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In This Issue: 
The RCD is committed to supporting San Diego’s ever-growing community of Farmers and Ranchers. We equip hard-working stewards of the land with conservation practices known as regenerative agriculture which help to improve farm and ranch productivity. This holistic approach to managing working lands strengthens agricultural businesses while conserving natural resources, reducing the risk of wildfire and adapting to the effects of climate change.
El Distrito de Conservación de Recursos (RCD) está comprometido a apoyar la creciente comunidad de agricultores y rancheros en el condado de San Diego. Proveyendo prácticas de conservación a nuestros agricultores, conocidas como “Agricultura Regenerativa,” estas practicas aumentan la productividad de granjas y ranchos. Ademas, esta manera de cultiva-ción de tierras beneficia a las empresas agrícolas, conserva los recursos naturales, reduce el riesgo de incendios y adapta las granjas a los efectos de cambio climático.
Para recibir estas noticias de subsidio, eventos e investigaciones de agricultura regenerativa puede contactarnos en español, solo tiene que responder a este mensaje o escríbenos a

Stories from the Field

In the last month, we have been blessed with the opportunity to frequently be in the field. It's essential for us to walk the land with its stewards in order to understand how we can provide the best support. We have had the pleasure of visiting multiple local working lands that each deserve a highlight!

We first visited the San Pascual Valley Agricultural Preserve and met with Ernie Klemm of KD Farms and KD Farms Trucking, and Dr. Craig Kolodge of San Pascual Valley Soils. These sister operations support each other under the umbrella of Konyn Dairy, one of the last  remaining dairies in San Diego County. Konyn is holding their place in our county's agricultural history with responsible land management practices. One of the practices that stands out is their commitment to reducing food waste and keeping their resources as local as possible - literally, next door. KD Farms Trucking receives and hauls residual food product like grain and pulp from San Diego County businesses, diverting it from the landfill and using it as feed for Konyn's dairy cattle. Then, San Pascual Valley Soils (SPVS) uses the manure in a variety of compost products, like their Valley's Best Compost, which is made of 80% dairy manure. SPVS is also located directly across from the San Diego Safari Park, and receive what they playfully refer to as "zoo-doo" from their animals as well. Nothing goes to waste in this operation! 

A majority of the feed for their animals is also grown onsite by Mr. Klemm and his team at KD Farms. They have seen great results from composting, mulching and grazed cover cropping on some of their fields and are committed to enhancing the soil health of newly acquired eucalyptus fields adjacent to their current property. Through focused soil management, they have raised the carbon content of the soil in their perennial pasture area to almost 7%! Dr. Kolodge and Mr. Klemm have an incredible dynamic, a soil scientist and a farmer working together to explore all the possibilities to enhance their land and educate others along the way. The pair is passionate about soil health and frequent soil testing, because as Dr. K says, "You can't manage what you can't measure." They are infinitely resourceful and creative, and a beacon of efficiency and experimentation.

We conducted soil testing at our CDFA Healthy Soils Program funded demonstration site in Rancho Jamul, where John Austel of 4J Horse & Livestock practices prescribed grazing. Mr. Austel has turned ground that was fallow for over 20 years, with the ground being partially type converted into weeds after wildfires and partially dormant ecosystems, into productive and active ecosystems with healthy soil. Over the last 3 years, we have been monitoring the benefits of his prescribed grazing practice, in which he manages the location and intensity of which the cattle graze to ensure that the land has time to recover, never allowing a pasture to be reduced to stubble. He has seen pastures flourish that were once bare, and is optimistic that with the help of the cattle aerating and fertilizing the areas they graze on, the soil has increased its ability to retain moisture and carbon. This is crucial as they face both rising water prices and prolonged periods of drought. With more ample and reliable food sources, John has consistently increased his yield and while maintaining a grazing ratio of 1 animal to 15 acres.

The rolling hills and roaming herds conjure up images of a thriving ecological reserve, of what San Diego might have once looked like when it was a ranching hub. As we toured the grounds, we learned about the different ways in which the range land is supporting a rich ecosystem including golden eagles, Ferruginous hawks, prarie falcons, tricolored blackbirds, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, bobcats, and burrowing owls. Mr. Austel has been an incredible partner to work with because he is endlessly curious about and tirelessly dedicated to the health of the land and animals he manages, and is well respected for his knowledge in the ranching community.

We spent a day in the heart of the Pauma Valley at neighboring farms doing meaningful work: Solidarity Farm and Pauma Tribal Farms.

When we arrived at Solidarity Farm, we were greeted by Bea Alvarez and shown to some of their new projects like some recently planted hedgerows full of natives that can be used for food, fiber, medicine and also support pollinator habitat. Another awesome project on their land is their new incubator plots for beginning farmers. New farmers who have received training at Solidarity are given up to a 1/4 acre plot to start working the land. Access to land is such a huge barrier for beginning farmers, and this offering is a core example of how Solidarity puts action to their values.

They are also organizers, partners and growers for Foodshed, a food aggregator service that provides fresh CSA boxes gleaned from a variety of local growers. Foodshed ensures that their food is accessible in both price and pick up locations, so that everyone can enjoy their right to nutritious and well-grown food. From their dedication to regenerative agriculture to their commitment to food equity, being at Solidarity Farm makes one feel like they are part of something bigger. The world is starting to notice, too, as they were recently featured on an ABC News segment about carbon farming as a solution to climate change.

Right across the street is Pauma Tribal Farms, who owns the land for both operations. They too are stewards of both the land and social welfare. During the pandemic, they focused on their garden plot to promote food sovereignty and to ensure that the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians and their surrounding community had access to nutrition during a difficult time. We met with Andrew Madrigal, who showed us around their newest venture: olives and grapes! We walked through the newly planted olive trees and he showed us to their new vineyard plot. His team has had challenges throughout the past few years, but continue to move forward with the new knowledge and experience with each new lesson. They are also taking great care of their soil with practices like composting and mulching. We are excited to see what becomes of their land in the future, as they continue to empower their community!

Upcoming Workshops and Events

Voluntary Land Management and Conservation Workshop
Wednesday, January 26th | 6:00pm - 8:00pm PST | Online

Join us for the first in what we hope to become an annual regional workshop for property owners, land managers, and other organizations looking for funding or technical assistance on preserving biodiversity and wildlife, resource management for farmers, adding value to their current uses and practices, and helping landowners understand planning processes and receive assistance. 

 Attendees will receive a workbook of all the opportunities being presented, and have the chance to visit breakout rooms to chat with a representative from each funding or technical assistance source. See more info here.

Who Should Attend?
  • Land managers* who maintain working lands interested in learning about programs that assist with current operations; or
  • Land managers seeking opportunities to initiate conservation or sustainable land management practices; or
  • Organizations interested in opportunities for conservation or sustainable land management practices on privately-owned lands.
* Land managers may include property owners, lessees, land managers, etc.

Hosted by: UC Cooperative Extension | RCD Greater San Diego County |
County of San Diego, Sustainability Planning Division
| US Dept of Fish & Wildlife
Grazing to Manage Fire Risk
Thursday, January 27th | 2:00pm - 4:00pm PST | Online


Learn from experts in the field about how holistic, prescribed grazing methods can reduce fire fuel loads, thereby decreasing fire risk. In addition, presenters will discuss grazing can benefit the ecosystem, reduce invasive species, and how to get involved with your local fire safe council. For more info, see the flyer here

Christopher Danch, Executive Director of Ojai Valley Fire Safe council
Brittany “Cole” Bush, Shepherdess Land and Livestock,
Matthew Sablove, Good Shepherds Regenerative Land Management 
SAVE THE DATE | March 2022
Field Day at Rancho Jamul

Come spend a day on the ranch with John Austel of 4J Horse & Livestock, and others, as we wrap up our 3 year CDFA funded Healthy Soils demonstration grant. See for yourself how the rangeland has improved and learn more about the process of prescribed grazing! 

Educational Resources

Check out the recording of our most recent webinar on prescribed grazing from a holistic perspective, and learn about the benefits of the practice from a soil scientist, wildlife ecologist, and ranchers.  

Funding Opportunities

Thinking of adding a conservation practice to your farm, like compost, prescribed grazing or hedgerows? $75 million is budgeted for the CDFA Healthy Soils Program this year, with two rounds of funding. See here for a recording of our last application workshop and lots of resources. Apply Now!

Do you want to get serious about conservation practices on your working land? The National Resource Conservation Service offers financial and technical support to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)See here for how to apply!

Get funding for carbon farming practices through Zero Food Print's Restore CA private grant. Their next funding cycle is in Spring 2022, so if you're interested see here for more info to prepare. If you are interested in applying for free compost, check out their new Compost Connector program here

Small Business Stimulus Grant from the County of San Diego  

Has COVID-19 impacted your farm production or sales? $4 million has already been distributed to businesses across the county affected by COVID-19. You can learn how to apply here. Awards range from $1,000 to $50,000, and average $5,000. Previous awardees include farms and ranches throughout San Diego County. The grant can be used to reimburse previous expenses, or for new expenditures within 60 days of the grant award. 

If you are a small-scale producer in San Diego or part of a socially disadvantaged group, we are here to help you complete your application and complete the grant. Reach us at

Agricultural Planning Project

The RCD team is working with partners to create a regional plan to strengthen the agricultural economy! We recognize the challenges that producers in San Diego face such as the rising cost of water, labor shortages, and barriers to land access. The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) is a two-year planning grant funded by the California Department of Conservation with Cap-and-Trade proceeds. In partnership with the SD Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and many local stakeholders, we aim to create a comprehensive view of what the agricultural community needs to thrive and grow. The strength of this project will depend on the support of the agricultural community - if you or someone you know works in agriculture in San Diego, we will be reaching out to you to:
  • Complete a virtual or in-person Producer Needs Assessment to explain the challenges facing your operation. Click here to take it now or contact us to set up an appointment to chat: | 619-562-0096

  • Verify that current land use maps accurately represent all agricultural land in our region

  • Explain which policies could better support the agricultural community

Carbon Farming Services

We are here to help you! From direct assistance to technical advice, here are some of the services that the RCD offers to San Diego farmers and ranchers, free of charge:
  • Grant application support for soil conservation practices, water efficiency upgrades or losses in farm sales due to COVID-19
  • Soil sampling for organic carbon content
  • Technical guidance for implementing conservation practices
  • Plant selection for native hedgerows and riparian buffers
  • Regular updates on funding opportunities for conservation practices
  • Free chipping for unincorporated County residents - Visit Fire Safe Council
For more info email us at or call (619) 562-0096.
Thank you for tuning in to our newsletter! My name is Codi Hale and I am the newest member of the team here, as the Agricultural Outreach Assistant. I am here to support you with grant applications, technical assistance, and connect you to the resources you and your land need to thrive. 
Supported by:
Resource Conservation District of
Greater San Diego County

(619) 562-0096

11769 Waterhill Rd
Lakeside, CA 92040
Happy Holidays and Enjoy the Rain!

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RCD of Greater San Diego County · 11769 Waterhill Road · Lakeside, CA 92040 · USA

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