Local small farms are important

Good Farm Fund awards grants to 14 Mendocino County farms

By: Erick O’Donnell

The Good Farm Fund, an agricultural grant program sponsored by North Coast Opportunities, awarded $20,000 worth of grants this week to 14 small farms throughout Mendocino County.

The grants will fund small infrastructure projects that will allow farmers to increase food production and, hence, revenue and profit, helping them to overcome steep economic obstacles on their way to self-sufficiency, said Caroline Radice, who sits on the program’s steering and grant committees.

With high land prices, farmers face a high barrier to entry, and the cost of investing in capacity-building projects can further impede the ability of small farmers to establish themselves in the capital-intensive business of agriculture, she said.

The Good Farm Fund will fully bankroll some projects and partially fund others, with matching grants or financing from other sources, she said.

Members of the grant committee were reluctant to let any projects go without financial support, so they decided to spread funds over as many projects as they could while ensuring other funding sources would cover the shortfalls, ultimately approving grants for 14 out of the 16 projects, she said.

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Life

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles roll
ed into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

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New Local Blog Mark Gross

My friend Mark Gross, a long time writer for the Washington Post has started a local blog. He is excited and ever so curious about the area, so he’s finding the inner sanctum and writing about it.

He told me he would help me host a local party. I have a hard time throwing planned parties and I hadn’t had one in years. I can do spontaneous parties and baking days were often like parties here.

Anyway, it ended up being one of the worst storm nights of the year. Power out everywhere, trees down, Hwy 1 closed. But everyone came ! We managed to fit almost thirty people in here comfortably, while Dennis baked roasted lamb in the brick oven.

Check out his new blog.
discovering oz without a tornado taking me there

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Developing Land in Mendocino Coastal Area- categorical exemptions

Now I’m no expert, but I have gone through developing two properties, bought as bare land in the Mendocino Coastal Area. I can say I was shocked and surprised each time by how difficult and challenging this was. I’am in no way a legal representative of these building laws, but having dodged through this I’d like to help some others if I can with my experience only.

If you are up for a more moderate challenge, buy a property that has an existing building, septic, well and power on it. Remodeling and adding on to an existing building is much cheaper and easier.
But if you are like me and are up for a bigger challenge, or you just can’t find what you are looking for out there, you might be thinking of buying bare land.
If you buy land in coastal commission jurisdiction, you are looking at a minimum of three years to be able to break ground and start to build. Before you can apply for a Coastal Development Permit you must have a site plan with almost all of the development you want to do on this plan. Then you need house elevations and floor plans, a septic system design, botanical study- which is only possible a few months of the year. Then forestry dept. permit with all access roadways figured in. Possibly geological studies and archeological studies. Solar power design or a engineered design from the utility company for electrical service. Whew, are you overwhelmed yet ?

But, there are many properties that have exemption areas in our Coastal Area. This is a link to a map of parcels on the south coast http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/planning/pdf/Coastal_Zone_South.pdf
The shaded areas on this map show parcels that have Categorical Exemption Areas. If you want to build a regular single family dwelling, including a barn, garage, wells, septic and appurtenant structures. You can do this WITHOUT going through a Coastal Development Permit if the improvements are all going within the exemption area. There is an application that the county has to approve the verify the Categorical Exemption that it is not within I think, 100′ of a waterway, and that it does not have more than a 20 degree slope. Here is the link http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/planning/pdf/CatEx_Conds_-_08-28-92.pdf. I think you could ask a planner before you purchase a piece of land to verify the Categorical Exemption. Once you fill out this form, it is only good for three years. You have to at least have obtained a permit for the work within this time. If you want to build a second residential unit, guest house or family care unit ( granny unit 1000 sq. ft. and a kitchen, certain requirements are necessary for this temporary permit ) you need to go through the Coastal Development permit process.

I do not speak as any expert here and I’m only trying to be helpful, please double check every thing you do with the county. But maybe this can help people to swim through this complicated system and develop beautiful properties in this wonderful area.

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Agricultural community

I stumbled across this book many years ago. It got me so excited, I ran out and bought ten more copies and gave them all away. Then I bought a few more a few years later and gave them away again.

Read this inspirational book of community and regeneration.

The Man Who Created Paradise

Gene Logsdon, Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, and of course Polyface Farm owner, Joel Salatin are all writing about what’s wrong with our agriculture and food systems, and how to build small farms. That large systems, especially in a biologically complex situation, don’t work as well as small systems. Oh, maybe they initially produce more, let’s exploit the soil resources. But then, the worn out, washed away, soil is pumped full of chemicals to continue to produce. The small farmer who cares that his soil continues to produce, applies compost, organic matter to replenish what was taken out. Ending up with hopefully a better soil in a few years. Also usually a more productive smaller acreage .

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Apple Pie

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I can’t make an apple pie without thinking of my brother. He decided one year to master an apple pie. This was also the year he stayed home to try to win Dialing for Dollars . Some of you will remember this show that called random phone numbers and if you were there you could win money ! This was also the year we would sing Janis Joplins, ” Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, my friends all drive Porsche’s I must make amends. Worked hard all my life Lord, no help from my friends. Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.”

Anyway Dan had an idea of how a perfect apple pie should be. The apples should be a large part of it. So he stacked Apple slices so high the crust could barely contain them. They would cook down to a thick wedge of well cooked lightly sugared delicious Gravenstein Apples.

I’m pretty sure we also tried different thickeners, or no thickeners. We definitely loved flour for the best pie making sauce. I don’t remember if he struggled with the crust…but it was good too. I loved my job as taste tester.

Today my pies made with our Pink Pearl and Fuji apples we grew here. The Pink Pearls added a wonderful pink color to the pie as well as a tartness. Baked in our brick oven, the pies are delicious. Harvest is here and reaping this bounty is a blessing.

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