Grazing for Change 2018 Calls Farmers & Ranchers to Reclaim Our Food System

The third Western Regional Grazing Conference: Grazing for Change was held at the Chico State University Farm Pavilion on Feb. 24, 2018. Hosted by the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management and the California State University, Chico Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, the grazing conference gathered 200 leaders and practitioners of regenerative agriculture. The event was generously sponsored by Paicines Ranch, TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, Open Range Meats and Provisions and Alexandre EcoDairy. Several food sponsors supported Grazing for Change with everything from grassfed beef from Marin Sun Farms to locally brewed kombucha from Revive Kombucha. Attendees enjoyed dairy products from Straus Creamery and Alexandre EcoDairy’s new milk products including a turmeric ginger milk.
“There are regenerative agriculture events and gatherings in California, but what makes Grazing for Change unique is its focus specifically on grazing”, said Spencer Smith, co-owner of the Jefferson Center, a Savory Global Network hub serving Northern California and Nevada. First held in 2015, the grazing conference was created by Spencer Smith and Dr. Cyndi Daley, a professor at Chico State when they completed Savory Accredited Professional courses in Holistic Management in Colorado together in 2014. The event helped launch the Jefferson Center, which became an accredited hub with the Savory Global Network in 2015.  “Hosting this event with our wonderful partners at Chico State, creates amazing momentum around Holistic Management  and regenerative agriculture in our region,” said Abbey Smith, co-owner of the Jefferson Center.

Christine Su and the Pasture Map team visit with Grazing for Change attendees, including Bobby Gill of the Savory Institute.

The focus of the event this year was reclaiming the food system. “We want to provide new concepts, tools, techniques and practical solutions for farmers and ranchers to thrive in their business. An agriculture and food system that is based on commoditization and consolidation has not served food producers or food consumers”, Daley said. The key speakers at the event connected the production of healthy food to human health.
Will Harris, White Oak Pastures
  • Making the break from commodity agriculture as a self-reliant, diversified farming operation, that builds soil for future generations.
  • How to produce nutrient dense food and be recognized and rewarded for it in the market.
  • How commoditizing our food system has caused the current health crisis in our nation. The truth behind “what’s in our food”, how it got there, and who’s responsible.
“We were honored to bring these talented farmers, researchers and authors to our Northern California community”, Abbey Smith said.
The response from event attendees was full of energy and excitement for regenerative agriculture. Consider the following feedback from Grazing for Change goers.
  •  Just wanted to say thanks for hosting a great event and for thinking of Dr. Bronner’s. We really appreciate the work you and Spencer are doing. Take care – Les Szabo, Dr. Bronner’s, Portland, Oregon
  • Spence and Abbey, Thanks for putting on a great event. I enjoyed meeting many old friends and making some new friends as well!  Warm Regards, Loren Poncia Stemple Creek Ranch, Marin County, California
  • Just wanted to thank you for all you do. What you guys are doing is such important work, and you’re making a difference. You’ve brought some amazing people into our lives. Yesterday’s conference was just another in a long string of inspirational and re-energizing (regenerative!) classes and sessions you’ve put together-brilliant! We are lucky to have you both in the valley, and as friends. – Jason Diven, rancher, Surprise Valley, California
  • You have created something amazing with Grazing for Change. Congratulations! – Alexis Koefoed, Soul Food Farm, Vacaville, California

Thank you for all that you have brought into our family’s life and our community.  You have played a huge role in transforming anger and paralysis into inspiration and action, for me at least.  I can’t imagine a greater gift. – Owen Segerstrom, Down the Mountain Farmstead, Washoe County, Nevada

The Jefferson Center’s next events include a workshop on BioNutrient Food Association’s production methods combined with Holistic Management, a farm to table dinner in celebration of Mother’s Day at Soul Food Farm and their annual ranch field day at their home and demonstration site, Springs Ranch in Fort Bidwell, California. To learn more, please visit the Jefferson Center’s 2018 events page.

Grazing for Change attendees enjoy Dr. Sina McCullough’s presentation on her health journey after developing an autoimmune condition and facing death after “eating food.”