your property and imagine how a spark might start or how fire could be fueled. In rural homes, Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures December Update

Access for Growers During Disasters During the 2017 fires, the Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures worked with CHP, CalFire, and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office to gain access for farmers and ranchers that needed to perform critical agricultural functions such as harvesting, feeding and watering livestock, managing fermentations, and irrigating nursery crops.  The Department issued access permits and had staff escort growers into and out of evacuated areas.  During the course of those fires, we escorted 280 groups of people to perform these critical functions.  Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Provides Resources for Those Impacted by the Kincade Fire

We know that the Kincade Fire created widespread and lasting damages within our agricultural community. This fire was largely a rural fire, and therefore many of our members with livestock and crops were greatly impacted. We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences and sympathy for those who were affected by the fire. We plan to support you through every step of the recovery process. Despite being evacuated from our office, Sonoma County Farm Bureau staff coordinated efforts to provide hay and other supplies, grant permits Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County Sisters Growing Together Through Agriculture

Alina and Suzanne Amaral grew up in Sonoma and were very involved in the agricultural community. After graduating with a doctorate degree and teaching credential, the sisters have moved back to Sonoma County to start their professional careers as a veterinarian and an ag teacher.MORE

Tunzi Family: 119 Years of Farming in Roblar

Six generations of the Tunzi family have grown up in Southern Sonoma County. Many of the six generations have two things in common: raising cattle and attending the small Dunham School in Roblar. The Tunzi family immigrated to America from Switzerland in 1882.MORE

2017 Ends with Transition and a Call for One Ag Voice in 2018

Happy New Year to you all! Now that 2017 is closed out, I am sure that we are all happy to put it in the past. It will be remembered as quite a year – starting with historic rainfall and flooding which signaled an end to the four-year drought and finishing with the most devastating firestorm ever experienced in Sonoma County. MORE

Farm Bureau Foundation’s New Year Message 2018

Why not! We have all the right ingredients: top-notch farmers and ranchers, and dynamic SRJC, SSU, and UCCE. Our high schools and elementary schools are enthusiastic about agriculture thanks to the activities of 4-H, FFA, YF&R, and the FB’s Ag Education Committee. MORE

Tawny Tesconi Hired as Interim Executive Director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau

Tawny Tesconi has been hired as the Interim Executive Director for Sonoma County Farm Bureau.MORE

Retiring My Jacket

High school is typically no one’s favorite time in life unless you’re just weird or crazy or you find something to make you want to come back into school each day.MORE

John Azevedo Honored with Spirit of Sonoma Award

Past Farm Bureau President John Azevedo received the Spirit of Sonoma Award on December 8th. The event, sponsored by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board was held at the Double Tree Hotel in Rohnert Park. Azevedo was recognized alongside 19 other recipients at the 17th annual awards ceremony.MORE

Scholarship Recipients: Where Are They Now?

In 2017, the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County awarded more than $130,000 in scholarships to students in Sonoma and Marin Counties studying in agricultural related fields at four year universities and the Santa Rosa Junior College.MORE

It Takes a Farm Bureau Family

What an opportunity! I am blessed to have a chance to “get under the tent” and take on the role as Interim Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. As a Sonoma County native raised on a small family farm in west county, agriculture shaped my life.MORE

Agricultural Legacy: Past and Future

Every February the ag and local community come together to celebrate the legacy of Sonoma County agriculture, mix and mingle with old and new friends, raise money to support the next generation of farmers and, of course, eat delicious crab and drink the best wine in the world made right here in our own backyard.MORE

Nearly 1,900 People Show Support for Sonoma County Agriculture by Attending the Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest

Selling out in record time, this year’s Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest also hosted more people than ever before. With more than 1,500 guests and nearly 400 volunteers and reception participants, nearly 1,900 people gathered to support local agriculture.MORE

Pesticide Use Near Schools, Erosion Control Plans

In the ever-changing regulatory environment we are presented with many adaptive challenges each year in the form of new or more restrictive regulations. In the case of agricultural pesticide use, new regulations are now in effect that restrict the type and timing of applications near schools and licensed child care facilities throughout the county.MORE

New Year, New Problems: New California Laws All Employers Must Be Aware Of

As the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2018, people around the country will be celebrating with grand hopes of prospering in the New Year. However, California employers should be prepared to take on the ever-changing employment landscape before the first champagne (or cider) bottle is popped.MORE

Behind The Scenes

Everyone remembers those dreaded days of the firestorm of October, 2017. All of the brave, determined firefighters from so many places, Law Enforcement that came to help keep things safe, Army National Guard, Santa Rosa Police Department and last but not least, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.MORE

Tito Sasaki Addresses Law Students on Groundwater Issues

At UC Berkeley on January 20, Sonoma County Farm Bureau board member and president of the Farm Bureau Foundation, Tito Sasaki, gave talks on Sonoma County’s groundwater issues to some 200 students and faculty members of law schools in the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento area.MORE

Pat Burns Joins Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors

Burns has served as the General Manager of Vineyard Operations for M. Draxton Wines since 2013 where he oversees the vineyard operations of 250 acres of Cabernet in Alexander Valley. Additionally, Burns is in charge of Grower Relations and purchasing grapes for Draxton Wines. MORE

Grounded Land and Livestock: Restoration Grazing in Sonoma County

Byron Palmer and Nate Chisholm are the co-founders of Grounded Land and Livestock, working on what they describe as restoration grazing. The company was started in 2015, but the partners have been working together since 2011. MORE

Bee-Well Farms: In The Face of Destruction, Austin and Melissa Lely Are Resilient Young Farmers with a Positive Outlook on the Future of Agriculture

Austin and Melissa Lely met at Chico State in 2010. They graduated as recreation majors and neither had a farming background. After graduating, the married couple moved to Glen Ellen, near where Austin grew up. Austin, 28, and Melissa, 27, fell in love with food and said their shared interest just spiraled. At the same time, the couple was seeing issues with the local food system, and saw a trend towards consumers seeking healthy food. Five years ago, they moved to a house in Glen Continue reading →MORE

People, Poultry and Planet: Petaluma Poultry Is a Leader in the Poultry Industry

Founded in 1969 by Allan Shainsky, Petaluma Poultry has been a local company for more than 40 years. They returned to their “old fashioned flavor” in 1986 when they began feeding a vegetarian diet, committed to never using antibiotics and introduced Rocky the Free Range Chicken. MORE

The Future is a Return to Farm Bureau’s Mission

In Sonoma County, our rich agriculture heritage is continually under attack from community members and elected officials who do not understand farming. There has never been more of a need for strong advocacy, education and communication on behalf of farmers. Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s board understands this and is making changes at Farm Bureau to provide leadership in defending and promoting local agriculture. MORE

Let’s Keep the Party Going

Many of us joined together on the last Saturday in February to pay tribute to an amazing man, Rich Kunde. But all of us at the Celebration of Life knew that you couldn’t speak Rich’s name without referencing Saralee.MORE

Tristan Benson Joins Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors

Tristan Benson has joined the Board of Directors for Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Benson, 34, joins the board as the chair of the Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R), a committee of Sonoma County Farm Bureau for active agriculturists between the ages of 18 and 35 who are involved in production, banking, business, and many other areas of the agriculture industry. MORE

Samantha Piehoff Joins Sonoma County Farm Bureau Staff as Executive Assistant & Office Manager

Samantha Piehoff, a fourth generation Sonoma County resident, has joined the Sonoma County Farm Bureau team as Executive Assistant & Office Manager. MORE

California County Agricultural and Weights and Measures Descend on Sonoma County for Annual Conference

The California Association of Standards and Agricultural Professionals (CASAP) is an organization of California state licensed agricultural and weights and measures professionals committed to education, communication, and professionalism among its members.MORE

Sonoma County Ag Days Educates 5,000 Students About All Aspects of Agriculture

As 5,000 students descended on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and splashed through puddles on March 13 and 14, it was obvious they were all excited for a day out of the classroom.MORE

Ag Immigration Reform

In recent months there has been much talk and effort by the U.S. Senate to reform the United State’s immigration policy. During the month of February, there were four votes in the U.S. Senate on different immigration amendments. All four failed to gain the 60 votes needed for approval some by as little as seven votes. Why is it so difficult for Republicans and Democrats to find common ground and make meaningful change? In three of the proposed amendments, there was a path to citizenship Continue reading →MORE

Marin County Board of Supervisors to Conduct Public Hearing April 24 on Proposed New California Coastal Commission Permit Requirements

After nearly a decade of discussions, hearings and workshops, additional modifications were made to the California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) decisions following its November 2, 2016 public workshop that have increased farmer and rancher anxiety.MORE

Jim’s Supply Co., Inc., to rebrand its Vineyard and Trellising Division as JSC Agricultural Supply

Jim’s Supply Co., Inc., to rebrand its Vineyard and Trellising Division as JSC Agricultural Supply Company to re-brand, reflecting its growing product line and services while maintaining its unique manufacturing roots Jim’s Supply Co., Inc., is rebranding its vineyard and trellising division to JSC Agricultural Supply. The company will continue to focus on manufacturing and providing solutions to the agriculture industry, while the rebranding will better reflect the company’s recently expanded product line. JSC Agricultural Supply continues to be owned and operated by the same Continue reading →MORE

Is California Creating More Bureaucracies with the GSAs?

“Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over” is a quote that has been around for at least 150 years. Even some of our favorite westerns have John Wayne or Clint Eastwood stepping up to help the small cattleman protect his water rights that are being threatened by the local land baron or greedy miner. I am sure those stories portraited in film were based on some truths, and I doubt that our forefathers would have predicted that in the 21st century there Continue reading →MORE

Is Talk of a Multi-Nation Trade Battle Cooling Off, Or Just Toning Down?

News reports focusing on the simmering debate over U.S. tariffs and trade policies have centered largely on relations with the U.S.’s largest trading partner — The Peoples Republic of China and its free trade port of Hong Kong, gateway to the country’s interior. However, this dissension has also spilled over in discussions about trade agreements involving other major importers of U.S. goods, such as Canada and Mexico. While some see this posturing as just a prelude to formal discussions – that will produce softer positions Continue reading →MORE

Farm Bureau Honors Doug McIlroy with the Luther Burbank Conservation Award

Russian River Runs through Life of Ag Advocate Doug McIlroy   Like the Russian River, wine industry leader Doug McIlroy is part of the agricultural and environmental landscape. With continuing ebbs and flows, McIlroy steadfastly moves forward to navigate a delicate balance between farming and fish, production and preservation.   And like the river that has defined his life, McIlroy is tied into Sonoma County’s political landscape as well. Water, after all, is something Californians have been fighting over for 150 years.   McIlroy, director Continue reading →MORE

Proposed Housing Bond is Another Tax on Ag

At Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s April Board meeting, Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma County 5th District Supervisor and Jack Tibbetts, a member of the Santa Rosa City Council, presented the proposed Affordable Housing Bond for Sonoma County. This bond is a proposed tax of $19.53 for every $100,000 of assessed property value on every Sonoma County parcel for the next 26 years. Seventy-five percent of the fund would be used to build housing that “serves and is affordable to extremely low, very low and low-income households.” The Continue reading →MORE

Cannabis “Era” Starts Now

The cannabis industry and how our community deals with it continues to be front page news. With our local leaders making so many critical decisions related to the fire devastation, it is somewhat mindboggling to think that a plant that has been around for centuries is sharing the limelight. I surmise that the history books (ok history blogs) a century from now will catalog the cannabis “era” as one of the most unsettling periods in our County’s chronicles. For our county policymakers, it has been Continue reading →MORE

Notes from the Sonoma County Ag Commissioner

Pest Detection Trapping Program The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture deploys and services various exotic insect pest detection traps throughout the county in both agricultural and urban environments. This trapping effort is to detect the presence of exotic insect pests before they establish a population and become very hard to eradicate. This program detects the presence of fruit fly pests and other injurious plant pests that have the potential to devastate agriculture and forestry industries as well as native ecosystems. Insects targeted for detection by Continue reading →MORE

The Original Farm Team

While enjoying a beautiful Sonoma County afternoon at the Premium Member luncheon at the Kunde Winery, many things that Secretary Ross said resonated with me, but one significant “take away” from her stellar keynote was how farm families are the best at succession planning. In my biased opinion, agriculturalists are the best at many things, but Secretary Ross’ praise for how farmers and ranchers pass the baton from one generation to the next explains why our industry never falters. Even during natural disasters, eras of Continue reading →MORE

Al Gerhardt, the “Last of the Cowboys,” Inducted into Farm Bureau’s Hall of Fame

With his Stetson and signature suspenders, the late Al Gerhardt was a familiar figure at fairs and fund-raisers, never missing one of the 4-H or FFA events held throughout Sonoma County. A man of the land, Gerhardt, who was 79 when he died last fall, believed in agriculture in the way he practiced his Catholic faith – resolute and committed. He was always ready to help others and give-back to the community, whether handing out apples to kids at AG Days or delivering food to Continue reading →MORE

Farmers for Free Trade Estimates Cost of New Tariffs for Ag Industry

In response to higher Section 232 import tariffs imposed by the U.S. on steel and aluminum imports from the Peoples Republic of China, on April 2 new retaliatory tariffs averaging up to 15% (25% for pork) went into effect on many American agricultural products imported by China. These tariff increases on metals have a collateral damage affect on California farm exports since beer comes in aluminum containers and fruits, vegetables, table nuts and some meat products are typically packaged in steel cans. Twenty-two days later, Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma County’s Future Agriculturalists – Congratulations 2018 Scholarship Winners

The school year is coming to a rapid close once again. With graduation from high school, young ag kids turn to the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Foundation to apply for College Scholarships. These scholarships help students pursue higher education in agriculture related fields. The money can be used to offset the ever increasing and expensive costs of tuition and living expenses. The recipient must prove enrollment in classes and write a thank you note to the donor before receiving the funds. The Sonoma County Farm Continue reading →MORE

Department Of Ag

Asian Citrus Psyllid Detection Trapping With the conclusion of winter, the seasonal county detection trapping for the Asian Citrus Psyllid (Diaphorina citri) also concludes. The Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) is a vector of the disease Huanglongbing (HLB). HLB is caused by the transmission of the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacteri spp. to citrus plants. When infected with HLB, citrus plants express symptoms such as yellow mottling of leaves, premature defoliation, root decay, stunted growth, bitter, irregularly shaped fruit, and eventual plant death. In effort to prevent the Continue reading →MORE

It’s a Harmony-ous Life
Meet Harmony Ag Supply & Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery

Harmony Ag Supply 1175 River Rd. – Fulton (707) 546-7706 Hours: Mon – Fri 8 am – 5pm Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery 3244 Gravenstein Highway North – Sebastopol (707) 823-9125 Hours: Mon – Sat: 7:30 am to 5 pm and Sunday: 8:30 am to 5 pm ———————————————————————– Don’t Miss Customer Appreciation Day! Saturday, July 12th 9 am – 2 pm: Free Taco lunch starts at Noon ———————————————————————– Harmony’s commitment is to the Earth, to Quality and to the Community Harmony’s philosophy is based Continue reading →MORE

Young Farmers & Ranchers 5th Annual Sporting Clays Shoot

The Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers and Ranchers hosted their annual fifth Sporting Clays Shoot on Sunday, May 6th at Wing and Barrel Ranch in Sonoma. YF&R sold out their 75 shooter tickets in record time – just one day of regular sale! Participants included Congressman Mike Thompson, Sheriff Rob Giordano and Captain Mark Essick, many local farmers, business owners and agriculture support industry professionals. Following breakfast and a safety briefing the teams of five made their way through 15 fully automated stations, trying their luck at Continue reading →MORE

DeBernardis Honored as Farm Family of the Year

The family farm, the idyllic symbol of American life that politicians and policymakers always pledge to preserve, is alive and well – even flourishing - on an organic dairy in the Two Rock Valley west of Petaluma.MORE

Farm Labor Shortages Continue to Plague California’s Ag Industry

Results of a voluntary online survey conducted by the California Farm Bureau Federation’s (CFBF) Federal Policy Division eight months ago showed that farmers and ranchers in every California region reported continuing difficulty in finding enough workers for planting, cultivating and harvesting food and other crops. This trend is continuing, and for some, it is a major concern.MORE

Protecting and Promoting Our Viticulture and Agriculture

For the second time, I was honored to be invited by the Sonoma County Wine Growers to attend the Congressional Wine Caucus in Washington, D.C. last month to help educate members of congress about the California wine industry and specifically to keep Sonoma County’s agricultural heritage at top of mind with our government leaders.MORE

Keeping your Business, Property, Livestock and Crops Safe

Over the years I’ve noticed a negative trend in the way activists, specifically animal rights activists, conduct their protests; more aggressive, theatrical, often destructive or violent, and more about the “action” than the “cause” the group hopes to address.MORE

Vineyards and Vineyard Management Firms Are Using More H-2A Certified Farm Workers

Grape growers and vineyard management firms are among Ag industry’s leaders in the North Bay when it comes to providing worker housing and hiring H-2A guest agricultural workers. MORE

Farm Bureau Member Profile: Meet Exchange Bank

“From generation to generation, we invest in people, business and community to build a strong future.” Exchange Bank Mission StatementMORE


A Call to Arms From my perspective, the single biggest threat we face to sustainably producing high quality winegrapes in Sonoma County is the proliferation of the vine mealybug. MORE

Growing Ag Education

Educating our potential young farmers and agri-business leaders is critical to ensure the sustainability of agriculture in Sonoma County.MORE

Shone Farm – An update from the field

For nearly 50 years, Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm has been the intersection between farming and education in Sonoma County. In fact, Shone Farm is one of the most unique agricultural learning labs in the country, offering students an opportunity to engage hands-on in a full range of farming experiences and sustainable and organic research opportunities.MORE

It is the “Lull Before the Trade War Storm” Since Tariff Battles Take Time to Heat Up

Farmers across the nation, as well as in Sonoma and Marin Counties, are wondering why they have not seen major price/cost hikes fueled by tariff increases imposed by other nations on the U.S.MORE


On Thursday, July 12 Farm Bureau hosted over 900 attendees for the 10th Annual Love of the Land celebration at the Jackson Family’s Richard’s Grove.MORE

The Sweet Smell of Fairtime is in the Air!

Days are warm, school is out, summer break is upon us, and it’s fair season. Fairs are happening all over the country, and here in Sonoma County we are not short of the opportunity to experience a slice of Americana.MORE

Member Profile – Novavine

Although he grew up in Wine Country, when Ellen Heath’s son, Jay Jensen, went off to study engineering and International Relations at WestPoint, he never imagined he would end up farming some of the world’s finest grape vine stock!MORE

Combating Suspicious Activity in Rural Sonoma County

Catching bad guys in the act of commuting crimes in rural Sonoma County is a tough task. Criminals look for crimes of opportunity which usually means there is no one around to witness them. MORE

Invasive Ant Species Intercepted

The Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures inspects incoming packages at the FedEx facility in Petaluma. MORE

Soil Health

The media has given lots of attention to soils recently, with numerous news outlets talking about the role soil can play in making our entire planet more vibrant and resilient to weather extremes. MORE

Hawkes Family Shares Three Generations Worth of Sonoma County Fair Memories

Charlie and Ella Hawkesd'granddaughter, Rebecca, beamed as she shook the judged' hand and received a first-place ribbon in Junior Sheep Showmanship at the 2018 Sonoma County Fair. Her family, ringside, applauded and wore expressions of pride as they watched as the hard work their 3rd generation family member put into her 4-H project paid off.MORE

Interior secretary visits reservoirs hit by flows plan

Amid a flood of concern regarding a state proposal to divert more water to the ocean, a Cabinet secretary visited two of the affected reservoirs and a Central Valley congressman offered a pair of amendments aimed at the diversions.MORE

Celebrating Sonoma County Agriculture – Then, Now, and Tomorrow

After the devastating fires last October and the continued hardship faced by our friends in surrounding counties, there is something that feels refreshingly normal and renewing about the harvest season upon us.MORE

September 2018 Editorial

Urban growth boundaries, city limits and open pastures may separate city dwellers from country folk, but we should not let those physical barriers stop us from educating city leaders about agriculture.MORE

Member Profile- Vintage Tree Care, Fred Frey

Vintage Tree Care owner Fred Frey has lived in Sonoma County all his life. His family roots are firmly planted in the county—his daughter marks the 5th generation Frey.MORE

2017 Sonoma County Crop Report

The 2017 Sonoma County Crop Report was presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, by Sue Ostrom, Assistant Agricultural Commissioner.MORE


The collection site is at the Sonoma County Healdsburg Corporation Yard located on Alexander Valley Road in Healdsburg. This event is open to growers, nurseries, pest control businesses, golf courses, parks, and government agencies.MORE

Cover Crops, Tillage and Lessons Learned from Ridge Vineyards

It is time to get prepared for winter and plant your cover crop. To promote optimal growth, it is best to plant by the end of October, or sooner if possible, while the soil is still warm, and before substantial rains arrive. MORE

Rural Resilience Sonoma County’s Agriculture Community Reflects One Year After the Fires

October marks the first anniversary of the 2018 wildfires. Sonoma County Farm Bureau Members woke on October 8, 2017 to the devastating news that the county was ablaze.MORE

Future of Potter Valley Project to be Decided by PG&E Auction Process

After years of uncertainty over the future of the Potter Valley Project (PVP), Pacific Gas & Electric announced May 10 that it plans to sell these facilities through an auction. PG&E released details of the auction process September 4.MORE

Election Outcomes Affect Sonoma County Agriculture

As Election Day approaches on November 6, our members are starting to ask what and who Farm Bureau is supporting. Farm Bureau has taken positions on state propositions and initiatives.MORE

October Editorial

Last month I had the rare opportunity to have a “behind the scenes” tour of the Minnesota State Fair.MORE

Sustainable Technologies

It is common knowledge that electricity is one of the largest expenses in agriculture and that therefore, it is important to use energy efficiently.MORE

Congressman Jared Huffman’s Bill Would Preserve Pt. Reyes Dairy Farms

After years of controversy over the presence of cattle ranches and dairy farms within the Point Reyes National Seashore, advocates for keeping them there gained strong support from 2nd...MORE

Ag Commissioner Report


Preparing for winter following a wildfire

Hazy air drifting down from the ongoing wildfire activity up north is an unpleasant reminder of last October. But, it’s an important reminder that besides our community, the landscape around us is also still in recovery.MORE

Talking Turkey with the Benedetti Family

Temperatures are beginning to cool, harvest is wrapping up and the holiday season is just around the corner. Meanwhile, just 15 minutes from Downtown Santa Rosa, 35,000 turkeys cover the hillsides and cluster under oaks as they fill out and fatten for their debut on your Thanksgiving dinner table. Willie Bird Turkeys are ranch raised by the Benedetti family. The fourth-generation Sonoma County ranchers’ premium turkeys are Sonoma County-grown, free range and fed a diet of organic grains. The Broad Breasted Whites are fed from Continue reading →MORE

Septic System Policy Changes to be Proposed

Septic System Policy Changes to be Proposed Permit Sonoma (formerly PRMD) is planning to propose changes to existing Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) policies to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on November 13. The goal is to ensure that local county regulations comply with the new state requirements. The proposed policy changes would go to the Regional Water Board in the spring of 2019. Developing a comprehensive OWTS policy has been almost a 20-year process within California that began in 1999 with the passage Continue reading →MORE

Farmers Lead Housing Initiatives

Farmers Lead Housing Initiatives Taking a strong position on local regulations and taxes is nothing new for Sonoma County Farm Bureau, but opposing the potential county-wide housing bond earlier this year garnered more conversation and attention than normal. Many people were used to Farm Bureau opposing new taxes, but against housing – how could that be? For the record, farmers have been supporting workforce housing for decades including building structures to meet the growing need. We have chosen to invest in this effort personally to Continue reading →MORE

November 2018 Editorial

Enough is enough. When are the zealots going to stop harassing farmers about farming practices in our state? Proposition 12 goes too far. Once again, the Humane Society is trying to grab headlines and get donations by airing old footage of animals in less than ideal confinement situations. Their propaganda is exaggerated, and they sensationalize their messaging by suggesting that all farm animals are mistreated and that farmers are bad people. Anyone who knows a farmer can tell you that is the farthest from the Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: ATL Events

Member Profile ATL Events Who doesn’t love a party or event? There is no doubt that ATL Events does. ATL Events is a family owned and operated full service production company that has been doing business in Sonoma County for over 28 years. Sylvia Parkinson has worked for her family’s company for 13 years and said that not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful for what she does. “I love what I do,” Parkinson said. “There are a lot of moving parts and Continue reading →MORE

Planting Certified Vines is Critical

Planting Certified Vines is Critical By Rhonda Smith, Viticulture Farm Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension Planting a vineyard with vines that are not infected with common grapevine viruses is essential to the bottom line. It can be challenging enough to keep over 1000 vines per acre relatively free from the normal canopy and trunk diseases such as grapevine powdery mildew and Eutypa dieback. Those diseases are caused by infections that occur naturally after vines are planted and can be controlled with proper farming practices. Continue reading →MORE

Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Report

Illegal Live Animal Intercepted The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures plays many roles within our community. The Department’s mission is to promote and protect agriculture, the health and safety of our community, environment, and economy through the education and the enforcement of laws and regulations. The Department has a variety of different programs to support this mission. One in particular, which safeguards not only our agricultural industry, but also our environment and natural resources, is the Pest Exclusion Program at parcel facilities. Every Continue reading →MORE

Sonoma RCD Releases 2017-2018 Annual Report

Although this past year has been eventful and trying, it has truly renewed our gratitude for this beautiful place and strong community where we live and work. As we look back at the past year and then turn our eyes toward the future, a few words come to mind: Relationships. Resiliency. Regeneration. Now more than ever, one of the RCD’s foundational beliefs is that conservation is not just about natural resources, it is also about people. Relationships are key in everything we do, and the Continue reading →MORE

Farmers are Leaders in Employee Housing

Everyone is concerned about housing in Sonoma County. Rents are high, there isn’t enough market rate housing, Measure N failed, and members of our workforce who depend on affordable housing are worried and frustrated Sonoma County’s thriving vineyards, farms, and ranches rely on agricultural employees. However, many farmers and ranchers struggle to have enough farm labor. The labor shortage in Sonoma County, undoubtedly, is in part a reflection of the overall housing shortage. Many people don’t realize, though, that much of the agriculture industry provides Continue reading →MORE

Security Workshop Offers Tips on Protecting Farms from Activist Threats

With the recent increase in animal activist demonstrations, unwelcome incursions and confrontations with private property owners, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau organized a comprehensive day-long workshop on October 29 at Shone Farm to help those engaged in animal agriculture to develop effective strategies to meet this growing threat. “In the last few months property rights we hold dear have been threatened,” said Farm Bureau Executive Director Tawny Tesconi at the opening of the workshop attended by more than 70 participants. “These protests are illegal, disruptive Continue reading →MORE

Looking Back and Moving Forward: Two Years in Review

Preparing my speech for the Harvest Celebration Dinner & Annual Meeting, I reflected on just how much time I have spent over the past two years of my Presidency focused on the future of Sonoma County Agriculture and Sonoma County Farm Bureau. It is hard to believe my two-year term is nearly up. I have enjoyed working hard for an organization whose mission I care for so deeply, whose members are so worthy, and whose role in the community is growing stronger day by day. Continue reading →MORE

December Editorial

Do we need to regulate the regulators? I think California is overregulated. I have thought this for a long time, but a new story I heard on the radio a month or so ago really drove home this notion. It wasn’t about agriculture or business, but about family law. A law eventually hitting the books stipulates that when a couple divorces and they have a pet, through the divorce proceedings the pet will go to the person who feeds and walks the pet versus the Continue reading →MORE

Member Profile: Crane Melon Barn

What do melons, Christmas crafts, and weddings all have in common? The Crane Melon Barn. The historic redwood barn on Petaluma Hill Road in Santa Rosa was built in 1868 and is where the original Crane Melons have been sold for over 80 years by six generations of Cranes. Known affectionately as the “Melon Barn” by its many fans, it is where great grandson Rick and great great granddaughter Jennifer Crane have all carried on the family tradition of farming the Crane Melon and selling Continue reading →MORE

Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Report

Asian Citrus Psyllid Detection Trapping Program The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures has begun seasonal trapping for the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP). This is the third season traps have been deployed for this pest. Starting November 1st and continuing through the end of April, yellow panel sticky traps can be found throughout urban areas of the county in an effort to detect ACP, Diaphorina citri. ACP was first detected in the United States in Palm Beach County, Florida, in 1998. In 2008, the Continue reading →MORE

SRJC: Field Update

Eat, Drink and Grow with the SRJC Agriculture and Natural Resources Department 2019 marks a significant milestone in the agricultural history of Sonoma County: the 50th anniversary of the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Agriculture and Natural Resources (Ag/NR) Department. Founded in 1969 through the grit and determination of agricultural education pioneers, today the SRJC Ag/NR Department provides high-quality education and training to over 1800 students and awards 100 degrees and certificates every year. Shone Farm, acquired from the Federal Government in 1972, has grown Continue reading →MORE

What is “carbon farming” and how it can help your operation

Carbon Farming is a suite of agricultural practices that captures and stores carbon in plants and soils, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The key practices include applying compost on fields, planting cover crops (especially perennials), reducing or eliminating tillage, and planting perennial woody plants outside of crop production areas, such as installing fence line hedgerows. Long term carbon storage in plants and soils can be achieved through proper implementation of these practices. As organic matter builds up in the soil through these activities, soil health Continue reading →MORE

Advocating for Agriculture & Its Way of Life

The Dutton Family has been farming in Sonoma County for more than five generations. This year, apple and winegrape grower Steve Dutton begins his term as President of Sonoma County Farm Bureau.MORE

Ryan Ranch: 130 Years of Farming for Future Generations

The Ryan Ranch, between Bodega and Occidental, is nearing its 130-year anniversary. Founded in 1887 by Andrew Fitzpatrick, the ranch was originally purchased to harvest lumber and raise dairy cattle.MORE

Big Boots to Fill

After spending the last four years on the executive team of Sonoma County Farm Bureau with John Azevedo, I have seen firsthand the dedication and countless hours John has dedicated to Farm Bureau. During his tenure as Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s President, John has been down in the trenches working hard to support local agriculture. MORE

Keeping Our Farms in the Fight

It is during this time of year that most people reflect on where they have been and what they accomplished during the prior year, and then look forward to what is ahead as far as challenges that remain and opportunities to forge a path ahead. In Farm Bureau, this process plays out at the state level across the country between the end of harvest and the Christmas holiday. MORE

Hannah Lipman Hired as Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s 2017 Intern

Hannah Lipman, a Santa Rosa native, has been hired as Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s intern for 2017. Lipman graduated from Santa Rosa high school in June 2016 where she was heavily involved in the school’s agriculture program. MORE

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Brown Butter Sage

We all get a little tired of cooking right after the holidays. When the season of time consuming comfort food is over, we like to make these quick Roasted Winter Vegetables. They’re extremely simple, but full of flavor from the brown butter and crisp sage leaves. After ten minutes of prep time and twenty minutes in the oven, they’re ready to serve.MORE

Wilson Artisan Wineries Offer Children of Vineyard Workers Scholarships

Scholarships of $750 to $2,000 will be awarded to children of Sonoma County vineyard workers. Scholarships are open to high school seniors continuing their education and to students who are already in a college, trade or technical school.MORE

Ag Leader Terry Lindley Retires from American AgCredit after 40 Year Career

Lender, leader, rancher and agricultural visionary – not to mention benefactor and friend. Terry Lindley’s remarkable legacy fits all those categories following a distinguished career that has spanned four decades in his adopted homeland of Sonoma County. Hard to believe but the agricultural wunderkind is now 61 years old. As of Jan. 31, he retired as the chief marketing officer and senior vice president of American AgCredit, a once hometown farm lending agency that has become the fifth largest Farm Credit Association in the nation.MORE

Hog Island Oyster Co: Stewards of the Land and Water

As the one who “went to the water”, Terry Sawyer describes himself as the black sheep of his family. Sawyer came from a family with farmers on both sides, and his family still owns a ranch in the valley. Sawyer, a co-owner of Hog Island Oyster Co., describes the difference between aquaculture and agriculture as a very fine line.MORE

The Numbers Matter

In December, the officers and I were the delegation from Sonoma County Farm Bureau to California Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Monterey. During the House of Delegates Business session, we spent time discussing Farm Bureau’s dues structure and how much dues would be in the future.MORE

Agriculture Students & Research

February marks the beginning of “education season” at Farm Bureau. Our training calendar is gearing up for county farmers and ranchers to take advantage of learning and continuing education credit opportunities through early May. Also later this month scholarship applications will be available for students planning to pursue post-secondary education this fall. MORE

Summer Jeffus Hired as Regional Marketing Manager for American AgCredit

Summer Jeffus has been hired as the regional marketing manager for American AgCredit. Jeffus and Matt Wilson, American AgCredit’s new marketing director, will replace Terry Lindley who is retiring after having been with the company for more than 40 years. Jeffus grew up in San Luis Obispo on her family’s farm where they grew turf grass and sold soil amendments.MORE

Denner Ranch: 125 Years of Farming In Santa Rosa

Denner Ranches, established in 1890, is operated by Kathy Reese and her husband Steve, Russ Denner and his wife Joanne and their son Brian Denner. The property was purchased by Reese and Denner’s great grandfather who emigrated from Devonshire England, originally settling in Illinois before coming west and deciding Santa Rosa was the place he wanted to live. MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau: Working For You 2016

Sonoma County Farm Bureau values our members and works hard to support local agriculture, keeping it viable in the county by protecting the industry from over regulation and continuing to educate the general public and farmers alike. We want to take this opportunity to share a small snippet of what Sonoma County Farm Bureau has done to protect and promote agriculture over the last year.MORE

Cast Iron Skillet Omelet

This omelet is lighter than the traditional omelet and easy to make. Rich with flavor because of the Gruyere and leeks, it’s perfect for a weekend breakfast. The benefit to a skillet omelet is that everyone can eat at the same time. We like to serve it with a splash of our favorite hot sauce and a small dollop of sour cream.MORE

Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest: From 150 to 1,500

2017 marks Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s 100th year of promoting and protecting agriculture lands and farming operations through advocacy and education. As Sonoma County Farm Bureau celebrates a century of helping the community, this year’s Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest held strong in its 28th year. MORE

Deadline for Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship Applications is April 7

This year the Farm Bureau Foundation will award more than $110,000 in scholarships to Sonoma County students pursuing higher education at a four year college, junior college or vocational school within an agricultural related field. MORE

Where’s the Crab?

As you wander through the pages of this month’s Farm News you will no doubt either recall your personal experience from attending, or learn about what you missed from the 28th annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest. Yes, it was a very successful event again and remains as one of the largest, if not the largest, Dungeness crab feeds synonymous with winter along the North Coast.MORE

Support for Sonoma County Ag

On February 4th, Sonoma County Farm Bureau held its 28th annual crab feed and agricultural education fundraiser. Once again, we had 1,500 people attend the event that sold out two weeks ahead of time. It is a true testament of local support that so many people from the community came to socialize, drink Sonoma County wine, eat local crab and bid on both the silent and live auctions. MORE

Groverman Ranch: Veterinarian Keeps Family Property in Ag for 100 Years

Throughout Sonoma County, the name Groverman is synonymous with a veterinarian who has dedicated his life to the county’s agricultural community. Dr. Fred Groverman, 83, has spent a lifetime as a beloved large and small animal veterinarian but also as a shepherd of his Shropshire flock which he raises on a 50 acre farm that’s been in his family since the early 1900’s.MORE

Four Seasons Vineyard Management: How a Passion for Farming Led To the Creation of A Successful Small Business

Victor Trentadue has been farming his entire life. He was born into a farming family which was growing cherries and apricots in San Jose. As the area faced problems related to urbanization, the family moved in 1959, choosing to resettle in the Dry Creek Valley. The Trentadues chose the Dry Creek Valley because they already had relatives living there. MORE

Southwestern Veggie Wrap

This veggie wrap is great for lunch or dinner and is made with seasonal vegetables. The cashew cream is our favorite ingredient; it adds a sweet nutty flavor that is the star of this recipe. Any leftover cashew cream is perfect for dipping raw veggies in or add some garlic and spices to it and toss it with pasta or zucchini noodles.MORE

Russian River Confluence Slated to Develop Long Term Action Plan

On Friday, March 24, a diverse group of stakeholders from Mendocino and Sonoma counties will gather at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm in Forestville to launch a multi-generational plan to enhance and revitalize the Russian River watershed. The group, led by Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, includes farmers, members of several tribes, ecologists, local agency representatives, paddlers, and elected officialsMORE

Saralee McClelland Kunde Memorial Sonoma County Youth Pruning Contest

The 13th Annual Saralee McClelland Kunde Memorial Sonoma County Youth Pruning Contest and Viticulture Challenge drew 25 contestants to Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm on Saturday, February 11th. The Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers and Ranchers, with the guidance of Pat Stornetta, helped organize the contest.MORE

Clover Stornetta Farms Rebrands as Clover Sonoma

Known for their billboards up and down 101 featuring Clo the Cow, Clover Stornetta Farms rebranded as Clover Sonoma in March. Announced in early March, the company believes the refreshed Clover Sonoma name honors the company’s heritage of being from Sonoma County while looking ahead to Clover’s expanded product distribution to Southern California and beyond. MORE

Wes Jamison Merit Awards

The Jamison Fund was established 27 years ago for the purpose of providing financial assistance to the high school agriculture programs and FFA chapters in Santa Rosa. This year 14 students received awards to support their FFA livestock projects they will sell at the fair. MORE

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Dill Butter

April means asparagus is at its best and this side dish is great with almost any main course. The Meyer lemon from our grandpa's tree inspired the sauce with fresh dill and everyone's favorite, creamy butter. Look for firm but tender stalks with bright green color and closed tips.MORE

4,000 Students Learn About Agriculture at Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Ag Days

Seventy three vendors and more than 200 volunteers helped 4000 students learned about agriculture at SCFB's Ag Days this year, and SCFB hopes that many students will take that knowledge home and share it with family and friends. MORE

Imwalle Gardens: Four Generations and 120 Years of Selling Produce to Santa Rosa Residents

On West Third Street in Santa Rosa you'll find the Imwalle family's produce store where four generations have sold produce to Santa Rosa residents. Joe Imwalle, 76, has run the family business since he was 24 years old and still works 12 hour days.MORE

Fees & Regulations in Agriculture

Back when both the Denner Ranch and Farm Bureau began 100 years ago, regulation, licenses and fees were almost nonexistent. Even when my father Warren started his own business in Graton in 1964, these were few and far between.Over the last 50 years, government has grown and so has everything that goes along with it. To be in business or to start a business today is a daunting task. It costs farmers money from the bottom line to license business practices we would most likely already be doing.MORE

Jackson Family Wines Receives Luther Burbank Conservation Award

Although Jackson Family Wines formally launched their sustainability program in 2008, the company was founded with sustainability in mind. When the late Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall-Jackson, thought about farming he was mindful of taking care of the land and wanted to build a company that would last for multiple generations. His daughter, Katie Jackson, who now manages JFW’s sustainability program and external affairs, said her father’s long term view point meant he was focused on being a responsible land steward as well as a Continue reading →MORE

Oak Ridge Angus: 105 Years of Raising Cattle in Sonoma County

At 14 years old, Massimino LaFranchi emigrated from Switzerland in 1888 and made his living milking cows. In 1912, the he bought 500 acres of land on the outskirts of Calistoga forming Oak Ridge Farm, named after the oak trees found along the hills of the property. MORE

A Stable Workforce

What do California and Sonoma County farmers have to do to secure a stable labor force? According to the LA Times, wages for crop production in California increased 13% from 2010 to 2015, twice as fast as average pay in the state. In Sonoma County, many growers pay $3 to $5 above minimum wage giving our employees a chance to make $120 to $150 per day.MORE

Why, Who, How, What?

The last week of April at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau offices saw two days of thoughtful and inspiring discussion. Gathering together for the interaction were thirty plus professional staff representing County Farm Bureaus from across the northern “half” of California. Most of these leaders were my peer Executive Directors or County Managers along with some county Farm Bureau program staff.MORE

Living Amongst Non-Farming Neighbors in Rural Sonoma County

Sonoma County has always been an agricultural community. Our rural communities are rich with farming families who have been doing so for generations. To these families, everyday life on the farm is routine. Farming and ranching practices are second nature and often times we don't consider how outsiders view certain occurrences on the farm. MORE

Strawberry Rhubarb Tea Cake

Rhubarb is very colorful and in season and works beautifully in this tea cake. This recipe is slightly sweet and buttery and can be served for brunch or a light dessert. MORE

Earl and Dot Holtz Inducted Into Sonoma County Farm Bureau Hall of Fame

Earl and Dot Holtz have dedicated thier life to bettering the Sonoma County Dairy industry. Earl and his wife Dot came to Sonoma County in 1964 and have spent their lifetime supporting the dairy industry and educating the public about the importance of agriculture.This year, the Holtzes will be inducted into Sonoma County Farm Bureau's Hall of Fame. MORE

Robert Young Estate Vineyard and Winery: 159 Years

Peter Young immigrated to New York in the early 1800’s and came to California in the 1850’s for the Gold Rush. He settled on 120 acres in Alexander Valley, where he raised cattle for leather and sheep. At their peak, the Young family had more than 700 head of sheep, raised grain and herds of cattle. Peter cleared the land in the 1870’s and prepared it for the first prune orchard. Peter’s son, Silas, followed in his father’s footsteps. The tradition of growing prunes was carried on by Silas’s son Robert, who was born in 1919.MORE

Ags Shrinking Bottom Line

Over the last 18 months, agricultural businesses in California have seen an onslaught of new regulations. These laws were voted into effect by the California legislature. The legislature that the citizens of California elected into office. These new regulations have a direct impact to Sonoma County ag's bottom line.MORE

Farm Bureau Foundation Awards More Than $130,000 in Scholarships to Students Studying Agriculture in Sonoma and Marin Counties

Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County has awarded more than $130,000 to top students in Sonoma and Marin Counties pursuing higher education in agricultural related fields. This year, 44 students will receive scholarships. All of the recipients are graduating high school seniors and students continuing their education at a four year university or the Santa Rosa Junior College. Scholarship winners are majoring in agricultural business, animal science, dairy science, ag education, viticulture and diesel technology. MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Hosts AFBF President Zippy Duvall, Supervisor Zane and CFBF 1st Vice President at Premium Member Lunch

We hosted the American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, Supervisor Shirlee Zane and CFBF 1st Vice President at the annual Premium Member Lunch. In addition to other special guests, 40 of Sonoma County's influntail ag producers attended.MORE

Summer Vegetable Skewers with Avocado Cilantro Dip

This Avocado Cilantro Dip is cool and refreshing for summer as a side to any of your barbeque favorites. We often use skewers as appetizers and this recipe fits that perfectly. The recipe is fun and easy, you can prepare the skewers up to 1 day ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. MORE

Walker Apples: 107 Years of Family Farming Tradition

Lee Walker, 86, is a sixth generation apple farmer in Graton whose 50 acre apple farm epitomizes the term family business. Walker manages the farm alongside his son Lee Walker III, but around the property you will always find a handful of family members putting in their best effort on top of their day jobs to help the family business succeed. MORE

Gamlake Dairy: The Gambonini Family, Passionate About Dairy Cattle, Has Been Farming on the Same Land for 104 Years

The Gambonini family has been farming in Petaluma for nearly 150 years, passing down their family ranch off Lakeville Highway for the last 104 years. Frank Gambonini runs the ranch alongside his wife Stacey, and the couple has three daughters who are actively involved in the ranch and the dairy industry. MORE

The Gravenstein Apple

Sonoma County apples, especially the Gravenstein, have been a staple here since 1883 when Luther Burbank advised Nathaniel Griffith to plant Gravenstein apples on his 78 acre ranch on Laguna Road in Sebastopol. With that, the commercial apple industry was born. At the beginning of World War II in 1940, Sebastopol had its high point of 13,875 acres of apples with 9,750 acres planted in Gravenstein. MORE

Hello Folks! Do You Know that Sonoma County Has…

We get to see just how much value agriculture provides by way of annual reports, detailing the production and harvest of crops that provide jobs and resulting income, not including the government taxes and fees collected each year from these activities. MORE

Emily Janowski Hired As Membership Development and Advertising Coordinator

Emily Janowski, a Santa Rosa native raised in Fortuna, has been hired as Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Membership Development and Advertising Coordinator. Janowski is a recent graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and past Member Services Coordinator for the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau.MORE

New Survey Highlights the Valuable Contributions of Local Winegrape Growers to Sonoma County

A new survey of more than 295 winegrape growers in Sonoma County confirms that the local winegrape industry provides a number of valuable contributions to the community. As one of the largest employers, winegrape growers pay top wages to their workers and serve as generous philanthropists contributing to non-profit organizations and groups in every corner of Sonoma County.MORE

Apple Cherry Bake

This is a great recipe to make and take to BBQ’s, potlucks, and family gatherings. It’s easy to make and celebrates one of the best fruits of the season: apples! Although gala apples are one of our favorites (and native to California!) you can replace them with your favorite variety. MORE

Love of the Land honors Stewards of the Land

On July 13th, more than 1,000 people gathered at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s vineyard to celebrate agriculture. Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s annual Love of the Land event, was successful in bringing in people from all facets of agriculture to socialize and honor stewards of the landMORE

Vanoni Ranch: Six Generations and 115 Years of Farming in Geyserville

Mark Vanoni emigrated from Switzerland with his wife Angelina in the mid 1800’s. They settled on the Central Coast and had a dairy below the Hearst Castle. However, a severe drought in 1898 caused the family to lose their dairy. The Vanonis searched the state for a new ranch, seeking a piece of property with ample water. They purchased their Geyserville ranch in the first couple years of the 1900’s.MORE

Through the Years

For Sonoma County Farm Bureau members who may have not noticed, this year has marked the centennial year since local farmers and ranchers came together in 1917 to organize as a county Farm Bureau. Sonoma County, along with seven other county Farm Bureaus and several farms and ranches were inducted into the Agricultural Heritage Club last month in recognition of 100 years continuous operation. MORE

Collaboration is Key to Ensure Long Term Ag Preservation

In June, I was honored to be invited by the Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) to educate sommeliers and consumers on Sonoma County’s sustainability initiative in Washington D.C. and New York City. With me were my fellow grape growers Brad Petersen from Silver Oak Winery and Doug McIlroy from Rodney Strong Vineyards. MORE

Graffiti Abatement

Graffiti is a wide range of markings, etchings, and painting that deface public and private property. The graffiti offenders use different materials to perform their criminal acts such as; spray paint, permanent markers, crayons, chalk, or lipstick. MORE

Joe Rochioli Honored for Outstanding Achievements in FFA and Agriculture

Joe Rochioli Jr. was honored for his outstanding Achievements in FFA and Agriculture by the Healdsburg High School FFA Ag Boosters Board on June 24, 2017 at their Shrimp Boil and Bluegrass fundraiser at Jackson Family Wine's Richard’s Grove. More than 150 guests turned out for the 2nd annual event, including leaders from the business and agricultural sectors. MORE

Summer Fire Safety

Working on the North Valley Animal Disaster Group, (NVADG), Evacuation Team at the Wall Fire really brought home the importance of preparedness for rural home, horse and livestock owners. As we searched for roads, driveways, and animals, we could not help but think of our own neighborhoods. Who would be there for Sonoma? And, how would they find the animals?MORE

Zucchini Rollatini

All of that extra zucchini from the garden is perfect for this rustic homemade dish. We have used Roma tomatoes for the sauce but you can substitute any tomatoes you may be growing. MORE

2016 Sonoma County Crop Report

The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture presented the 2016 Crop Report at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on Tuesday August 1st. The theme of this year's crop report was "Growing Winegrapes, Sustainably". The total reported value of agricultural products in Sonoma County was $898,125,200, a 17% increase from 2015.MORE

Andrea Rodriguez Named Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Government Relations Director

Rodriguez brings extensive experience in Sonoma County, most recently serving as Sonoma State University's Director of Government and Community Relations. Prior to her role at SSU, Rodriguez spent five years as the Marketing and Special Events Director for the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County.MORE

Ken Lafranchi Chooses Premium Membership to Support Sonoma County Agriculture

As an architect in downtown Santa Rosa, Ken Lafranchi's connection to agriculture runs deep. His family traces back to an old dairy in Marin, and his father the late Art Lafranchi was a dairyman and attorney in Santa Rosa.MORE

Big Brother

The controversial issue consuming thousands of hours of effort and likely millions in legal expenses involves one California farmer running afoul of a federal government bureaucrat. This conflict has centered around interpreting recent rule changes of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) that was originally passed into law in 1972 during the Nixon administration.MORE

Helping Understand Sonoma County’s Most Important Time of Year

As agriculturalists, we need to work on educating people about the reasons we do the things we do during this time of year. This is especially critical as grape harvest starts to gear up into full swing. We are all in a harvest frenzy to bring our crops in, but we need to stop and take a moment to recognize how we affect the people around us.MORE

Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers and Ranchers August Ag Tour

In August, in lieu of a general meeting, the Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers and Ranchers attended an educational ag tour. The group toured the Redwood Empire Food Bank, Bear Republic Brewery and Oak Ridge Angus to learn about the local food system and the Range to Table Program. More than 30 ag professionals attended the tour. MORE

National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. FEMA provides agencies, non-profits and individuals with great tool kits. We've taken the FEMA 2017 Weekly Themes and added ideas that are especially relevant to farmers.MORE

Heidrun Meadery: Marin County’s Honey Wine

From Geologist to Meadmaker, Gordon Hull's Business Encompasses the Entire Ecological Cycle of Mead. He opened his meadery in Arcata in 1997 and produced his first batch in 1998. Ten years ago, Hull moved his business to Pt. Reyes Station where he could expand his business to encompass beekeeping and horticultural practices.MORE

Stemple Creek Ranch: Poncia Family Raises Grass-Fed and Organic Meat

Twelve years ago, Loren Poncia and his wife Lisa decided they wanted to try to establish an agricultural business of their own. They set out to raise high quality beef.Today, the Poncias run their cattle in Sonoma, Marin, and Humboldt counties on both owned and leased pasture.MORE

Anderson Family Ranch: 159 Years of Sonoma County Agriculture

Twin brothers Henry and John Himbauch bought two 415 acre parcels on Petaluma Hill Road in August of 1948.Nearly 160 years later, Henry Himbauch's great-great-grandson, Henry James Anderson, and his family still operate approximately 300 acres of the original parcel.MORE

Turning Pages

This past year, Sonoma County Farm Bureau has been celebrating the past by recognizing our centennial anniversary during all of the organization's traditional events and regularly through our communication channels. There is a good chance you have recently received a postcard invitation to an event that will mark the conclusion of the year-long centennial recognition.MORE

Anti-Ag Sentiment Cannot Go Unanswered

After four years winemaker and Sonoma County resident David Ramey's proposed Westside Road winery was approved by the Sonoma County Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) on a three to one vote. People move here because of the open space and beautiful agriculture character, but then want to oppose any development that would support Sonoma County's most valuable ag crop.MORE

Marin County Local Costal Plan

The Marin County Farm Bureau has been working with the Marin County Community Development Agency, the Marin County Board of Supervisors and the California Coastal Commission for nearly a decade to update a single planning document - The Marin County Local Coastal Plan.MORE

Trentadue Winery: Supporting Local Agriculture for 58 Years

Leo and Evelyn Trentadue settled on the family land, where Evelyn's Great Grand Father farmed with horse drawn plows. The Trentadues planted their first block of winegrapes in 1962; they planted the Italian varietal, Carignane, alongside the 68 acres already growing on the ranch.MORE

Membership as Leadership

Although a discount on a Ford truck, travel or insurance shouldn't be the main reason you are a member, we recognize the value in providing our members with both local and state discounts. Sonoma County Farm Bureau is the only organization fighting for you on every issue relevant to agriculture.MORE

North Bay Wildfires: How to Help the Agricultural Community

Thank you to everyone who has reached out and asked how to help your rural neighbors in need. Efforts to support our agricultural community within Sonoma County will be an ongoing long-term project. Here's how you can help the agricultural community right now. MORE

Sonoma County Fires: A Declaration

Times like these are etched into the minds and souls of anyone who experiences them. Yes, time will pass, but the memory of the moment will come back in a flash with only the slightest little nudge. October 2017 is now a mark in history for all of us. I can recall a few of these times when memories are crystal clear. MORE

Crane Family: 165 Years of Farming in Santa Rosa

Jennifer Crane is part of the sixth generation farming on family property in Santa Rosa. Many know the family’s historic barn that they drive by on Petaluma Hill Road where they can purchase Crane Melons at the end of the summer and shop for Christmas gifts in the winter. MORE

Agriculture’s Response in a Crisis

Monday, October 9th marked the beginning of the worst firestorm in California history. As parts of Sonoma County were devastated by wildfires, our agriculture community stepped up to protect livestock and property. Sonoma County Farm Bureau is at the forefront of this effort setting up the Agriculture and Rural Lands Resource Town Hall meetingMORE

Theft Prevention

According to the California Peace Officer’s Penal Code (PC) article 487 Grand Theft is a value over $950.00, Farm Crops over $250.00, Fish or Aquaculture Products, Theft from Person, Livestock Theft, Precious Metal Theft and so on. Grand Theft is considered a felony and should be reported to Law Enforcement as soon as possible.MORE

Sonoma County Agriculture Community Shows Strength and Resilience Following North Bay Wildfires

Despite the recent devastation our community experienced, more than 90% of Sonoma County was left unharmed, and in the weeks following the fire, our community has shown we are stronger than ever. Karen Ross, Secretary of CDFA, reiterated this when she spoke at Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s fire recovery town hall meeting.MORE

Celebrating 100 Years of Farm Bureau and the Future of Sonoma County Agriculture

In 1917, a group of Sonoma County farmers banded together with a mission: to unify their voices to protect agriculture for future generations.MORE

Ag Leader to Remember

A mass for Al Gerhardt will be held at St. Phillips Church in Occidental at 1 p.m. on Friday January 12th. A reception will be held at 3 p.m. at Sonoma County Farm Bureau (3589 Westwind Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403). MORE

100 Years of Farm Bureau

Sonoma County Farm Bureau was started in 1917, and this year we’re celebrating the families who maintained their farm in Sonoma County for 100 years. Here are 100 families who have been farming on the same land in Sonoma County for more than 100 years!MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Launches New Website

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is excited to share with you our new website launching in December. Alongside our website, you’ll notice changes to other Farm Bureau materials all of which we see coming together to modernize our organization as we continue to support our members over the next 100 years.MORE

Sweet Potato Casserole with Meringue

This sweet potato casserole is a new twist on the traditional candied sweet potatoes including swapping out meringue for marshmallow topping . The cinnamon in the sweet potatoes balances out the sweetness of the meringue, making a perfect winter side dish to celebrate the season. MORE

Land for Future Generations

Jim Doerksen described his decision to sell his 124 acre ag preserve to LandPaths as selfish. With no children to inherit the land after Doerksen and his wife Betty both pass, he knew the best way for the land to stay in agriculture and educate children about nature would be with LandPaths. However, the Doerksens’ devotion to preserving their land and their dedication to agriculture seems anything but selfish. MORE

From Cowboy Candy to Exotic Meat, Bud’s Custom Meats is a Sonoma County Sensation

Matt Gamba in front of the retail portion of Bud’s Custom MeatsMORE

2016, The Year of Unified Agriculture

With a new year brings new opportunities. After all of the issues we have tackled over the last year I am looking forward to getting some more resolved and hopefully behind us. I think 2016 is the year a unified agriculture will be as important as ever for Sonoma County. MORE

Sphere of Influence

Anyone who has been involved with leadership in Farm Bureau above and beyond the essential support of being a member knows that Farm Bureau has historically been looked upon to be the voice of agriculture as a general farm organization. MORE

Two Rock Elementary Teaches the Importance of Agriculture

Teachers Pat Godoski, left, and Jan Brogan have taken over the garden and are developing curriculum that teaches students about agriculture.MORE

Renewable Energy for a Cleaner Future

Nathan Kinsey, Sonoma Clean Power’s Account Executive outside their office in Downtown Santa Rosa.MORE

Spicy Thai Vegetable Soup

There’s no better way to start off your new year's resolution to eat healthier than with this spicy, hearty soup. We added root vegetables like parsnips and carrots that are in season this time of year, and they have a lot of surprising health benefits. Due to being the root of the plant, they store many vitamins, antioxidants, and are a great source of fiber. MORE

Steve Reese Honored with Spirit of Sonoma Award

Steve Reese was honored with the Spirit of Sonoma County Award. Susan Gorin presented the awardMORE

Bamboo Sourcery: Sonoma County’s Hidden Garden

West of Sebastopol is a seven and a half acre piece of property on a very steep slope. But the crop growing on the hillside of an old quarry isn’t what you’d expect. Jennifer York and her husband, Joe Ruffatto, are growing bamboo. The business started in the late 70’s when York’s father, Gerald Bol, started collecting bamboo plants as a hobby. MORE

Deadline for Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship Applications is April 8

This year the Farm Bureau Foundation will award more than $71,000 in scholarships to Sonoma County students pursuing higher education at a four year college, junior college or vocational school within an agricultural related field.MORE

Groundwater Research & Legislation

While most Californians have understood for some time the need to manage the drawdown of surface water few have understood the same sustainable principles regarding the extraction of groundwater also hold true. Historically, groundwater management in California was not a difficult task, but demands from drought and modern pressures underscore the need to improve how we manage our groundwater reserves.MORE

Agriculture Education – Making a Connection

As you read this month’s Farm News, we are wrapping up the 27th Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest. Hopefully, you secured your seat at a table on the afternoon and evening of February 6th! I have been reminded several times since arriving early last fall about the attraction and importance of this event, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you. MORE

On Farm Pickup From a Nontraditional Farming Couple

Seth and Sarah James are a husband and wife team who run Open Field Farm in Petaluma. If you didn’t know their story, it would be hard to determine they didn’t have an agriculture background. Seth is from New York and Sarah is from the Bay Area, neither of them grew up onMORE

Jackson Family Wines Chooses Farm Bureau Premium Membership

Katie Jackson is a second generation winegrower and the Vice President of External Affairs and Sustainability for Jackson Family Wines (JFW). Her father and mother, Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, founded the family wine business in 1982.MORE

Valentine Spritz Cookies

These Spritz cookies are tiny little hearts with big flavor. Spritz cookies are traditionally made during the winter holidays as a splurge but we have transformed them into our Valentine treats. For Spritz cookies the dough is put into a cookie press and different shapes can be easily made. MORE

‘Life lessons’ on the ranch shape woman’s policy career

Andrea Krout grew up on a Sonoma County ranch. Her interest in preserving open space and maintaining opportunities for young farmers propelled her into politics, and she now works as district director for a county supervisor.MORE

Winegrowers Present Survey on Impressions of the Wine Industry

At their annual Dollars and Sense seminar on January 14th, the Sonoma County Winegrowers presented a survey on the impressions of the wine industry in Sonoma County. The survey, commissioned by the winegrowers, was conducted by FM3, a public opinion and research strategy firm. FM3 conducted 401 telephone interviews with registered voters in Sonoma County between July 24 – 30, 2015. The margin of sampling error was 4.9%.MORE

More Than 1,500 Attend Sold Out Crab Feed

Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s 27th annual crab feed sold out with more than two weeks to go to until the event. Benefitting agricultural education, more than 1,500 people attended the event on February 6 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest started with a local food and wine reception before moving into dinner and later the program.MORE

Deadline for Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship Applications is April 8

This year the Farm Bureau Foundation will award more than $71,000 in scholarships to Sonoma County students pursuing higher education at a four year college, junior college or vocational school within an agricultural related field.MORE

The Uncertain Future of Water

Sonoma County Farm Bureau recently concluded our Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest. It was another huge success with a record crowd. Hats off to the entire staff of SCFB to their success and hard work to put such a large event on. As many of you know the local crab season has been a complete disaster for our local fishing industry.MORE

Is All Farming Good?

What an amazing place Sonoma County is, and we are fortunate enough to be able to it call home. We are blessed with a Mediterranean micro climate allowing local agriculture to produce an abundance and diversity of fresh food, in some cases nearly all year. This is certainly a treasured asset we have inherited and from which we will continue to derive benefits. MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Water Committee Met to Discuss Medical Marijuana Cultivation & Regulation

Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Water Committee met to discuss impending regulations on Medical Marijuana (AB 243, AB 266 and SB 643). The new state law now mandates that each county develop and adopt ordinances for licensing and land use.MORE

Bevill Vineyard Management Supports Sonoma County Agriculture

Duff Bevill, founder of Bevill Vineyard Management (BVM), moved to Sonoma County in 1973. He grew up in Southern California, right outside the Los Angeles city line in a newly developed suburb that had previously been prime farmland.MORE

Nutty Tacos

These tacos may be one of the best recipes for fooling your taste buds! It pretty much breaks the laws of tasting physics, because we transform raw walnuts into… taco meat! The walnuts are covered in spices so they taste and resemble ground beef. MORE

Geyserville Tractor Supply Brings Equipment & Parts Back to Northern Sonoma County

Geyserville Tractor Supply opened in April 2015, close to one year ago. It is operated by Terry and Justin Fischer, a father son team who have more than 44 years of combined experience.MORE

36th Annual Ag Days Gets Students Up-Close and Personal with Agriculture

More than 5,700 people attended Ag Days, including 4,200 elementary age children. Ag Days, a two day event in March put on the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, brought the farm to children as they flocked to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds to see agriculture in action, up close and personal. MORE

Duckhorn Wine Company, a Napa-based Winery, Is Making an Impression on Sonoma County

Duckhorn Wine Company was founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976. Their first vintage in 1978 focused on single varietal wines, specifically Merlot and Cabernet.MORE

Homelessness and Water Quality

It’s time for me to write another article about water. The good news is this month as I write this we have a full soil moisture profile and everything is well saturated. We are in great position going into spring when it comes to having water to grow crops and water livestock. It’s a big improvement over the last couple years, so things are looking up. The water issue I get to rant about this month is water quality.MORE

Farm Bureau Supports Sonoma County Agriculture

Agriculture education and public policy are two of the primary purposes of why members support the work of Farm Bureau in Sonoma County. These topics range from our local Ag Days held in March to working on forming ag friendly legislation around the county. Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Ag Days are a great example of the commitment of our agriculture community banding together to share the story of farming and ranching as well as educating teachers, parents and students about the original source of their food and fiber. MORE

Dragonfly Farm: A Healdsburg Mainstay for 26 Years

Dora Brandau, Bonnie Z, Margi Getzloff and Carlisle Degischer of Dragonfly Floral. Brandau and Getzloff started out as a shopgirl and delivery driver, but are now both talented floral designers at Dragonfly Floral.MORE

Ag Days 2016 Class and Awards Dinner Photos

Did your student or class attend Ag Days? Take the opportunity to preview photos of both the Ag Days Photo booth and the Ag Days Awards Dinner. All photos are available for free download from Sonoma County Farm Bureau.MORE

Springtime Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Try this delicious Springtime Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad for your next garden party lunch. The fresh tomatoes along with the crunch of the cucumber pairs nicely with the light and bright vinaigrette making this dish an instant favorite.MORE

Young Farmers and Rancher Sporting Clays Shoot – Sold Out

Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers and Ranchers have sold their last entry in the Sporting Clays shoot for 2016, however Sponsorships are still available for the event. Click on the link below and make a purchase to support the committees efforts. 100% of the proceeds from the event go to the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.MORE

Hughes Dairy Focuses on Cattle Health and Land Management

Richard Hughes is a first generation dairy farmer. It’s not something you often hear, most Sonoma County dairy farmers are several generations in.MORE

Image Tree Service, Stemmed from a Young Man’s Dream, Is Now a Successful and Bountiful Company

Jeff Kowell, owner of Image Tree Service, set his sights on being an arborist and starting his own company when he was a charismatic, determined and hardworking 24 year old. Working for a myriad of local tree service companies, he traveled from one to the next with hopes of gleaning all the experience and information he could.MORE

Minimum Wage and Ag Overtime Bills

By now I am sure you have all heard of CA SB 3, the minimum wage bill signed by Governor Brown that raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. This date is delayed by employers of 25 people or fewer until 2023. It also builds in annual cost of living increases starting in 2024. That is not the only bill working its way through the State Legislature, more on that later.MORE

Finding Your Voice

Are you one of the millions of viewers who recently experienced the final season of the television program American Idol? If you are not, each year for the past fifteen years anyone who believed they could perform well vocally could show up and audition at various cities across the country to hopefully be selected as a contestant.MORE

Premium Members Gather to Discuss Sonoma County Agriculture

On April 20th, Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Premium Members gathered at Francis Ford Coppola Winery for a luncheon. More than 40 top agricultural leaders in Sonoma County gathered near the pool with sweeping views of Geyserville and Alexander Valley on a sunny and 75° day.MORE

Maddie Hansen Takes Home Top Talent Award in Miss Sonoma County Pageant

Maddie Hansen is an 18 year old senior at Santa Rosa High School. Hansen, who has an agriculture background, recently competed in the Miss Sonoma County PageMORE

Ribboned Beet and Carrot Salad with Quick Pickled Red Onion and Jicama

It has been such a beautiful spring in the north bay! We’ve been having the perfect combination of rain and shine; plus, some of our favorite vegetables are finally coming into season. Inspired by what’s fresh at the farmers market, we set out to make a colorful salad that is perfect for spring.MORE

Farming for the Future

Sonoma County’s agricultural diversity and stewardship is the direct result of the hard work of farmers, ranchers and the agricultural organizations. This publication showcases six landowners who through their conservation practices have fostered greater levels of sustainability.MORE

Six Generations of Agriculture

Like many multigenerational farming families, the Mauritson Family’s story starts nearly 150 years ago with the great great grandfather of Thom Mauritson. Sven Parker Hallengren, known as SP, emigrated from Sweden, landing at Ellis Island in New York before coming west. SP settled in the Dry Creek Valley raising sheep, growing grapes and making wine to ship back to Sweden. For the next 100 years, the family continued on, but everything changed in 1968. MORE

SCFB Opposes Transgenic Contamination Prevention Ordinance

On May 24, Farm Bureau Directors Norm Yenni, Tito Sasaki, Steve Dutton and Jeff Carlton testified at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting to advocate for the Supervisors putting the GMO legislation on the ballot instead of adopting it outright. The Supervisors voted 5-0 to place it on the November ballot despite testimony from the anti-GMO group asking them to adopt it and not allowing the voters to have a say.MORE

SCFB at Work in Sonoma County

So as you read this, I am three quarters of the way through my term as County President. For any of you that do not know what the term is, it is a maximum of two one year terms. It has been an exciting experience and with harvest, holidays and all the activities in the fall, it’s going to be over before I know it. That said, we are tackling some major issues, as always. There never seems to be a dull moment at Farm Bureau, and I wanted to update you with a list of what we are up to.MORE

Burgess Lumber: 45 Years of Commitment to Sonoma County Lumber Industry

Orin Burgess started Burgess Lumber in 1972 with his brother, Lee. Originally from Trinity County, the pair began selling mobile home set-up materials in Santa Rosa before transitioning to a retail lumber business in the early 80’s.MORE

Rochioli Vineyards and Winery: Award Winning Wines and a Long Sonoma County History

Rochioli Vineyards and Winery is a family run business operated by a father and son team. At 82, Joe Rochioli still gets up every morning and heads to the field to give his workers instructions. Joe’s son Tom has become the principal winemaker and together they are producing top notch award winning wines.MORE

Farm Bureau Foundation Awards More Than $135,000 in Scholarships to Students Studying Agriculture in Sonoma and Marin Counties

Farm Bureau Foundation Awards More Than $135,000 in Scholarships to Students Studying Agriculture in Sonoma and Marin CountiesMORE

Easy Chilled Red Pepper Soup

Time for chilled soup and this one is a great starter for any BBQ this summer. The almond milk and toasted almonds on top add a nutty flavor to the sweetness of the peppers. Easy to prepare and you can make it up to 2 days ahead. Makes 4 cups of soup.MORE

Tim Tesconi Inducted Into Farm Bureau Hall of Fame

Throughout Sonoma County and beyond, Tim Tesconi is a common name in agricultural households. Many know Tesconi through the last 10 years he spent serving as community relations coordinator and then executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, and many more know him through his 33 year career writing about North Bay agriculture for The Press Democrat.MORE

Finding Your Voice: Advocacy

Event planning, assisting members, agricultural and continuing education, communicating information and policy advocacy are the largest time occupiers for the staff of your organization. With the dedicated support of your volunteer leaders and committee members your Farm Bureau team remains engaged on several fronts. MORE


In recent discussions with different people at the County of Sonoma, it sounds like there is some concern about the county’s use of glyphosate (Round-up) as part of its roadside weed control program. It seems recently the glyphosate has been under more attack than ever as a potential carcinogen and there has been lots of bad press around that.MORE

Cheri and Phil Marcucci Create Documentary on Family History and Sonoma County Agriculture

Both Cheri and Phil Marcucci come from agricultural families. They were married in 1965 and purchased Phil’s family’s property from his grandparents in 1973. Phil’s family originally grew grapes before the prohibition era and later switched to apples. Cheri also came from a family that grew apples.MORE

Michelle McClure Hired As Membership Development and Advertising Coordinator

Michelle McClure, a member of the dairy family from Inverness, has been hired as Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Membership Development and Advertising Coordinator. McClure is a recent graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and a past intern of Sonoma County Farm Bureau.MORE

Syar Industries and Their Presence in the Sonoma County Agriculture Industry

Syar Industries was started in 1937 by CM (Tony) Syar. Now owned by his sons Jim and Denton Syar, the aggregate business has operations in ten counties throughout Northern California. Although their primary business is providing aggregate materials, Syar is also heavily involved in the agriculture industry.MORE

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Appetizer

We were inspired to make these after picking bags full of perfectly ripe apricots at our Grandmas. These are great to make as a starter for any outside BBQ because they’re incredibly easy (and fun!) to make. When choosing apricots, they should be completely peach colored but not too soft as they need to stand up to the grill. We hope you enjoy!MORE

Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Educates the Community about Predator Prevention

The Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue (SCWR) was established in 1981 by a group of women concerned about the welfare of wildlife in Sonoma County. They hired their first staff member, Executive Director Doris Duncan, in 2000 and have continued to grow since.MORE

Love of the Land honors Stewards of the Land

More than 1,000 people gathered at Saralee’s Grove and Richard’s Vineyard in Windsor on July 15th to honor stewards of the land at Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s annual Love of the Land. The event started at 4 p.m. with a Sonoma Grown Reception. Vendors offered award winning wines from throughout Sonoma County as well as food prepared by local chefs.MORE

Food Security

If you are paying attention to what topics are important lately, of course, there are the most recently completed national party conventions and the accompanying policy platforms that will be debated over the next three months. In November, we will elect a President and Congress who will guide our national and domestic interests into the future. In all of this election activity though, there has been little attention focused on the importance of agriculture in our society and its contribution to our national security. MORE

Giving Voice of the Citizen Farmer

Not too far in our distant past the majority of American citizens understood their reliance on agriculture. Indeed, for the majority of our history, urban dwellers and rural communities alike felt an intimate connection with the land.MORE

Julie and Tom Atwood: Protecting the Future of Sonoma County Agriculture

Julie and Tom Atwood are the owners of the Atwood Ranch, a 70 acre parcel of land in Glen Ellen. Twenty of those 70 acres are planted with wine grapes. Additionally, on the property the Atwoods have five horses, a few cattle, and many acres of open and riparian corridor space. MORE

Hagemann Ranch Trout Farm, A family Fishing Tradition

Pam Hagemann has always had a passion for fishing. As a child, she remembers her grandparents taking her to hatcheries and fishing out of the back seat of their Cadillac. Growing up, Hagemann often went fishing at her family’s cabin near Shasta, where her grandmother once caught a record breaking fish. MORE

Sonoma County Fair Lamb Auction Breaks Records

The lamb auction broke records at the Sonoma County Fair on July 24th as the top selling lamb brought $80/lb. The Reserve Champion Black Lamb sold eighth in the sale and was exhibited by Karina Lochner. The previous record was set by Laurin Murnin of Live Oak 4-H in 2012 when her lamb was purchased for $55/lb by G&G Market. MORE

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad

There is so much fresh and delicious corn out there right now, and this salad takes full advantage of that! We love to serve this at a barbeque or bring it as a side dish to any sort of outdoor party. Plus, its great warm, or cold!MORE

Saralee and Richard’s Barn at the Fairgrounds

Great news, after breaking ground in September, 2015, the Saralee and Richard's Barn was dedicated on July 21st prior to the opening of this year's Sonoma County Fair! When Saralee Kunde was the President of the Sonoma County Fair Board of Directors in 2012, she created the Sonoma County Fair Foundation.MORE

Long Horns and Lean Beef

Eight years ago David and Kristine Beck took a family vacation to the Grand Canyon where David saw a large set of horns in a bar. The horns continued to come up in conversation as something that would be great to have over their mantel, and Kristine describes David as having had “horn envy.” When they got back, Kristine looked into buying a set of horns for her husband, but shipping such a large package proved difficultMORE

Measure M Is Back…Still Bad Policy

I am confident that many civic-minded citizens are aware that election season is now building toward November 8, the last day to participate. Labor Day is the traditional day that campaigns begin to increase their activity to gain support for a candidate or a cause. California is one of 26 states, 18 of which lie west of the Mississippi River, that also allow for initiative rights for their citizens. MORE

Marijuana and Its Effect on Ag

It’s that time of year again for many of us to start ramping up for harvest and working toward bringing in our crops. For many people it will be just another day as the cows will still need milking and eggs still need collecting from our chickens. But for those of us with grapes, apples, and other annual and perennial crops it’s that short period of time that all of the work we have done all year comes to a head, and we find whether mother-nature will let us be profitable or not. One of those crops will now be marijuana.MORE

102 Awards Presented at Awards Dinner

Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County and Sonoma County Fair hosted the Awards Dinner on August 5, 2016. More than 700 exhibitors, parents, teachers and club leaders attended the event. One-hundred and two awards were presented to fair livestock exhibitors showing both breeding and market projects. MORE

Joe Judge and Giving Back to the Community

Joe Judge and his wife Gail live in Bennett Valley where they have 10 acres of grapes and raise beef for their consumption. Judge is the current President of the Bennett Valley Grape Growers and a past commissioner for the Sonoma County Winegrowers. He works for Wells Fargo Advisors as the Senior Vice President, joking that he spends ¾ of his time there and ½ of his time working in his vineyard. MORE

Kale Caesar Salad

We love Caesar Salad and using baby kale instead of Romaine gives it a boost of healthy nutrients. We also like to toss any leftover dressing with grilled vegetables. Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and with this exciting recipe you will find a great new way to incorporate it into your diet!MORE

Life on the Farm at the Gravenstein Apple Fair

The Gravenstein Apple Fair was held on the second weekend in August drawing an estimated 15,000 guests – 7,000 on Saturday and 8,000 on Sunday. The Apple Fair, started in 1910, is produced by Sonoma County Farm Trails and held at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol.MORE

Novavine Grapevine Nursery Grows More Than Six Million Vines Per Year

Novavine is a leading provider of young grapevines, grafting more than 6.5 million vines a year. Novavine also sold more than 50,000 olive trees in the last year. The grapevine nursery was founded by Milton and Ellen Heath in 1996 and incorporated in 1997.MORE

Santa Rosa Junior College Ag Department Hires Two Professors

The Santa Rosa Junior College Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources will begin the fall semester with new full-time professors/program coordinators. Joel Grogan will be filling an Environmental Horticulture position formerly held by PJ LoCoco who retired in December 2015. Amy Housman will be filling an Animal Science position which has been vacant for three years.MORE

Foggy River Farm: Sharing Agriculture with the Community

Foggy River Farm, a CSA in the Russian River Valley, is the culmination of one couple’s dream to be self-sustaining and share what it’s like to grow food with other people. Emmett and Lynda Hopkins are the owners of Foggy River Farm, a CSA (community supported agriculture) they have been building since 2009. Emmett grew up on the Russian River Valley property outside of Healdsburg which has been in his family for three generations.MORE

I Farm, I Ranch, I Vote

Well everyone…it is decision time again. In a little more than a month from now the election season will have been completed for another two years. Do I hear some cheering? Hopefully, everyone will exercise their right as United States citizens and either show up on November 8th at the polls or have returned their vote by mail ballot. A request for a vote by mail ballot needs to be received by the county by the November 1st deadline. Either way, please be a part of the process as I am sure someone elder in your family most likely has offered, “If you do not vote, you have no reason to complain.”MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Opposes Measure M

Measure M is an unnecessary, poorly drafted measure that won’t do anything to benefit Sonoma County residents or make our food safer. Instead, by creating an arbitrary ban only in our county, Measure M will hurt local family farmers and ranchers, jeopardize our local economy that depends heavily on agriculture, and cost tens to hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in new bureaucracy and red tape to implement. Please vote no. MORE

George Petersen Insurance Agency: Supporting Sonoma County Agriculture

George Petersen Insurance Agency was founded in 1935 and opened their Sonoma County offices in 1975. George Petersen Insurance is one of the largest independently owned insurance agencies in Northern California and is committed to offering quality insurance in Sonoma County and beyond. MORE

YF&R “Field of Dreams” Meeting at Balletto Vineyards & Winery in Santa Rosa

The September Monthly meeting for Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers and Ranchers was a very successful turnout where Balletto Vineyards & Winery in Santa Rosa hosted us. Hidden behind the crush pad was our meeting location for a casual game of slow-pitch softball at the Balletto’s baseball diamond – The Field of Dreams. MORE

Pumpkin Pepita Muffins

Fall is finally here, and it’s our all-time favorite season! The leaves are turning, the weather is getting chilly, and the mornings are especially foggy (and beautiful!). Not to mention, your favorite pumpkin themed treats are showing up everywhere! We wanted to add to the fun by creating these delicious and easy to make muffins.MORE

Meet Sonoma County’s Newest FFA Advisors and Agriculture Instructors

As the 2016 school year begins, Sonoma County has five new agriculture instructors. Two of the FFA advisors are continuing their careers having previously taught at Sonoma County schools, two advisors are new to teaching bringing professional experience from the Sonoma County agriculture industry and one advisor from the Central Valley will begin his first year teaching in Sonoma County. MORE

Ettamarie Peterson Sonoma County Bee Queen

When Ettamarie Peterson was growing up, she never dreamed she’d be living on a farm with cows, horses and bees. As a city girl living in downtown Sacramento, she just wanted to become a school teacher. Peterson did become a school teacher, and 18 years ago she retired from a 37 year career teaching.MORE

Technology and Farming: How One Tech CEO’s Passion for Sonoma County Land Bloomed into Award Winning Olive Oil

Ridgely Evers was born in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Palo Alto, Calif. as a teenager. He has spent the last 49 years writing code in the Silicon Valley, often known as “the guy who created QuickBooks”. Now, Evers is also the driving force behind DaVero, known around the world for their high-quality olive oil and Italian wines. MORE

Impacting Community

One year ago in October I began serving as Executive Director for Sonoma County Farm Bureau. At that time I could never have imagined what was in store for the next year. Now looking back over the past twelve months and absorbing everything that has occurred in my professional and personal life, I am convinced there is a higher power in control leading all of us to opportunities and equipping us to face challenges that accompany our decisions and actions. I am thankful for all of the support that I have received from the exceptional staff and leadership of this organization.MORE

New Home for Farm Bureau

It is with great excitement that I can say Farm Bureau is has found a new home. It has taken years of discussion and research but we are proud to say we will be moving our offices to 3589 Westwind Boulevard near the Sonoma County Airport. I want to thank everyone for all of the effort that went into researching our office options and who have helped to lay the path for the future of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau.MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Opposes Measure M

Measure M is an unnecessary, poorly drafted measure that won’t do anything to benefit Sonoma County residents or make our food safer. Instead, by creating an arbitrary ban only in our county, Measure M will hurt local family farmers and ranchers, jeopardize our local economy that depends heavily on agriculture, and cost tens to hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in new bureaucracy and red tape to implement. Please vote no. MORE

LeBallister’s: A Family Owned Seed and Fertilizer Company with More Than 50 Years of Experience

During LeBallister’s Seed and Fertilizer’s busy time of the year, customers can find three generations working for the family-run business. The business is primarily managed by Kelly Boyer with help from her father Tom Hendrickson who started the business. Tom has taken a step back from the day to day operations especially during the off-season. Kelly’s son Nathan also helps out with the family business part-time between his college classes. MORE

Butternut Squash Soup

This butternut squash soup is our first course at Thanks Giving dinner and it’s always a big hit but is just as yummy all winter long. We roast the squash the day before to save time and it’s ready to chop and add to the soup. Tip: Roasting the squash whole makes it much easier to peel and seed.MORE

Impact of Grazing on Endangered Species

Through the 1980’s, 1990’s, and into the early 2000’s, efforts to conserve threatened and endangered (special status) species on western rangelands often meant removing livestock ranching. Research findings, demonstration results, and failed conservation efforts in recent years involving endangered species have supported the continuation of livestock ranching and the reintroduction of grazing to some rangelands that were “protected” through grazing removal.MORE

From High School Project to Full Time Business, Anthony Bordessa Now Has More Than 3,700 Ducks

Anthony Bordessa has 3,700 ducks. At 23 years old, he is the owner of the Washoe Valley Duck Farm, a company selling duck eggs throughout the Bay Area. Bordessa’s interest in the poultry industry began in 2009 while he was working for the McIsaac Dairy. It was the summer of his junior year in high school, and the McIsaac’s were raising chickens alongside their dairy cattle. MORE

Was Rural America Angry?

It has been very interesting to read about, watch and listen to events as they unfolded regarding the results from last month’s Election Day. It has also been both somewhat understandable and equally disheartening to witness the level of unrest that accompanied the presidential results, but as anyone who has participated in the political system knows, elections tend to bring out the extreme differing positions on both ends of the political spectrum.MORE

A Farewell Thank You

I can’t believe 2 years has already gone by as Farm Bureau president. I’m not sure if time just flies by or if there have been so many issues thrown at us recently that it just exacerbates the feeling. Either way, the time has flown by and this is my last Farm News article. I wasn’t sure what I would write this article about as there are so many issues to write about and so many people to thank, but I really think the most important thing right now is the future of Farm Bureau and how that will affect our voice to protect our property rights and ability to farm. MORE

Centenarian Fred Bollinger Honored by Sonoma County Farm Bureau

On Wednesday, October 12th 2016, Fred Bollinger celebrated a milestone day. Bollinger turned 100 years old, officially able to take on the title of centenarian. Bollinger has lived in Sebastopol his entire life spending the majority of his life on a farm three miles from the city’s center. Bollinger’s great grandfather emigrated from Switzerland in the 1800’s and settled in Kansas. Bollinger’s father, David King, moved to California in the late 1800’s. MORE

Sonoma County Airport Express: Supporting the Community and Agriculture

Sonoma County Airport Express is a fleet of 21 buses shuttling passengers between Sonoma County and San Francisco and Oakland Airports. The company was started in 1980, originally carrying passengers to and from SFO in vans and minibuses. The company expanded to service Oakland Airport in the late 90’s and now has nine trips to OAK every day of the year and an additional 19 to SFO. MORE

Cooley Ranch: 19,000 Acre Ag Preserve Adjacent to Lake Sonoma is Farm Bureau’s Newest Premium Member

Cooley Ranch is a 19,000 acre property in northern Sonoma County extending from the headwaters of Lake Sonoma to Southern Mendocino County. The property was protected by an easement with the Sonoma County Open Space District in 2001, but it is still privately held by the Cooley Family. MORE

Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes, Lady Apples and Cranberries

The weather has started getting a little chilly, and now is the time when we start dreaming about all of our favorite warm and hearty holiday meals. Instead of making the same old thing, we wanted to truly call in all of the flavors of the season into one dish. This savory and tangy braised beef is the perfect thing to heat you up on a cold winter's night. MORE

Celebrating Bruce Campbell

Longtime Sheep Rancher and Agriculture Leader Died Dec. 1MORE

Changes and Challenges

I am proud to introduce myself as the new president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Fifteen years ago my friend and neighbor John Bucher got me involved. I joined the board and never expected that I would eventually be elected to the presidency. I have seen a lot of changes in our County and at the Farm Bureau over the years, but I believe the best years are still ahead of us.MORE

Thank You Tito!

Sonoma Valley grape grower Tito Sasaki, a remarkable, one-of-a-kind leader, has completed a whirlwind two-year term as president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the county’s largest and most influential agricultural organization. Tito is taking a deep breath after spending the last 730 days being the face, eyes and ears of Farm Bureau, volunteering his time to do what’s right for the organization. MORE

Rodney Strong Vineyards Sign on as Premium Farm Bureau Member

A passion for Sonoma County wines and preserving agriculture drives Rodney Strong’s team and Farm Bureau membershipMORE

2015 YF&R Leadership Team

At the Final meeting of the YF&R for 2014 the year-end report was given and officer elections were held. This was a very exciting time for all as over 20 members were nominated for leadership positions. The final tallies were counted and reported for the 2015 Officer Team for the Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers & Ranchers MORE

Chicken & Mushroom Stew

There are certain foods that you will never forget…one of mine is my Aunt Betty’s dumplings! I remember going to the ‘Hunting Ranch’ during deer season…I’ve never really been a hunter, but I’ve always loved food and my aunt’s dumplings were a favorite of mine. MORE

New Seminars and Trainings

New classes have been added to the ongoing series seminars, trainings and workshops for agricultural and related industries. Held at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau the classes range in topic from CPR to Foreman Management Training and much more. MORE

John Azevedo Takes the Reins as President of Sonoma County Farm Bureau

John Azevedo, a fourth generation Sonoma County rancher who is the director of grower relations at Jackson Family Wines based in Santa Rosa, is the new president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the county’s oldest, largest and most influential agricultural organization.MORE

Range to Table: Local Beef

About 350 cattle call the Oak Ridge Angus ranch in Calistoga. home. They graze the pastures that have been in the LaFranchi family since 1912. It is fitting that a place with so much history is also home to history in the making. Here cattle roam with a life-changing purpose: to feed low-income families in Sonoma County.MORE

Petaluma’s Circle Oak Ranch, Riding High on Equine Rehabilitation

Ron Malone was given his first horse when he was twelve and while his interest in horses never waned, it wasn’t until the early eighties when he was 35 that he started riding every day, revitalizing body and spirit in the most natural way. As a high-profile lawyer living in Piedmont, riding a horse wasn’t the most practical or convenient way to unwind after a contentious day in court. MORE

Going, Going Gone

Fair auctioneer Louie Ricci, one of Sonoma County’s agricultural icons, died in the last weeks of 2014, adding to last year’s loss of legendary leaders in farming, ranching and the Sonoma County Fair. Louie, a respected judge of man and beast, was a folk hero to those of us who grew up in Sonoma County and spent part of the summer learning lessons for life in the barns and show rings at the Sonoma County Fair.MORE

We Heart Cooking

Lilly and Audrey Andrews, known as the Twin Chefs throughout Sonoma County and beyond, have turned their passion for cooking into most people’s dream by the age of 13. The twins recently published their first cookbook and completed a book tour across the country.MORE

Horse Owners Love Your Neighbor

Love your neighbor sounds good, but when one has a neighbor who complains to Sonoma County PRMD (Permit & Resource Management Department), Fish & Wildlife, or Regional Water Quality it is sometimes hard to think “Love”. The complaining citizen now knows how to get the different agencies’ attention. I’m sure you have heard these before: too much dust, flies, smells, and manure issues.MORE

Simple Celery Soup with Chimichurri Sauce

If you love celery as much as I do, you are going to love this simple soup. The recipe was born after my holiday ravioli making. You see, I only use the celery leaves in my ravioli recipe. I’m left with an overabundance of celery…its soup season and I’m on a health kick…sooooo, here ya go. P.S. My husband loves it too.MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Hosts Successful Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest

As 1,400 guests walked through the doors of the Grace Pavilion at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, they were greeted with a four foot maroon anchor made of balloons encompassed with a gold chain, a room full of lit up trees and dozens of award winning food and wine vendors ready to fill glasses and pass out samples. MORE

One Long Rollercoaster Ride: The Feed Store Reopens in Sebastopol’s Historic Frizelle Enos Building

When Stacey and Tony Renati stood watching the Frizelle Enos feed store go up in flames what stood out was the overwhelming community support: the whole town seemed to be hugging and crying over the place the Renatis had worked for the last 15 years. That was the moment the Renatis understood what the store meant to the community and knew they needed to reopen it. MORE

Russian River Frost Protection

Now is the time of year when the farm teams takes note of the first signs of renewed life in the vineyard – budbreak. Largely due to the lack of rain, this milestone is making an early appearance this year. This event for Sonoma County grapegrowers is also a reminder that it is time to begin monitoring water use during frost events and reporting that activity by submitting a Water Demand Management Program (WDMP) to the State Water Resources Control Board.MORE

Connecting Kids and Ag

For those of us who grew up on a farm, it’s hard to imagine that a third grade kid in Sonoma County has never touched the fuzzy hairs on a piglet’s snout or heard the peep of a baby chick. These are experiences essential for any kid, particularly, one living in agriculture rich Sonoma County where farms and ranches shape the working landscape and propel the economy. But these days, urban kids, several generations removed from the farm and living in suburban Santa Rosa or Rohnert Park, have no grounding when it comes to cows and sows.MORE

Committed to Community, Balletto Vineyards Joins as Premium Farm Bureau Member

"Our philosophy is growing a business that benefits our employees and the community,” said John Balletto, owner of the award winning Balletto Vineyards. Motivated by his commitment to community, Balletto recently signed on as a Premium Farm Bureau Member. Balletto feels that the $1,000 membership level is an insignificant cost relative to the benefits the agriculture community receives from the work the Farm Bureau does. MORE

16th Annual Sonoma County Pruning Championship

“Uno! Dos! Vamanos!” said Ray Sanchez to the eight finalists competing for a coveted champion title. Sanchez served as Master of Ceremonies at the 16th annual Sonoma County Pruning Championship held at Shone Farm on February 13th. The contest was put on by the Sonoma County Winegrowers and started with 47 registered competitors who were broken into four heats of 11-12 pruners.MORE

Johnny Walker’s Fantasy

Honestly, what’s Butterscotch pudding without the Scotch?! This is my own creation of Butterscotch Pudding layered with Scotch infused Mousse and sprinkled with Smoked Almonds. The Smoked Almonds not only add texture, but that hint of saltiness that just…well, FaNtAsiZe for a moment. This will make 9-½ cup servings. Note: I like to use the cute little 4 oz. jars.MORE

Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County 2015 Scholarship Applications

Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County will award more than $60,000 in scholarships this year to deserving students studying agriculture or an agricultural-related field at a four year college, junior college or vocational school. The Farm Bureau Foundation’s mission is to encourage – and financially assist – young people for rewarding careers in agriculture or a closely related agricultural field including the farm-to-table culinary arts.MORE

More than 4,500 Students Attend Ag Days

More than 4,500 students in Kindergarten through 6th grade attended Ag Days at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on March 17th and 18th. This event combines more than 30 exhibitors who donate their time to educate today’s students about agriculture. Ranging from live chickens, calves to pet and horse demonstrations to information about milk, soil, power and healthy living, every aspect of Sonoma County agriculture was represented. MORE

Bee Friendly: Singing Frogs Farm Your Local No-Till CSA

It’s clear Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser love what they do. Paul pulls weeds as he talks about his no-till farming practices and his wife Elizabeth wipes dirt off their five-year-old daughter Anna’s face. Their son, Lucas, 7, produces a plant to show his family before running back toward the row crops. MORE

Russian River Frost Protection

In September of 2014, Governor Brown signed legislation mandating that local agencies, across the State of California, create Sustainable Groundwater Management Plans. How did this happen? Well, all the wishing, hoping and even praying by farmers wasn’t enough to gather the storm clouds needed to end California’s four-year drought.MORE

Growing Farms and Farmers

Lynn Steindorf Esposti of Healdsburg knows the pitfalls of farming but says the urge to farm is in her DNA, compelling her to grow crops and livestock against all the odds. After all, Lynn’s ancestors have farmed for at least eight generations in Europe, California and here in Sonoma County where she grew up raising hogs as a 4-H Club member in Healdsburg. Farming is something she yearns to do too, even if it’s on a part-time basis, working around her full-time job as a business professional.MORE

Korbel Signs on as Farm Bureau’s Newest Premium Member

Started by three brothers in 1882, Korbel has been a locally owned family business for more than 130 years. The Heck family purchased the property from the Korbel Brothers in 1954, keeping the operation and ownership local. MORE

SMaSHeD Cauliflower & Spud Casserole

I’m not sure what I Luv most about this recipe…the fact that it comes together so easily and can be made ahead of time or that it tastes soooo delicious!!! This would make a great side dish for Easter dinner, pairing nicely with a Leg of Lamb or Easter Ham. MORE

Experienced Winemaker Steve Bell Establishes Campana Ranch Winery

Bell started his winery in 2011, but he wasn’t new to the wine industry. He’s been making wine since 1980 and has extensive experience in the industry. After working for Charles Krug and Freemark Abbey, Bell started as a Vineyard Manager for Beringer Vineyards in 1990 where he worked until 2009. Between 2009 and 2011, Bell was a private vineyard consultant, but this ended when he and his wife, Sher, made the decision to open their own winery. MORE

Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery, Growing Environmental Awareness

It could easily be called the Institution of Organic & Sustainable Farming & Gardening, a revered center of learning that upholds an environmental ethic while helping growers produce crops the natural way. But, of course, everyone knows it as Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery, the iconic farm and garden business on a leafy campus along Gravenstein Highway North in Sebastopol. MORE

Building Bridges: Paul Martin’s Service to the Agriculture Industry

From dairy farmer to Deputy Director for the governor, Paul Martin has done it all. Martin has been unsuccessful in retiring since 2012 with his first retirement lasting 53 days and his second in 2014 lasting 127 days. Martin’s failure to retire shows just how dedicated he is to the dairy industry and agriculture. MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Hosts First Premium Member Luncheon

On Friday April 10th, 24 guests joined the Sonoma County Farm Bureau for a Premium Member luncheon at Dutton Lake. Guests mingled before lunch with Congressman Mike Thompson, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger and Farm Bureau staff. MORE

Ag Event or Not?

The topic du jour right now in Sonoma County is around ag events and the county’s struggle to define what is and what is not an “ag event.” Most of the concerns are with events at wineries and tasting rooms. But the term ag event raises concerns for me about what this will mean for agricultural operations other than wineries and the repercussions on those farming enterprises. MORE

A Salute to Two Ag Heroes

It’s been a year since David Evans of Marin Sun Farms took over the Rancho slaughterhouse, transforming the closed-down operation into a high-quality slaughter and meat processing plant. Under Evans’ ownership, the old slaughter facility on Petaluma’s northern edge has been revived and refocused.MORE

Premium Membership: Kevin Barr Has Been Growing a Successful Business Since 1983

Kevin Barr started Redwood Empire Vineyard Management (REVM) in 1983. His wife, Linda joined him in 1991, and his partner, Tyler Klick joined them in 2006. He had the entrepreneurial spirit and knew he wanted to work in Sonoma County. Barr is a fourth generation Marin County resident while Linda is a fourth generation Sonoma County farmer and Tyler is a third generation Mendocino County resident. MORE

Premium Membership: Mark and Jenny Sanchietti Strive to Support Their Family and Employees

Sanchietti Farming Incorporated might sound like a large corporation, but in truth it’s a family run operation. Husband and wife duo, Mark and Jenny Sanchietti, are the sole owners of the business and on any given day you might find their two young children Mason and Meritt running around their office.MORE

Connie Jones is New District 3 Dairy Princess

18 year old Santa Rosan, Connie Jones was crowned District 3 Dairy Princess on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Hall. The current senior at Petaluma High School will serve as the spokesperson for the Dairy Industry and represent local farmers and producers in Lake, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and Mendocino counties. MORE

Banana Wraps

I know the recipe title is all about Easter…but, I really wanted to share this recipe with you not only because I think it would be great for Brunch, it is also a spinoff of my highest scoring dessert from the

Andy’s Produce: Taking Care of their Community Because the Community Takes Care of Them

Andy’s Produce has been operating for more than 50 years. Off Gravenstein Highway in Sebastopol, many longtime residents have seen them grow from a small produce and fruit stand to a large diversified open air market.MORE

Sangiacomo Family, Passionate About Agriculture and Family

It would be hard to find a family that represents the phrase “family business” better than the Sangiacomos who own and manage Sangiacomo Family Vineyards in Sonoma. As third generation Sonoma County farmers, Steve, Mike and Mia have successfully taken over the family grape growing business from their father Angelo, Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Buck. Their goal? To pass on their love of farming and passion for the wine industry to one or more of their seven children, the fourth generation of Sangiacomos.MORE

Farm Bureau Foundation Awards $130,000 in Scholarships to Top Agriculture Students in Sonoma and Marin Counties

The Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County has awarded more than $130,000 in scholarships to 36 agriculture students from Sonoma and Marin counties. It’s the largest scholarship pay-out since the Farm Bureau Foundation was established in 2006, reflecting the tremendous generosity of donors who want to support and develop the next generation of agricultural leaders.MORE

Goodbye, for now, to Sonoma Compost

It was an incredibly sad day for many of us when county officials closed down Sonoma Compost, an iconic, green business that has played a pivotal role in Sonoma County agriculture’s move to sustainable farming. Sonoma County would not be the internationally recognized leader in sustainable agriculture it is today if not for Sonoma Compost. MORE

Farm and Fish Survival

It is fair to say that just about everyone in Sonoma County, and indeed the State of California, has developed a heightened awareness about our water challenges. Water is so treasured and so essential that people in our County and across the State are quickly mobilizing to conserve this precious resource. From my perspective, agriculture in Sonoma County can, and must, play a key role in developing solutions for a sustainable water future.MORE

Jennifer Beretta Joins Farm Bureau’s Board Of Directors

Fourth generation Sonoma County dairy farmer Jennifer Beretta strives to keep the dairy and agriculture industries viable in Sonoma County. Beretta recently showed interest in joining the Farm Bureau board, and was unanimously elected at the April 14th meeting. MORE

Stone Fruit and Arugula Salad with Cherry Lime Vinaigrette

Stone fruit is in season and it turns out that summer is just around the corner! Inspired by this we wanted to make a bright, light salad to kick off the season. Made with yellow peaches, white nectarines and cherries. It has a gorgeous color and even better taste with the cherry lime vinaigrette. The fruit is definitely the star of the show with this salad. It is great served alongside your favorite BBQ, use any extra vinaigrette over grilled fish and chicken.MORE

Soiland: Building Relationships and Supporting the Community

Soiland as a pipeline contractor in 1962. Marv was born in San Francisco, but raised in Santa Rosa and surrounded by agriculture. Marv started Soiland with $3,000 and rented a backhoe. Today at 88 years old, he still has the first check he received for $800. MORE

Premium Membership: Seghesio Celebrates 120 Years of Being Family Run

Seghesio Family Vineyards was established by Edoardo and Angela Seghesio in 1895, producing their first vintage in 1902. Their passion was farming and winemaking, and Angela continued to make wine after Edoardo passed.Ned Neumiller is now part of the 5th generation running the family business.MORE

Sonoma County Seeks Pasture Land for Rescued Animals

Sonoma County Animal Services is seeking privately owned pasture land as well as chicken coops to temporarily house livestock and poultry. The housing of animals could be anything from a few weeks to a few months. Sonoma County Animal Services is asking the public for anything they can offer or any ideas they might have. MORE

Smitten with Worms: Jack Chambers and the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm

Jack Chambers was a commercial airline pilot for 33 years, but four years ago he quit flying to focus more on his second business, a worm farm. When Chambers retired from flying in 2011, he had already owned the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm for almost 20 years. Chambers has been juggling two careers as he flew around the world for Delta Airlines and managed his growing business on the side. MORE

Farm Bureau Golf Tournament Raises Funds for Agriculture Education

Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted its 14th annual Golf Tournament benefiting agricultural education on Friday, June 12th. It was a beautiful day on the greens at Windsor Golf Club in Windsor. There were more than 144 players on 36 teams feverously attacking the course in the scrabble format to see whose team would come out on top. MORE

A New Chapter

Sonoma County Farm Bureau will soon hire a new Executive Director, likely someone from the next generation eager to lead us into the future. It will be a person who begins each day by Tweeting and posting on Facebook. But it also will be someone rooted in agriculture who knows which end of a cow gets up first or which end of the grapevine goes into the ground.MORE

Friend of Farm Bureau

Agriculture in Sonoma County is ever changing. Just as many of our farms have changed what we grow and raise, we also slowly see a change in the farmers and farm families in our county. There are legacy families that have farmed here for over a century, but most of us have roots that date back decades. MORE

2015 Sonoma-Marin Young Farmers And Ranchers Clay Shoot

The Second Annual Sporting Clays Shoot took place at Wing & Barrel Ranch on May 30th. This event was not only an amazingly fun event but was super successful as well! Tickets sold out a week before the event and 150 people showed up for shooting followed by a gourmet lunch prepared by the Young Farmers and Ranchers.MORE

Miss Sonoma County: Challenging Herself to Be the Best She Can

For Athena Brattin-Cain, life is about challenging herself to do more and being involved in something bigger than herself. She recently graduated Elsie Allen High School and throughout her time there, she has challenged herself in every way she could. MORE

Premium Membership: Francis Ford Coppola Winery Focuses on Grower Relations and Quality in the Vineyard

When most people think about Francis Ford Coppola Winery, they think about the restaurant, Rustic, the pool or the film director who started the winery. Even those thinking about the wine don’t often realize that Coppola relies heavily on its grower relations team and the network they’ve built across the state with vineyard owners. MORE

BoDean Company: Supporting the Industry That Supports Them

BoDean was started by Dean and Belinda Soiland. “Bo” and “Dean” were combined to make the singular name now associated with asphalt and aggregate materials such as base rock in Sonoma County. approximately 40% of their end users are agricultural companies and they strive to support the industry.MORE

Seasonal Pita Pizza

Inspired by all of the fresh veggies (and fruit) growing in our garden, we have created this seasonal pizza! So chances are you’ll be able to find the ingredients easily in your garden and local farmers market. We like to serve this as a starter at summer gatherings and you can also make it on the grill or pizza oven! We hope you enjoy!MORE

2014 Sonoma County Crop Report Released

On June 24, Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner, Tony Linegar, presented the 2014 crop report. The total value for 2014 crops was $899,015,400, a 6% increase from 2013. The number reflects the gross production values, not net income or costs of production and marketing. MORE

Love of the Land: More Than 1200 People Gather to Celebrate Sonoma County Agriculture

Celebrating stewards of the land, community members met at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor to attend Farm Bureau’s Love of the Land on Thursday, July 16th. Featuring local wine, cheese and food, the reception was filled with government officials and prominent community members who all share a passion for Sonoma County agriculture and the land on which it thrives.MORE

Count Not on Your Wells but on Your Action

WELLS have been the most reliable source of water. However, with drought and the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), we would no longer be able to count on our wells for our survival. MORE

Thank you Tim

As many of you know the Sonoma County Farm Bureau is in the process of saying goodbye to executive director Tim Tesconi. Tim announced his desire to retire earlier this year and we have been in the process of recruiting a new face to step into his shoes. MORE

Historical and Authentic, the Kunde Family is Ready for the Future

Kunde Family Winery is known for their authenticity. Their first crush was in 1904, and they’re one of the oldest bonded wineries in California, using bond number 202, which was first put to use by their Great Grandfather Louis Kunde in the early 1900’s. Now, the fourth and fifth generation of Kundes are successfully carrying on the Kunde Family Legacy. MORE

Multi Grain Panzanella Salad

This salad is a great way to celebrate all that is growing in the garden at this time of year! Taking inspiration from the Italian salad, we changed it up a little; instead of fried bread cubes, we baked ours for that nice crunch. We hope you enjoy!MORE

Innovative and Dog Friendly, Vineyard Industry Products is a Thriving Sonoma County Business

The concept of Vineyard Industry Products came about in the early 70’s when Paul Downer was selling t-posts from the trunk of his car. By the late seventies, Paul and Laraine Downer were working out of the spare bedroom of their house and had six phone lines running to the room. They officially started Vineyard Industry Products in 1979. MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Preparing Me for a Better Tomorrow

Being a Sonoma County girl, I love agriculture. From my mom and dad’s vineyard, to my grandfather’s horses, to my eleven years showing in 4-H, agriculture has been a huge part of my life. I’ve grown up with amazing mentors. My parents, 4-H leaders, my instructors at Santa Rosa Junior College, and the staff at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau have all inspired me to work hard at both my education and job and success will follow.MORE

Committed to Gravensteins: The Walker Family Has Been Growing Apples For 105 Years

Walker Apples began in 1910 when Arthur Upp planted an Orchard in Graton. Now, the apple orchard is run by his grandson, Lee Walker, and great grandson, Lee Walker III. In 1963, the Walker family built their processing and packing facility. Lee Walker reminisces back to the 70’s when there were 32 packing places in Sonoma County. Now, Walker Apples is one of a few apple packing facilities in the county.MORE

All About Apples: The Devoto Family Grows More Than 100 Varieties of Apples for Cider Production

It’s all about the apples. At the Devoto family’s orchards this is something you’ll hear the entire family say. From apple farming to cider making everything starts with quality in the orchard. Devoto Gardens was started by Stan and Susan Devoto in 1976 when they moved from Berkley to Sebastopol. Susan’s passion was growing cut flowers while Stan was interested in growing crops.MORE

Sonoma County’s Revised Water Well Construction Ordinance

Sonoma County has updated its water well construction standards ordinance for the first time since 1978. The revised ordinance focuses on standards for well construction, abandonment, destruction, setbacks, prohibitions, and water treatment for contaminated wells.MORE

Bring It On…

Turn the clock back fifty years and we would not be engaged in a debate about green-washing. At that time most people didn’t think about reducing their green-house gas emissions, conserving water or implementing “sustainable” practices on their working lands. MORE

82 Awards Presented at the Annual Sonoma County Fair Awards Dinner

The annual Sonoma County Fair awards dinner, sponsored by Sonoma County Farm Bureau, was held on August 5th. Eighty two awards were presented to young, bright members of the 4-H and FFA, the next generation of Sonoma County’s agriculture leaders.MORE

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Pappardelle Pasta

This recipe is the perfect end of summer pasta; fresh tomatoes, herbs, and cheese; what could be better? Switch it up by using tarragon or thyme instead of basil. We can’t wait to pack this for a great lunch, hot or cold!MORE

Western Farm Center: A City-fied Country Store

Brothers Lou and Larry Bertolini started Western Farm Center in 1967 after the Carnation Company closed their retail store. They took over the building near Railroad Square from the Barlas Mill and opened Western Farm Center to meet the needs of customers who had previously purchased from the Carnation Company. MORE

2015 Gravenstein Apple Fair: Eat Fresh, Buy Local

On August 8th and 9th, Sonoma County Farm Bureau attended the Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol. The Gravenstein Apple Fair is put on by Sonoma County Farm Trails and showcases apples grown in Sonoma County as well as all types of apple products from pies and fritters to jams and caramel apples. The fair was family-oriented with a hay-maze for children, numerous crafts and a Life on the Farm Area. MORE

Farewell to a Former President

On July 23 2015, past president of the Marin County Farm Bureau, Joseph “Joey” Mendoza Jr., passed away peacefully after a battle with cancer. Joey was the third generation in his family to operate a dairy on the Point Reyes Peninsula. Joey, a lifelong dairyman, was known for all the time that he spent advocating for the dairy industry in particular and agriculture in general. MORE

Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture: Bob and Shirley Dempel

For Bob and Shirley Dempel, agriculture has been the essence of their life. Their livelihoods, their friends, their careers and everything in between has revolved around agriculture. It comes as no surprise that the Sonoma County Harvest Fair presented Bob and Shirley Dempel with the award for Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture. MORE

Kim Vail, Joins SCFB as Executive Director

Kim Vail of Indiana has been hired as the new executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Vail will assume his role at one of the county's largest and most influential agricultural organizations on October 5th. Sonoma County Farm Bureau represents nearly 3,000 family farmers, ranchers, rural landowners and agricultural businesses in Sonoma County.MORE

Sharing Water to Save Fish

Hopefully by the time next month’s article is penned, we will have even more evidence that the El Nino conditions forming in the Pacific will deliver much needed relief to Sonoma County – and all of California. Heavy rains will go a long way in calming the fears of many and perhaps quiet the voices of those who claim that agriculture is in large part responsible for our water woes. MORE

Sweet Lane Wholesale Nursery Offers More Than 1,200 Varieties of Plants to Contractors and Landscapers

Ed Grossi has a background in organic farming growing strawberries and pumpkins while his wife Susie Sweet who was a flight attendant has a passion for landscaping; together they’ve turned their home into a successful wholesale nursery, event site and beautiful oasis. MORE

Pumpkin Smores Galette

This is our idea of the ultimate fall recipe! The warm chocolate and toasted marshmallow already taste amazing but add roasted pumpkin pieces that are covered in maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice and you have something special. It’s easy to make and easier to eat, all your friends will love helping you make this fall treat.MORE

Preparing Producers for the El Nino Winter

What’s all the hype about El Nino? As of late September, surface waters in portions of the eastern tropical region of the Pacific Ocean were over 4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal, making for some of the strongest El Nino conditions on record. Because we have seen big rains come during El Nino events, many are speculating an epic rain year is on its way. But is it?MORE

With More Than 1,000 Dairy Cows, 1,000 Chickens and 30 Varieties of Pumpkins, the McClelland Family Has Successfully Diversified

Businesses are always challenged with being innovative and developing new cash flows. This is particularly true in the dairy industry which has faced a mountain of challenges in the past and seen a lot of family dairies sell their herds. McClelland Dairy in the Two Rock Valley has found many ways to innovate and diversify their dairy business.MORE

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Hires Marisa Ruffoni as Fall Intern

Marisa Ruffoni, a student at Santa Rosa Junior College, has been selected as the Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s fall intern. As an intern, Ruffoni will have the opportunity to learn about the agriculture industry, the Farm Bureau organization and how the Sonoma County Farm Bureau works with the community to advocate for agriculture.MORE

Sonoma County Agriculture Welcomes Young Entrepreneurs: Jamie Mickelson Launches Sonoma Mountain Beef Company

Many people associate farming with an older generation, and they’re not wrong: the average age of an American famer is 57. But Sonoma County has many opportunities for younger people to become involved in agriculture and launch their own brand. Jamie Mickelson, 26, has been involved in the agriculture industry her whole life.MORE

New Beginnings

Early this summer I placed a phone call to John Azevedo to inquire about a leadership position his county Farm Bureau was interested in filling. Little did we know then that conversations to follow would lead to a new position, in a new county, in a new state? What an amazing chain of events that have transpired and resulted in Sonoma County Farm Bureau placing their trust in a Midwestern farm boy to shepherd the programs, policies and activities that promote agriculture and its valuable connection to the economy of Sonoma County.MORE

Ag Issues Facing Sonoma County

One of the things that came to mind for this month’s article is the hiring of our Executive Director, Kim Vail. I know there was an article in last month’s Farm News welcoming him and highlighting some of his background so I will not be redundant. That said I am very excited to have him here at Sonoma County Farm Bureau and look forward to working with him in the coming years. We searched long and far for someone with his qualifications and could not be happier to have him as part of our Farm Bureau family. MORE

Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Students Learn About Local Perspectives and Opportunities Through Agriculture Tours

October was agriculture month for students of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT) program. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau planned and hosted three agriculture tours on October 5th, 12th and 26th. The first two tours hosted high school students from Santa Rosa City Schools and the third tour included students from West County Schools; each tour presented aspects of agriculture to approximately 40 students. MORE

Cauliflower Au Gratin

This side dish made our sister Kathryn love cauliflower but who wouldn’t love this comforting side dish. The rich cheeses and half and half are a splurge but with Thanksgiving coming up its perfect to serve alongside your turkey!MORE

For The Love of Farming: Six People Spanning Two Generations Have Always Found Their Way Back to Agriculture

The Martinelli family’s winery and tasting room is a distinct set of red buildings just off River Road that were originally hop barns dating back to the 1880s. Inside, the tasting room is full of history. Through the renovation of the old building they have saved the historic wooden interior walls inscribed with the former worker’s century-old signatures and graffiti. An old hop baler still sits as a centerpiece in the middle of the room to remind visitors of the building’s original function.MORE

Brandt Insurance Your Resourceful Insurance Agent with Hometown Customer Service

Brandt Insurance was started in 1962 by Milt Brandt. After contracting polio he was looking for a job that didn’t require physical labor, and Milt Brandt launched the business still owned and operated by the Brandt family in Healdsburg. MORE

Goji Berries Provide New Opportunities for Sonoma County Agriculture

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are a small red berry that originated in China. They are thought to have been brought to the United States more than 150 years ago by workers of the transcontinental railroad and many of the plants ended up in Utah. The berries are known for their rich nutritional value and have been associated with various health benefits.MORE

Not About the Blue Ribbon: Agriculture Program at Hanna Boys Center Teaches Responsibility and Personal Triumph

It’s easy to take having pets for granted, but not everyone comes from a background where this is possible. Last summer, seven students had the opportunity to raise and sell market lambs at the Sonoma County Fair. Of these seven students, only two had ever had a pet and none had ever worked with livestock.MORE

The Key to Success

Farm Bureau is an organization solely because of your membership, making you a vital part of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Farm Bureau is people – farmers and ranchers, property owners, agricultural enthusiasts in rural, suburban and urban areas. Roughly 3,000 families belong to Farm Bureau in Sonoma County. MORE

A Year of Success

As I am writing this I can’t believe a year has already gone by as president of this organization. No doubt the busier you are the faster time goes by and that could not be truer this year. As I look back on what we have accomplished, I could not be more proud of our organization. One of accomplishments is hitting our annual membership goal set by the state Farm Bureau.MORE

Students Visit Dutton Ranch to Learn About Agriculture

Agricultural education is important to students of all ages. From younger children realizing apples are hand-picked to older students understanding how organic differs from conventional farming, there is always something for students to learn.MORE

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Citrus Balsamic Glaze

Three of our favorite ingredients inspired this dish, thyme, citrus, and balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vinegar reduction has a sweet and tangy flavor that goes great with the pork. The aromas of the dish cooking will fill your home with fantastic smells! Enjoy this dish with friend and family!MORE

Sunridge Nurseries, Committed to Customers and Community, Joins Farm Bureau at the Premium Member Level

Sunridge Nurseries is a family owned business started in 1977 by Glen Stoller. Despite that the business has grown exponentially in the last 38 years, the business is still family owned by Stoller, and his son, Craig, who is now Sunridge’s CEO. MORE

Premium Members Gather to Discuss Sonoma County Agriculture

On November 6, Premium Members of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau gathered at Balletto Vineyards for an evening of fine wine and conversations surrounding Sonoma County agriculture. The intimate crowd had the opportunity to meet executive director Kim Vail. New to Sonoma County, Vail had the chance to meet the county’s most influential agricultural producers at the mixer. MORE

Equine Guided Education: Team Building and Leadership with Horses

A trained zoologist, Ariana Strozzi has always been passionate about animals and has worked with all types of exotics and livestock. Strozzi began her career as a horse trainer and riding instructor in the 1980’s, but over time her path led her to something other than horsemanship, a form of working with people and horses called Equine Guided Education or EGE.MORE

Robert Giacomini Dairy Honored for Love of its Land

The Robert Giacomini Dairy, a premier Marin County milk producer that is home to the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. and is a respected leader in farmland preservation and stewardship, is the 2013 recipient of the prestigious California Leopold Conservation Award. The Leopold Award, presented Dec. 9 at the 95th annual meeting of the California Farm Bureau Federation in Monterey, comes with a $10,000 award.MORE

‘Arturo’ the Tractor in Place for Thousands of Young Riders

Like a story from the pages of a children’s novel, a once prized tractor – long retired - has gained new life thanks to a little ingenuity from Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board Member Norm Yenni. In November, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County put out an ask to the agriculture community, they were in need of an antique tractor in “Mary’s Garden,” a 36,000 square foot outdoor nature education and agriculture exhibit at the museum.MORE

Crime in Your Area – Get Informed

Sonoma County has a serious agriculture and rural crime problem. Take this opportunity to become informed about southern Sonoma County: what the area is facing, crime prevention tactics and Proven Technologies. Find out what affordable technologies are combating crime. Also, learn about surveillance equipment and the effective Owner Applied Number (OAN) Program.MORE

Air Board Modifies Rules for Diesel Trucks

Truck owners working to meet state deadlines for replacing or installing emissions control equipment on their diesel vehicles have been granted compliance relief and face a new deadline of Jan. 31, 2014 with the Air Resources Board agency. MORE

Terry Lindley of American AgCredit Honored With Spirit of Sonoma County Award

Terry Lindley whose life has been dedicated to agriculture and community service was honored with the Spirit of Sonoma County Award for his many contributions to Sonoma County Farm Bureau and his unwavering support to agriculture, farm youth and the Sonoma County Fair. MORE

New Year Resolutions… Laurie’s Antipasto

This is such a delicious way to start the party!! Many years ago, Costco carried a jarred antipasto that I loved…well; you know what happened…they quit carrying it! It prompted me to make my own recipe, and I love my version even more. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! MORE

Riding Alone

I have a confession. While in college I taught scuba diving. The number one rule was "never dive alone". But, I was young and foolish and used every excuse in the book to get out there by myself. I dove alone many times. As an adult I now see how VERY unsafe that was. But, hey, I was super careful and took all precautions. Besides, I was immortal! MORE

Sonoma – Marin YF&R Elect Leadership Team and invite USDA to attend January membership meeting

Sonoma – Marin Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) a committee of Sonoma County Farm Bureau took the next step in fortifying their committee by electing a leadership team. The 10 member YF&R Leadership Team have an exciting calendar of events planned for 2014. MORE

Burglary Prevention Tips

Statistics show that burglaries are on the upswing in Sonoma County. There were 120 home thefts reported from September 2012 to November 2012. This year there were 138 reported. Unfortunately, both the number of thieves prosecuted and the property recovery rate are relatively low. MORE

Wool, a Shear Delight in Valley Ford

Wool is making a big and welcome comeback in the pastures of the North Coast. And nowhere is that renaissance more evident than in and around pastoral Valley Ford, which has become the Northern California epicenter for wool processing and new lines of wool products.MORE

Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County – 2014 Scholarship Applications

The Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County will award more than $50,000 in scholarships this year to deserving students stu1dying agriculture or an agricultural-related field at a four year college, junior college or vocational school. The Farm Bureau Foundation’s mission is to encourage – and financially assist – young people for rewarding careers in agriculture or a closely related agricultural field including the farm-to-table culinary arts.MORE

Walmart Supports California Growers with new Neighborhood Market in Rohnert Park

As one of the largest purchasers of American agricultural products, Walmart is proud to announce plans to open a new Walmart Neighborhood Market in Mountain Shadows Shopping Plaza in Rohnert Park at the corner of Golf Course Drive and Country Club Drive. The new Neighborhood Market is anticipated to open this fall and will provide local residents with access to affordable products and convenient shopping in a smaller store layout. MORE

Rural Neighborhood Watch Program

As part of the community, the Sheriff’s Office plays an important role in keeping the community safe. However, citizen involvement is essential to combat crime. You and your neighbors know what is going on in your community the best. By cooperating with each other and law enforcement, people can help fight crime in their community in the most effective way – before it begins. MORE

Drought Strategies 2014

In California, annual precipitation amounts vary greatly within and between