NCAT Western Regional Office Homepage

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Hello and Happy New Year! We hope this year has gotten off to a great start for everyone. We have been busy buttoning up last year's projects, creating podcasts and new publications, and preparing for the year to come. Check out what we have been up to below.

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Wrap Up of 2017

New Staff

2017 was an eventful year for the NCAT Western Regional Office. For starters, we added two new hires – Omar Rodriguez and Martin Guerena. Omar comes to NCAT after working as a farm hand, farmers market manager, and Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.

Martin Guerena returned to NCAT in November after a 10-year hiatus as the Integrated Pest Management Specialist with the city of Davis, California. Martin's previous experience in southwest agriculture and as a NCAT sustainable agricultural specialist -- in addition to Omar's experiences and abilities—increases our technical capabilities, outreach abilities, and capacity to work with the Spanish speaking populations.



Western Office Staff 2018




The Latino Farmer Conference 2017

The third annual Latino Farmer Conference, entitled "Creciendo Juntos" (Growing Together), took place at the UC Riverside Palm Desert Center in Palm Desert, California, on November 7, 2017. It attracted 290 attendees, of which 150 were agricultural producers. The non-producers who attended the conference included exhibitors, speakers, community-based and nonprofit organizations, local businesses, and students. It was a unique and successful gathering that encouraged Latino producers to participate in a conference where they could communicate with other colleagues, attend workshops, and speak to experts in their native language. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the U.S. with 45 million speakers, making the United States the third-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico and Colombia. Spanish is the predominant language of 81% of crop workers in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The conference provided these producers the opportunity to learn, network, and share experiences, enhancing the community of Spanish speaking farmers in the United States.

Martin at LFC2017 LFC participants 2017




Healthy Soils

Through the Healthy Soils Incentives Program, and funding made available from California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), NCAT helped three minority farmers apply for and secure funding for various soils improvement practices subsidized by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). This is the first year this project is being funded, and the three farmers' efforts will be a test for the project's future. Funding beyond this year is uncertain even considering mounting interest from farmers in the state.




Mien Strawberry Growers

Through a USDA Risk Management Agency grant, NCAT was able to work with several Mien strawberry growers in addressing pest and conservation issues. Our staff dedicated several farm visits to teaching farmers about biological controls and cultural practices for managing spider mites, a prevalent pest species in the California central valley. Predatory mites were delivered, and NCAT staff worked with the farmers to demonstrate the proper spreading technique. One farmer took this a step further and decided to add beneficial habitat, which will invite predatory insects onto his property and into his strawberry patch.




Looking Ahead to 2018

ATF digging picture

Armed to Farm Training

NCAT is bringing the week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) training to California for the first time. ATF gives veterans an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and examine farming as a viable career.

ATF combines engaging classroom sessions with farm tours and hands-on activities. Participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, fruit and vegetable production, livestock production, and more. Participants gain a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farming enterprise. In addition, ATF attendees join a nationwide network of supportive farmer-veterans and agricultural advisors.

Veterans can visit https://www.ncat.org/atf_CA/ to complete an application by March 2, 2018. Armed to Farm is scheduled for April 16 to April 20, 2018 at Glide Ranch in Davis, CA




Risk Management Agency (RMA) projects

NCAT is working with other local non-profits on additional RMA-funded projects which focus on training growers on reducing risk, as well as discussing a relatively new tool known as Whole Farm Revenue Protection insurance. The insurance provides a risk management safety net for all commodities on the farm under one insurance policy, and our staff can assist farmers in understanding the pros and cons of purchasing the coverage.




Pastured Poultry

NCAT is collaborating with UC Davis on a Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Grant to provide 1-day, 2-day, and week-long workshops about pastured poultry in California and Oregon. More information about these workshops can be had at: http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry/UC_Davis_Pasture_Poultry_and_Innovation_Farm/Outreach_and_Events/

Or you can contact Dr. Maurice Pitesky, mepitesky@ucdavis.edu




First Generation Farms

First Generation Farms is joining the list of farm incubators in California and is adding their own vision to the framework of the concept. Once accepted to the program, trainees will live on the property and dedicate themselves for as many as three growing seasons to the intensive training. NCAT will act as support and offer their technical expertise throughout the project through planned workshop sessions. For more information, visit: https://firstgenerationfarmers.org/




International Refugee Committee

NCAT has been helping the International Rescue Committee (IRC) teach some beginning immigrant farmers on the IRC's experimental farm in West Sacramento. Our work focuses on crop planning and marketing, as well as pest and beneficial identification. This year we plan to continue the project, working closely with a mostly Bhutanese refugee farmer population, providing technical farm visits on pest management, post-harvest handling, and crop planning, among other topics.




Fourth Annual Latino Farm Conference

The Latino Farmer Conference will be back for its fourth year, and we are thrilled about it. A final location has not been set yet, but we are looking in areas that promise to help us broaden our reach to the Latino community in California and neighboring states. As the fastest growing group of farmers in the United States, Latinos represent a population which can benefit greatly from the technical and policy information sessions offered at the Latino Farmer Conference. For more information about the 2017 conference please visit: https://latinofarmerconference.ncat.org. Watch for a 2018 Latino Conference webpage in the coming months.

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Copyright © January 2018
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NCAT Western mailing address:
36355 Russell Blvd.
P.O. Box 2218
Davis, CA 95617
530-792-7338
800-ASK-NCAT

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THE NCAT MISSION
Helping people by championing small-scale, local, and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources.