NYFC May Newsletter: Gary Nabhan on the Forum, Update from the West


In the West, spring has arrived with hail, a foot of snow and three-digit temperatures. As climate change comes to the farm, we’re reminded how much we need a strong farm community.

This newsletter is all about how NYFC is bringing farmers together to face local challenges as a united front. We’ll fill you in on chapter events, policy updates, new developments in our Western water projects, and our May forum expert—who you won’t want to miss!

Spotlight on Rio Grande Farmers Coalition, Plus Organizing in the Southwest

Sarah Wentzel-Fisher formed the Rio Grande Farmers Coalition because she wanted to make fellow young farmers aware that they didn’t farm in a vacuum. She saw a number of opportunities, like NRCS high tunnels and FSA microloans, that young farmers didn’t take advantage of because there wasn’t a regular channel of communication and information dissemination.

Through regular events and online conversations, farmers in the Albuquerque area are now working together in collaborative projects including joint restaurant deliveries, tool exchanges, work trade and joint equipment and seed purchases.

Across the Southwest, young farmer organizing is taking off. Chapters have formed in Mesa County, CO; Fort Collins, CO; and Tuscon, AZ.  Others are establishing in San Diego, CA, Southwest CO, Moab and Salt Lake City, UT, and Bolder/Denver, CO. If you want to get involved with one of these groups or form one of your own, email kate@youngfarmers.org.

Award winning writer and activist Gary Paul Nabhan on the NYFC Farmers Forum

This week (May 19-23) Gary Paul Nabhan, farmer and founder of the Arizona-based Native Seed/SEARCH, will answer your questions on drought preparation, climate-resilient crops, water-saving farming techniques and more on NYFC’s Farmers Forum!

We also asked Gary for some wisdom on farming in a changing climate. Check out his guest blog post, “Innovative Farming in the Face of Climate Uncertainty.”

Six farmers exemplify water resiliency in the West

 

Mike De Smet is known for his friendly disposition, his inability to say no to a challenge, and a deeply ingrained love of dairy farming. De Smet grew up on the 125-acre dairy farm he now manages. But this is not his father’s dairy—he and his wife, Erica, have embarked on an ambitious and pioneering effort to build New Mexico’s first, and only, USDA certified organic, raw, grass fed dairy farm with a focus on on-till methods to conserve water.

Read the complete profile of Mike De Smet and how he is protecting his soil and water on the NYFC blog.

Water is increasingly one of the greatest challenges for young and beginning farmers in the arid West. To understand how young farmers are managing their water, NYFC visited six farmers from four Western states. From a hops grower in Colorado to a raw milk dairy farmer in New Mexico, these growers of varying scales share one thing in common: a sharp focus on soil health as the foundation for conservation and resilience.

But it doesn’t end with profiles. Based on feedback from the field, we are bringing farmers and ranchers together to share best practices in soil health through our larger Water Resiliency Project. This project covers seven states of the arid West and will culminate this fall in a farm tour, published case studies and a short film. Stay tuned for more!

Young farmers shape Colorado Water Plan

It is a rare opportunity that citizens are invited to craft state policy. But luckily that’s the case with the Colorado Water Plan. And our future as farmers and ranchers depends on its solutions.

With increasing stress on water supply, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order in May 2013 for the creation of a state water plan. Local citizen-led groups are tasked with shaping the plan based on public opinion. At stake is the future of agriculture in the state and the health of the rivers on which we depend. Will we find a balance?

NYFC has led call-ins to the Governor, published Op-Eds promoting conservation first, and is teaming up with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to increase awareness, host events and serve as a direct link to the State. We need you to help us make the most of this opportunity. Email kate@youngfarmers.org to get involved.

Sign the Colorado River & Western Water Pledge!

You don’t have to live in Colorado or any other Western state to show your support for healthy farms and healthy rivers. Our representatives need to hear that these two things matter to us– the Colorado River & Western Water Pledge is an easy action to take to show your commitment to water stewardship.

Whether you are a farmer or an eater, in the West or beyond, we all play a role in ensuring our rivers and streams continue to flow. Take 30 seconds now to sign the pledge!

 

Events

Come find us at an event near you!

Rio Grande Farmers Coalition Meeting with Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham

Albuquerque, NM — May 15th

10am-12pm at MRCOG office, Albuquerque, NM.

For more info, contact sarah@youngfarmers.org

Nevada County Farmers Guild Kick Off

Nevada City, CA – May 15th

6pm at First Rain Farm

19832 Rector Rd, Nevada City, CA 95959

More info at: www.farmersguild.org

Southwest Young Farmers Gathering

Mancos, CO — May 18th

9:30am at Mt. Lookout Grange, 680 Grand Ave, Mancos, CO 81328

For more info, contact Kate at kate@youngfarmers.org

Missouri Young Farmers Coalition Crop Mob

Columbia, MO — May 18th

1-5pm at Happy Hollow Farm

More info at: cropmobcolumbia@gmail.com

Mendocino Farmers Guild

Willits, CA – May 20th

7pm, Little Lake Grange Hall

291 School St, Willits, CA

More info at: www.farmersguild.org

TXYFC Hang Out & Farmer Mixer

Austin, TX – May 21st

Black Star Co-op, 7-9pm

Join TXYFC, farmers, and food lovers for an evening of connecting, conversing, and libations every third Wednesday of the month.

Sonoma Valley Farmers Guild

Sonoma, CA – May 25

6pm, Sonoma Valley Grange Hall

18627 California 12, Sonoma, CA

More info at: www.farmersguild.org

New CT Farmer Alliance Summer Farm Tour

Morris, CT –  May 25th

4pm-6pm at Truelove Farm

Topic: sustainable pastured raised meat

122 Thomaston Rd Morris, CT 06763

After the tour stay for a potluck social. Bring a dish to share and a plate, utensils and drinking glass. Meet other farmers in CT to network and share ideas, stories and challenges!

More info at: https://www.facebook.com/NCTFA

Vermont Young Farmers Coalition May Potluck

Huntington, VT–  May 25th

Starting at 1:30pm

Maple Wind Farm– 1338 Carse Road, Huntington VT.

For more info, email Ashley at Ashley@nofavt.org

Mendocino Coast Farmers Guild

Caspar, CA –  May 25th

Kick-off! 6:30pm

Caspar Community Center

15051 Caspar Rd, Caspar, CA

More info at: www.farmersguild.org

 

Missouri Young Farmers Coalition Monthly Potluck

Auxvasse, MO— June 1st

Starts at 4pm

More info at: missouriyoungfarmers.squarespace.com

 

Nebraska Young Farmer Night hosted by NSAS & Big Muddy Urban Farm

Omaha, NE — June 3rd

6-8pm, Location TBD

For more info, contact healthyfarms@gmail.com

 

Young Farmers and Ranchers of Mesa County Movie on the Barn Fundraiser

Palisade, CO — June 14th

6:30-9pm at Mesa Park Vineyards

3321 C Rd. Palisade, CO 81526

New CT Farmer Alliance Summer Farm Tour

Durham, CT – June 29th

4pm-6pm at Starlight Gardens

Topic: Using Hoop Houses for Profitability with David Zemelsky

54 Fowler Ave., Durham, CT 06422

After the tour stay for a potluck social. Bring a dish to share and a plate, utensils and drinking glass. Meet other farmers in CT to network and share ideas, stories and challenges!

More info at: https://www.facebook.com/NCTFA

In Solidarity,

Kate, Kacey, Daniel, Sarah and Debbie

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