Author Archive | Ellen Farmer

ON THE FARM: GENIUS AND JUSTICE

Organic agriculture and activism
intersect at UCSC’s farm apprentice program

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CRYSTAL BIRNS

For 20-some years, while sitting in her office and working as a bilingual counselor at Santa Cruz High School, Ana Rasmussen longed to take six months off and study organic farming just up the hill at UC Santa Cruz. But the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture has always been a residential program and she was raising her kids, so as soon as they grew up, she wasted no time in applying and becoming an apprentice.

Friends had told her, “It will change your life,” and she agrees the program inspired her in many ways. “It was a combination of excellent teaching—what we learned to do with our hands—but most of all getting to know the other apprentices … Read More

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ON THE FARM: REVOLUTIONARY RANCHER

A former engineer takes on climate change with regenerative agriculture

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALICIA ARCIDIACONO AND ELAINE PATARINI

Sallie Calhoun couldn’t have been more surprised when her husband got the wild idea of buying the huge and historic Paicines Ranch south of Hollister 17 years ago.

The land had been slated for a resort hotel, golf course and 4,500- unit housing development, but San Benito County wanted the developers to provide a four-lane highway to serve all the new commuters, and that just wasn’t going to happen. So Calhoun and her husband Matt Christiano purchased the land and settled in, curious about their future.

Calhoun’s father left his family’s farm in the rural South to become an engineer in the 1950s. As much as she loved summer visits to the farm, … Read More

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