Supporting California growers interested in regenerative agriculture as they contend with climate change, water shortages, increasing land prices, and feeding our growing population.
The Rodale Institute California Organic Center in Ventura, California will serve farmers in this key geographical region by solving challenges, conducting regionally significant research, and serving as a hub for education & extension.
California, with its long growing season and huge geographical area, leads the United States in number of organic farms, the amount of land in organic production, and in organic sales. California boasts 19% of all organic farms in the U.S., with annual sales reaching nearly $3 billion.
However, California faces numerous agricultural challenges. As the climate changes, wildfires and droughts continue to plague the state. Despite its organic leadership, pesticide use in California is still at an all-time high—over 208 million pounds of pesticides were used in the state in 2016.
The California Organic Center will act as resource for California farmers interested in rejecting the mono-cropped, low biodiversity model that currently prevails in the region. The Center aims to help regenerative organic methods be successful and profitable.
Goals for the Center
Conduct regionally focused research trials in California climate, soils, crops, pests, and weed management.
Increase the number of organic farms and acreage in the region.
Support California farmers through training programs aimed at improving yields, profitability, and soil health without synthetic chemicals.
Provide an educational and research hub for farmers, agricultural professionals, and the public in California interested in organic methods.
The California Organic Center is located on the McGrath Family Farm in Camarillo, owned by fifth-generation farmer Phil McGrath whose family has been farming fruits and vegetables in the Oxnard Plain since 1871.
McGrath Family Farm has always prioritized high quality organic produce with a focus on educating the public and farmers. “The world needs a wake-up call,” said McGrath. “We have to rethink the big picture now…. We need regenerative agriculture for our collective future.”
Join us for monthly farm tours at the Rodale Institute California Organic Center! Learn about our farm and our unique regenerative organic research projects. Tours will be held on the second Friday of every month from 2-4 PM year-round.
Dr. Arianna Bozzolo is applying scientific research to advance organic and regenerative agricultural practices in the Southern California area. Arianna earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, a master’s in Entomology, and a PhD in viticulture at the University of Padua, Italy. She is a well-rounded professional with extensive academic experience pertaining to soil science and crop physiology responses to various inputs or environmental stresses, along with general farm management experience.
California Organic Crop Consultant
Nathanael Gonzales-Siemens is returning to his roots and the spirit of discovery that first brought him back into farming after a decade of teaching in inner-city Los Angeles and in China and working for criminal justice reform on the West Coast. Nathanael spent his undergrad years studying Plant Genetics and Biology at UCLA and has a teaching credential for CSU Los Angeles. He grew up on a small farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley and founded two businesses there with his family. The first, now run by his brother, is focused on food justice and sovereignty and the second, operated by his wife, strives to implement regenerative farming practices and to equip and empower traditionally underrepresented groups.
Tony de Veyra
Tony de Veyra is the Farm Manager at the California Organic Center. Prior to joining the Rodale Institute, Tony worked in the hemp industry. He oversaw the first hemp test plots in California and worked on feminized seed production and breeding. Before hemp, Tony cultivated citrus and avocados in Orange County and built multi-species, no-till urban farms and edible landscapes with the Sarvodaya Institute in Pomona. Tony has a degree in Plant Science from Cal Poly Pomona and studied ecological design at Quail Springs Permaculture.
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The Rodale Institute California Organic Center is working to make regenerative organic growing methods in California sustainable and profitable. With your help we can grow organic acreage in California and the surrounding states.