It is so hard to believe that we are in the last few days of 2015. There have been some amazingly successful years in the history of Center for Land-Based Learning, but, as I have been here for 17 of them, 2015 has been the best of all. I am so incredibly proud of our staff (soon to number 20!), the hundreds of teachers, our many educational, agricultural, and corporate partners, and the thousands of students and new farmers that have all worked together to learn, innovate, create, question, cultivate, and commit themselves to our nation's future through our programs.
In 2015, the Center for Land-Based Learning:
- Increased our youth programming area from 18 to 25 counties
- Graduated another 18 new farmers from the California Farm Academy
- Tripled the number of students served in our Fresno FARMS Leadership Program
- Began new SLEWS Academy sites in Butte and Riverside counties
- Received close to 400 proposals from high school students from a 5-county region for the Caring for our Watersheds contest, and,
- Provided over $20,000 in prize money and implementation dollars for winning projects
- Incubated 13 beginning farmers and their new farm businesses on five farm sites, four of which are in West Sacramento
- Finalized our lease with the City of Davis so that we can place farmers on The Cannery Farm in January, 2016
- Ensured that 15 high school students made their way to college, or successfully stayed enrolled, following their dreams
- Donated over 30,000 pounds of produce to Yolo Food Bank, River City Food Bank, and Yolo County Elderly Nutrition Program
- Planted over 10,000 trees on private lands in six counties through the SLEWS Program
- Created and facilitated an Industry Roundtable for the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resource Career Pathway in the Sacramento region
- Began a new FARMS Leadership Program with partners in Kern County
- Overhauled a forgotten corner in West Sacramento to begin the 1st West Sacramento Urban Farm stand, providing healthy, fresh food in a food desert
- Partnered with Raley's to ensure that 25% of the produce grown at one of our West Sacramento Urban Farms is provided for the Food for Families Fresh Program
- Opened new office in West Sacramento
- And so much more...
We Cultivated Opportunity.
The best part about this list is that there are EVEN MORE actions and outcomes slated for 2016. We need your help to ensure that they happen.
When I think about our nation's leaders that have been gathered in Paris this past week, trying to find innovative, collaborative solutions for one of the largest issues of our time - Climate Change - I am even more dedicated to the work of the Center for Land-Based Learning. We know that the impact on agriculture and our natural resources has already been acute, and the future is even more challenging. We must attract, inspire, train, and help facilitate the career pathway for the next generation of agricultural and environmental scientists to solve the challenges of food production and sustainability on this planet. This year, a study by Purdue University identified a 39% shortfall in the number of Ag graduates needed in the United States. There are 57,900 annual Ag graduates needed, and only 35,400 graduates available. Land-Based Learning has been doing this work for 21 years, and there is so much more to do - the situation is at a critical stage.
If you have supported us in the past with a financial donation, thank you, and we ask you for your continued support at this important time. If you have not yet made a financial contribution, I encourage you to invest now.
The California Farm Academy helps aspiring farmers who want to grow healthy food for their communities and find their place in the world by giving them access to land and capital, paired with farmer-to-farmer mentoring, to start their own farm businesses. 70% of our graduates are doing just that, and are farming today. Just 6% of the farmers in the United States are under the age of 35. These numbers need to change...USDA has told the nation that we need 600,000 new farmers by 2050.
Help the Center for Land-Based Learning Cultivate Opportunity. Join us as we grow the next generation of farmers, conservationists, and agriculture and environmental scientists. The world depends on our success.
On behalf of the Staff and Board, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.