Jun 23, 2020
Riparian restoration projects begun on two Sonoma county organic farms

Riparian restoration projects on two Organic Valley farms  in Sonoma County were recently announced.

Roughly 2 acres each, the projects will provide ecological restoration of riparian areas –streambanks and spring areas –on their respective properties. Together, these projects have the potential to store 40 metric tons of carbon within their first five years.

Riparian Restoration
Jessica Rowland Photography/Organic Valley

The first restoration started in December 2018 on the McClelland dairy farm in Petaluma, California, on 2 acres of designated land near Stemple Creek, according to a press release from the co-operative. Over 150 students and teachers (about five classes) of the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) program planted 90 individual plants consisting of 12 species of native trees and shrubs, including Coast live oak, Oregon ash, California blackberry and coffeeberry. The second phase will begin in summer 2020, when STRAW will install irrigation systems on both farms. After the school year, STRAW staff will monitor and maintain the projects for one to two years. This project will help prevent erosion, maintain water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and preserve the health of the entire ecosystem.

The second restoration started earlier this year on the Bordessa farm, Ocean Breeze Dairy, in Valley Ford, California, according to the release. At the beginning of 2020, an estimated 14 classrooms consisting of 14 teachers, 350 students, and 60 volunteers participated in the Ebabias Creek restoration project. The volunteers planted almost 700 native species during the first phase of the project. The second phase will begin in early spring, when STRAW will install an irrigation system.

“It’s important to take care of the land, water, and air we breathe. Every little bit that we can all do contributes to having a healthier earth,” Jana McClelland, McClelland Dairy owner, said in the release.

Such projects that restore land and sequester carbon from the atmosphere are called “carbon farming” projects.

“You plant the ‘seed’ somewhere and it will grow – we have additional farmers signed up for Climate Smart Farm Planning plans in Sonoma County just because these two farmers did it,” said Jessica Luhning, sustainability manager at Organic Valley. “Across the U.S., interest in carbon farm planning in our cooperative continues to grow.”

Organic Valley represents more than 1,800 farmers in 34 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom and achieved $1.1 billion in 2019 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a wide range of organic dairy, egg and produce products.

Riparian Restoration
Jessica Rowland Photography/Organic Valley

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