Kitchen Table Talks: Creative Farm Economics

What does it really take to be a Bay Area farmer these days? The Kitchen Table Talks discussion series addresses the question at next week’s event, hosted by 18 Reasons in San Francisco on Wednesday, February 19, at 6:30.

Farming has never been easy, and in contemporary California it may be harder than ever. High land prices, ever-expanding suburbs, drought, regulations, and competition press small growers from all sides. Luckily, farmers are a tough breed, used to working hard, facing unimaginable losses, and getting right back on the horse—or tractor. While California’s tech industry might get all the attention, farmers’ ingenuity and entrepreneurship is legendary.

kitchen_table_talksMeet two farmers who are breaking new ground (pun intended) and redefining what small farms can be:

Adam Gaska, Mendocino Organics
Adam and Paula Gaska (pictured above) are first-generation farmers who grow vegetables and grains and raises animals on their beautiful Redwood Valley ranch. Adam’s innovate programs include Pork Shares, his up-front payment system that helps cover the costs of processing his heritage hogs, and his RSA (Restaurant Supported Agriculture) partnership with local San Francisco restaurant Bar Agricole. The RSA helps support the farm the same way consumer-focused CSA shares do, by providing funds that helps the farmer cover early season costs while ensuring a supply of quality produce for the restaurant.

Jered Lawson, Pie Ranch
Jered launched the nonprofit farm Pie Ranch in Pescadero in 2005. The farm offers programs that connect urban youth with the farm through overnight trips and workdays.  Each semester, several students have the opportunity to deepen their food systems knowledge through the HomeSlice internship program. The farm also runs an apprenticeship program for young farmers. Every month, they open the farm to the general public for a workday and evening barn dance.

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