By Evan Wiig
4th Annual Farmers Guild-Raising
February 18, 2017
Every February the Farmers Guild network from across the state converges at Sonoma County’s Shone Farm, recently ranked the number one college farm in the nation. From San Diego to the North Coast, several hundred California farmers, ranchers and local food advocates of all ages spend a day sharing skills, exploring hot topics in sustainable agriculture and working to build a united voice on behalf of family farms.
Four years in the running, this event not only brings together individuals but also serves to cross-pollinate nearly a dozen Guilds, coalitions organized by and for farmers together with allies in their community. At last year’s gathering, attendees traded rotational grazing advice and soil data on carbon sequestration—but they also shared tips for collective grassroots organizing, like how a local Guild garnered the attention of policymakers to hear concerns specific to smaller producers, a consumer awareness campaign that promoted local purchasing or how one Guild coordinated bulk purchases to save its members money.
While the Farmers Guild was founded by a younger generation aiming to reverse a troublesome trend of aging farmers—60 is now the average age of farm operators in our state—lately the Guilds’ membership has diversified, with more experienced farmers stepping in to pass down wisdom. Which is why we’ve chosen “Intergenerational Exchange” for this year’s Guild-Raising theme, as few things are as vital to an empowered new crop of farmers than mentors eager to pass on their agricultural legacy.
As part of this, we’re excited to welcome to this year’s event Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). With nearly forty years of experience working on behalf of family farms, a new partnership between our two organizations will unite help generations, wisdom and enthusiasm, lessoned learned and what’s possible for the future of food and agriculture in California. Not only do attendees leave inspired and better prepared as producers, but both CAFF and the Farmers Guild leave better prepared to serve the needs and aspirations of their constituents.
And like every year, our event concludes with the always popular Agrarian Lovers Ball. With Valentine’s Day still in the air, that evening we open up the doors to our broader community for local food, music and a celebration of farmers and those who love them. The night culminates with the bestowal of our annual Farmers Guild Awards, recognizing contributions to a stronger local food economy, food justice and a new generation of agrarians. Anyone is welcome to nominate, categories include:
• New Farmer of the Year
• Legacy Farmer of the Year
• Food Business of the Year
• Food & Farm Advocate of the Year
• Farmers Guild Leader of the Year
To nominate, visit www.farmersguild.org/2017-awards
For more info on the event, visit www.farmersguild.org/farmers-guild-raising-2017