Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.

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Can Mushrooms Save the Bees?

Mycologist Paul Stamets shares the importance of his groundbreaking discovery about the importance of mushrooms for immune health in individual bees and entire colonies.

Old-growth forests are libraries of ancestral knowledge, with fungi being the biological network that connects it all. Visionary researcher Paul Stamets has spent more than 40 years studying mycelium, its ability to recycle nutrients, and its role in sustaining life from the ground up. He’s now using those restorative properties to save the bees from extinction.

Bee populations are declining as they face viruses precipitated by climate change. But Stamets’ groundbreaking invention of MycoHoney, made by bees that sip mycelium droplets, provides nutrients to safeguard bee survival. MycoHoney is the first step to saving the world’s most important pollinators from the growing threat of extinction, and ensuring the survival of humanity in the process. It doesn’t get much sweeter than this.

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Healthy Soils Program Application Streamlined, Max Award Amount Increases Ahead of Record Round

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently proposed a number of improvements to the Healthy Soils Program (HSP), which should ease the application process for farmers. This is good news that comes ahead of the next round of funding for the program, which will make available a record $28 million in grants to farmers and ranchers (nearly twice as much as the last round).

The proposed improvements, summarized below, were included in CDFA’s recent draft Request for Grant Applications (RGA). The final Request for Grant Applications is expected to be released in February, which will officially kick off a 4-month rolling application period. If you have ever considered applying to the program, this will be a good year to do so!

We are excited about the proposed improvements because they align with our recommendations to address a number of barriers to scaling up the program identified in a survey we conducted of technical assistance providers in May of 2019. We are very grateful to CDFA for hosting listening sessions with more than 100 stakeholders in the summer and fall of 2019 and so clearly responding to much of the feedback with these proposed changes.

Summary of CDFA’s proposed improvements to the Healthy Soils Program:

  1. Increases the maximum grant award from $75,000 to $100,000.
  2. Allows previously implemented healthy soils practices to be implemented on a new, different field within the same (previously funded) Assessor Parcel Number (APN).
  3. Reduces the essay-type questions in the application.
  4. Integrates the budget worksheet’s payment rates into Comet-Planner and uses a map-based, integrated application input tool to reduce the number of attachments and external websites required in the application.
  5. Institutes a rolling application submission period of up to 4 months (or until funds expended).
  6. Instates a 25% set-aside of the total available funds for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFRs) and projects benefitting low-income and disadvantaged communities.*
  7. Includes Whole Orchard Recycling (WOR) as an eligible practice.
  8. Promises to provide applicants notifications and feedback within 6 weeks of submitting their application.

We believe the above changes will greatly improve farmers’ and ranchers’ experience with the program and respond to many of the concerns and recommendations we have heard over the years from stakeholders implementing this program on the ground.

We will continue to seek some remaining changes based on stakeholder feedback, which you can read about in our recent comment letter on the draft RGA. But the big takeaway is the application process for this next round should be noticeably improved.

If you are considering applying, we strongly encourage you to find a local technical assistance provider who can help you understand the program rules, design a project, successfully fill out the application, and even help out with implementation and reporting – all free-of-charge.

There are over 40 technical assistance providers funded by the state to provide this free assistance. Find one in your region by going to these two links below:

  1. CDFA-Funded Technical Assistance Providers
  2. UCANR Climate Smart Agriculture Team’s Technical Assistance Providers

Stay tuned: We will post another blog when the final Request for Applications is released and the application period officially opens.

Source:  Brian Shobe, CalCAN, January 14, 2020

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Funding Available for Dairy/Livestock Alternative Manure Management Projects

Applications Due March 27th

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently announced a new round of available funding for the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP).  Between $6.1 million and $10.7 million will be available for grants to dairy and livestock producers interested in projects that reduce methane emissions on their operations by shifting away from wet manure handling and storage to dry manure management, including pasture-based practices. In our recent analysis of AMMP projects, about two-thirds of awardees turn their manure into compost. For a complete list of eligible practices, see the recent Request for Grant Applications.

CDFA is also making available $450,000 for AMMP Demonstration Projects to support outreach and education efforts to highlight the multiple benefits of AMMP projects for producers. Eligible applicants include California universities, UCCE, RCDs and nonprofits with agriculture outreach expertise, working in collaboration with dairy or livestock operators who have received AMMP funding.

Farmer demand for the AMMP program funding has exceeded available funding in the past.  We encourage producers to work with available technical assistance providers who can help with the application.  You can find a list of those TA providers here.

CDFA will host three upcoming workshops on the AMMP program in Modesto (Feb. 18th), Petaluma (Feb. 19th) and Fresno (Feb. 20th).  You can find location and webinar information (if you prefer to join online instead of in-person) on the CDFA website.

Source:  Jeanne Merrill, CalCAN, February 12, 2020


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“Story of Flowers”

The animation was developed for kids to show the life cycle of flowers.

Many different flowers are growing beautifully and strongly in this world. Taking their roots in the earth, sprouting, blooming, pollination by birds and insects, living on in spite of rain, wind and storms. They pass on the baton of life, rebirth and decay. Everything is so in a continuous, endless cycle. This is the story and message of this animation.

Directed by : Azuma Makoto
Illustration by : Katie Scott
Animation by : James Paulley
Visual Supervisor : Shunsuke Shiinoki
Project Management by : Eri Narita

Alison Pouliot – The Fungus Whisperer

Alison Pouliot is a natural historian, environmental photographer, honorary fellow at the ANU and a font of all knowledge on the subject of fungi.

In this video, Alison talks about the role fungi play in healthy, productive soils. She shares her enthusiasm for working with farmers to build living soils that support the mutually beneficial relationship between fungi and plants.

“If we create the right conditions for fungi to flourish…….. get the biology back in the soil and reduce the pressures, the fungi will come.”

How Fungi Made All Life on Land Possible

In this video, I look at an unseen cornerstone of our ecosystems: fungi. Fungi are the reason why life on land exists, as they helped plants move from the ocean onto land via symbiosis.

Even to this day, fungi is an incredibly important part of nature, and also has so many different uses to human. Although the word “fungus” may conjure up negativity in some, fungus has been the driving force for evolution, and life as we know it would be possible without them.

Music by Epidemic Sound:

Huge thank you to CuriosityStream for letting me use footage from their awesome documentary, The Kingdom: How Fungi Made Our World. Watch it free right now!