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Spring is in the air in the western states! This spring NCAT's agriculture specialists will be presenting at many different workshops and conferences and creating new resources for beginning farmers! Of course we will also be out on the field this spring and summer, providing technical assistance and training to farmers and ranchers on various topics. Read on for our success stories from this past winter.

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First Latino Farmer Conference a Huge Success

NCAT was pleased to co-sponsor with USDA/NRCS the very first Latino Farmer Conference, held November 3 in Fresno, California. There were 265 total attendees, which included 155 Latino farmers — a fantastic turnout! The conference was presented in Spanish, with available translation to English. The conference included workshop presentations, a farmer panel, and "speed dating" style resource share for farmers and ranchers. NCAT staff member Ann Baier shared NCAT resources during the "Assistance Programs for Farmers" speed-dating workshop, and NCAT staff member Thea Rittenhouse presented in the "Marketing Your Way to Success" workshop. NCAT staff member Pamela Wolfe created an excellent display booth with all of the NCAT Spanish publications and was on hand to answer questions and gather sign-ups for technical assistance. Western regional director Rex Dufour helped with conference coordination and took pictures of the event.

When asked what the best part of the conference was, one farmer replied, "The great coordination of the first conference and uniting all of the Latino farmers together in one room. It was a great success, congratulations to everyone!"

The conference was so successful that a 2016 Latino Farmer conference is now being planned for November in the California central coast region. Please check the website for up-to-date information and registration information: We hope you can join us this year!

Latino Farm Conference
Latino Farmer Conference 2015: NCAT Sustainable Ag Specialist Thea Rittenhouse welcomes the conference attendees.
The conference included statewide and national partners: L-R Oscar Gonzales, Jr., State Executive Director of the California Farm Service Agency; Carlos Suarez, NRCS California State Conservationis; Fred Pfaeffle Arana, former USDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; and Vanessa Robledo, keynote speaker and owner of Vanessa Robledo Wine Consultant Services.

2016 Winter Conference Season - Presentations & Field Courses

NCAT staff presented workshops and field courses at two California farming conferences — EcoFarm and the California Small Farm Conference — and at the Functional Agriculture Biodiversity meeting in Oregon. They also presented at the Nevada Small Farm Conference and at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Conference.

eco conference 2016
NCAT Specialists (L-R) Pamela Wolfe and Thea Rittenhouse staff the information booth at the 2016 EcoFarm Conference in Pacific Grove, California.

NCAT attends Conference for Women Veterans

NCAT staff member Pamela Wolfe represented NCAT at a recent conference for women veterans. Approximately 180 women veterans attended the conference on April 16 at McClellan Air Force base near Sacramento, California. She distributed ATTRA resources and discussed farming options for women veterans at the conference. This conference was the first of several upcoming outreach events for veterans and veteran farmers in the area.
women veterans conference
NCAT Ag Specialist Pamela Wolfe at the Women Veteran's Conference on April 16 near Sacramento, California.

USDA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Grant gets "Growing"!

USDA beginning farmer

NCAT staff are currently working on a USDA-funded Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development grant titled, "Growing Roots," a collaborative effort among five 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, Western regional office specialists will be delivering almost 70 workshops for beginning farmers and ranchers in California on topics such as ecological production practices, marketing, farm business planning, pastured poultry and pork production, food safety, and the cottage food law. This year we will also be creating practical tipsheets, short videos, and informational pieces in English, Spanish and Hmong languages. If you are a beginning farmer with 10 years or less of experience, these workshops could be for you! More information and calendar of workshops can be found on the Growing Roots website:

Some examples of workshops previously taught: "Small Farm Business Planning," "Marketing your Farm Products," "Good Bugs/Bad Bugs Pest ID," "Understanding Soil Function," "Urban Farm Marketing Panel,""Pastured Pork and Small Ruminant Production," "On-Farm Food Safety," "Organic Recordkeeping," and more!

NCAT Connects Farmers with NRCS Farm Conservation Resources

NCAT staff specialists love to get out in the field and help farmers, and one of the ways we do this is to connect beginning and under-resourced farmers with the various resources available with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) through their Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). Read below for one of our farmer success stories!

Beginning farmer Chris Hay of Say Hay Farms, near Sacramento, first came into contact with NCAT at the 2010 EcoFarm Conference when he attended a workshop given by Western Regional Office Director Rex Dufour. He was just starting his organic farm. Rex had been working with another small farmer in the area, so he suggested he come out to the farm to conduct a soil test. As a beginning farmer, Chris had not heard about NRCS cost share programs or the technical assistance NRCS can provide. The soil test showed he needed major amendments for his heavy Class 3 clay soils. Rex was able to interpret and explain the soil test to Chris and give him suggestions for a soil management plan. At that point, Rex asked Chris if he had heard of NRCS EQIP cost share programs such as cover crops, hedgerows, beneficial habitat, compost as mulch, and irrigation water management. Chris had not heard of the programs, but he contacted the local NRCS office to find out more about EQIP and get signed up. From that point on, the local NRCS office worked collaboratively with Rex to ensure that Chris received ongoing technical assistance for the eligible EQIP cost share practices. Six years later, Say Hay Farms has successfully transitioned 30 acres of formerly conventional ground to organic production, with the help of at least six NRCS EQIP cost share programs. Rex has provided one-on-one technical assistance for him throughout the process, even volunteering to get on the tractor and help transplant the hedgerow plants! This is just one example of how NCAT, through its ATTRA program, helps farmers and ranchers to improve their farm operations.

For more information on EQIP funding programs, contact us at 1-800-346-9140 or visit the NRCS website:

newly planted hedgerow
Newly planted hedgerow at Say Hay Farms near Sacramento, California, with funding from NRCS EQIP cost share program. (R): Farmer Chris Hay of Say Hay Farms speaks to other farmers about the hedgerow and other conservation practices used on his farm at a field course at the 2016 California Small Farm Conference.

Upcoming Workshops

April 24 - Integrated Pest Management workshop and field course, Puentes Center, Stockton, CA

April 26 - Marketing 101, Center for Land Based Learning, Winters, CA

June 2 - Organic Recordkeeping Webinar, with Farmer Veteran Coalition

June 4 - Pastured Pork / Small Ruminants workshop, Soil Born Farm, Rancho Cordova, CA

June 7 - Pest-Beneficial ID and Management classroom class, Center for Land-based Learning (CLBL)

June 13 - Farm Business Planning, Puentes Center, Stockton, CA

June 20 - Selling at Farmers' Market, Puentes Center, Stockton, CA

June 22 - Pest-Beneficial ID and Management Classroom Class, ALBA, Salinas, CA

June 25 - Pest-Beneficial ID and Management field class ALBA, Salinas, CA

July 18 - Pest-Beneficial ID and Management walk-around, Center for Land-Based Learning Winters, CA

July 19 - Pest-Beneficial ID and Management field class, Center for Land-based Learning, Winters, CA

Aug 13 - Pastured Poultry Workshop, Soil Born Farm, Rancho Cordova, CA

Upcoming Conferences/Events

June 15 Resources for Veteran Farmers Workshop, Elk Grove, CA

July 29 to 31 Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Conference (SAEA), Santa Cruz, CA.

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Copyright © April 2016
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

NCAT Western mailing address:
36355 Russell Blvd.
P.O. Box 2218
Davis, CA 95617

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