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.”
Take a farm tour 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 2-4pm, 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.
Jacob Pecenka, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Jacob grew up in South Dakota and attended South Dakota State University where he was introduced to the world of entomology research and sustainable agriculture. Jacob completed his PhD in 2021 working on balancing pest management and pollinator conservation for watermelon production and is excited to apply these experiences to the California Organic Center team and continue learning about organic agriculture.
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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.