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Picture of Craig McNamara with a group of studentsCraig McNamara is the president and owner of Sierra Orchards, a diversified farming operation producing primarily organic walnuts.

By connecting people, policy and agricultural best practices, Craig works to protect the land that feeds us, to promote social justice and support the next generation of farmers.

In that capacity, he serves as the founder of the Center for Land-Based Learning, an innovative program that helps high school students build greater social and human capital in their communities.

He is President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, on the UC President's Advisory Commission and the UC Davis Dean's Advisory Council. He is an advisory board member of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, and active in the American Farmland Trust, Roots of Change, and the Public Policy Institute of California

He is the recipient of several awards including the James Irving Leadership Award, Leopold Conservation Award, the California Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the UC Davis Award of Distinction and Outstanding Alumnus Award.

He is passionate about sharing his knowledge in sustainable agriculture and leadership with the world around him. Together with his wife and three children he lives in Winters California

As the son of one of the most controversial figures in American history, Craig McNamara grew up in the presence of presidents and others who helped shape our world. Now, from his organic walnut farm in Winters, he’s shaping the future of our state by trying to feed the millions of Californians who don’t have enough to eat, and by nurturing the next generation of farmers. Oh, and by helping his son grow hops for really cool Sacramento craft beer.

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Posted on 30 June 2013 by A Winters Tale – Sactown Magazine


Farm Academy

"Farm Academy," a story about a training program for new farmers at the Center for Land Based Learning in Winters, California.

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As president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, Craig McNamara is devoted to keeping the state's $37.5 billion farming industry alive. But with farmland rapidly disappearing and the average age of a farmer inching past middle age, it's an endangered profession.

In an effort to preserve California's leadership role as a global food producer, McNamara and his wife, Julie, in 1993 founded the Center for Land-Based Learning in Winters (Yolo County). The walnut grower took 40 of his own acres and converted it into a farm incubator, where students can get hands-on experience learning about sustainable agriculture and conservation.

We talked with McNamara about what he sees as the most important issues - from the next U.S. farm bill to genetically engineered foods - facing farmers and consumers in 2013. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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Posted on 1 March 2013 by SF Gate - San Francisco Chronicle

Recent Entries

  1. Sacramento Business Journal - Leaders of the year

    - Sacramento Business Journal on 28 Dec 2012

  2. How I Made It: Craig McNamara

    - LA Times on 28 Oct 2012

  3. Received the 2012 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award

    - The James Irvine Foundation on 13 Feb 2012

  4. Appointed President of the State Board of Food and Agriculture

    - Western Farm Press on 10 Feb 2011

  5. Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future

    - Pacific Institute on 22 Jul 2009

  6. Profile of Craig McNamara and Sierra Orchards

    - Pacific Institute on 1 June 2009

  7. Response after Winning the Leopold Conservation Award

    - CFBF on 25 Jun 2008

  8. Leopold Conservation Award

    - Sand County Foundation on 3 Dec 2007

  9. California Walnut Farmer Links Environmental Stewardship with Economic Success

    - CFBF on 3 Dec 2007

  10. News Archive