Takeaways From the 2021 Carbon Farm Fund Report

Funding Opportunities Are Generating Benefits for Artisans, Producers, and the Land

Tag wool spread over recently seeded ground (left), and newly established range and silvopasture areas (right) that will be used for prescribed grazing by sheep. (Photos courtesy of Ferndale Farm)

Supporting Carbon Farming Through the Carbon Farm Fund

Fibershed’s Carbon Farm Fund supports land-management practices that build soil health, ameliorate climate change through carbon drawdown, and improve the ecological quality of the land. Our network of Climate Beneficial producers currently includes 66 farmers, ranchers, and contact grazers who collectively steward more than 170,000 acres of land across 51 counties throughout Northern California, from San Luis Obispo County north to the Oregon border.

The Carbon Farm Fund is a vehicle that aggregates and directs funding to support regenerative practices through our grant program and market incentives. Fibershed administers, organizes, and directs funding from four main avenues to support practices on the ground.

The 2021 Carbon Farm Fund Report provides a comprehensive overview of the programs and initiatives available to climate-beneficial producers. Keep reading for the highlights from that report!

Grant Funding for Climate Beneficial Agriculture

Fibershed offers grant funding directly to producers through the Carbon Farm Seed Fund to help fund the implementation of recommended carbon farm practices; usually between $2,000 and $6,000 to an individual farm to execute projects.

“We especially like the ease of which you can apply to the fund and the simple reporting requirements. It’s very user-friendly.” — Jill Hackett, Ferndale Farms, grant recipient

Our 2021 round awarded 17 producers a total of $66,875. Projects ranged in scale and scope and included increasing farm water capacity via a rainwater catchment system, riparian restoration with native plants and shrubs, planting a windbreak, building a compost facility, and spreading compost over croplands and rangelands among others.

Planting silvopasture of oaks and mulberries at Shepherdess Land and Livestock Co. (Photo by Brittany Cole Bush)

Public Funding and Advocacy for Systemic Carbon Farming Support

Together with colleagues in the Healthy Soils Network and the California Food and Farming Network, Fibershed has been an advocate for state funding toward carbon farming practices. The future funding available bodes well for producers who want to implement more ecologically sound practices but need financing, as California’s Healthy Soils Program (HSP) statewide budget grew from $7.5 million in 2017-18 to $15 million in 2019; $30 million in 2020 and $75 million in 2021, with a projection for $85 million in 2022.

Since launching in 2017, the Healthy Soils Program (HSP) has awarded 21 Incentives Grants to members of the Fibershed Producer Program, totaling $904,174. The combined projected annual impact of these projects on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was 1846 MT (metric tons) of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). This HSP funding supported projects including installation of hedgerows, windbreaks, riparian buffers, and silvopastures, as well as cover cropping, compost applications, pasture improvements, and conversion to no-till farming.

Compost staged and ready to be spread at Gonzales-Siemens Family Farm in Buttonwillow. (Photo by Jesse Smith)

The Healthy Soils Program also funded two demonstration projects in 2020 co-sponsored by Fibershed, with combined funding of $197,000. These demonstration projects model two practices that integrate perennial woody vegetation into grassland and cropland systems: hedgerows and alley cropping (adapted to fiber-production systems). These projects are serving to educate and inspire members of our producer community along with the broader agriculture and fiber producer community across California.

Developing Market Incentives to Build Soil

To complement the public sector grants administered through state and federal agencies, Fibershed coordinates, organizes, and administers brand donations and point of sale revenue to support the full and holistic implementation of carbon farming on ranches that produce a range of wool types utilized in both textiles and durable goods. The goal of the market incentives program is to more tightly connect the materials with the landscape from which they are produced and instill reciprocity with these pastures, rangelands, and cropping systems.

Cohort 1 Site Visit at Windrush Farm (Photo by Paige Green)

Projects funded directly by our market incentives program sequestered an additional 3,945 CO2e, an equivalent to removing 857 vehicles from the road through the support of a variety of carbon farming practices. These techniques included riparian herbaceous cover, compost applied to croplands, cover cropping, no-till rangeland seeding, prescriptive grazing, shelter belt, and windbreak.

“This is really impactful and a remarkable partnership, to incentivize additional conservation practices, stewardship efforts, and pride in our entire wool handling process from the soil, grass, and biodiversity … to the sheep, and the shearing/bailing/ tagging, and shipping. It has really taken a break-even process or even loss with the wool and helped to make it a value-added product we can share and are incredibly proud of.” – Jim Jensen, Jensen Ranch