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Notes from the editor

This is my last issue as editor of this fun and informing newsletter that I began writing ten years ago.  I hope it has been of value to those involved, especially here in Marin. We really do have a small, "community county" of 250,000 folks, nicely placed in our urban and agricultural corridors. The agricultural community that UCCE serves is not large, but it is highly visible as our ranchers and farmers lead the way in making Marin agriculture equate high quality, local freshness, with a conservation story behind each product.

As I think about my last words as editor, believe it or not, I come up speechless. For those of you who know me, this is a very rare occurrence. I was standing in the Agricultural Commissioners office last week chatting with friends about my retirement. UCCE works very closely with the Ag Commissioner, and we have a great working relationship with the staff there. Weed control, organic certification, farmer’s market oversight, and the annual crop report are all produced by Agricultural Weights and Measures staff that rarely get credit for the value they provide. There are past and present miracle workers in both offices and with our partners at MALT, AIM, Marin Organic, and more, who are participants in all of our successes. Thank you for your efforts. You know who you are and what you’ve contributed.

Man and chickens circa 1920s
Researching the photographic history recorded by M.B. Boissevain, Marin’s first farm advisor, has given me a deeper and more visual appreciation of the men, women, and children that built our agricultural heritage. The practical innovations we are experiencing today have their counter parts in the last century, like dairy improvement, rotational grazing and free range chickens, all documented carefully by Marin's first farm advisor. Successive generations of Marin’s pioneering families have endured and today they continue to produce food, close to home to the same population that surrounds them. I believe that we are right in the middle of another shift as new generation ranchers and farmers are developing new product and marketing options, and more profit. The growth in our artisan and farmstead cheese creameries is just one example. New entry farmers and ranchers have also provided a new “blood” to our farm community. All of you deserve thanks.

In 2002 I wrote about a renewed sense of responsibility in keeping our ranches and farms economically healthy. Later that month we hosted our first Grown in Marin workshop (more than 75 followed) titled Planning Smart for Farm Diversification.

Today, as then, I renew that vow, as I pass the torch to my successor. Recruitment will begin soon, stay tuned.