MESA Awarded $50,000 to Help California Farmers Build Fire Resilience

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Contact: Katie Brimm
katie@mesaprogram.org
Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture 

BERKELEY, Calif., July 2019-  The size, longevity and intensity of wildfires is rapidly increasing in the Western region. California acreage burned in 2018 tripled the state’s annual average. This trend is expected increase as the region gets warmer and drier due to climate change. As a result, agricultural producers are faced with severe property, crop, livestock, labor and market losses. After one of the most intense wildfires ravaged Sonoma County in 2018, a town hall meeting of 40+ farmers expressed the critical need for resources, support systems and enlivening networks to build resilience for fire response. The Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA), a Bay Area nonprofit, was recently awarded a $50,000 grant by Western Extension Risk Management Education (WERME) to leverage its 22 years of facilitating experiential farmer training programs and develop a hybrid online Fire Resilience Course for farmers to better prepare for fire-related risk. 

“We know the potential impact of extreme events like wildfires on farmers, and we also know we can’t face this just as individuals.”

Project Director Natalia Pinzón Jiménez

In collaboration with California-wide organizations including the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), Extension Agencies and seasoned farmers, this project aims to reduce the human, production, financial and legal risks to farmers from wildfires. This project offers actionable solutions and draws on decades of training small-farmers amidst climate change.

The goal of this effort is the creation of fire response and prevention networks. These activity-driven learning communities will focus on farmers in counties in Coastal California, Sierra Foothills, and Mendocino. MESA will utilize its innovative online learning platform to aggregate and curate research and risk management strategies in an educational course format to drive collaboration and self-assessment. The course will highlight CAFF’s clearinghouse of disaster preparedness resources as well as dovetail with a series of live town hall meetings with farmers sharing resources organized with CAFF across fire-prone counties in California.

“We know the potential impact of extreme events like wildfires on farmers, and we also know we can’t face this just as individuals”, says Project Director Natalia Pinzón Jiménez, “With MESA’s unique approach to education, we can create a nexus between online and in person networks to more quickly get information to the communities that urgently need it.”
Enrollment in the Fires Course will open later this year. MESA cultivates a global grassroots network of food and farming leaders dedicated to reviving community food systems.

Interested farmers or collaborators are invited to contact Project Coordinator Katie Brimm at katie@mesaprogram.org as well as contribute to the creation of the course by filling out a Needs Assessment. Visit www.mesaprogram.org to learn more.

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This project will be generously funded by WERME