Applying UC Research in Sonoma County

Mar 26, 2015

2014 Annual Report letter from Stephanie Larson, County Director and Livestock & Range Management Advisor:

As we move into the next 100 years of Cooperative Extension, we continue to value the public/ private partnerships that have been the foundation of our organization, raising the bar by supporting the County of Sonoma Initiatives on local agriculture and healthy communities. UCCE advisors are critical partners with local farmers and ranchers, providing scientific-based information on techniques that can be used to increase production and thus increase economic stability, while addressing environmental concerns.

UCCE Sonoma County Annual Report 2014 cover
Our programs focus on viticulture and integrated pest management, livestock and range management, specialty crops, sudden oak death, value added agriculture, beginning farmers and ranchers, Coho monitoring, agritourism and ecosystem services. Our Master Gardener coordinator trains volunteers to provide education and outreach to Sonoma County residents on water conservation, home food production and pesticide reduction. We also have one of the largest 4-H youth programs in California, focused on leadership, science and technology, with a commitment to reach as many young minds as possible. Our 4-H staff is spearheading a major outreach campaign focused on increasing Latino enrollment and participation. The results are that more Latino children have access to opportunities provided by the County of Sonoma.

This past year, UCCE conducted research and provided educational programs to help commercial row crop farmers and livestock producers in Sonoma County deal with drought and climate change. Our frost tower research in vineyards evaluated methods for making the most of local water resources through increased irrigation efficiency. Water conservation programs are also focused on the urban gardener, partnering with the Sonoma County Water Agency to educate the public on how to use less water; and with the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District to develop an evaluation tool for documenting ecosystem services that have been maintained or increased through implementing conservation easements and proper rangeland management.

We partnered with other county departments to increase access to healthy, local, sustainable food. One outcome was the County Land for Food Production (CLFP) project; which allowed UCCE to work on creating an incubator farm on county land. These efforts are aimed at increasing access to land for food production, and the number of farmers and ranchers growing local food, respectively. The goals align with the Sonoma County Healthy and Sustainable Food Action Plan. Our Agricultural Ombudsman played a critical role in assisting individuals who want to create or expand their farming and ranching enterprises, and is currently working with PRMD to address local poultry processing.

Learn about these programs and more in our 2014 Annual Report.