Overview

The long-term goal of the government-supported Growing Roots project is to support the economic and ecological viability of California beginning farmers and ranchers from diverse communities – whether urban, rural or peri-urban, or Latino, Southeast Asian, African or Caucasian. The project was funded for three years, from December 2014 to December 2017.

Through in-depth training offered at established and emergent “agricultural learning hubs,” the Growing Roots project aims to build on the successes and lessons learned of two prior Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program government grants.

By partnering with prominent farm education nonprofit organizations and government agencies as well as with several local agricultural learning hubs, we together:

  • Offered in-depth, culturally- and regionally-appropriate workshops.
  • Developed and distributed educational materials and videos.
  • Hosted field days and farm tours.
  • Strengthened farmer-to-farmer networks and learning hubs in ten counties in Northern California.
  • Continue this website as a resource for farmers and ranchers in the Growing Roots network.

Target farmers and ranchers:

While serving a broad clientele, the Growing Roots project puts emphasis on small, minority and urban farmers. The acreage of immigrant and minority farms is relatively small, but they are an important part of California agriculture because of:

  • their sheer numbers (more than 20% of all California farms).
  • their contribution to California’s crop diversity.
  • their value in terms of specialty commodities grown.
  • their role in the provision of culturally relevant foods for California’s diverse population.
  • their role in preserving green space around the periphery of expanding California cities.

Intended outcomes:

  1. Improve beginning farmer and rancher (BFR) access to sustainable farming education and technical support.
  2. Increase adoption of organic and sustainable farming and ranching practices.
  3. Enhance the overall economic viability of BFRs through more robust business planning, value-added food processing and marketing skills.
  4. Provide referrals to organizations and agencies that provide access to land and business and financial services.
  5. Improve food safety competence and compliance, especially among urban and peri-urban farmers.
  6. Strengthen farmer-to-farmer learning networks via an innovative network of agricultural learning hubs.