29 July 2015

POST announces 74-acre farmland lease with option to purchase in San Gregorio, CA!

The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) is pleased to announce the opportunity to lease with the option to purchase 74-acres of farmland, located at 950 La Honda Road in San Gregorio, CA. This prime agricultural property has ample water rights and a farm center. POST is soliciting proposals from individuals interested in leasing the land for productive agricultural operations with the option to purchase the property subject to an affirmative agricultural conservation easement.
The farm property is located in San Gregorio, approximately 1 mile inland from Highway 1with a half mile frontage on the south side of Highway 84, about an hour from San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Palo Alto. The coastal San Mateo County community has a rich tradition of farming and ranching along with a budding population of new farmers.

To access the full details of the property, map, and text of POST's Request for Proposals, please email mika@cafarmlink.org or log-in to your FarmLink account and look for San Mateo #2114.

About the Property
The former N.D. Muzzi Ranch in San Gregorio has a rich agricultural history and has been farmed since at least the 1940's. Dominic Muzzi farmed the property since 1968, cultivating strawberries, fava beans, English peas, pumpkins, and Brussel sprouts on the 58 acres of cultivated prime soils. Approximately 15 acres on the west end of the farm are in production without the use of sprays this year and were left fallow during the 2014 growing season.

The 74-acres consists of:
  • 58 relatively flat, cultivated acres of Dublin clay with some Corralitos sandy loam soils
  • 3 acre farm center 
  • 3 acre reservoir
  • 10 acre riparian buffer
  • rights to use up to 156 acre-feet of water annually from the San Gregorio watershed
  • rights to store up to 14 acre-feet of water annually "
  • underground mainlines with sprinkler pipe risers and portable laterals/hand line sprinkler pipes 
  • 2 in-stream points of diversion (with 5HP electric pump from primary diversion to reservoir)
  • 18 acre-foot perched, seasonally-filled reservoir with pump station
  • 2 older wells, only one of which is functional with an estimated depth of 160' and production of 15-18gpm flow; water from this well has historically been piped to reservoir, but water quality has never been tested. 
  • 4 PG&E meters (2 3-phase power, 2 single-phase power)

*POST seeks an agricultural operator willing to work with local public agency and non profit conservation partners to improve water quality, riparian habitat, erosion, and irrigation efficiency.
*Preference will be given to applications that include strategies for maximizing efficient use of water.

Lease Proposal Details: 
POST will be offering an initial 2-5 year lease for the entire 74-acre farm property with an option to purchase, by mutual agreement of POST and lessee, at the end of the lease period. The lease will require that the property be maintained in active agricultural production. Length and start date will be negotiated as part of a lease with the RFP awardee(s). Any purchase would be subject to an affrimative conservation easement, limiting development and mandating agricultural production. Terms will be negotiated between parties and an appraisal will determine purchase price. POST is willing to explore creative financing solutions, including- but not limited to - lease to own, equity lease, and seller financing. POST is only interested in applicants with a long-term commitment to the land and willingness to work with public agency partners to put riparian protections in place with terms to be determined and negotiated between parties.

There is a mandatory site tour for prospective operators at 10am on Friday, 14 August 2015. Please RSVP for the tour by 7 August to bwright@openspacetrust.org or (650) 854-7696 x307. Additional information, including sample lease language, previous land uses, and other background will be available at the tour. All interested parties must attend the tour. Please do not try and access the property prior to the site tour as it is an active farm operation.
To access the full details of the property, map, and text of POST's Request for Proposals, please email mika@cafarmlink.org or log-in to your FarmLink account and search for San Mateo #___.

24 July 2015

New FSA financing options announced: Farm Storage Facility Loan Program!

New Farm Service Agency (FSA) financing for cold-storage, washing, packing, and handling buildings and equipment just announced.  The Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program provides low-interest loans for farmers to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities, primarily grains and oilseeds, but also including fruit and vegetables.

An apple packing shed in Maine. Credit: NSAC
On this and more, click here!

22 July 2015

Job Opening! Farm Manager at Dig Deep Farms in San Leandro, CA


Farm Manager
Dig Deep Farms
San Leandro, California

Job Summary
The Farm Manager will direct the farm and farming production at Dig Deep Farms.  The FarmManager will design and implement innovative systems to maximize production of vegetables, fruit, herbs, nursery plants and other products at all current and new farm sites.  The  FarmManager will also direct the maintenance of soil health and fertility, farm infrastructure, irrigation systems and equipment.

Key Responsibilities:
The Farm Manager will have the following responsibilities:
  • Production planning
  • Implementation of production plans
  • Continuous improvement of soil health and fertility
  • Harvest schedules
  • Post-harvest handling
  • Supervision of farm team (currently a  FTE  staff of 3 and up to 10 PTE in season)
  • Implementation and maintenance of Good Agricultural Practices
  • Compliance with Food Safety requirements and regulations
  • Report preparation and presentation
  • Other duties as assigned to ensure efficient coordination of production with the Bay Area Urban Agriculture Marketing Association (the Food Hub), Logistics operations (CSA program and Farm Stands)
  • Understands how to work on a hillside (some areas 20% slope)
  • Manage staff and teach job skills to staff
Organizational Role and Supervisor
The Farm Manager will manage the farm sites and greenhouse. The Farm Manager reports to the Dig Deep Farms Director of Development.

Skills and Qualifications
The Farm Manager will have either (a) a Bachelor’s degree in  a related field, plus a minimum of two years’ experience in farming and farm production, or (b) a minimum of four years of experience in farming and farm production, including at least one year of farm management.  This experience must include greenhouse production.  The Manager will have knowledge and skill in the use maintenance of farm equipment, including tractors, plows, discs, cultivators and otherfarm equipment and implements.  The Manager must have strong leadership skills and the ability to inspire others to do high quality work.  The Farm Manager must have a valid California driver’s license insurable by the DDF&P vehicle insurance carrier.  The Farm Manager must have the ability to lift a minimum of 50 pounds.

Company Overview
Dig Deep Farms  is a social enterprise and project of the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League.  Our business includes four operating units:  Production, with a 4-acre farm and greenhouse; Logistics; Sales and Marketing, with a growing CSA and 5 produce stands; and Food Hub, an aggregation and distribution facility that includes a commercial kitchen in progress. The mission of DDF is to build and operate a local food enterprise network of businesses based on the producing healthy food, to create jobs, and to contribute to the economic development of the communities of Ashland and Cherryland.  We envision a vibrant, sustainable local food economy that brings fresh, healthy affordable food to the residents of vulnerable communities in the East Bay.  We have a successful business based on growing, packing, packaging, processing, distributing and selling fresh, healthy food.  Our enterprise creates a cascade community benefits including healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy people with a vital stake in their own community.  Our work will create hope, break the bonds of dependency and build self-reliance.

The DDF office is located at 16378 East 14th Street, Suite 204, San Leandro, CA.  The position requires frequent automobile travel from the office to sites within the East Bay using a personal vehicle.

Type of Employment
The position is an exempt, full-time position.

Salary and Benefits
The salary is experience based.

Key Performance Indicators:
  • Manage staff
  • Create and Implement planting plan
  • Optimize land use
  • Keep optimal rotation of starts, hardening off area and beds sown
  • Train staff, provide opportunity for increased responsibility and growth for internal promotion
  • Measure success of staff based upon job descriptions
  • Contribute significantly to an open transparent, accountable and engaged organizational culture
  • Reward and hold accountable all staff as necessary measured by job descriptions
  • Create daily, weekly, seasonally and annual project plans as needed to keep farm and staff running as efficiently as possible.
To apply, please send resume to deagon@digdeepfarms.com.

16 July 2015

USDA Announces Conservation Incentives for Working Grass, Range, and Pasture Lands

photos by Federica Armstrong 
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that beginning Sept. 1, farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help conserve working grasslands, rangeland, and pastureland while maintaining the areas as livestock grazing lands.
The initiative is part of the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally funded program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. CRP has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

“A record 400 million acres and 600,000 producers and landowners are currently enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs. The Conservation Reserve Program has been one of the most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and we are pleased to begin these grasslands incentives as we celebrate the program’s 30th year,” said Vilsack. “This is another great example of how agricultural production can work hand in hand with efforts to improve the environment and increase wildlife habitat.”

The CRP-Grasslands initiative will provide participants who establish long-term, resource-conserving covers with annual rental payments up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land. Cost-share assistance also is available for up to 50 percent of the covers and other practices, such as cross fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife. Participants may still conduct common grazing practices, produce hay, mow, or harvest for seed production, conduct fire rehabilitation, and construct firebreaks and fences.

With the publication of the CRP regulation today, the Farm Service Agency will accept applications on an ongoing basis beginning Sept. 1, 2015, with those applications scored against published ranking criteria, and approved based on the competiveness of the offer. The ranking period will occur at least once per year and be announced at least 30 days prior to its start. The end of the first ranking period will be Nov. 20, 2015.

Later this week, USDA will also announce state-by-state allotments for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE). Through SAFE, also a CRP initiative, up to 400,000 acres of additional agricultural land across 37 states will be eligible for wildlife habitat restoration funding. The additional acres are part of an earlier CRP wildlife habitat announcement made by Secretary Vilsack. Currently, more than 1 million acres, representing 98 projects, are enrolled in SAFE.

To learn more about participating in CRP-Grasslands or SAFE, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp or consult with the local Farm Service Agency county office. To locate a nearby Farm Service Agency office, visit http://offices.usda.gov. To learn more about the 30th anniversary of CRP, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30 or follow on Twitter using #CRPis30.

The CRP-Grasslands program was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

08 July 2015

Join us for a Farmer Mixer next Wednesday (July 15) at the El Pájaro CDC!

Gather with fellow farmers! Enjoy local food produced on site, locally sourced beverages, and the opportunity to connect with:  Local Farm Support Agencies,  Land Owners,  Produce Buyers,  Local Chefs,  Lenders, and more!
Reúnase con sus compañeros agricultores, Saboree comida preparada con ingredientes y converse con:  Agencias locales de apoyo a agricultores,  Propietarios de tierras,  Los compradores de cultivos,  Chefs locales...

What: Farm Community Mixer
When: Wednesday, 15 July from 5pm-8pm
Where: El Pájaro CDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator
            412 Riverside Drive
            Watsonville, CA 95076
RSVP: Free! via Eventbrite or email or by calling 831.425.0303 x7022

If you are a service provider, in addition to your Eventbrite RSVP please be sure to email mika@cafarmlink.org with a brief 1-2 sentences describing your services and whether or not you require table space for any materials.

We hope you can make it!