How Can Farmers Build Fire Resilience?

MESA Newsletter | November 2019

This past month’s eruption of fire-related events across California was a disturbing reminder that climate chaos is the new normal. Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by these fires – and of course, to farmers in particular. 

Fire can devastate farmland, housing, livestock and infrastructure, while indirect losses may also take a toll. Farmers within our network were without power for a week, leading to significant crop losses that will impact even next year’s sales. Markets and CSAs were cancelled, leading to lost income. Farmworkers have been put out of work or find themselves having to work under dangerous conditions as ash and smoke filled the air. 

The very same week these fires broke out, MESA’s newest online course launched, hosted on our Virtual Campus for Farmers, titled “Farmers Build Fire Resilience: A hybrid online course and network dedicated to helping farmers and ranchers face a future of fire.” This unintentional yet powerful overlap has us feeling humbled at how critically relevant MESA’s work is at this time. Learn more about the course and how to get involved below.

Here’s to building resilience together,

The MESA Team

MESA’s Newest Online Course for Farmers

We are humbled and grateful to announce the launch of MESA’s newest online course Farmers Build Fire Resilience” A hybrid online course and network dedicated to helping farmers and ranchers face a future of fire. Drawing on decades of training small-farmers amidst climate change, MESA, in collaboration with CAFF | The Farmer’s Guild, has now opened enrollment for an interactive course to give farmers the technical and theoretical toolkit needed to reduce the human, production, financial and legal risks from wildfires.

“As farmers, we not only grow food, but we are also stewards of land and natural resources, and this a critical time for us to receive practical, accessible educational support to increase our resilience through courses like this.”

Farmer Joey Smith of Let’s Go Farm, Letter of Support 2019

Utilizing MESA’s Virtual Campus for Farmers (newly re-launched!) paired with CAFF’s live Town Hall meetings, farmers will garner actionable solutions, co-create fire response and prevention networks, and come away with an on-farm fire resilience plan to help farmers and their community face a future with fire.

Enrollment for this course is now open and is free for farmers and ranchers. Please share with all who may benefit! 

Fire Recovery Resources

MESA’s partners at CAFF/The Farmer’s Guild have put together a well researched Resource Page for Disaster Relief. CAFF shares, “You’ll find a whole trove of recovery resources…from compensation to livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses to the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program which provides assistance for crop losses when federal crop insurance is not available.”

Farmers and Farmworkers are some of the most severely impacted by fires. Consider donating to some of these excellent Relief Efforts:

Farm-to-Emergency: Sonoma Family Meal & CAFF

Sonoma Family Meal and CAFF are Helping Our Farmers and Disaster Survivors. Donations to the Farm-to-Emergency Fund will allow us to purchase directly from local, family farms to help feed those most in need, a double-pronged relief effort as the long-term effects of this disaster ripple throughout the next few months.


For undocumented families, federal help is not always available. An estimated 38,500 undocumented immigrants live in Sonoma County, many of them farmworkers. Unlike other victims, they do not qualify for FEMA assistance. UndocuFund provides direct support to families to help with fire-related expenses.

Corazon Healdsburg

Corazón Healdsburg is leading a community-based recovery effort for those impacted by the Kincade Fire. 100% of all donations will immediately be directed to supporting these families, with a mission to bridge economic and racial divides throughout the North Bay. $25 will pay for a meal for a family that has been evacuated from their home.

Farmers Build Fire Resilience Online Course launches in 2020, Enrollment Open Now!