Help for beginning small farmers

NCRLT workshops teach the basics to newbie farmers and ranchers

Farming 101
Jamison Watts, executive director of the Northern California Regional Land Trust (NCRLT), recently announced the nonprofit’s upcoming series of six monthly workshops for beginning farmers and ranchers. With support from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the newly launched program begins on Oct. 25, with a workshop called “Money Matters: How do you access it?

“The agricultural population is poised to make a dramatic change—half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade,” wrote Watts in a recent NCRLT press release. Farmers over the age of 55 own more than half of the farmland in the United States, Watts pointed out, but “the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 is increasing, as is the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide.”

The 2007 Census of Agriculture showed that “there are more than 3,800 farms in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties combined, with annual sales of less than $100,000 each,” said Watts. Many of these farms and ranches are owned or managed by beginning farmers and ranchers who do not have the necessary marketing, financial-management, business-development and “whole-farm planning skills” for long-term survival. A beginning farmer or rancher—or BFR, in USDA terminology—“is an individual or entity who has never operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years, and will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch.” In 2007, roughly 21 percent of U.S. family farms fit that definition.

And that number continues to grow.

Each NCRLT workshop costs $40 (a 10 percent discount applies if you register for all six classes). The Oct. 25 workshop will take place at the Chico Grange Hall (2775 Old Nord Ave.). The other five workshops—Identifying New Markets (Nov. 15); Access to Farm Services—Insurance, Liability & Labor (Dec. 13); Civics of Agriculture (Jan. 17); For the Love of Conservation (Feb. 14); and Accessing Land, Farm Succession & Getting Started (Mar. 13)—will be held at the Glenn County Farm Bureau office in Orland (831 Fifth St.).

For more info (and to register), call 894-7738 or go to

Wild and exotic
Chico Art School & Gallery (336 Broadway, Suite 20) is hosting, through Oct. 30, a student art exhibit featuring images of wild and exotic animals. The art—which can be seen during class times or by appointment—is also for sale, with proceeds going to benefit the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation on Durham-Pentz Road. A reception and silent auction will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Oct. 22. Call 570-3895 or visit for more information.

“But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”—Alan Watts

“The clearest way to the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”—John Muir