We're running a monthly series called "Food for Thought," in-depth conversations with groundbreakers who run farms, restaurants, wineries, breweries and bars around California and are shaking up the way we eat and drink.
For our fifth talk, we're going to emphasize the "farm" in farm-to-fork efforts, and discuss the future of farming in California.
The official start of California agriculture began in 1769, when Junipero Serra started building missions in Alta California along El Camino Real. For the next 150 years, farming focused mostly on livestock ranches and growing grains in a sparsely populated state. Now in the 21st century, farming is intensive, specialized, technologically advanced and embedded in an urban state of nearly 40 million people.
Today, California farmers deal daily with the ups and downs of exporting overseas, strict government regulations, the rise of Big Agribusiness, irregular drought-to-flood-in-a-year weather patterns, and the impact of immigration issues on their workforce. All of this affects what crops they grow, how they grow it, and whether they can afford to keep the farm going. And of course this affects us foodies, too, in terms of what kind of access we'll have to locally-grown products -- and what we will pay for it.
So the ag industry is at a crossroads today. Are there enough young farmers to take over for seasoned ones who want to retire? Can they afford to make a living in a high-cost-of-living state? Can they be profitable and sustainable when climate change makes it harder to predict what they can sow and reap?
These questions weigh heavily on farmers, producers and agribusinesses in California right now. The answers are important to anyone who buys their products -- i.e., all of us.
Join us on the second floor of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op as we talk with two people who are leading the charge to shape the future of farming in California, from inspiring and training new farmers to creating ag-focused technology that makes them financially and environmentally sustainable, so that our state can keep its boast as the Breadbasket of the World.
* Dennis Donohue, head of Western Growers' Center for Innovation and Technology -- as the former mayor of Salinas, he got Silicon Valley interested in his city as a burgeoning AgTech hub, and is now focused on connecting AgTech startups to California farmers.
* Mary Kimball, executive director of the Center for Land-Based Learning -- she leads multiple programs around the state to get youth interested and employed in the farming industry, and to get young farmers on their feet through training, apprenticeships and business incubators.
$10 admission. Please register for your ticket at our Eventbrite page.
Of course, there will be food and drink. Doors open at 6pm, so you can nosh and mingle before we start talking at 6:30.