News from the Wild Side - July 2019


Rewilding Podcast with Jo Ann Baumgartner

Jo Ann was recently interviewed on the Rewilding the Earth podcast series about the work of Wild Farm Alliance. Topics she covers in the podcast include: 

  • What it means to farm with the wild
  • Corridors, riparian areas & wetlands restoration
  • Managing farms for beneficial bird species and insects
  • Managing for pest species the right way
  • The size and growth of organic farming

Listen Here

Hedgerow Planting at Riverhill Farm

We are so grateful to Alan Haight, Jo McProud and the crew at Riverhill Farm for hosting Wild Farm Alliance and approximately 90 participants in May at the All Things Avian field day.

The event featured two avian ecologists, a guided bird walk, a mist net demonstration, farmers sharing their practices, representatives from NCAT and Point Blue Conservation Science. It was an incredible day!

While we had hoped to hold a demonstration hedgerow planting, the weather leading up to the event was not so cooperative. However, Alan and Jo recently sent us pictures of their completed hedgerow! Click here to see the design and plants that make up the hedgerow. 

There were so many take-aways from the day, but the highlight for us was listening to Alan and Jo share their commitment for a farm full of biodiversity. Their vision and enthusiasm for their avian (and other wildlife) neighbors are inspiring and contagious.

Based on our field days this spring, we will be soon be releasing a StoryMap that features videos and stories about the farmer leaders who hosted a field day - watch for an email announcement this fall. Also, stay tuned for announcements about our 2020 All Things Avian field days. 

CASFS_JessicaBarrera_20160408_4566.JPGApply for An Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture

The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UC Santa Cruz is now accepting applications to the 2020 Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, a six-month, residential, hands-on program focusing on practical training in organic gardening and small-scale farming, as well as increasing awareness of the dynamic connections between food and social systems.

The application deadline is August 15, 2019 for international applicants and September 30, 2019 for domestic applicants. The program begins April 13, 2020 and runs through October. There are more scholarship opportunities than ever thanks to the generous support of alumni and other donors. For more information, visit

California's Healthy Soils Program 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced its latest round of grants for the Healthy Soils Program, distributing $12.48 million throughout the state.

Wild Farm Alliance was part of the state's Technical Assistance team to help farmers submit their applications. We helped eight farmers receive more than $320,000 in funds for their projects that include riparian buffer plantings, cover crops, compost application, hedgerow installation, conservation cover planting for pollinators, and restoring wetlands. We look forward to helping farmers in the next round of applications coming this fall. 

CalCAN has been instrumental in advocating for this program. Read CalCAN's blogpost about the awards where they share a breakdown of information about the selected projects, including: 

- geographic distribution and counties with most awards
- project type (incentives versus demonstration)
- a preliminary analysis of land use type and the practices to be adopted

This preliminary analysis is based on CalCAN's interpretations of the one-paragraph project descriptions provided by applicants, which you can read from CDFA’s website for both the Incentives Projects and Demonstration Projects.

Read more from CalCAN's blog.

Declines in insect abundance and diversity: We know enough to act now with policy changes and individual farm and garden practices

The journal Conservation Science and Practice published a paper authored by Matthew L. Forister, Emma M. Pelton and Scott H. Black that makes the case for greater action to curb the global decline in insects. Insects are vital to life as we know it on this planet. The vast majority of bats, birds, and freshwater fish depend on insects, and humans depend on insect pollination for nutritious fruits and vegetables. Insects provide services of over $57 billion to the US economy. Although we need more study to understand the overall scope and scale of the declines, the research that has been done provides compelling evidence of declines in insect abundance, diversity and biomass.

Some of the main offenders are habitat loss and degradation, pesticides (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) and climate change, although disease, invasive species and light pollution are also factors. The authors call for full-scale action, from government policies and funding that support low-pesticide, biodiversity-promoting agriculture to managing farmers and gardeners using less pesticides and increasing habitat.

Read More