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The North Coast is criss-crossed with country roads bearing the names of stalwart farm families who proudly worked the same land over generations. Some of the scions of those families stayed with the land, others couldn’t get away fast enough.
But within the last decade a new generation of determined young farmers is laying down roots in the agricultural Eden of Northern California. Many grew up among suburban comforts in other parts of the country and bear degrees from prestigious universities — some graduate level — in fields that hardly prepared them for planting, propagation, harvesting and distribution.
Without inherited land, many are leasing small plots tucked amid a sea of grapevines, where they are eking out a living growing organic vegetables and fruits and raising chickens and sometimes other small barnyard animals, so dedicated are they.
Not having been raised on farm chores, 4-H and the Future Farmers of America, they are at a disadvantage. But what they lack in experience, they make up with passion and commitment as they fill in their knowledge gaps with apprenticeships and information gleaned from a growing number of online farming resources. Chief among them is California Farmlink, a small nonprofit that helps first-generation farmers access land and capital and learn the business aspects of farming.
For the past two years, Austin Blair has worked 12-hour days, six days a week, learning to farm from the ground up, starting with an acre plot in Schellville he shared with another neophyte 20-something farmer.Page: 1 2 3 Next > [View as single page]
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