Listen to the podcast of this discussion.
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 emphasizing the "farm" in farm-to-fork efforts, and discussing the future of farming in California.
The agriculture 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.
We got together on the second floor of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op to talk with two people helping 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.
RESOURCES FOR CONSUMERS TO HELP OUR FUTURE FARMERS
* California Farm Bureau Federation - contribute to its scholarship foundation
* California FFA - participate, teach and give to the state's chapter of Future Farmers of America
* Center for Land-Based Learning - donate to and volunteer in the Center's youth and adult farming programs
* 4-H Youth Development Program - because STEM skills are needed to create the workforce needed in the Future of Farming