2020 IS A YEAR OF BIG CHANGES
Over four decades ago, those who founded CAFF gave their word to help grow more resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems.
Today, we’re excited to announce a few changes in our organization, both a recommitment to the word that our founders gave back in 1978 as well as a reorientation to better confront the issues of today.
The pressures facing family farmers today are overwhelming: lack of land tenure, corporate consolidation, a climate crisis together with droughts, wildfire and now pandemics–all of these factors are compounded for those operating smaller-scale farms, even more so for farmers of color and immigrant farmers, making the simple act of growing food to feed our communities an uphill battle. As a farmer-serving organization, our role here at CAFF has never been more clear.
If we’re going to truly build a more just and vibrant food and farming system, confront historical inequities in agriculture, and serve the diverse tapestry of California farmers, we’re going to need to make some changes. Some of these changes we’re excited to announce today. Others will emerge as our organization continues to reflect, to adapt and to broaden our community.
WHERE WE CAME FROM
It began in the heart of California’s farmland where a new mechanical tomato harvester–a colossal harbinger of industrial agriculture which was built using taxpayer funds–galvanized Big Ag and put thousands of small family farms out of business.
Some decided to fight back, filing a lawsuit against UC Davis, demanding public resources not promote large-scale production and consolidation at the expense of small, local farms. And they didn’t stop there. For the next four decades, that group, calling themselves CAFF, continued to advocate for family farms. They promoted organic agriculture long before its ideas reached the mainstream. They helped build a local food movement and lobbied in D.C. and Sacramento when our government leaders preached “get big or get out.” And they urged Californians to measure agriculture’s success not just in yield and GDP, but by its impact on our neighbors, our health, our local economies and our environment.
And now, 42 years later, introducing… our new look!
Our old logos give way to a new insignia, one that centers the farmer, the human element of our work. Behind the farmer rises the sun, agriculture’s renewable energy, birds flying up from a diverse ecosystem thriving symbiotically with our own species’ pursuit of abundance. The farmer stands upon the land, living soil represented as two hands clasped together in cooperation, that third–if sometimes overlooked word in our name: Community Alliance with Family Farmers. Since our beginning, CAFF has been a partnership forged between farmers and their communities: neighbors, farmworkers, chefs, social justice advocates and anyone working to help build a better food and farming system. Our new colors symbolize the West’s most precious resource, water, and the California Poppy, adapted to perennial patterns of drought and flood by way of a vast and deep root structure.
Next up, The Farmers Guild.
Eight years ago, in barns and old Grange halls across California, a new generation of farmers began to gather, cultivating informal spaces to talk shop, share resources and share visions of what our food and farming system could be. These potlucks multiplied around the state. Their events grew, they offered peer-to-peer education, and soon enough, these upstarts were advocating for policy reform. Three years ago, recognizing a perfect alignment of mission and vision, The Farmers Guild merged with its more seasoned partner, CAFF.
After much integration, our organization has decided it’s time to compost the name Farmers Guild, fertilizing CAFF’s roots with its youthful energy, grassroots spirit and hope for the future. Big thanks to everyone who helped it flourish!
As of today, our organization will be officially and solely known as CAFF: Community Alliance with Family Farmers.
And finally, introducing our Ecological Farming Program Area:
Lastly, we’re introducing a renewed program area here at CAFF, what we’re calling “Ecological Farming“. Our work on Climate Smart Farming will continue in full force, but now within the broader context of agriculture that not only adapts to and mitigates the threats of climate change, but also a more holistic approach to growing food that promotes biodiversity, community and farmworker health, and the careful stewardship of our natural resources. Learn more here.
What CAFF stands for going forward.
Over the next few months you’ll see these changes crop up on our social media, newsletter, calls for action, and in our program offerings. We hope that our organization’s actions and those of our members will infuse these changes with the core values that we’ve committed to in 2020 and beyond: