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UC 'Organically Grown' Help

The Issue

With the U.S. market for organic products expected to top $20 billion in 2006 and national organic standards in place, many farmers and consumers are looking for clarification on what constitutes “organic” and how to grow it. ANR is responding to these questions through local research and extension programs, publications and online resources.

What Has ANR Done?

UC SAREP provides an organic farming information Web site with valuable information for growers involved in or transitioning to organic production. Two key resources on the Web site include:
· UC Organic Farming workgroup directory, which lists contact information and areas of expertise for UC faculty, specialists, and farm advisors working in organic research and extension.
· Online Organic Farming Compliance Handbook with information on principles of organic production, National Organic Program standards, materials compliance, organic marketing and economics, and extensive links to other resources and organizations.

With a grant from the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the True North Foundation SAREP also supported county level activities in organic research and extension in 11 California counties (Marin, Humboldt, Ventura, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Fresno, San Joaquin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Sutter-Yuba, Pacer-Nevada).

With support from a CDFA Buy California Initiative grant, SAREP is working on a series of organic production manuals for four crops: olives, winegrapes, vegetables and strawberries.

The Payoff

Basic research, resources are assisting organic growers

The dramatic increase in California organic growers (more than 2,500 are officially registered on more than 200,000 acres) is beginning to be served by UC advisors and research. Client growers are applying what they have learned from on-farm research plots in soil fertility management, pest control, plant pathology, productivity, cover crop evaluations, biofumigation, compost effectiveness and weed prevention. Growers have also used information on medicinal herb farming, natural and organic beef, farm diversification, organic strawberry production, organic livestock opportunities, direct marketing, farmstead cheeses, specialty crops and organic transition and certification.

Clientele Testimonial

"The UC Organic Strawberry Production Short Course was helpful and fair. I particularly appreciated the realistic evaluation of organic control methods. It was very informative for our California strawberry growers, especially those in the Salinas-Watsonville area." Dan Legard, Director of Research and Education, California Strawberry Commission (representing 450 growers statewide)

“The whole organic industry is about to explode with the new federal law… SAREP’s web site can be used as a resource to help connect people and potential organic farmers and processors to get the information they need.” Albert Straus, President, Straus Family Creamery, Marshall.

“At workshops and field days you get to hook up with experienced farmers, which is invaluable for information sharing so I don’t have to repeat their mistakes! It’s the essence of what research should be about, and we all benefit from it. It’s putting public dollars to use for public gain.” Paul Herzog, Organic Vegetable Crops Grower, Ventura County.


Supporting Unit: Sustainable Agricultural Research & Education Program

David Chaney and Lyra Halprin, UC SAREP, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616-8716 (530-752-7556/530-754-8551)