February: 2015 The International Year of Soils, "Food Chains" in Sacramento, "Docks to Delta" + More

This email contains graphics, so if you don't see them, view it in your browser.





 In this Newsletter

 2015: International Year of Soils

 Weekly Blog Round Up

"Food Chains" February 9th

 Cal Ag Roots Docks to Delta

CIRS Workshop at CA Small Farm Conference

Merced Project Update

New CalCAN Report Released

California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) is the only California non-profit with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California's rural communities. 

  Keep in touch!




2015: The International Year of Soils!


Why Soils?

By Gail Wadsworth

2015 has been designated the International Year of Soils by the United Nations.  This designation has been embraced in the United States by the Department of Agriculture, the Soil Science Society of America and others. Many readers may be asking, “why?” This article will serve as an introduction to the topic and CIRS will post monthly submissions by experts on the particular value of soils. Our approach will focus on the rural but we will not limit our discussion to rural regions. There are many rich and productive soils being used in urban areas to sustain communities by providing space to grow food. And food production is our concern. Soil is the foundation of civilization and has been the key to human development over the past 13,000 years.

In this series of posts we will discuss soil formation, ecosystem functions of soil, soil loss, the economic value of soil, soils on pasture land, soils in crop production, soil and water, the politics of soil, soil and food security and carbon sequestration in soils. Expect a diverse and well regarded group of writers and look for them here the last Monday of every month.

“Soil-profile art is not akin to classic paintings with themes; rather, it resembles abstract art: and if you are used to thinking of soil as dirt, which is customary in our society, you are not keyed to find beauty in it.”  Hans Jenny, 1984 Continue Reading


Rural California Report Blog Roundup

2014: The Water Year That Changed California by Annie Beaman, New Initiatives Set to Increase Health Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants in California by Fran Kritz, Court Upholds California Grape Commission Patents by Michael Doyle, On Immigration, 2 California GOP Lawmakers Zig Where Party Zags by Michael Doyle

All articles are featured on our website in the Rural California Report Blog, and are available there as free downloadable files.

"Food Chains" showing in Sacramento, Monday, February 6th!

Throwing buckets

Have you gotten to see “Food Chains” yet? Want to see it again? Sure you can watch it 'On Demand' now, or order it through iTunes (and you should!), but here's a chance to see it on the BIG screen, with a great panel discussion afterwards, at the beautiful old Crest Theater in Sacramento on Monday, Feb 9, 6pm. Admission is FREE. The event is hosted by Assemblymember Roger Hernández, and organized as part of the two-day California Food Policy Council annual meeting. Panelists include "Food Chains" filmmaker/producer Smriti Keshari, our own Gail Wadsworth of CIRS, Eriberto Fernandez from United Farm Workers (UFW), Jim Araby from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Benjamin Flores from CA Primary Care Association who serve farm and food chain workers. The panel will be moderated by Michael Dimock, President of Roots of Change. Just reserve your tickets at Eventbrite. And tell your friends & colleagues!    

 Cal Ag Roots Announces First Project, Docks to Delta: Listening to the Landscape Along the Capitol Corridor

Conceived of as the launch of our new Cal Ag Roots program, Docks to Delta: Listening to the Landscape Along the Capitol Corridor, will focus on three defining stories in California agricultural history with connections to places along the Capitol Corridor route. Docks to Delta will reveal the agricultural history evoked by a landscape traveled by thousands of commuters each day—the one seen through the windows of the Capitol Corridor train. Important agricultural sites with compelling stories are visible all along this route, which travels from San Jose to Auburn, and yet most people riding the train have never considered them.

 A large part of Docks to Delta will be a live performance event -- guests on the Capitol Corridor train for the event will hear stories from people intimately connected to them, in a lively, thought-provoking, two-hour program on the way to Sacramento and will have the opportunity to talk to one another and the storytellers on the return trip to Oakland. The second part is a permanent, easily-accessible, free audio tour. After the event, all Docks to Delta stories will be made available as podcasts that can be accessed via smart phone app or computer by anyone riding the Capitol Corridor, at any time. The live Docks to Delta train performance will take place in the fall, and if you would like to notified specifically about updates for the Docks to Delta project, please email us to be put on that list.

CIRS Presents "Managing Heat Stress" Workshop at the CA Small Farm Conference, March 10th


As part of the ongoing research on Heat Illness Prevention that CIRS has been doing with UC Davis, we will be presenting some interactive ways to learn to identify symptoms & best-practices for prevention of heat illness for you and your employees. This hands-on session will begin with a fast-paced “Heat Stress Jeopardy” game to break the ice, followed by two of our UC Davis field researchers role-playing realistic scenarios of workers in the field. The workshop will then include a discussion of the key points in the role playing, with Gail Wadsworth, Executive Director of CIRS, Alondra Vega, PhD Student, Epidemiology Program, UC Davis, and a farmer describing his outstanding practices for managing heat stress among field workers. We’ll end with an open Q & A session, and closer look at some of the tools used in the research. The 28th California Small Farm Conference is taking place March 7-10th, in San Diego. Friday, February 6th is the last day for early bird registration!

"Filling the Gaps in the Merced County Food System" Project Update

In late January we met with a group of local growers only for the first time, to identify local resources for the project, define issues and barriers that need to be addressed for producers to sell into local & regional markets, and then defined needs for advancement of the project. Growers identified potential sites in the county that could serve as a regional food hub, discussed marketing strategies, defined current and potential local buyers, and discussed issues/barriers related to marketing products in the local/regional foodshed that need to be addressed.  During the next month, project coordinators Cindy Lashbrook (of Riverdance Farms) and Kara Lang will be conducting one-on-one interviews with more local growers to conduct further research in these areas, and will be hosting a meeting between local growers and buyers later this month. If you are a farmer, rancher, buyer or community member in Merced County and would like to be on the list to be notified when meetings are scheduled, please contact us!

CIRS Collaborates on New CalCAN Report for Governor Brown


CIRS was pleased to contribute to a new report just released by California Climate & Agriculture Network (CalCAN). It recommends twenty-eight ways the Brown Administration can support agriculture in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while building more resilience to drought and extreme weather. Growing Solutions: Climate Change and Agriculture Recommendations to the California Governor was crafted by a group of farmers, researchers and agriculture experts.

“California cannot achieve its ambitious climate goals without agriculture,” stated Renata Brillinger, CalCAN’s Executive Director. “Our policy toolkit taps the power of the state’s working lands to provide tangible, affordable climate solutions.”

Governor Brown’s FY 2015-16 budget proposal includes some funding for agricultural climate efforts, but it falls far short of what is needed. CalCAN’s report offers a comprehensive vision for how the Brown Administration can support and invest in on-farm renewable energy and energy efficiency, water stewardship, farmland conservation, climate-friendly farming practices, and farmworker well-being. Read or download it here.


Thank you for your continued support!

Gail Wadsworth

 Executive Director,

California Institute for Rural Studies

 California Institute for Rural Studies
P.O. Box 1047, Davis, CA 95617


Not interested any more?