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A Changing of the Ombudsman

Lisa headshot
By David Lewis, UCCE Marin Director

While the news about the changing of Marin’s Agricultural Ombudsman is not entirely new, it is now complete.  With its completion, some words of gratitude and welcoming are in order.

Lisa Bush, Marin’s first Agricultural Ombudsman has retired. She is joining her husband to enjoy much deserved time in their Sebastopol vegetable garden and their home away from home in Italy.

Lisa served in the capacity of Agricultural Ombudsman for nearly 13 years.  During her tenure in this unique and pioneering role, she provided education, coaching, and consultation to many of Marin’s farmers and ranchers seeking to certify organic, produce pasture raised eggs, or improve needed ranch and farm infrastructure.  The Grown in Marin factsheets she wrote are go-to resources for Marin’s farmers and ranchers.  Because of her efforts, Marin is supportive of accessory buildings like barns, which support local agricultural operations, and appropriately scaled on-farm creameries, which produce farmstead and artisan cheeses.  Lisa provided the space and time for interested farmers and ranchers to explore options for these and other projects and navigate agency requirements.  In a complementary way, she spent the time needed in offices, on the phone, and in the field with agency representatives to build strong working relationships and forge a shared understanding between agricultural producers and agency staff.

Lisa Bush (far left) in the field with producers
Lisa Bush (far left) in the field with producers

“Lisa was a critical guide for us in setting up our family cheese operation,” commented Rick Lafranchi when asked about Lisa’s role in establishing the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company.  He added, “We went to her early and that was one of the best decisions we made.  She helped us problem-solve and work with Marin staff to complete the project.” 

If imitation is the strongest form of flattery, than it is worth noting that at last count four other Bay Area counties have put in place Agricultural Ombudsmen since Lisa put life in to Marin’s.  Lisa will be missed by ranchers and planners alike for her ability to delve into the details, ask the critical questions, and form a solution that all parties owned.

Lisa, it has been a true pleasure and privilege.

If there is an upside to Lisa retiring, it is that her replacement will be Vince Trotter.  Vince, as you will pick up, in his own words does not shy from things that are difficult.  He has a wonderful combination of technical skills, compassion, and commitment to local agriculture that will make him successful in the role of Agricultural Ombudsman.

Vince, welcome to our team and for sharing a little more about yourself and your new role.

Here are Vince's words:


My professional background covers a broad scope, with the central theme being helping others make sense of complicated topics through education, training, and facilitation. From five years of farming in Northern California, I know firsthand that the dazzling array of county, state and federal rules that apply to agriculture often qualifies as “complicated.”

In addition to farming, I spent five years with Kaiser Permanente, helping staff and management understand and implement policies that govern workplace relationships and decision-making and two years building The Good Food Web, helping food entrepreneurs find answers to the questions that plagued them.  I’m in my second year of supervising at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm and third year as a proud father.

My extended family has grown wheat and raised cattle in Idaho for five generations, and I admire the long history and deep resilience of agriculture in Marin County.  It is an honor to work alongside public agencies, private and non-profit organizations, concerned citizens and our hard-working farmers and ranchers to secure the future of agriculture in the county for generations to come.  I salute Lisa Bush for her many years of service as Ag Ombudsman. She has set a high bar, and I hope to prove a worthy successor.  Let’s get to work!

Vince can be contacted at: tvtrotter@ucanr.edu or (415) 473-4204.

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