Category Archives: NCAT California Regional Office

26 Miles of Hedgerows: California Project Update

26 Miles of Hedgerows: California Project Update
Fremontodendron; a species that explodes with beautiful yellow flowers in the Spring.

NCAT’s Western office has completed the first year of its hedgerow planting project. NCAT secured funding to provide hedgerow plants and technical assistance to farmers across California, taking us from as far south as San Diego to Crescent City in the north. All told, we delivered to 80 farmers who ran the gamut of what California offers in terms of farming systems, scale, and crops grown.

As a resilient bunch of plants, these native species have been planted in the deserts east of Los Angeles, the fog draped regions of the redwood forests, and everywhere in between.

The goal of the project was to provide habitat to native species with a mix of 18 different hedgerow plants. A special addition of Narrow Leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) was added to the mix in an effort to grow back a tiny portion of the Monarch butterfly habitat that has been removed in the name of development over recent decades.

Hedgerows can serve many functions. Historically, hedgerows were commonplace in several European countries. They were managed to mark property boundaries and provide a dense

Revegetating a burn scar caused by last year’s fires.

barrier to reduce unwanted traffic from predators and pen-in livestock. Some turned the practice of managing hedges into a specialized skill, even an artform. Many miles of these hedges were eventually replaced due to increasing labor costs and the popularity of labor-saving tools like wire fencing. Like many innovations, the replacement of hedgerows by a more “efficient” technology came with its costs. Erosion, wind, dust, and pest pressure increased, while biodiversity decreased greatly.

Of course, every farmer has their own reason for wanting to plant a hedgerow. As we came to learn, these reasons included privacy, protection against wind, noise reduction, habitat for animals and beneficial insects, soil stabilization, supplemental food production, and beauty.

All told, if we had been able to plant in a single row, this hedgerow project would span 26 miles. And we hope to make it longer. If you are a farmer and are interested in planting a hedgerow, please contact NCAT’s Western office at 530-792-7338. We are planning to secure funding for another project like this one and hope you might be a part of it.

This blog post is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. This blog post was also made possible in-part by funding from ATTRA, CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant (Conservation stewardship training and demonstration for specialty crop growers; investing in your farm #18-0001-034-sc), Regenerative Ag. Foundation, and Environmental Defense Fund.  

Creating Habitat for Beneficials to Control Aphids

Creating Habitat for Beneficials to Control Aphids

By Rex Dufour, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Photo: Cover crop mix on April 28, 2020. Red crimson clover, mixed with orange California poppy, blue California Phacelia, and pink Persian clover (lower left). These flowers support large populations of predators, parasites, and pollinators.   For the past growing season, my staff and I have been involved… Continue Reading

Exploring the Garden for Beneficial Insects!

By Jamie Fanous, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Like many, during these challenging times, I’ve turned to home gardening! I’ve used gardening as an opportunity to reconnect with nature and clear my head, all while staying close to home during the quarantine. Interested in home gardening? Need to build a raised garden bed frame? Check out this… Continue Reading

Ready for Anything: Preparing for the Unexpected and the Inevitable

Ready for Anything: Preparing for the Unexpected and the Inevitable

By Ann Baier, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Foreword: After the recent passing of her mother, Ann reflects on some valuable lessons and preparations, especially relevant in the time of a pandemic. Building resilience in agriculture and communities is at the heart of our work at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). For over 40… Continue Reading

Low Maintenance Gardening in the Time of Pandemic and Drought

Low Maintenance Gardening in the Time of Pandemic and Drought

By Martin Guerena, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist During these challenging times, home gardening has become one of the more popular past times for many people. But what about those of us who don’t want to be at the beck and call of an intensive garden while simultaneously wanting to enjoy the beauty and benefits of a… Continue Reading

Avocados: Fruit Set Challenges and Propagation

Avocados:  Fruit Set Challenges and Propagation

By Omar Rodriguez, NCAT Agriculture Specialist Having decided to settle down in a suburb, my parents had limited space to grow all of the plants that they wanted. One thing was for certain: avocados would be a part of the mix. Starting with one tree in the back yard, yields were lacking and we couldn’t… Continue Reading

The Plight of the Monarch

  Many of the insect species we depend on for pollination, pest control, and recycling activities are also casualties (although unintended) of the systems we have put in place to provide food for our growing population. The monarch butterfly is emblematic of the broader challenges we face as land stewards and protectors of the environment.… Continue Reading

The Latino Farmer Conference is Coming!

The Latino Farmer Conference is Coming!

It’s just over two months until the 5th annual Latino Farmer Conference, set for Tuesday, November 19, in Tulare, California. This year’s conference will be held at the Tulare International Agri-Center. The goal of the conference is to share information about sustainable agriculture production to fill knowledge gaps that are impacting Latino farmers. In order… Continue Reading

NCAT’s partnership with the International Rescue Committee

Over the last two years NCAT has partnered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to provide on-farm training to refugee farmers. For our readers who are unfamiliar with the role of the IRC, here is a little background: the IRC is dedicated to minimizing the many challenges that affect the global south. They respond to… Continue Reading

Planting a Hedgerow with Sequoia Farms

One of our favorite things at NCAT is get out to the field and help farmers implement projects that help the farmer as well as the little critters with whom we share our farm spaces. On this visit to Sequoia Farms, we had the opportunity to help design and plant a hedgerow. A hedgerow in… Continue Reading

California Healthy Soils Incentives Program: Application deadline-March 8, 2019

From cover crops to residue and tillage management, the Healthy Soils Incentives Program by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) provides funds for farmers and ranchers to implement farming practices with the aims of building organic soil carbon and reducing atmospheric greenhouse gasses. There are over 25 eligible practices to choose from and… Continue Reading

A look back at the California Armed to Farm 2018

We finally did it! We brought NCAT’s Armed to Farm (ATF) training to California. The first California Armed to Farm training was host to 27 individual beginning farmers representing all branches of the military. Some came from as far away as Arizona and Washington in their efforts to bridge the gap between the military service… Continue Reading

Cover Crop for Nematode Management

Many natural systems benefit from complexity. When natural processes are mimicked within a cropping system and are allowed to adapt and grow in concert with present and introduced species, efficiency among species are often a resulting benefit. Take the experience of farmer Daniel Unruh, who specializes in the production of walnuts. His orchard floors can… Continue Reading

Applied IPM for Two-Spotted Spider Mite

As a crop, strawberries occupy a niche market which many find attractive due to their relatively high marketability and breadth of established knowledge available to the farmer. Like every other crop, however, strawberries pose their own challenges to the farmer seeking to supplement or dominate their farm income with this high value crop. Among these… Continue Reading

SAVE The Date! 3rd Annual Latino Farmer Conference

SAVE The Date! 3rd Annual Latino Farmer Conference

The 3rd Annual Latino Farmer Conference will be held Tuesday, November 7, 2017, in Palm Desert, California.  NCAT and NRCS are excited to hold this unique event in Southern California, and we look forward to seeing you there!  Please check our Facebook page and website  for more details as they become available. Continue Reading

California Office Summer Workshops and Latino Farmer Conference

California Office Summer Workshops and Latino Farmer Conference

NCAT  agriculture specialists Pame Wolfe and Thea Rittenhouse co-taught a workshop in August about organic certification for crops and livestock at the Center for Land Based Learning in Winters, CA. Approximately 20 beginning farmer apprentices learned how to become a certified organic farm operation. This workshop was taught as a component of the Growing Roots Project,… Continue Reading

NCAT teaches Pest/Beneficial Identification Workshop: “Farm CSI”

NCAT teaches Pest/Beneficial Identification Workshop: “Farm CSI”

NCAT specialist Rex Dufour traveled to Stockton, CA to the Boggs Tract Community Farm on April 18 and April 20 to conduct 2 part classroom and field course on Pest & Beneficial Identification and Management. For the classroom component, Rex focused on talking about basic approaches to pest management—understanding the types of damage that chewing… Continue Reading

NCAT on the Farm!

NCAT on the Farm!

May is always the beginning of the farm season in Northern California. NCAT tries to visit different farms this time of the year to provide technical assistance and training for many different types of farmers. These visits help us understand more and learn about current trends in sustainable agriculture. Recently, Pamela Wolfe, NCAT livestock specialist,… Continue Reading

USDA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Grant gets “Growing”!

USDA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Grant gets “Growing”!

The NCAT western regional office is currently working on USDA funded Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development grant titled, “ Growing Roots”, a collaborative effort among 5 partner organizations to increase networking among beginning farmers and ranchers and to offer training and technical assistance at 12 “agricultural learning hub” locations. Over the course of the next two years,… Continue Reading

USDA-Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project

USDA-Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project NCAT is working in collaboration with the University of California Berkeley and other partners on a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project (BFRDP). This summer we have been organizing and planning many different workshops throughout Northern California and the Bay Area, along with providing technical assistance and training… Continue Reading

A Message From The Western Regional Office Director Rex Dufour

It’s always busy in NCAT’s Western Regional office, but spring and summer are perhaps busier times because farmers are preparing to plant, planting, and then managing their crops in the fourth year of drought in California. We provide information about how to deal with these challenging circumstances through workshops, free phone consultation, and the ATTRA website.… Continue Reading

Meet Ann Baier!

Meet Ann Baier!

As a Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Specialist with NCAT in California, Ann Baier answers farmer and rancher questions and facilitates practical workshops. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lewis and Clark College, Ann completed her master’s in International Agricultural Development at the University of California at Davis in 1990 with a specialization in… Continue Reading

The Buzzing Struggles Almond Growers Face  

The Buzzing Struggles Almond Growers Face  

In our work with almond growers in Stanislaus and Merced Counties, we’ve met several almond growers who are attempting to raise bees in order to decrease the money they spend on hive rental, which can be between $150-200 per hive, and two hives are recommended per acre of almonds.  Even for a small orchard of… Continue Reading

Alert Farmers: Bagrada Bug Comes to Yolo County!

The Bagrada Bug, a pest that arrived in Southern California sometime in 2008, is now in Yolo County.  An infestation was found in Esparto in August, 2014. Watch a short clip of the Bagrada Bug This pest is a member of the stink bug family, although typically is about half the size, or smaller, than a… Continue Reading

Beginning Farmer & Rancher Program UPDATE!

Congratulations to the NCAT office for completing the California Beginning Farmer and Rancher (BFR) workshops. Now time for the nitty-gritty work. NCAT’s California office staff will be performing follow-ups in the next few weeks in order to establish how the BFR workshops have helped participants. This portion of the project is just as important and… Continue Reading

UCCED To Host Free Cottage Food Workshops

UC Cooperative Extensions Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources will be hosting a series of Cottage Food Law workshops. The California Homemade Food Act (AB1616) allows individuals to prepare and package certain non-potentially hazardous food in private home kitchens. Unfortunately process meat, dairy, fermented foods and juices are not legally acceptable cottage foods. The series… Continue Reading

NCAT Travels to Sebastopol for First Farmers Guild Raising Event

  On February 15th, farmers, consumers, grocers, restaurant owners, chefs, and community members from Mendocino County, Sonoma Valley, Yolo County and Sebastopol all gathered at the Sebastopol Grange to celebrate the first collaborative Guild Raising. NCAT specialists Rex Dufour, Marisa Alcorta and Intern Emma Koefoed attended the event as a chance to network and promote… Continue Reading

Market Linking Workshop February 20, 2014 in Monterey.

NCAT specialist Ann Baier is organizing a bilingual (English and Spanish) Market Linking Workshop that will expand on the marketing and promotional materials workshop held earlier this year. In January Ann and NCAT specialist Marisa Alcorta spoke to farmers about developing promotional materials for their farms, and strategies for utilizing free advertising to market their… Continue Reading

Taller de Manejo Ecológico de Plagas 6 feb 2014 en Modesto

Por favor únase a nosotros en un taller de manejo ecológico de plagas que se llevará a cabo este Jueves 6 de Febrero, 2014 en Modesto, CA. La discusión del taller será en ESPAñOL y se realizará en el Harvest Hall Conference Room, en el Service Center del USDA, y a continuación un tur a… Continue Reading

Monterey Marketing Workshop Televised by Univision!

Earlier this month NCAT specialists Ann Baier and Marisa Alcorta organized and presented a bilingual (English and Spanish) Marketing & Promotional Materials workshop that was hosted by Agriculture Land-Based Training Program (ALBA) and NCAT. This workshop is part of an ongoing series of trainings that will be held throughout the year as part of a… Continue Reading

Ann Baier Champions NCAT and Small Farmers

Congratulations to Ann Baier, NCAT Program Specialist, who was invited to talk with Food Chain Radio’s host, Michael Olson, on Good Morning Monterey earlier this week. Ann is a UC Davis graduate with a masters degree in international agriculture development and agronomy. She has experience in providing training and education to minority and limited resource… Continue Reading

Mercadeo de Productos Agrícolas 16th de Enero

Taller : Mercadeo de Productos Agrícolas  Dónde: ALBA: Centro de Desarrollo Rural 1700 Old Stage Road, Salinas, CA 93908 Cuándo  Jueves 16 de Enero a las  8:30AM a 12:00PM Qué :Este taller le ayudará a: Prepararse para una buena presentación a potenciales compradores, y para mantener buenas relaciones con sus clientes. También diseñar y desarrollar materiales promocionales como etiquetas, tarjetas… Continue Reading

Marketing of Farm Products Workshop January 16th

  Marketing of Farm Products Workshop  Where: ALBA: Rural Development Center  1700 Old Stage Road, Salinas, CA 93908 When: January 16, 2014 8:30AM a 12:00PM What: This workshop will focus on  presenting yourself well to potential buyers, and maintaining good working relationship with your customers. Also how to design and develop promotional materials such as labels, business cards, bar… Continue Reading

NCAT Specialist Returns From IOIA-Inspector Training Program

Welcome Back Pame! Pamela Wolfe,  NCAT’s  Livestock Specialist, has returned from her travels to Binghamton, New York where she was specially choosen to participate in the International Organics Inspectors Association Inspector (IOIA)-Training Seminar. I sat down this week with Pame to discuss her educational experience. The International Organic Inspectors Association was founded in 1991 and… Continue Reading

Farm Hack-Davis November 16-17th 2013

On November 16th and 17th , the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the UC Davis Sustainable Ag Tech Innovation Center are sponsoring the first-ever West Coast Farm Hack in Davis, CA! Farmers interested in collaborative design will come together with makers, builders, engineers, architects, fabricators, software designers and others to look at a… Continue Reading

Marketing and Record Keeping Essentials Workshop at Soil Born Farm Oct 23, 2013

  NCAT Agricultural Specialist Marisa Alcorta will present a “Marketing and Record Keeping Essentials” workshop as part of Soil Born Farm’s  Grow Your Own Groceries series. Grow Your Own Groceries, launched this past spring, is a series of 3-hour workshops geared towards training the aspiring urban farmer.  Instructors are experienced in organic agriculture and experts in… Continue Reading

CA Workshop on Crop Marketing October 17, 2013

Marisa Alcorta, a program specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), will be sharing her expertise on marketing-plan strategies during “Developing a Marketing Plan for Veggies, Fruits, and Other Specialty Crops,” a free workshop on Thursday, October 17, in Pleasant Hill, California. The workshop is sponsored by Alameda County Conservation Partnership, Sustainable Agriculture… Continue Reading

Taller de Regulaciones Legales para Agricultores 10th de Octubre 2013

Si usted está interesado en aprender acerca de cómo mantenerse en el cumplimiento de las distintas leyes que regulan el negocio de la agricultura, por favor venga a este evento. El Centro Nacional para la Tecnología Apropiada (NCAT), y el Servicio de Conservación de Recursos Naturales (NCRS), están organizando este taller informativo en Modesto, CA… Continue Reading

UC Davis Welcome Night 2013

Marisa Alcorta and Emma Koefoed had a lovely time visiting the UC Davis Ecology Garden earlier this week to welcome new and transferring students to the University. It was just our luck that we were given the opportunity to venture out to this lovely hidden gem and interact with students interested in agriculture and sustainability.… Continue Reading

Legal Regulations Workshop for Farmers October 10, 2013

If you are interested in learning about how to stay in compliance with different laws that regulate your farming business, please come to this workshop event. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NCRS) are hosting this informational workshop  in Modesto, CA, at the Harvest Hall Conference Room  from 8:00… Continue Reading


California staff members have also been aiding in planning for two major conferences held in California. Karen Van Epen helped to organize Spanish-language workshops for the Ecological Farming Conference held January 21-24, and Rex Dufour participated in planning the California Small Farm Conference set for March 1-3, where he will lead an organics tour. Continue Reading

ATTRA in Spanish

California office staff members have recently spearheaded the translation and production of several ATTRA publications in Spanish, and also worked on text and translations for three new Spanish-language resources about community food security, developed in English by the Community Food Security Coalition and World Hunger Year. The flyers can be found and downloaded in PDF… Continue Reading