Monthly Archives: January 2017

“Women in Ag” Speaker Series

women in ag5

The WAME speaker series runs all three days of the World Ag Expo, February 14-16, 2017, and is included in your expo admission cost. (CIAT/Neil Palmer, Flickr/Creative Commons)

TULARE, Calif. — College students around California are receiving a special invitation to attend this year’s World Ag Expo Speaker Series organized for all men and women involved in farming and agricultural businesses by the Women in Ag for Mentoring and Empowerment (WAME). For the most current information on the event, or to register, visit

The speaker series pulls together speakers on the biggest issues facing California agriculture today, such as water rules and drought, EPA regulations, succession planning, and more. The WAME speaker series runs all three days of the World Ag Expo, February 14-16, 2017, and is included in your expo admission cost.

“We’re thrilled with this year’s lineup of speakers,” said organizer Pamela Sweeten. “You can learn about everything from grassroots lobbying to building a career in agriculture. We especially want to encourage college students to attend because there will be many networking opportunities for them as well.”

Sweeten pointed out though the series is organized by WAME, they encourage both men and women to attend.

“We’re a ‘women in ag’ group, but we’ve really designed this series to be relevant to everyone in agriculture,” she said.

The WAME speaker series is possible because of sponsorships from Garton Tractor, InsureCAL Insurance Agency, CCI Marketing, and P. Sweeten consulting.

A full schedule and list of speakers is located at:

***Cross-posted from Morning Ag Clips***

Yolo/Solano/Sacramento Regional Agritourism Summit in Davis February 13, 2017

country roads 400The University of California Small Farm Program and UC Cooperative Extension are working with local partners to organize a Yolo/Solano/Sacramento Regional Agritourism Summit for everyone in the region involved in agritourism. The Summit will be an occasion for farmers, ranchers, county planners, the tourism community and others involved to share, learn, and plan together.

Agritourism operators, tourism professionals, county, city and state staff and officials, community organizations, agricultural organizations, tour organizers and all others who are connected to agritourism are invited to join the conversation. Presentations and discussion topics will include county regulations; marketing plans; social media and event organizing training sessions; liability; financing ideas for agritourism development; and more.

The summit was planned by a local team to best reflect the needs of the region, so will include discussions and presenters of specific relevance to agritourism development in Yolo, Solano and Sacramento Counties. The summit will be a participatory, all-day session with lunch provided.

Participants are invited to bring marketing and organizational information to display and share.

Agendas for this and other regional summits are posted on this site.

Registration: Visit
Fee: A registration fee of $25 is requested, payable online or by check.
When: Monday, February 13, 2017
Where: UC ANR Building, 2801 Second Street, Davis CA 95618

More Information: Penny Leff, UCCE Agritourism Coordinator,, 530-752-7779.

2017 Out-of-School Time Nutrition Summit

Keeping Kids Healthy and Engaged When School is Out
California Summer Meal Summit Events

Out-of-school time presents a unique opportunity for community leaders to work together to support the health and development of local youth. To support this, the California Summer Meal Coalition part of the Institute for Local Government is organizing two summits in Northern and Southern California. Along with partners from the National League of Cities and the Institute for Youth Education and Families, the day will provide opportunities for learning, networking and sharing ideas focused on leveraging USDA out-of-school time nutrition programs to build healthy, connected communities when school is out.

USDA summer and after school meal programs spark meaningful collaboration by bringing together cities, counties, schools, special districts, faith and community-based organizations, law enforcement, public health and healthcare, local business, and other agencies to work towards the shared goal of a vibrant community. The summits will highlight new opportunities for programming and partnerships, engaging local leaders and youth, effective outreach, and addressing challenges.

The event is FREE. Lunch will be provided.

Northern/Central CA

January 19, 2017
10:00 am – 3:00 pm
East Bay Center for the Performing Arts
339 11th Street Richmond CA

Southern CA

January 24, 2017
9:30 am – 2:30 pm
San Antonio Regional Hospital
999 San Bernardino Road, Upland CA

To register, visit:

Meet the Farm to Fork Ambassadors

Archi's Institute for Sustainable Agriculture

Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in Escondido, California

After leaving active duty, many veterans are faced with the decision of “where to go from here” and for those involved in active combat, a healing process is often involved in this transition. Attention has been placed in recent years on teaching veterans farming skills, not only to provide a viable career option but also therapeutic relief from past experiences. Recently the Office of Farm to Fork partnered with Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture to support veterans learning farming skills through their Organic Agribusiness program. Students follow a rigorous 6 or 12 week schedule learning the details of growing fruits and vegetables organically and hydroponically.

Students chosen by the Office of Farm to Fork will share their stories and the journey many like them are taking to create a new career path in farming after leaving the military in three blog posts here on Tales from the Field. Many of the students are exploring niche markets in California by developing business plans to grow less traditional fruits and vegetables or to support often overlooked populations.

Michael Lupacchino

bitter-melon cdfa farm to fork

My military experience and training in procurement and acquisitions and data mining taught me to understand the concepts of business entrepreneurship, statistics and mathematics. I will also bring the discipline and mental agility learned from the military and apply it to start a thriving hydroponics business. Recently I have searched for various career opportunities because I will retire from the US Army in 2017. The Department of Agriculture is offering enticing incentives for veterans to become farmers. I would like to continue to serve this country, and I believe that hydroponics farming is one way for my family and I to continue serving this country.

I chose the bitter melon for my business plan because I see the potential for economic benefit for the farmer. By targeting niche neighborhoods and businesses that use the bitter melon, one can make this plant a profitable crop. Because I’m Filipino, I know how hard it is to find a constant supply of fresh bitter melon in commercial supermarkets in the United States. The Bitter Melon is a beautiful plant with deeply lobed leaves and eye-catching fruit that shifts from green to yellow to orange as it ripens. The taste is an acquired one for people in the United States. However, Filipinos and Asians love the taste of this plant. Some people say that it is more bitter than an unripe grapefruit or very dark chocolate. Acquiring a taste and love for the bitter takes a while if you are not used to it but after a while, don’t be surprised if you become addicted to this melon’s strong flavor.

Dara Morganbeehive cdfa farm to fork

My original farming goal was to establish a dragon fruit farm that provides a form of healing for Veterans suffering from severe traumatic brain injuries and/or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My original intent was to show the viability of growing dragon fruit in California, which would benefit the industry as a whole, and my efforts would show veterans the healing benefits of farming that would in turn help the community. However, this has changed. Through my studies, I have learned multiple things.
The first and most important  is that having a therapy farm, which in a sense is a “u-pick farm,” will not allow me to raise enough crops to sell. Having frequent and multiple “visitors” will wreak havoc on the land, bringing in outside contaminants that I cannot control, which will be detrimental to my crops. In order to balance the cash flow issue, I plan to raise bee colonies for fruit and vegetable pollination. Bees are in huge demand and require a small amount of real estate. By having several colonies, this will also help to pollinate my crops. I plan to have the colonies on one side of my farm and the therapy section on another.
In addition to the importance and need for beekeeping, I have discovered an additional niche that I plan to take advantage of – seedlings. From my studies, I have learned that raising seedlings is a very labor-intensive process, which many farmers do not have the time to grow for themselves. My current idea is to open two “mini-farms”- #1 bee colonies #2 seedling mass production. Having the two “mini-farms” will allow me to raise capital, which will help to fund the PTSD Therapy farm.

Joe Laguna

cherries cdfa farm to forkI grew up in Salinas Valley the son of a trucker that hauled fresh produce to market. This background in farming explains why through my 20 years in the Navy I always had some sort of garden going wherever home was. In the past 5 years gardening has become more of a passion, which is always driving me to better myself. Just this summer my garden was so productive my family and neighbors could not keep up, so we started selling our produce at our local farmer’s markets. I have learned so much from my market experience I know I have to take this opportunity to a higher level and the knowledge, experience and partnership I will gain from my studies at Archi’s Acres will truly benefit not only myself and my family, but also the community by sharing with them more about the specialty crops of fruits and vegetables – how healthy they are and how to best grow them. We plan to have peach, apple, oranges, apricot and cherry trees to start with.

Alyssa Ponce

radishes cdfa farm to forkWith experience of 5 years of early mornings and late nights in the military as a Food Service Specialist I’m well aware of hard work. I am in my last year of my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management and Entrepreneurship from National University and it has provided me with a tremendous amount of information I can carry over to my farming needs.
I hope to represent and help communities establish community garden areas and expand them throughout Southern California for communities with little to no backyards. My project will benefit the specialty crop industry by creating awareness and increasing nutrition literacy to provide an easy way for communities to become more involved in living a healthier life. To help develop programs and include community gardens for neighborhoods with apartment complexes with little to no backyard I would collaborate with the governor’s office of planning and research to update general plan guidance to include food access considerations and zoning recommendations. By informing the communities of what they can and can’t do with flyers, social media and word of mouth it can help with the confusion most communities have. By creating a guideline and answering community questions it can stir more conversation rather than not doing anything at all.
Working closely with these communities and local agencies we can expand on existing programs and broaden new ones. Not only would specialty crops help communities but connect and collaborate diverse groups and inform the public to avoid confusion and bridge the gap between communities and farmers. This connection will benefit the community and industry as a whole.

This post is part of a series featuring Farm to Fork Ambassadors from Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. Students chosen by the Office of Farm to Fork share their stories and the journey many like them are taking to create a new career path in farming after leaving the military in three blog posts here on Tales from the Field. Many of the students are exploring niche markets in California by developing business plans to grow less traditional fruits and vegetables or to support often overlooked populations.

Families Projected to Spend an Average of $233,610 Raising a Child Born in 2015

Child on Swing 650

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the 2015 Expenditures on Children by Families report, also known as “The Cost of Raising a Child.” The report, developed by economists at USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), estimates that for a child born in 2015, a middle-income* married-couple family will spend between $12,350 and $13,900 annually (in 2015 dollars) – or $233,610 from birth through age 17 – on child-rearing expenses. Families with lower incomes are expected to spend $174,690 and families with higher incomes are expected to spend $372,210 from birth through age 17. Many state governments use this annual report, first issued in 1960, as a resource in determining child support and foster care guidelines.

“As the economy continues to improve, USDA is committed to supporting the nutrition and health of individuals and families through our research and programs,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “This report, which we have produced for 55 years, gives families a greater awareness of the expenses they are likely to face, and serves as a valuable tool for financial planning and educational programs, as well as courts and state governments.”

“Understanding the costs of raising children and planning for anticipated and unexpected life events is an important part of securing financial health. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, among other Federal agencies, has a wealth of information and tools that can help Americans plan for their future. can help you make a budget, find assistance with child care costs and save for emergencies or big purchases like a home or college education,” said Louisa Quittman, Director of the Office of Financial Security for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. “ can also help you provide money management lessons for your children to help them be more prepared for their financial future.”

The report details spending by married-couple and single-parent households; for married-couple households, spending in various regions of the country are examined. Housing (29 percent) and food (18 percent) account for the largest share of child-rearing expenses for middle-income, married-couple families, followed by childcare/education (16 percent), transportation (15 percent), and health care (9 percent). Clothing was the smallest expense, at 6 percent, and other miscellaneous child-rearing necessities from birth to age 18 accounted for 7 percent. This report does not include costs related to pregnancy or college costs.

“When CNPP first issued this report in 1960, housing and food were the two highest expenses, just as they are today,” said CNPP Executive Director Angie Tagtow. “But while housing costs have increased over time, changes in American agriculture have resulted in lower food costs, and family food budgets now represent a lower percentage of household income. For families who wish to lower their food costs even more, we offer a variety of resources at”

Across the country, costs were highest in the urban Northeast, urban West, and urban South; while lowest in the urban Midwest and rural areas. Much of the regional variation in expenses was related to housing. Differences in child care and education expenses also contributed to regional variation. Overall, child-rearing expenses in rural areas were 24 percent lower than those in the region with the highest expenses, the urban Northeast.

It is important to note that child-rearing costs vary greatly depending on the number and ages of children in a household. As family size increases, costs per child generally decrease. Report author and CNPP economist Mark Lino, PhD emphasized how significantly costs are impacted by the number of children in a household.

“There are significant economies of scale, with regards to children, sometimes referred to as the ‘cheaper by the dozen effect.’ As families increase in size, children may share a bedroom, clothing and toys can be reused, and food can be purchased in larger, more economical packages.” said Dr. Lino.

As a result, compared to a child in a two-child family, families with one child spend 27 percent more on the only child and families with three or more children spend 24 percent less on each child.

CNPP economists used data from the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey to present the most recent and comprehensive estimates. The full report, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015, is available on the web at The CNPP website also offers downloadable infographics and an interactive Cost of Raising a Child Calculator that can be used to view costs associated with different geographic locations, income levels and family sizes.

*For the purposes of this report, a middle-income family is defined as the middle third of the income distribution for a two-parent family with children.

Link to full news release


RSVP TODAY – Statewide Child Nutrition Director Training



The California Department of Food and Agriculture, Office of Farm to Fork will hold Child Nutrition Director Trainings with three outstanding Food Service Directors with successful Farm to School programs. Directors will talk about their programs, discussing past as well as current work, obstacles they have faced, and how they have overcome them. After completion of the training, participants will come away with concrete ideas of how to start or expand their farm to school efforts.

Registration is free and open to school nutrition program directors, managers, supervisors and operators. Qualifying continuing education topics for professional standards will be covered with the opportunity to earn up to 4 CEUs per event.

Workshop Dates and Locations

Central California Training
Friday, February 3rd, 2017
Scott Soiseth, Turlock USD
Focus: Marketing and techniques to support local purchasing

Northern California Training
Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Pilar Gray, Fort Bragg USD
Focus: Food hubs, future purchasing, and integrating school gardens into food service

Southern California Training
Friday, February 24th, 2017
Lea Bonelli, Encinitas USD
Focus:  Integrating school gardens into food service, preparing unprocessed fruits and vegetables, and nutrition education to support farm to school efforts

Please RSVP to with the training you are interested in attending. Each training can accommodate up to 20 participants. Please feel free to contact the above email with any questions. We look forward to seeing you at the Child Nutrition Director Trainings!

Happy New Year from the Office of Farm to Fork

year in review

2016 was a busy year for the Office of Farm to Fork. From developing the California Nutrition Incentive Program to supporting veterans learning farming skills, the Office worked diligently to support Californians in need of access to healthy foods and to expose the next generation to the benefits of a career in agriculture. The Office looks forward to…. Continuing reading–>