The first annual "Wild Tarantula Trails" adventure on Restoration Oaks Ranch was fabulous!! Our group of 25 found 6 wild tarantulas, and four of the six were courting, so it was quite a show!

For the brave, we picked up a couple of our fuzzy arachnid friends and let them gently walk from hand to hand until everybody that wanted to, got a chance to have a tarantula walk on them. The Tarantula's Hand-Walking behavior is amazing to experience.

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

"The flow of labor began drying up when President Obama tightened the border. Now President Trump is promising to deport more people, raid more companies and build a wall on the southern border..."

There actually is farm labor available. At least there is on the South Central Coast. Really. We just need to legitimize the laborers and bring them out of the shadows. These are people, not data points serving a political purpose. I am not talking about amnesty, I am talking about inexpensive, easily administered work programs that serve farms, communities and families. The problem is self-serving government, not "illegal aliens".

Keep in mind as you read the article below that the primary farm being used as a case-in-point is a 1,000 acre wine grape farm utilizing large farm practices with working capital to invest, not a small farm utilizing small farm practices with very limited working capital.

By the way, there are plenty of smart, hard-working, non-traditional American and other First World Country field workers that would work for real cheap on a farm, at least on a temporary basis. They do it just for the wonderful experience of working the land before they get crammed into an office cubicle for the rest of their lives. They're called "Wwoofers" (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). 

 

~ Ed Seaman
   Wild Farmlands Foundation
   Restoration Oaks Ranch

   Santa Barbara Blueberries

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

"With soil, there’s so much going on that is so close to us, that’s so interesting and multifaceted, that affects our lives in so many ways—and it’s just lying there beneath our feet..."

Dirt (soil) is much more important that we thought. We are actually becoming more aware of the importance of healthy soil because of our new attentiveness to the carbon cycle and its importance in the context of climate change. 

Greater scrutiny should lead to a greater appreciation of the stewards of our food-producing lands, and trigger changes to the way we manage our food systems. From a small farmer's perspective, Californias' 2017 Healthy Soils Initiative mentioned in this article is a step in the right direction, but as participants, we know that the program and the formulas for getting resources from the state into the hands of the farmers and ranchers who truly want to participate is still too convoluted. We can do better...

This article by Kat Kerlin provides some great food for thought. 

 

~ Ed Seaman
   Wild Farmlands Foundation
   Restoration Oaks Ranch

   Santa Barbara Blueberries

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

Chris Newman nails this.

Chris talks intellegently about the importance of the heritage animals, heirloom plants, small farms, farmsteads and personal gardens as food sources while acknowledging the value of the global food system.

There is no boogeyman or conspiracy, and the CEO of Manzanto doesn't want to kill us. The people of developed 1st world countries are simply giving up their food sovereignty to the global food system. Not good.

 

~ Ed Seaman
   Wild Farmlands Foundation
   Santa Barbara Blueberries

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

Intriguing article written by Micki Seibel.

When Micki talks about our next food system, she does so as a thinker, an innovator. She is aligned with quite a few other thinkers that believe we need to make changes to how we grow and distribute food and disposition green waste. The high-level description of the evolution of our food system, the ideas presented about mimicking nature, green packaging and localizing with indoor urban farms and new sources of protein are good.

Like everybody else, however, Ms. Seibel lumps small farms serving local food systems in with big farms serving the global food system. Her article is, in fact, talking about the global food system, not local food systems. Small farms are already leading the way in many areas of organic, sustainable food that regenerates the ecosystems. Why no love?

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

Great blog post from our friends at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Let me paraphrase the key finding of this study: For every dollar of sales, farmers that sold directly to their customers in a local food system generated twice as much local economic activity as farmers that sold into the global food system.

What the Coop Extension team didn't do was identify the number of small farms (less than 200 acres) engaged in this regional study as compared to large farms. I'm sure they would have found the majority of the local economic value came from small local farms. The same small farms that California is losing at a 533 per year clip since 1992. Kind of ironic, but there are things we can do to stop the small farm attrition. It starts with education. Let's always make the distinction between small farms serving local food systems and large farms serving the global food system. 

 

~ Ed Seaman
   Wild Farmlands Foundation
   Santa Barbara Blueberries

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

The Sacramento Bee posted this article in September, 2016, before Northern California's above average winter season of 2016/2017. Since most farming that occurs in arid lands is supported by the underlying aquifer, and since California is considered one of the most advanced agricultural regions in the world, I find it fascinating that we can't figure this out.

If you take the state of California as a whole, there is plenty of water. We get more than enough rain and snowfall to support people, farms and even tiny rare fishes. Yet, we overdraft our aquifers and point fingers. I guess us Westerners aren't so smart after all, huh?

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

A well-written piece that originally posted on the New York Times in 2015. Carbon farming initiatives are popping up all over the place now, including here on the South Central Coast. Stay tuned. A couple of related things to keep in mind as you read this article:

First, the run-off pollution cited in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio river basins comes from large farms serving the global food system, not small farms serving local food systems. Like most articles written on farming that show up in national media, the small farm is lumped in with large farms. Our little ole' 16 acre blueberry farm couldn't pollute waterways even if we wanted it to! Oh, and another question, "what waterway?"  Small farms are not the same as large farms. Make the distinction.

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

Halloween is big business these days.

Americans are expected to spend an all-time high $2.7 billion this year on Halloween candy alone. That’s $550 million more than was spent on chocolate bars, candy corn, and malt balls just 10 years ago. In fairness, this increase doesn’t mean that people are buying a lot more candy. It simply means that the candy people are buying costs more. So, how much of this record-setting revenue will be flowing to the sugar farmers that made the sweet treats possible?

Ed Seaman
Ed Seaman

Here is a very interesting article I found in the Santa Barbara Independent posted way back in May, 2011. The headline and subhead were:

Localizing our Food System

Research, Action, and Policy Discussed in Two-Day Agrifood Systems Workshop

This article was well written by Rebecca Bachman, but a couple of things had me scratching my head after reading it. First, the workshop apparently didn't make the obvious (to us) distinction between farms serving local food systems and those serving the global food system.

You want to know why 99 percent of produce grown in Santa Barbara County is exported and 95 percent is imported? First determine how much is being sourced through the global food system and how much is sourced directly from the local food system. I'd be willing to bet the farm that the majority of food being consumed and wasted in Santa Barbara is sourced from the global food system, with international reach, logistics operations with refrigerated planes, trains and automobiles making the runs to and from refrigerated facilities all over the civilized globe.

Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) eat organic wastes, such as vegetable peelings, then excrete vermicasts. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Walters)
Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) eat organic wastes, such as vegetable peelings, then excrete vermicasts. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Walters)

Vermicasting, also called vermicomposting, is the processing of organic wastes through earthworms. It is a natural, odorless, aerobic process, much different from traditional composting. Earthworms ingest waste then excrete casts – dark, odourless, nutrient- and organically rich, soil mud granules that make an excellent soil conditioner. Earthworm casts are a ready-to-use fertilizer that can be used at a higher rate of application than compost, since nutrients are released at rates that growing plants prefer.  

Blues-MindBodyGreen
Blues-MindBodyGreen

Groundbreaking new research has revealed the importance of the microbiome, the vast community of bacteria that lives within us. It turns out these bacteria outnumber our cells by a factor of 10 to one!

Believe it or not, we are more bacteria than we are human. The microbiome in our gut governs many of our body’s key functions and is crucial to our overall health.

Veggies-Grains
Veggies-Grains

Newsrooms were quick to pounce on a new study released last week from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that alleges a link between farm policy and a person’s risk of obesity and other diseases like diabetes.

This study tries to give academic credence to an absurd argument that is used by professional critics in Washington, D.C. It goes something like this: Farm policy makes certain foods so cheap that Americans just can’t help themselves, and they eat until they’re fat.

     

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