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Farmers, Ron Jones and Darcy Villere, take CASI's soil tour and visit the NRI Project site in Five Points, June 21st!

June 21, 2019

Longtime CASI member, Ron Jones of J & J Farms in Firebaugh, CA, brought his nephew and farming partner, Darcy Villere, out to the NRI Project study site as part of CASI's Friday morning soil tour program on June 21, 2019.  J & J Farms is a diversified farming operation located just west of Firebaugh.  Jones has been a member of CASI for over twenty years and was one of the original farmer partners on our early BIFS (Biologically Integrated Farming Systems) efforts back in the mid-1990s.  Villere is relatively new to farming in the San Joaquin Valley but is clearly a very insightful and quick learner.  CASI's Jeff Mitchell hosted Jones and Villere and not only shared with them what the NRI Project has learned over the years, but also he was particularly keen to learn about their efforts and plans for cover cropping at their own West Side farm.  Mitchell invited these visitors to become part of the CIG Project farmer group that also shares many of the common farming goals that were discussed during the visit and tour.

Darcy Villere (left) and Ron Jones of J & J Farms in Firebaugh, CA join CASI’s Jeff Mitchell for a discussion and tour of the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA June 21, 2019
Darcy Villere (left) and Ron Jones of J & J Farms in Firebaugh, CA join CASI’s Jeff Mitchell for a discussion and tour of the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA June 21, 2019

Darcy Villere (left) and Ron Jones of J & J Farms in Firebaugh, CA join CASI’s Jeff Mitchell for a discussion and tour of the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA June 21, 2019

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2019 at 8:11 AM

KQED science photographer tours CASI's NRI Project site in Five Points!

June 19, 2019

Lindsey Moore, a science photographer with KQED,  visited the NRI Project field site on June 19th to shoot photos of the long-term study for conservation agriculture in California's San Joaquin Valley.  KQED is the Public Broadcasting Service member television station for Northern California based in San Francisco.  Moore was assigned the Five Points photo shoot that will contribute to an article that is being written by Mark Schapiro who had visited the field back in May to interview CASI's Tom Willey, Monte Bottens, and Jeff Mitchell.  She recently completed her BA in photo journalism from San Francisco State University and is very much enjoying her work at the station that provides diverse and interesting opportunities to go out and capture photo records of a wide range of topics, activities and people.  She was hosted by CASI's Mitchell who showed her the 20-year, “very important” NRI field, and the various problems that the CASI project team has been having this year with cover crop regrowth in the no-till cover crop system that is now being managed using organic farming techniques.  CASI thanks Lindsey Moore and KQED for coming all the way out to Five Points to visit our study site!

KQED’s photo journalist, Lindsey Moore, visits CASI’s NRI Project field in Five Points for article on conservation agriculture
KQED’s photo journalist, Lindsey Moore, visits CASI’s NRI Project field in Five Points for article on conservation agriculture

KQED’s photo journalist, Lindsey Moore, visits CASI’s NRI Project field in Five Points for article on conservation agriculture

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2019 at 8:07 AM

Californians agree: Don’t build in wildfire-prone areas

a man looks at the remains of a burned home

A man helps friends recover after the 2007 Witch Fire in San Diego County destroyed their home. Californians agree that new homes should not be built in wildfire-prone areas, according to a new Berkeley IGS Poll. (FEMA Photo by Andrea Booher via Wikimedia Commons)

Almost three-quarters of California voters think limits should be imposed on new housing developments in high-risk wildfire areas, according to a new Berkeley IGS Poll.

The survey showed that 74% of voters thought building in risky areas, often called the wildland-urban interface, was a bad idea. Twenty-five percent said there should be no restrictions.

Opinions were strong across the state. Almost 80% of voters in Los Angeles County thought new, high-risk development should be limited, while 74% of San Diego-area voters and 77% of San Francisco Bay Area residents agreed.

Even in the conservative, rural areas of Northern California and the Central Valley, roughly two-thirds of voters agreed there should be limits on new buildings.

The poll comes after a series of destructive wildfires in California destroyed thousands of homes, killed more than 100 people and burned millions of acres across the state. Estimates suggest California's 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons cost $21.5 billion.

“Support is bipartisan and includes large majorities of voters across all major regions in the state,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll, which is affiliated with UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies.

The poll, however, did not define areas where new development might be limited, which could change how voters feel about the issue.

A recent study by the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection estimates that nearly a quarter of Californians live in areas that could be considered high-risk for wildfires, including several areas in suburban Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The poll also asked Californian's opinions about the housing crisis, but found no clear consensus on the issue.

Thirty-four percent of those surveyed thought offering subsidies for low- or middle-income homebuyers was a solution, while 24% agreed building new housing along transit lines in urban areas was a good idea.

Just 17% thought increasing the scope of rent control would help. Twenty-four percent said none of those ideas were good ways to make housing more affordable.

Just a bare majority—51%—said the state government “should assume a bigger role and require local communities to build more housing.” Forty-seven percent said the issue should remain in local hands.

The survey queried 4,435 registered voters in English and Spanish via email from June 4 to 10. The poll's margin of error was 2.5 percentage points.

Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 10:24 AM
  • Author: Public Affairs

Attention is the Beginning of Devotion

RE Poster

'Attention is the beginning of devotion' --Mary Oliver This quote resonates this month, amidst a variety of environmental holidays and celebrations including World Environment Day, World Ocean Day, California Invasive Species Action Week, and finally...

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 3:41 PM

With access to native foods, Native American families less likely to face food insecurity

Reprinted from the UCANR food blog

Nearly all of the Native Americans surveyed in the region said they want more native foods such as salmon. Photo courtesy of Klamath Tribes Food Security

Native Americans suffer from the highest rates of food insecurity, poverty and diet-related disease in the United States. A new study finds that Native American communities could improve their food security with a greater ability to hunt, fish, gather and preserve their own food.

“How food security is framed, and by whom, shapes the interventions or solutions that are proposed,” said Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, who led the study in partnership with the Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa, and Klamath Tribes. “Our research suggests that current measures of and solutions to food insecurity in the United States need to be more culturally relevant to effectively assess and address chronic food insecurity in Native American communities.”

The study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley and four Native American tribes shows that 92% of Native American households in the Klamath Basin suffer from food insecurity.

Native American tribes in the Klamath Basin seasonally harvest, consume and store diverse aquatic and terrestrial native foods including salmon, acorns and deer. In survey responses, 86% of the participants said they consumed native foods at least once in the previous year. Yet significant barriers, including restrictive laws and wildlife habitat degradation, limit availability and quality of these foods.

While 64% of Native American households in the Klamath Basin rely on food assistance (compared to the national average of 12%), 84% of the Native Americans using food assistance worried about running out of food or had run out of food. This suggests the need to consider more effective solutions rooted in eco-cultural restoration and food sovereignty to address food insecurity in Native American communities.

Ben Saxon field dresses a deer. Tribe-led workshops on native foods gathering, preparation and preservation was among solutions suggested to improve food security for the Native American community. Courtesy of Karuk Tribe Food Security

Study participants strongly expressed the desire for strengthened tribal governance of Native lands and stewardship of cultural resources to increase access to native foods, as well as strengthening skills for self-reliance including support for home food production. Community members suggested solutions including tribe-led workshops on native foods gathering, preparation and preservation; removing legal barriers to hunt, fish and gather; restoring traditional rights to hunt, fish and gather on tribal ancestral lands; providing culturally relevant education and employment opportunities to tribal members; and increased funding for native foods programs.

While growing evidence suggests that native foods are the most nutritious and culturally appropriate foods for Native American people – and over 99% of people surveyed in the region said they want more of these foods – nearly 70% said they never or rarely get access to the native foods they want.

“We know our efforts to revitalize and care for our food system through traditional land management are critical to the physical and cultural survival of the humans who are part of it,” said Leaf Hillman, program manager for the Karuk Tribe's Píkyav Field Institute. “This study will support our ability to bring that message to the decisionmakers who need to hear it.” 

With the study results indicating that increased access to native foods and support for cultural institutions such as traditional knowledge and food sharing are key to solving food insecurity in Native American communities, Sowerwine and the research team propose including access to native foods as a measure for evaluating food security for Native people.

Removing legal barriers to hunt, fish and gather food would improve Native Americans' access to native foods. Courtesy of Yurok Tribe Food Security

The assessment is based on 711 surveys completed by households from the Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa and Klamath Tribes, 115 interviews with cultural practitioners and food system stakeholders, and 20 focus groups with tribal members or descendants.

In addition to Sowerwine and Hillman, the study was conducted by post-doctoral researchers Megan Mucioki and Dan Sarna-Wojcicki, and research partners from the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath Tribes.

“Partnering with tribal community members in the research makes the research stronger, and that is especially true in this unique food security assessment,” said Sowerwine. “With the study design grounded in nearly a decade of relationship-building and respectful engagement with our tribal partners, we are confident that our results reflect their priority questions and concerns while contributing valuable new information to the field of indigenous food systems.”

Reframing food security by and for Native American communities: a case study among tribes in the Klamath River basin of Oregon and California” is published in the journal Food Security.

This research was part of a $4 million, five-year Tribal Food Security Project funded by USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Food Security Grant #2012-68004-20018. For full results and recommendations from the project team, visit

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 3:34 PM
  • Author: Pam Kan-Rice

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