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Katie Otto Joins California Farmland Trust Team

ELK GROVE, Calif. -- The California Farmland Trust (CFT) is pleased to announce Katie Otto as their new Development and Operations Director. She joins the CFT team after 12 years with the California FFA Foundation (Foundation) and brings her deep roots and experience with agriculture, fundraising and finance management to the organization.

A native of Galt, Ms. Otto spent her early years growing up on her family's vineyard and thus began her love of the farming way of life and the values it instilled in her. Her agricultural career started after graduating with an Ag Business Degree from Fresno State University. Ms. Otto gained momentum in the ag industry after working with organizations like The Great Valley Center and the California Cattlemen's Association.

When asked about her career highlight, Katie referenced the success of the Foundation's Giving Tuesday campaign because of the immediate impact it had on FFA Students.

"The FFA jacket is symbolic for the organization and I wanted each chapter to be represented at our 2017 Gala, our signature event. However, these jackets are a financial burden for many students," said Otto. "To ensure each student had a jacket, we raised the funds necessary to provide jackets for all students from each chapter at the event."

This, along with having Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs serve as the Foundation's gala keynote speaker made an impressive impact on their Giving Tuesday campaign. Coupling these achievements with developing a relationship with Blue Diamond Growers to expand the campaign in recent years, has aided in ensuring that every FFA member could have a blue corduroy jacket of their own.

"Katie has a passion for agriculture and the meaningful work of non-profits in the industry," said Charlotte Mitchell, executive director. "She has a keen understanding of the challenges that face agriculture including the protection of farmland. Katie will be an important part of the California Farmland Trust team to continue our mission of protecting these important working landscapes."

Ms. Otto envisions a future for CFT that brings together a wide array of the public, landowners, and partners who make farmland conservation a priority. "I did not set out to be a fundraiser, but I have realized the general obligation I feel to either give back to or volunteer for the efforts that make this world better and it's an opportunity I can offer others. This effort is about sharing and storytelling and building relationships - these come easy to me because I am passionate about this work and it's part of who I am."

"We are excited and honored to have Katie onboard to direct our fund development efforts and assist in guiding the organization," said Mitchell.

For more information or photos, please contact:
Charlotte Mitchell, or (916) 687-3178

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @cafarmtrust

The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date, we have protected nearly 16,400 acres of farmland on 75 family farms.

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Together, Six Farms Connect and Expand Farmland Conservation – A Reason to Celebrate!

ELK GROVE, Calif. -- California Farmland Trust (CFT) announces the conservation of six new farms in Merced County. Four adjacent farms have created a large area of closely protected farmland; while nearby two other properties join already previously protected areas.

Connected Farmland

Nearly 220 additional acres of California farmland are now conserved forever, resulting in a total of 16,200 acres administered by CFT. Like-minded farmers worked with CFT to permanently protect their properties through agricultural conservation easements. The easements dedicate the land to farming and prohibit the conversion to non-agricultural uses, even if the land is sold or inherited.

"This is an important milestone for agriculture in the region," said Charlotte Mitchell, CFT Executive Director. "When we can group farms with prime and important soils that are adjacent to one another through permanent conservation, we help farmers have the peace of mind to know their land investment will be forever agriculture and support the robust agricultural economy in California."

All the properties remain separate parcels and are still owned individually; however, when viewed through the lens of their proximity to one another, their productivity as connected farmland increases and creates long-term opportunities for current and future farm operations and families.

The Gail Martin Trust Farm, Kruppa Farm, Kruppa Reed Farm, Magneson Property, Slater Trust Farm, and Tanner Farm encompass 220 acres of vibrant, productive land. They grow almonds, sweet potatoes, irrigated pasture for an organic dairy, and various row crops on Prime and Statewide Importance soils. As cities in the Central Valley continue to grow, each of these farms faced development pressure as city boundaries and spheres of influence grew even closer.

At the close of the Tanner Farm conservation project, Mike Tanner owner and operator shared with us, "I have always been an advocate for saving our best agricultural land for the production of food, fiber, and other products to sustain our lives. I have been involved with this ranch and its operation all my life. As we near the 100-year anniversary for our ranch, I am extremely proud to have been a part of it and for getting it placed into an agricultural conservation easement with the California Farmland Trust."

With the exception of the Gail Martin Trust Farm, all of these properties were protected with support from the California Department of Conservation and California High-Speed Rail Authority. The Gail Martin Trust Farm was permanently protected by an agricultural conservation easement funded by the California Climate Investments - Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program administered by the California Department of Conservation.

Expanding Conservation

In 2006, the Magneson family protected 472 acres with farmland conservation easements. This year CFT helped the Magneson's add additional acreage to their network of land to bring their total of preserved farmland to nearly 500 acres. The Magneson's currently operate an organic dairy with the conserved lands supporting grazing dairy cattle in accordance with organic standards and additional feed crops.


CFT hosted an easement celebration October 3rd at the Slater Trust Farm to recognize and thank those who chose to protect their farms. "My late father would be proud to know the first farm he purchased is now forever protected for agriculture," said Gail Martin as part of her remarks to the morning crowd.

"Linking these properties through permanent conservation is a win-win for everyone," continued Mitchell, "the landowners, the public, and the land."

For more information, program logos, or photos, please contact: Aundriea Montzingo or (916) 687-3178

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @cafarmtrust

The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date, we have protected nearly 16,200 acres of farmland on 73 family farms. Visit us:

The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment - particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.

California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at:

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California Farmland Trust Earns National Recognition

ELK GROVE, Calif. -- One thing that unites us as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love and that feed them. Since 2004, California Farmland Trust (CFT) has been doing just that for the people of California.

Now CFT announced it has renewed its land trust accreditation - proving once again that, as part of a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation, it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining landowners' and the public's trust in its conservation work.

"Being able to say California Farmland Trust is accredited provides a 'security' to donors and landowners that the mission and endeavors of CFT have been scrutinized by an impartial third party and that we are able to perform our duties openly, fairly and efficiently," said Ron Freitas, President CFT. "We are a stronger organization than ever for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process. Our strength means the prime farmland in California will continue to have an alternative to being paved over and can be protected forever, making California an even greater place for us and our children."

CFT provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that our local farmers' lands will be protected forever. This distinction, along with our landowners, donors and agency partners, have helped us protect over 16,000 acres of privately-owned farmland.

"It is exciting to recognize CFT's continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction," said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. "Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship."

About California Farmland Trust

California Farmland Trust is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance's most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @cafarmtrust

The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date we have protected 16,351 acres of farmland on 78 family farms. Visit us:

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. For more, visit

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000-member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million Learn more at:

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Significant Goal Achieved: 16,000 Acres of CA Farmland Protected

ELK GROVE, Calif. -- California Farmland Trust (CFT), a Sacramento County based non-profit, has recently reached permanent protection of over 16,000 acres of California farmland - and CFT is celebrating! Why is this noteworthy?

"16,000 acres represents a huge milestone in CFT's vision of a California where farmland is seen on par with land uses such as houses and shopping malls, or other environmental initiatives," says Charlotte Mitchell, CFT's Executive Director. "Public opinion is shifting and we see it in the form of more donors and more agency funding. From small, humble beginnings, and a still small staff, our community of supporters has helped 50 farming families. We've also built relationships with agency funders who now come to us seeking more farmland projects."

This achievement exemplifies the findings in a recent scientific survey conducted by Valley Vision and California State University, Sacramento. The study found 89% of respondents felt preserving farmland is more important than creating retail and office space. Further, respondents ranked protecting farmland from conversion more important than protecting open space and wild space from the same threat.

In a state where development is booming, these 16,000 acres mark a significant acknowledgement that landscapes not often accessible to the public, although very beneficial to them, are a substantial part of a thriving lifestyle.

Farmland on the valley floor competes with land uses directly connected to the publics' needs - housing, transportation, and amenities. Landscapes with wildlife habitat or environmental designations get much of the attention while the loss of farmland often takes a back seat when public funding is concerned.

"While there are many funding sources that can give huge grants for wildlife, wetlands, urban open space, and coastal lands; there is very, very little available for preserving working farms," says Maxwell Norton, retired county extension agent and a founding CFT board member. "We have been resourceful in digging up resources to do projects throughout the Valley."

"This success will act as a key motivator for residents, foundations, and agency funders in recognizing farmland conservation is a fundamental priority in sustaining our way of life now and for future generations," said Mitchell.

California farmers keep producing more food on fewer acres, while our population keeps increasing. Farmland conservation efforts go hand in hand with the recent Farm to Fork movement, enabling the local eating movement that has exploded in popularity. Farmland is a vital component of a lifestyle that is full of fresh and healthy food and jobs; plus it gives open space that provides for cleaner air, ground water recharge, and wildlife habitat.

"It is amazing what a small organization can accomplish when it has a clear mission and stays focused on the one thing that will make a difference in the long run - protecting our working lands," said Norton.

16,000 acres is 25 square miles, dotted across California's Central Valley, of highly productive and unique land ideally suited for growing a wide variety of food from grains to specialty produce. That land will forever feed Californians, plus much of the U.S. and even the world.

If we consider that recent research indicates a family of four that eats meat, dairy and eggs would need around two acres of land to feed themselves for a year, that's 9,000 families forever fed.

"Just think of how much more we can do if the momentum to make farmland conservation a priority is continued," said Mitchell. "9,000 families can become 100,000 in a few short years."

For more information or photos, please contact:
Melanee Cottrill, or (916) 687-3178

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @cafarmtrust

The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date we have protected 16,011 acres of farmland on 50 family farms. Visit us:

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