Organic Valley dairy farms implement restoration projects

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

The company said the two projects in California have the potential to store 40 metric tons of carbon within their first five years.Pic: Jessica Rowland Photography
The company said the two projects in California have the potential to store 40 metric tons of carbon within their first five years.Pic: Jessica Rowland Photography

Related tags: Dairy, Organic, Sustainability

Organic Valley, the largest farmer-owned organic cooperative in the US, is implementing two riparian restoration projects on two of its Sonoma County farms in California.

Roughly two acres each, the projects will provide ecological restoration of riparian areas (i.e., stream banks and spring areas) on their respective properties.

The company said the projects have the potential to store 40 metric tons of carbon within their first five years.

The first restoration started in December 2018 on the McClelland dairy farm in Petaluma, California, on two acres of designated land near Stemple Creek.

More than 150 students and teachers of the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) program planted 90 individual plants consisting of 12 species of native trees and shrubs, including Coast live oak, Oregon ash, California blackberry and coffeeberry. The second phase will begin in summer 2020, when STRAW will install irrigation systems on both farms.

After the school year, STRAW staff will monitor and maintain the projects for one to two years. This project will help prevent erosion, maintain water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and preserve the health of the entire ecosystem.

The second restoration started earlier this year on the Bordessa farm, Ocean Breeze Dairy, in Valley Ford, California. At the beginning of 2020, an estimated 14 classrooms consisting of 14 teachers, 350 students, and 60 volunteers participated in the Ebabias Creek restoration project. The volunteers planted almost 700 native species during the first phase of the project. The second phase will begin in early spring, when STRAW will install an irrigation system.

"It's important to take care of the land, water, and air we breathe. Every little bit that we can all do contributes to having a healthier earth,"​ said Jana McClelland, McClelland Dairy owner.

"I wanted to implement the practices that the Organic Valley sustainability team was talking about and see what would happen on my farm,"​ said Jarrid Bordessa, Ocean Breeze Dairy owner.

Jessica Luhning, sustainability manager at Organic Valley, said there have been additional farmers signing up for Climate Smart Farm Planning projects in Sonoma County because of the two farms.

"Across the US, interest in carbon farm planning in our cooperative continues to grow," ​she said.

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