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News Release

Saluting America’s Farmers, Ranchers and Private Forest Landowners Today and Every Day

DAVIS, Calif., March 23, 2021 - Today is National Ag Day, a day to honor farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners. This year’s celebration takes on special significance because of the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges it presented.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) joined other federal agencies, organizations, universities, and stakeholders to recognize farmers, ranchers and forest landowners, their families, and workers who produce food, fiber, and fuel for the nation and the world.

This year’s National Ag Day theme, ‘Food Brings Everyone to the Table,’ demonstrates the importance of conservation programs, effective risk management tools, and safety-net programs in helping agriculture thrive. Today, NRCS salutes our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners for their unwavering commitment to providing affordable, safe, and abundant food, fiber, and fuel to the nation and the world.

Thousands of agricultural producers have voluntarily used NRCS programs and services to protect their natural resources, invest in their operations, and successfully manage their risks. Meet a few of them from across California.

Meet the Takikawas from The Garden of…, Santa Ynez, California

Debby & Shu TakikawaThe Takikawas started The Garden Of .... in the early 1980s with 4 acres of assorted vegetables, greens, and flowers. Over the years they have leased increasingly more land to meet a growing demand for their produce. More recently, when a 65-acre tract of Santa Ynez farmland located a block away from their farm came up for lease, Shu and Debby leapt at the opportunity. Because this newly acquired land was previously farmed conventionally, the Takikawas have had to work hard to transition the fields to strictly organic cultivation. Through good management and with some financial and technical assistance from NRCS, they have steadily restored the soil with cover cropping, applications of organic compost, crop rotation, and giving the land plenty of rest between plantings.

Meet Ann and Laura of Follow Your Heart Farm, Quincy, California

Follow Your Heart Farm -2This small market farm is owned and operated by Ann Bullard and Laura E. Rodriguez. Growing vegetable crops in the mountains can be challenging. With assistance from NRCS in the form of a 16x72-foot seasonal high tunnel, they have been able to extend the season on summer crops and even grow veggies in the winter. Successfully grown crops during winter include lettuce, radishes, broccoli, and chard. Year round growing in our mountain climate has become a reality! The farm has also benefited from NRCS with cover crops utilized in the high tunnel. In addition to growing vegetables, Follow Your Heart Farm also has a small mixed fruit orchard, berry patch, and a few Cascade and Buckhorn hops. Their newest venture is a pasture raised pork operation of American Guinea Hog and Kunekune heritage breeds. Farm fresh eggs are also provided to devoted customers. They are located 3 1/2 miles west of the town of Quincy at 39124 State Highway 70.

Meet Maria Alonso from Huerta Del Valle Farm, Ontario, California

Maria AlonsoIt all started in 2010 with a goal of having fresh fruits and vegetables for her son. He was suffering from intense ADHD symptoms and the doctors were recommending either medicine or a change in diet. Alonso chose the latter due to her lack of available financial resources and her drive to garden. NRCS came into the picture when the farm added a hoop house to extend the growing season and provide an environment for more tropical crops, including papayas. NRCS has helped the farm implement a suite of conservation practices, including mulching, irrigation water management and nutrient management.

Meet Julie Clary from Eilers Ranch LLC, Linden, California

Julie ClaryJulie Clary, part owner and operator of Eilers Ranch LLC, returned with her family to the farm where she grew up in 2017 after her father Henry “Hank” Eilers passed away.  The farm has been in the family since 1859, when her great grandparents first immigrated from Germany and settled in Linden, California.  Julie and her husband are raising their two children as the 4th generation to be immersed into the farming lifestyle.  Julie has great admiration for her father, Hank, who passed on his wisdom and always said that one day Julie would run the family business.   Clary, a former nurse anesthetist turned farmer, finds herself in a unique position to be one of the few female farm operators in a field that is dominated by men.  She has quickly come to realize that women are more than capable of farming on a large scale, and she draws inspiration from her grandmother, Henriette, who independently ran “her” farm for 35 years. When Julie first came to the ranch, she followed in her father’s footsteps and came to the Stockton NRCS to participate in EQIP.  During this two year term, the farm has installed microirrigation on two fields, replaced their older harvester with a “Low Dust” model, opted to grind their older orchards instead of burning the remnants, and have adopted the cover crop practice to address infiltration issues.

Meet Myrna P. Arambula from Imperial, California

Myrna ArambulaA lifelong steward of the land, Arambula crafts her own organic insect repellants using garlic, cayenne pepper, and onions, as well as neem oil. Her next project entails planting lemongrass, to act as a natural pest deterrent, and implementing a high tunnel system planned through NRCS to protect her organic basil from the fierce winds of the Valley. In addition to organic farming, Arambula emphasizes female empowerment through her all-female workforce, and elevates the women that surround her into leadership positions in the industry by sharing resources to obtain business licenses. Arambula is empowering more women to not only pursue farm work, but also to purchase and operate their own farms, further increasing the rate of female-owned businesses in the Valley, and diversifying NRCS services.