Sustainable Farming Gets New Look in the State of Jefferson


Deprecated: Non-static method C_Photocrati_Settings_Manager::get() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /nas/content/live/scgh/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/nextgen_gallery_display/class.displayed_gallery.php on line 132

Deprecated: Non-static method C_Photocrati_Settings_Manager_Base::get() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /nas/content/live/scgh/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/non_pope/class.photocrati_settings_manager.php on line 272

Deprecated: Non-static method C_Photocrati_Settings_Manager::get() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /nas/content/live/scgh/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/nextgen_gallery_display/class.displayed_gallery.php on line 132

Deprecated: Non-static method C_Photocrati_Settings_Manager_Base::get() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /nas/content/live/scgh/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/non_pope/class.photocrati_settings_manager.php on line 272

jeff-coop-farm-mountain

By Debra Atlas
August 31, 2012

The mountainous region of northern California and southern Oregon have an interesting and unique history. It comprises what many in the area refer to as “the state of Jefferson” – an area that since 1859 has officially clamored at least three times to become this country’s 51st state. Had the bombing of Pearl Harbor not occurred, there is a possibility this movement to secede and form a new state might actually have taken place.

A participant at the Sierra Nevada Innovation Challenge earlier this summer is brewing an exciting new venture that could bring a renewed focus to this region.

The Jefferson Farm Cooperative is the brainchild of farmer James Brock and Dr. Bruce Balgooyen of the California State University at Chico. Still in its early stages, this new venture is “a sustainable farm network that supports farms, farmers and crops in the Jefferson territory.” Brock and Balgooyen intend to create the Jefferson Farm Federation, which will be an organized group of sustainable farms that share “resources, free market opportunities and member support” in order to “improve local food sustainability.”

“There aren’t any real sustainable farms right now,” said Brock. The forward thinking duo intends to change that.

Working cooperatively together for the past seven years, Brock and Balgooyen believe that by working together with other farmers, this region has a real chance to attain sustainability. From a natural resource standpoint, Brock says “we’re the best in the west. (This area) has the most water in the West; it has the most timberland and it has some of the best farmland.” The region also has thousand year old redwoods – an indicator species as to climate change, said Brock.

Brock emphasized that with climate change accelerating and the northwest forest drying up, we’ve got to be prepared for what’s coming. “We have ten years to start moving forward on sustainability,” Brock said. We have to take steps with anomalies and the weather, he said. “If we get zone changes” – and, he admitted, we’ve already begun to see them in the form of weather anomalies, extreme heat, etc  – “we need infrastructure and to take steps to address those anomalies.” We need to prepare for crop loss and such so we have a more stable food supply, said Brock.

Brock explained how they are facing the challenge now by lengthening the seasons. “If you measure sustainability in terms of output,” he said, “we’ve been able to extend the season of most crops, some year round.” The two have already acquired a storage facility to keep onions and garlic so that they can offer these eight months of the year.  They’ve also been able to produce high quality lettuce that can grow in the infamous northstate triple digit heat. There’s only one other farmer who’s been able to duplicate this, and Balgooyen taught him how to grow it!

Our goal, said Balgooyen, is to have intensive agriculture in a sustainable way so we can handle less impacts on the areas we care about. “We’re all in this together,” Brock said.  That sums up our philosophy, says Balgooyen.  A cooperative effort is what it will take for us to move forward in sustainability, noted Brock – “sustaining farms, farmers and crops.”

The Jefferson Farming Cooperative features a farm elder program, which offers internships where they teach farming skills to interns and pass on valuable knowledge and years worth of experience. Internships are an essential part of farming, said Brock. The two are teaming up with a combination of university and college credits plus internships to teach the next generation of young farmers.

Sustainability is crucial to the future of food production, said Balgooyen. In the short term, farming with a big carbon footprint is more efficient, more advantageous, said Balgooyen. He used the example of a recent visit to a large discount supermarket, where he saw four cucumbers for $1.00.

“As a society,” Balgooyen says, “we have to start valuing sustainability on more than just low price. For a lot of people, that’s the basis for shopping.” When it comes to sustainably grown food, he said, “we can’t compete on price, but we can compete on quality and nutritional value.”

“We vote with the choices we make every day,” said Brock. By directing the money you spend on sustainably sourced food, you are supporting an entire chain of positive initiatives for yourself, your community, and your children’s generation.

What Brock and Balgooyen envision is something unique in farming. The Farm Federation would band together farms throughout the region and create a fund that would be utilized to finance sustainable farm projects. This would include purchasing farm equipment such as dump trucks or tractors that would be used collectively between federation members, saving each from having to purchase one individually. Once farms joined the federation, they would then contribute 10 percent of their sales back to the fund, which can then be used by the next sustainable farm project or individual projects on other farms. That way, the fund is constantly being renewed and becoming more valuable, says Brock.

What the farmer members would get in return would include individual consulting, including the type of crops they could plant in their region. They will also receive help to establish a market for their products and other facets that will help them succeed. They could also share labor within the Federation, a real cost savings for farmers.

Brock and Balgooyen are in the process of establishing a Kickstarter campaign to raise initial funds that will allow them to build out the Co-op and begin bringing in members of the fledgling Farm Federation.

“The State of Jefferson region can be an example around the world,” said Brock.

“We’re open to partners,” said Brock. For now, farmers interested in discussing the benefits and details of this can see Balgooyen and Brock at their booth at the Chico Farmers Market on Saturdays or at the Paradise Market on Tuesdays.

 

For related articles, see:
Environmentalism and Innovation at Sierra Nevada Competition
Can Environmentally Friendly Agriculture Grow As We Grow?
Urban Farm – A Growing Trend
Teaching Kids Environmentalism with Edible Schoolyards

© 2012 SCGH, LLC. 

Add Comment

Art and Design Energy Star Green News Insider Interviews Lifestyle Success Stories Travel Videos
How to Choose the Right Light Bulb for Your Home
Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink….
A New Champion At The Weather Channel Answers All You Want To Know About The Weather But Were Afraid To Ask
Air sealing Apparel Appliances Bath Bed Body Care Books and DVDs Cabinets Children and babies Cleaning Composting Countertops Dry cleaning Electronics Energy Auditors and Home Performance Contractors Flooring Food Furniture Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) Holiday Home renovation helpers Home safety products Indoor Air Quality Insulation Landscaping and outdoors Lighting Lumber and panel products Miscellaneous Paints Finishes and Adhesives Passive Solar Personal Care Pest control (indoors) Pets Recycling Renewable energy Roofing products Siding Solar Transportation Waste Water Water fixtures and plumbing Windows skylights and doors
How to Choose the Right Light Bulb for Your Home
Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink….
Squeezing Water From A Rock