UCCE aims to provide growers with science-based information, conduct relevant research for applied agriculture and help growers become better stewards of the land and better, more competitive producers.
UCCE is over 100 years old, and functions as a conduit extending research-based information to the county and sharing county-based needs with research-based academics on campus. Organizationally, UCCE has extension specialists who are academics posted in departments on UC campuses with statewide responsibilities and farm advisors who are academics posted in county-based offices with regional responsibilities. Extension specialists and farm advisors are mission-oriented, conducting applied research and have specific duties to provide outreach and education.
The power of UCCE is the dispersion of academics from campuses to counties across the entire state. There are 330 UCCE academics posted across UC campuses at Davis, Berkeley, Riverside and Merced; in 53 county offices, and 9 research centers.
Cooperative extension in California is unique from other states in several ways. One is the establishment of the research and extension centers (REC). We have 9 centers, dispersed across California in climatically distinct locations, totaling >12,000 acres. RECs house academics and conduct on-site research and educational opportunities. recs.ucanr.edu Second is the requirement that farm advisors conduct research. This increases the proficiency, capacity and commitment of farm advisors to providing research-based information. Third, in California, extension agents are called 'farm advisors' which distinctly qualifies them as PI's, principal investigators, who can take the lead on grant authorship and submission.
Farm advisor services to Californians are made possible by several funding sources: federal (10%, Smith-Lever Act, Hatch Act), state UC budget (70%), and county (20%, in-kind office space, operational budget, staff support). Research funds also support the programs, providing 25-30 million per year in grants, 4 million in gifts and endowments.
UCCE is growing and changing. By 2016, 40% of UCCE advisors and specialists will have been hired over the past 6 years. In 2014, 75% of extension specialists and 67% of advisors were 55 or older.
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About the Small Farms Advisor
Margaret received her PhD from UC Davis in Plant Pathology, 2015. Under the guidance of Tom Gordon, she researched non-chemical alternatives to soilborne disease management in strawberries. She focused on three main topics: the role of legume rotation crops in Verticiliium dahliae management, the effect of 4 different composts on strawberry production, and a social study understanding the level of adoption of soilborne disease management tools among practitioners. She also received a masters in International Agricultural Development and Plant Pathology from UC Davis. While at UC Davis, she established the Salad Bowl Garden, and edible garden at the entrance to the Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) building on the main campus.
Her first agricultural job was as a farm hand on a vineyard in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was such an inspiration that she changed her course of work towards agriculture. After completing her undergraduate degree from Tufts University, she worked on a mixed vegetable farm in Hawaii for 9 months and then returned to start an apprenticeship with John Jeavons in Willits, CA. For three years, she lived off the grid and studied on the research farm and the 5-acre mixed vegetable farm while making a living selling at the Willits farmer's market. Seeing opportunity for Biointensive practices in the urban and suburban landscapes, she started a small Bay Area business called Home Farming International which provided workshops and one-on-one training in closed-system, complete diet farming.
Margaret's hobbies include her few dairy goats and laying chickens, tending a small garden, finding good music, and goofing off with friends and family.