Posts Tagged: Ellie Rilla
M.B. Boissevain, who became a UCCE advisor in 1920, took approximately 500 photos of Marin agriculture and its people during his 30-year career. Ellie Rilla, UCCE advisor in Marin County, and David Lewis, UCCE director and advisor in Marin County, assembled an exhibit of 74 of his photos that was on display at the Marin County Fair June 30 – July 4.
Lewis and Rilla have also written a book, “Marin Agrarian Roots,” about the agricultural history of the county based on Boissevain’s photos and farm reports.
Wortham cited the UC Cooperative Extension publication Coming of Age: The Status of North Bay Artisan Cheesemaking, written by UCCE community development advisor Ellie Rilla and published earlier this year. Of the 22 artisan cheese producers in Marin and Sonoma counties in 2010, 10 were dairy farms that use their own milk, the report says. Four more artisan cheese producers are in the process of starting up, even as four dairies in the two counties went out of business last year.
These 22 producers in total made almost eight million pounds of cheese last year, covering 95 varieties, which sold at retail for as much as $30 a pound, according to the report.
"We're where wine was 30 years ago," Rilla told the reporter. "It doesn't look like there's any chance of a bubble popping in the foreseeable future."
Thirty percent of the farmers offering agritourism events supplemented their regular farm income by $50,000 or more in 2008, according to a study by the UC small farm program that was covered on the front page of today's Fresno Bee. Nearly two-thirds of California agritourism operators planned to expand or diversify over the next five years.
"There is no question that there is a lot of potential for growth, and we are seeing it happen," the story quoted Shermain Hardesty, small farm program director and a co-author of the report.
In the article, reporter Robert Rodriguez described several Valley agritourism destinations:
- Visitors can stay the night on the 95-acre tree Dinuba farm of Nori and Mike Taylor.
- Farmer John Olivas lets people pick their own fruit and operates a fruit stand on his three-acre berry farm in Hanford.
- Fresno farmer Mike Smith will allow people to pick their own flowers, lavender and produce on his 40-acre organic farm. In the fall, he will operate a pumpkin patch for the public and school tours.
"We know from all the consumer trends that people are willing to pay for an authentic experience and for specialty foods," said Ellie Rilla, community development adviser for UC Cooperative Extension in Marin County and co-author of the study. "And agritourism provides that."
The research article, California agritourism operations and their economic potential are growing, was published in the current issue of California Agriculture journal.
Bringing in visitors for a dinner in a barn is one form of agritourism.
The development of an artisan cheesemaking industry in Sonoma and Marin counties is enhancing the ambience of agriculture in the picturesque rural community, according to Stephanie Larson, the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County.
She made the comment in an article that ran over the weekend in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat about dairies adding value to their product by creating gourmet cheeses. Much of the data shared in the story came from a report developed by UCCE community development advisor Ellie Rilla, Coming of Age: The Status of North Bay Artisan Cheesemaking, which was released in January.
Marin and Sonoma counties have 22 commercial cheese plants which produce 8 million pounds of artisan cheese each year, with a retail value of $119 million, according to the study.
"It's the largest concentration in California," the story quoted Rilla. She said one-third of the businesses have been making cheese for three years or less.
Though growing, the North Bay's artisan cheese business is tiny compared to California's commodity cheese industry, which produces 2 billion pounds of cheese annually, half of it mozzarella.
Many artisan cheesemakers turn to organic production and special blends to set themselves apart. For example, producer Craig Romanni plans to be the area's first buffalo mozzarella maker and the Bohemian Creamery near Sebastopol makes nine different cheeses, including a sheep/cow blend infused with cacao nibs, the story said.
The UCCE report on artisan North Bay cheesemaking.