News from the Wild Side - February 2020

Catch up on the latest happenings with Wild Farm Alliance!


In this Issue

Save the Date: WFA All Things Avian Field Days

California Small Farm Conference

Healthy Soils Program

Farmer Sign-On

Not so dirty birds?

These Endangered Plants Could Disappear From Each U.S. State

Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference

WFA Advisory Board Member in the News: Fred Kirschenmann


Save the Dates: Spring 2020 Farm Field Days

We are thrilled announce our upcoming field days focused on beneficial birds as pest control allies. This is the second year of these popular events. Please save the dates and be sure to sign-up early when registration opens - two of the events sold out last year!

Save the Dates:

April 14 - Medlock Ames/Bell Mountain Ranch, Healdsburg CA

April 16 - Blue Heron Farm, Watsonville CA

May 5 - Fresh Run Farm, Bolinas CA

May 12 - Davis Ranches, Colusa CA

Our four events will showcase practices that support beneficial birds and manage pest birds; discussions led by avian researchers, extension, conservationists and growers; and a demonstration of a conservation planting.

Learn more about our work to promote beneficial birds and watch one of our videos about the inspiring farmers who are successfully implementing bird-friendly practices. 

Hope to see you this spring at our upcoming events! If you are interested in sponsoring one of these events, please email shellyconnor@wildfarmalliance.org. 

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32nd California Small Farm Conference

We are excited to be heading to the California Small Farm Conference, in San Luis Obispo County - February 27-29, 2020. In its 32nd year, we’ll be celebrating sustainable agriculture and mixing with family farmers from across the Golden State.

Wild Farm Alliance’s Jo Ann Baumgartner and UC’s IPM Farm Advisor Rachael Long, are speaking on Saturday afternoon on how to make farms more bird-friendly and less hospitable to farm pests. Additionally, they’ll discuss how to support different bird foraging strategies for comprehensive avian pest control. Join us there for educational workshops, field days and networking opportunities.

This event is open to farmers and ranchers of all ages, as well as local farm advocates, food businesses and farmers market managers.

Learn more and reserve your tickets!


Healthy Soils Program Opening Soon - We Can Help!

The third round of funding for California Department of Food and Agriculture's Healthy Soils Program (HSP) will be opening soon. These are cost-share grants of up to $100,000 for a three-year project.

Good News! Wild Farm Alliance has funding to help farmers apply for funding and if awarded, provide assistance with implementation and grant administration for the three year project period. 

The Healthy Soils Program stems from the California Healthy Soils Initiative, a collaboration of state agencies and departments to promote the development of healthy soils and farm habitat on California's farmlands and ranchlands.

The HSP Incentives Program provides financial assistance for implementation of conservation management that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Planting hedgerows, restoring riparian habitat, and building soil health with compost and cover crops are some of the most popular practices.

Want to learn more? Email shellyconnor@wildfarmalliance.org


Farmer Sign-On to Support Agriculture's Climate Solutions

"We the undersigned farmers and ranchers, write to express our deep concerns about climate change impacts on agriculture in the United States and to call for solutions that invest in our rural and agricultural communities."

We are working to bring together farmer and rancher voices on climate issues. As federal leaders discuss how to address greater weather extremes, agriculture needs to be part of the conversation. We urge you to join farmers from around the country as we call on members of Congress and USDA leaders support farmers and ranchers in addressing a changing climate

Please take a moment to sign on here.

Wild Farm Alliance is a member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), which will use this letter in meetings with members of Congress, USDA program leaders, and other key decision-makers to urge effective policy action to combat climate change, and especially to help farmers and ranchers weather the storm and lead the way towards a more sustainable future.

If you have any questions, please reach out to shellyconnor@wildfarmalliance.org


Not-so-dirty birds? Not enough evidence to link wild birds to food-borne illness

Article published in WSU Insider (January 31, 2020) written by Sara Zaske, WSU News

When food makes people sick, some blame birds because they hang around farms, and their feces can contain E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter, three common pathogens that can cause food-borne illness.

But a Washington State University study published in Biological Reviews on Jan. 31 has found scant evidence to support the link between wild birds and human illness involving those three pathogens.

The perceived risk of wild birds can impact their survival, said Olivia Smith, lead author on the study and a recent WSU Ph.D. graduate.

“Farmers are being encouraged to remove wild bird habitat to make their food safer, but it doesn’t appear that these actions are based on data,” Smith said. “When you restrict birds from agricultural settings, you are doing something that can lead to their decline.”

Bird populations have been falling rapidly in recent decades. Scientists estimate that since 1970, North America has lost more than three billion birds. In light of this, the WSU researchers highlighted the need for more definitive research before destroying habitat and banning birds from fields in the name of food safety.

Read More


These Endangered Plants Could Disappear from Each U.S. State

Article published in Forbes (February 3, 2020) written by GrrlScientist

When you hear the phrase, “endangered species”, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Most people think of an endangered mammal. I think of an endangered bird. But birds and other wildlife aren’t the only endangered species out there; there’s plenty of native plants under threat, too. In fact, there are more than 800 plants that are found only in the United States that are listed as federally endangered species, and thousands more that are protected by individual states as either threatened or endangered (ref).

I recently shared a series of posters featuring endangered animals in the United States to celebrate National Wildlife Day (more here), but some of you wondered where are the endangered plants? So I thought I’d share this map featuring some of the most endangered plants in each US state, and to remind you of the variety of plant life we stand to lose, too.

Read More


Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference

The 38th Annual Conference will be held in Santa Cruz, CA from March 31 to April 3, 2020. 

Registration is now open

This statewide conference on salmonid restoration provides an opportunity to explore innovative watershed restoration projects, participate in technical workshops, attend concurrent sessions, and enjoy an exciting plenary on the state of salmonid recovery in California. 

Learn More and Register


Wild Farm Alliance Advisory Board Member in the News: Fred Kirschenmann

Article published in Civil Eats (February 3, 2020) written by Lisa Held

When it comes to farming organically and building resilient, sustainable agricultural systems, Fred Kirschenmann is a prominent and oft-awarded elder statesman. And while you might expect him to be reflective (he’ll be 85 on February 4), the pioneering organic farmer is firmly forward-thinking.

Kirshchenmann is president of the board at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a regenerative agriculture farm and educational center located about 30 miles north of New York City. During an interview with Civil Eats at the center’s 2019 Young Farmers Conference in early December, Kirshchenmann referenced authors to illustrate the future of agriculture. Jared Diamond, for example, studied past civilizations to find out what caused some to thrive while others collapsed.

“The conclusion he came to was that those civilizations that recognized that changes were on the way and got a head start preparing for those changes—they were the ones that thrived,” Kirschenmann said. “Those that failed in that exercise were the ones that tended to collapse. And when I read that, I thought, ‘That’s an important lesson for us, because we do know that changes are on the way.’”

But Kirschenmann is not just observing changes related to the economic and environmental viability of farming sustainably—he’s living them.

Read More