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Notes from the editor

Looking to the past to see the future sounds a little hackneyed, but still rings true in some situations. Once every ranch in Marin had a dairy, hogs, and grew grains and feedstocks.  Some had row crops of considerable significance for Marin in those times. In 1937 there were 1600 acres of peas, for example. Grain acreages and silage crops were important since the Central Valley alfalfa industry hadn’t materialized yet.

The farming rotations covered in the lead article were learned through experience. How do you make a living farming with no irrigation and limited inputs? The winter grains followed by summer potatoes was a good rotation, for these conditions.

With this cropping system in mind, there is a farming renaissance brewing today. As feed and transport costs rise, the local interest in high-nutrition feed stocks has increased. More pasturelands are being farmed for forage, and some farmers are beginning to experiment with new crops. It’s getting harder to find land to lease, and operators are moving their cows around more to find feed.

Over the hill, Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden is growing trials of ancient wheat to test the quality of the grain grown in our climate. Additional trials are going on in Hick's Valley, Bolinas, and Tomales areas. The Artisan Cheese Making Course on the College of Marin Novato Campus is full, and aspiring cheesemakers now have a local source for learning.

It’s reassuring to witness the little farming boom going on. Over a hundred years ago, farming here was experiencing the same kind of boom. The difference is that today, we have developed conservation farming methods, including appropriate rotations, that better fit the landscape we live in. The trials in place are small careful steps with some real pluses for the future.

Grown in Marin News is produced quarterly by the University of California Cooperative Extension, Marin. Production of Grown in Marin News was made possible with funding from the Marin Community Foundation and the County of Marin.

Editors: Steve Quirt, David Lewis
Production: Bonnie Nielsen
Contributors: Sarah Darcey-Martin, Bonnie Nielsen, Ellie Rilla