Profiles in Stewardship - by the American Farmland Trust
 
How California Farmers are Producing a Better Environment 
 
Over the past several decades, California farmers and ranchers have made tremendous progress at reducing the environmental impact of food production, even as they have increased production itself to unprecedented levels. This portfolio of case studies compiled by American Farmland Trust showcases some outstanding examples of environmental stewardship by California farmers and ranchers.
 
A few years ago, a strategic planning exercise by state agricultural leaders, called California Agricultural Vision: Strategies for Sustainability, charted a course for the future of agriculture in the nation’s leading farm state. One of its key recommendations was that the industry should “affirmatively pursue the goal of making environmental stewardship an integral and prominent feature of the California brand.”

The farmers and ranchers profiled here are leading the way toward that ambitious but crucial goal. Their environmentally beneficial farming practices demonstrate the potential for building the California brand among consumers who increasingly care about how their food is produced as well as about its quality and cost. What remains is for other producers to follow the example set by these outstanding stewards, and for government and the public to give them the support and understanding they need to meet the challenge. 
 

 
Farm and Ranch Case Studies
 
Farm Name and Description   Crop Type  Practice(s)  County
  Adragna Farms - With the help of local partners, farmer Vito Adragna and his wife Lucy are using conservation practices to save water and reduce costs on their 24-acre walnut farm in Gilroy. Read More. Tree Fruits and Nuts Water Management Santa Clara
Andrews AgAfter buying 1,200 acres of cotton and alfalfa in 1998, Michael Andrews has transformed the farm into a diverse fruit and vegetable operation using an Integrated On-Farm Drainage Management program to improve the water and soil quality. Read More.   Row Crops  Water Management  Kern
  Benzinger Family WineryMike Benzinger has been farming 85 acres of grapes, using biodynamic growing techniques, in Sonoma County with his family since 1981. Read More.   Grapes Holistic / Water Management Sonoma
BSB RanchGene and Lukbir Bains are brothers who have been using Best Management Practices—such as the use of cover crops—for over a decade on their 350 acres of peaches, prunes, and walnuts. Read More. Tree Fruits and Nuts Water Management Sutter
 Burroughs Family FarmThe Burroughs family own and operate California Cloverleaf Farms, Vista Almonds, B and B Pastures and Full Circle Dairy—all in California’s Central Valley—producing all organic cheese, milk, almonds, free-range eggs, and, their most recent venture, olives. Environmental sustainability is the family's number one priority. Read More.MultipleHolistic Merced 
 Dixon Ridge FarmsDixon Ridge Farms—owned by the Lester family that has farmed in California since 1883—is a certified organic walnut farm and processor based in Winters, California. Read More.Tree Fruits and NutsHolistic Solano 
 John EiskampDriscoll’s grower John Eiskamp is a sixth generation berry farmer that is using irrigation technology to increase the efficiency of the farm’s water usage. Read More.BerriesWater Management Santa Cruz 
 Fetzer and Bonterra VineyardsBonterra is currently the largest producer of certified organic wine grapes in the U.S. and the number one seller of organic wines made in the U.S. Read More.Grapes Soil / Biodiversity Mendocino 
 Full Belly FarmsFull Belly Farms—which produces certified organic vegetables, herbs, nuts, flowers, and fruits in the Capay Valley—use a number of exemplary sustainable agriculture practices that strengthen their operation. Read More.MultipleHolistic Yolo 
 High Ground OrganicsStephen Pedersen and Jeanne Byrne grow a variety of certified organic fruits and vegetables at their farm in Watsonville, California. Read More.MultipleHolistic Santa Cruz
 Jacobs FarmsWith 300 acres of crops and an additional one million square feet of greenhouse space, Jacobs Farm has become one of the nation’s leading organic herb growers with 60 varieties of common and specialty herbs and edible flowers. Read More.Other Produce Holistic San Mateo 
 LimoneiraLimoneira Company grows a variety of fruit and nut crops on nearly 8,000 acres in Southern California using solar energy to supply one-third of the farm’s energy and efficient irrigation methods to decrease water usage. Read More.CitrusHolistic Ventura 
 Live Earth FarmsLive Earth Farm is a 75 acre farm producing a diverse selection of organically grown orchard and row crops in Santa Cruz County. Read More.MultipleBiodiversity / Pollinators Santa Cruz 
 Sergio MedranoBy working with Cachuma Resource Conservation District, Sergio Medrano continues to integrate new conservation practices to continuously improve his economic and environmental performance on his fruit and vegetable farm. Read More.Berries and Vegetables System Improvements Santa Barbara 
 Ponce ProduceThis small acreage, diversified farmer recently implemented soil monitoring to precisely apply water and nutrients to his crops, saving money and protecting the environment. Read More.Berries and Vegetables Water and Nutrients Santa Cruz
 Eduardo RamosBy transitioning from furrow to drip irrigation on his Thompson seedless grapes, Eduardo reduced his water use by 34 percent. Read More.Grapes Water San Joaquin 
 Red Rock RanchJohn Diener demonstrates every day that with proper stewardship, poorly drained, salt-affected lands can be made highly productive and sustainable through a system he developed called Integrated On-Farm Drainage Management. Read More. MultipleWater Fresno 
 Reiter Berry Farm - Dan Balbas is a producer for Driscoll’s who uses conservation practices like biological pest control and developed a groundwater banking project on his farm. Read More.  BerriesIntegrated Pest Management Santa Cruz 
 Sano FarmsBy using conservation tillage and cover cropping in their processing tomato production system, the Alan Sano and Jesse Sanchez know that soil quality is key to sustainable productivity. Read More.TomatoesSoil Fresno 
 Sierra OrchardsHedge rows and cover crops not only provide habitat for beneficial insects in Craig McNamara's organic walnut orchard, they also protect the water quality of the adjacent creek. Read More. Tree Fruit and NutsIntegrated Pest Management Solano 
 Singing Frogs FarmsThe Kaisers rely on native pollinators for their small diversified farm, so they encourage crucial on-farm habitat for pollinator populations. Read More.Vegetables Biodiversity / Pollinators Sonoma 
 Suncrest NurseryJim Marshall's innovative approach to water management reduced the nursery's water use by more than 50 percent, allowing the expansion of their production of drought tolerant native plants. Read More.Nursery Water Santa Cruz 
 Swanton Berry FarmsStarting with a four acre half-organic, half-chemical strawberry farm in 1983, Jim Cochran has worked tirelessly for the past 30 years to prove that organic strawberries can be commercially successful. Read More.Berries Holistic  Santa Cruz
 Terranova RanchGoing beyond conventional water conservation technology, Don Cameron is now demonstrating the ability of actively farmed ground to also serve as an area of groundwater recharge by capturing and storing flood flows. Read More.Grapes Water Fresno 
 Tule FarmsFritz Durst farms sustainably using only the limited rain that falls on his ground by using no-till farming methods. Read More.BeansSoil Yolo 
 Vino Farms Vino farms uses a multi-pronged approach to incorporating renewable energy into their winegrape growing operation. Read More.Grapes Energy  San Joaquin
 Wise Acre FarmMary Fahey views her farm as part of a community sharing a watershed, guiding her whole farm approach using sustainable farming practices and native plantings to encourage habitat restoration and improve water quality. Read More.Row Crops Holistic Colusa