Walnut shells are turned into biochar at
Dixon Ridge Farms.

Soil Matters

Local farmers find a switch to carbon farming good for business — and the environment

Russ Lester’s property looks, at first glance, like that of many of his neighbors. He grows about 900 acres of walnut trees a few miles east of Winters. But at Dixon Ridge Farms, Lester never tills his land, and he keeps cover crops growing most of the time. He also laces the earth around his trees with biochar, charcoal-like leftovers from biomass energy production.

Apr 26, 2016 Alastair Bland
(Shutterstock)

An Interview with the ‘Gangsta Gardener’

Urban gardening superhero Ron Finley recently screened his documentary in Sacramento

Ron Finley deemed himself the “Gangsta Gardener” with pride.He recently paid a visit to Sacramento’s urban gardening community for a screening of his documentary film, “Can You Dig This” at the Guild Theater, an event hosted by the Yisrael Family Farms. He took a moment to chat with Comstock’s about how gardens can improve communities.

Apr 20, 2016 Amber Stott
(Shutterstock)

California’s Next Great Energy Innovation: Use the Resources We Already Have

A series of technical, financial and regulatory innovations have spurred the Golden State’s solar revolution thus far, but it’s still in its infancy. If California truly wants to unlock solar’s potential for the economy and environment, electricity providers and regulators will have to work together to create a cleaner, more resilient grid.

Apr 18, 2016 Hayes Barnard
(image courtesy of Bloomberg News)

A Whole Lot of Rain Is Finally Heading Toward Parched California

Ever since a monster El Nino was detected in the Pacific last year, Californians have been anxiously waiting for it to dump torrents of rain on the drought-scarred land. Now, after weeks of frustration, it appears that those expectations will be met.

Mar 4, 2016 Brian K. Sullivan
(Shutterstock)

A Growing Green Debt?

As PACE takes off, realtors warn that unwary homeowners are complicating their finances

Call it the tale of two turfs. In summer 2014, 27-year-old Benjamin Triffo wanted to do something about his dry, unattractive yard. He owns a four-bedroom, four-bath duplex in Elk Grove that he’d bought in 2011, and his sprinkler lines were broken. But with the state passing rules last July that would allow fines for overwatering, Triffo quickly figured out that replacing his system and re-sodding would be like attaching a drain line to his checkbook.

Feb 23, 2016 Steven Yoder

Infographic: Where is the Money

Rural tourism in the Capital Region

In 2014-15, hotel occupancy, tourism spending and travel-generated jobs all reached five-year highs. But in such a mercurial industry — underscored in recent years by drought and wildfires — regional leaders and business owners have had to get creative to keep dollars coming in.

Feb 4, 2016 Sara Bogovich
(Shutterstock)

Drought-Weary Eyes Watch California’s Normal Winter Unfold

California is having a pretty normal winter, give or take a degree here and a bit of snow there. Since the entire state is abnormally dry or in drought, it’s been a while since that happened. The trouble is, normal might not last.

Feb 4, 2016 Brian K. Sullivan
(Shutterstock)

Chevron CEO Blasts California Environmental Laws Governor Touts

As Governor Jerry Brown is in Paris urging other political leaders to follow his lead in curbing global warming, the chief executive of California’s largest oil company said the state’s policies “unambiguously raise energy costs and do nothing about greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Dec 11, 2015 James Nash
(Marita Madeloni of Madeloni Photography)

Sacramento Urban Farmer to Start Food Academy after Visit to Milan

South Sacramento urban farmer, Chanowk Yisrael, wants to see local food systems improve. Eight years ago, he started growing organic food for his family and eventually launched the Yisrael Family Urban Farm in Sacramento’s historic Oak Park neighborhood. Now, he’s expanding that vision to motivate Sacramento youth to become more engaged in changing our local food system — announcing today that he’ll be partnering with Slow Food Sacramento to charter the city’s first Food Academy.

Dec 10, 2015 Amber Stott
(Shutterstock)

Biomass Energy Produces Clean Energy and Improves Forest Health

There is growing momentum to build a strong, sustainable biomass energy infrastructure in California — great news for our environment and our forests. But in the meantime, many facilities are struggling to survive, and changes are needed to guarantee a stable future for this important green energy industry.

Oct 26, 2015 David Bischel
(Shutterstock)

Dirty Water

Wastewater injection in the San Joaquin Valley threatens farmland

Tom Frantz has the sierra mountains to thank for his livelihood, since the snowmelt that runs off the peaks eventually sinks into the ground and, over time, descends into the natural underground reservoirs of the Central Valley. In drier years, Frantz gets most of his water from wells that tap into this aquifer.  But the water, Frantz says, is being poisoned.

Oct 22, 2015 Alastair Bland
(Photo: courtesy of Full Belly Farm)

Harvesting a Heritage

At Full Belly Farms, succession hinges on the creativity of younger generations

Every week, 330 American farmers leave their land for good. And as an aging population of baby-boomer farmers retire, their jobs aren’t being filled quickly enough. Only six percent of all farmers are under the age of 35. But as the national food movement strengthens, will we see a return to farming? What about the children of these aging farmers — will they love their farm land or leave it?

Sep 23, 2015 Amber Stott