Field Courses

2016 Field Courses

Sunday, March 6, 2016
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Always popular for conference attendees, the Sunday Field Courses provide valuable onsite education and take attendees out to local farms, production facilities, and farmers markets. Just $75 per person, your field course ticket includes round-trip transportation (for off-site courses) departing from the DoubleTree Sacramento, lunch, light snacks and water. Please dress in layers and wear comfortable walking shoes or boots. Field Courses will take place rain or shine. Field courses typically sell out and onsite sales ($90) are very limited. Online registration is now closed.  You can register onsite beginning Saturday, March 5 from 6 – 8 p.m.

Off-Site Field Course #1: Conservation on the Farm Field

This Field Course will highlight some of the innovative practices which California farmers are implementing to conserve soil, water, and wildlife. Many of these practices are especially effective in the context of a 5-year drought, and honey bee colony collapse disorder. Our first stop will be at Tadlock Farms in Zamora. Ron Tadlock farms approximately 1,000 acres of conventional almonds in Yolo County, as well as an additional 2,000 acres of mixed crops, including alfalfa and row crops. He also manages honey bees. In collaboration with Xerces Society and funded by the NRCS, he has planted over one mile of wildflower habitat adjacent to his orchards, and 4 acres of cover crop within the orchard interior. This habitat is designed to attract native pollinators, support honey bees, and bolster natural enemy populations on his farm. The second stop will by Say Hay Farm, a 50 acre diversified organic farm run by Chris Hay. Chris has established hedgerows and pollinator plantings in support of beneficial insects (again funded by NRCS), used two years of cover crops to transition this ground to organic (2015 is the first year of certified organic operation), and uses combinations of compost, pastured poultry (he has 700+ laying hens) and cover crops and lime to maintain soil fertility. The last stop is Rominger Brothers farm. Bruce, our host at this stop, and his brother Rick, farm conventional processing tomatoes, rice, wheat, corn, safflower, sunflower, onions, alfalfa and oat hay on over 1,000 acres of their own land and a few thousand acres of leased land. Bruce will talk about how they use diverse rotations, hedgerows, pollinator habitat, cover crops, compost, and grazing crop residues on their farm to maintain both the financial and ecological bottom line.

Field Course Leader: Rex Dufour, NCAT
Co-leader: Jessa Kay Cruz (Xerces)

Off-site Field Course #2: Direct Marketing: Farmers’ Markets, Farm Stands, U-Pick and Wine Tasting

Small-scale farmers often juggle many jobs; one of them is selling direct to retail customers. This field course will visit Sacramento’s oldest, largest and most successful farmers’ market. Participants will learn from Dan Best, the market manager, what he does to make the market work for farmers and the community. Next stop will be the Yisrael Family Urban Farm, where the group will learn from pioneering urban farmers Judith and Chanowk Yisrael about their work “Transforming the Hood for Good” including their urban farm stand, recently legalized by the City of Sacramento. After a short drive on the levee of the Sacramento River, we will visit and have lunch at R. Kelley Farm in the scenic Sacramento River Delta. Farm owner Ron Kelley will share with the group his experience establishing and operating a vegetable U-Pick farm and farm stand and offering group farm visits and tours. Finally, after another short levee drive along the river, the group will tour a vineyard with Heringer Estates Winery owner Steve Heringer and learn from Steve about selling wine at farmers’ markets. Following the vineyard walk, we will visit the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, where Heringer Winery is one of eleven wineries offering tastings and retail sales in a cooperative setting. At the Old Sugar Mill, field course participants will be able to enjoy optional wine tasting at their choice of several local wineries.

Leader: Penny Leff, UC Small Farm Program
Co-leader: Joany Titherington, Oak Park Farmers Market/NeighborWorks

Off-site Field Course #4: Bringing the Small Farm to Human Diversity

This tour will show small farmers innovative ways of connecting with traditional markets, institutions, and needy populations. The tour will visit a Raley’s (a large scale retailer), Natomas Unified School District, and Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.

The first stop on the tour will visit be the Raley’s Elk Grove location to discuss the details of selling with their produce buyer. The second stop will bring attendees to a public school food service production facility for a tour and discussion with the school’s food service supervisor on how to successfully start selling to schools as a small farmer. The final stop on the tour will bring attendees to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services warehouse facilities to discuss the benefits of donating produce. The discussion will continue with information on state programs to provide fresh produce to nutrition assistance recipients. The day hopes to spur conversation on traditional and direct marketing avenues, as well as community engagement and enrichment through agriculture.

Leader: Nicole Sturzenberger, Office of Farm to Fork, California Department of Food and Agriculture
Elysia Fong, Office of Farm to Fork, California Department of Food and Agriculture

On-site Short Course #5: Starting a SUCCESSFUL Specialty Food Business

Everyone considering bringing a new food product to the market is invited to a one-day short course, “Starting a SUCCESSFUL Specialty Food Business.” In this short course, participants will learn the fundamentals of the specialty food marketplace and how to start creating their own success story. They will spend the day with specialty food business experts and hear specialty food producers tell their stories.

Specialty Food experts will discuss the business realities – from production to promotion. Covered topics will include financing, marketing, sales and distribution, as well as safe and legal production methods. Two successful local specialty food producers, Jason Poole, Preservation & Co and Courtney Smith, will tell their stories. Attendees will have ample opportunities to ask questions.

The workshop will be held on-site at the DoubleTree Hotel. Lunch and snacks are included in the short course fee.

Presented by Shermain Hardesty, a UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis; Linda Harris, a UCCE Specialist in Food Safety and Microbiology at UC Davis and Tim Sullivan, a specialty foods consultant with Sage Food Group.