Communities across America, including major metropolitan areas, are embracing urban farms and community gardens. The role these urban farms play is important to the communities where they operate, often addressing a larger societal/community need. Equally important is the direct connection the farm/garden gives to consumers interested in learning more about how food is grown and raised. What can larger, conventional farms learn about best practices from urban farms – and vice versa?

Farmers and ranchers – large and small, urban and rural – toured Wattles Farm in Hollywood. This intimate discussion looked at best practices and shared techniques, no matter the farm size, and the role that urban farms/community gardens play in feeding the stomachs and souls of American communities. Watch excerpts from the discussion at Wattles Farm and discover how rural and urban farmers can work together to provide healthy choices for people everywhere.

Why not utilize technologies?

Farmers and ranchers are business-savvy people who like technology as much as anyone else. Our society is always adopting new, progressive technologies. Why shouldn't agriculture?


    • Moderator Michael Olson, Consultant to metropolitan agriculture, author, MetroFarm, and executive producer/host of Saturday Food Chain radiotalk show
    • Colin Archipley, Marine Sergeant & Founder, Archi’s Acres
    • Paula Daniels, Senior Advisor, Food Policy, The City of Los Angeles Office of the Mayor View Full Bio

      Paula Daniels – Senior Advisor, Food Policy, The City of Los Angeles Office of the Mayor With more than 20 years of experience working as a leader in the environmental community, Paula Daniels is charged with overseeing the City’s efforts to increase Angelenos’ accessibility to healthy foods. She is the chair of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and oversees citywide actions to build a broad-based collaboration for a sustainable regional food system that supports the availability and affordability of sustainably grown local food to people of all income levels.

    • Kelly Dugan, Calf & Heifer Manager View Full Bio

      Born and raised in central Arizona, Kelly Dugan is a third generation dairy farmer. She has been a single mother of 2 for the past 9 years and currently engaged to be married. Kelly manages her fathers’ calf and heifer operation, raising approximately 500 baby calves and over 2,000 heifers. She prides herself in raising her calves in with-in the same models as raising her children. Her priorities lie in keeping a clean and safe environment, while feeding the most nutritious diet. Kelly is a member of the Young Cooperatives, the Young Farmers and Ranchers, Farm Bureau and also teaches Sunday School.

    • Jacki Easter, Beef & Poultry Farmer View Full Bio

      Born on a small dairy farm not far from where her family currently owns and operates a farm, fifth generation farmer, Jacki Easter, has strong passion and dedication to agriculture. Jacki received graduate and undergraduate degrees from Longwood University, and worked as a teacher, and as a middle school and elementary school assistant principal and director of technology. After leaving her career in education in 1994 to farm full-time, Jacki became actively involved in Farm Bureau serving on the State Board and being very active in such issues as the regulation of the poultry industry. She was appointed as State Executive Director for Farm Service Agency , serving 6 years under the Bush Administration. She also served on the Virginia 4-H Foundation Board of Directors and the Virginia Ag in the Classroom Foundation Board.

      Jacki and husband, Howard J. Easter III, whom she met through 4-H, maintain 5 broiler houses (contracted with Tyson Foods), a commercial cow calf operation, and small acreage of corn, soy beans and wheat. They raise a little over a million chickens a year, and a dozen calves a year for beef for our local customers. Jacki’s greatest accomplishment is both of her sons chose to build their homes and raise their families on the farm. All 5 grandchildren love the animals and like to be involved in activities, and are active in 4-H.

    • Craig McNamara, President & Owner of Sierra Orchards- Organic Walnuts and Olive Oil View Full Bio

      Craig McNamara is the president and owner of Sierra Orchards, a diversified farming operation producing primarily organic walnuts.

      By connecting people, policy and agricultural best practices, Craig works to protect the land that feeds us, to promote social justice and support the next generation of farmers.

      In that capacity, he serves as the founder and president of the Center for Land-Based Learning, an innovative program that helps high school students build greater social and human capital in their communities.

      He is President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, on the UC President’s Advisory Commission and the UC Davis Dean’s Advisory Council. He is an advisory board member of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, and active in the American Farmland Trust, Roots of Change, and the Public Policy Institute of California.

      He is the recipient of several awards including the James Irving Leadership Award, Leopold Conservation Award, the California Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the UC Davis Award of Distinction and Outstanding Alumnus Award.

      He is passionate about sharing his knowledge in sustainable agriculture and leadership with the world around him. Together with his wife and three children he lives in Winters California.

    • Rachel Surls Ph.D., Sustainable Food Systems Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County view bio View Full Bio

      Rachel Surls is the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, part of UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She is involved in a variety of research and education projects related to urban sustainable food systems, on topics including community and school gardens, and small scale urban farming. She is a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, and is actively involved in helping to create policies that support and facilitate urban agriculture in Los Angeles. The urban farming movement in Los Angeles builds on our history as the nation’s top farm county until the 1950’s. Rachel is fascinated by this largely forgotten history and is working on a book that will be published in 2013.

    • Paul Wenger, Farmer/Rancher View Full Bio

      Paul Wenger was elected president of the California Farm Bureau Federation in December 2009.

      Wenger, who farms in Modesto, became a statewide officer in 1997 when he was elected second vice president. He was elected first vice president in 2005. He also served as a member of the CFBF board and chaired the CFBF Water Advisory Committee and the Board Water Development Task Force. He is a former president of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.

      A third-generation farmer, Wenger farms almonds and walnuts on the family farm, which includes property purchased by his grandfather in 1910. His farming operations also include sharecropping, custom farm work and walnut hulling. He has expanded his operation to include processing and marketing of almonds and walnuts through his Wood Colony Nut Co., to provide an opportunity for the fourth generation of the family to vertically integrate into the family farming operation.

      Wenger attended Modesto Junior College before transferring to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he earned a degree in animal science.

      Wenger has been active in community affairs, serving on the Salida Volunteer Fire Department, the Hart-Ransom School Board of Trustees, and the Stanislaus Land Trust and Agricultural Pavilion boards.