The Inland Empire Resource Conservation District (IERCD) is teaming up with East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District (ESRCD) to assist with the implementation of the development of soil health hubs statewide, financed by funding from a United States Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant. The grant was secured by ESRCD, following submittal of an application noting the critical need for elevation of soil health as one of the primary tools in the ongoing fight against climate change.
ESRCD’s vision for project implementation involves collaborating with as many California RCDs as is possible to identify and address soil health challenges on a local scale. In addition to IERCD, funding from this grant is being used to partner on soil health work with districts including Riverside-Corona RCD, Temecula-Elsinore-Anza-Murrieta RCD, and RCD of Greater San Diego County. All project work will involve soil health improvements in partnership with producers of specialty crops, defined in the Farm Bill as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops which are used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.
Through this grant, IERCD staff will be working within their 1,300-square mile district, focusing on soil health challenges specific to specialty crop producers including wine makers and urban farmers. District staffers will design workshops in coordination with needs of area land managers, focused on addressing land practices necessary to combat these issues and providing information on available funding for practice implementation. Ultimately, the goal in this grant work is to develop a soil health network throughout the state that acts as an avenue for success stories, research, and demonstrations to be shared to elevate land function across California. Sharing of this information and adoption of recommended practices is projected to also assist producers in adapting to California’s boom or bust precipitation patterns, particularly critical as these continue to be exacerbated by climate change.
Producers and residents interested in participating in soil health network development and/or in sources of funding available for application of soil health practices should contact IERCD Project Manager Susie Kirschner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-799-7407.