Strengthening our local ag community 

July 28, 2022

Posted in: News Articles

We’re back with more ASAP Emergency Matching Grant program updates! Read on to hear about how we supported the development of CAFF’s Small Farm Tech Hub, which offered technical support to local ag producers, and how our funds helped Lennie Larkin’s B Side Farm weather the twists and turns of the pandemic. 

CAFF builds support hub for local producers
The Sonoma County chapter of CAFF (the Community Alliance with Family Farmers) saw a need during the pandemic to help local ag producers build up their technical skills to sell their products online. With our grant support, they were able to develop the Small Farm Tech Hub and hired contractors, including one fluent in Spanish, to develop and offer resources, workshops, and one-on-one support as local farms built up the online side of their businesses.

The twelve workshops they offered were attended by 740 growers, who tuned in virtually to learn about e-commerce, setting up websites, and online marketing. From online point-of-sale systems to the ins-and-outs of website design on Squarespace, using the medium of virtual workshops enabled CAFF to connect with folks during a challenging, isolating time. Their consultants also worked one-on-one with Fox Sparrow Farm and Farm Sinclair to go even deeper into strengthening their online business systems, helping them to adapt to a less in-person world. 

CAFF, a statewide organization, aims to “build sustainable food and farming systems through policy advocacy and on-the-ground programs that create more resilient family farms, communities, and ecosystems.” For several decades, CAFF’s Sonoma County chapter has supported family farms, sustainable agriculture, and local food systems through events, resources, and advocacy. Learn more about CAFF >>

Flowers continue to flourish at B Side Farm
At B Side Farm, Lennie Larkin uses regenerative methods to grow old-fashioned, fragrant flowers for use in her design studio, at workshops, and at her world-famous roadside honor-system farmstand. Beyond the farm, Lennie specializes in full-service wedding design too. 

Like so many, B Side Farm was in need of support during the pandemic, and through our ASAP program we were able to fund Lennie’s purchase of bulbs, plants, and tubers, and also help her pay the farm lease and keep up the farm stand operations. 

Lennie is an active, committed member of the local ag community, and serves as a mentor to many new flower growers and designers. She also teaches horticulture at SRJC, and runs workshops and a monthly study group focused on essential elements of flower farming and business operations. Understanding how to turn a vision into a successful, profitable business is a critical part of developing a long-lasting farm that can bounce back from challenges. By sharing her business expertise, Lennie is making an important contribution to the resilience of Sonoma County’s farming landscape. See more about B Side Farms >>

About the ASAP Emergency Matching Grant Program
As the pandemic began, we recognized there was immediate need within our agricultural community to alleviate some of the burdens experienced by farms and ranches due to restaurant and business closures, decreased demand for products, and labor shortages, among other challenges. In March 2021, we released an application for a one-time grant to support our local producers and agricultural businesses, and ultimately our Board approved nine projects. We funded expenses ranging from compost and plant starts to assistance for low-income individuals to purchase food from local farmers.  Learn more about the ASAP program >>