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Picture of Craig McNamara with a group of students

Sierra Orchards

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

Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL)

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.

California State Board of Food and Agriculture

Craig 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


Craig is the recipient of several awards including the 2014 Agriculturist of the Year, James Irving Leadership Award, Leopold Conservation Award, California Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the UC Davis Award of Distinction and the 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

Food Insecurity

One Nation. Underfed.

Image is from the film "A Place at the Table"

One in six Americans are considered food insecure. A simple definition of food insecurity is when a household does not know where its next meal is coming from. However, by using this simple definition it can mask the deeper issues America is facing.

The Three Facets of Food Insecurity

The World Health Organization breaks food insecurity into three facets

  • • Food Availability
  • • Food Access
  • • Food Use

Our food system faces such immense losses that if we could simply reduce food loss by only 15% we would be able to feed more than 25 million Americans with this recovered food.

Learn more about food insecurity, what impact it has on America and what you can do.

Craig McNamara Presenting at the CalCAN Climate and Agriculture Summit at UC Davis

California farmers have a lot on their plate.

Juggling soil depletions, wildlife endangerment, water crises and ever-changing government regulations, more than 300 farmers, conservationists and scientists met for the CalCAN Climate and Agriculture Summit on Wednesday to tackle the dilemmas that face California farmers.

Craig McNamara, president of Sierra Farms, delivered the keynote address Wednesday at the CalCAN Climate and Agriculture Summit at UC Davis. In his talk, McNamara sounded a stark warning about wasted food resources.

In his keynote address, McNamara stressed efficiency in food systems as one means of decreasing green house gases. Across the United States, 40 percent of all food goes uneaten. McNamara stressed how taxing the process of making this food is on America’s infrastructure. Eighty percent of water and 50 percent of land in the United States is dedicated to food production, McNamara cited.

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Posted on 29 March 2015 by The Davis Enterprise

Craig McNamara posing in Sierra Orchards Walnut Orchard for Agriculturist of the Year"The State Fair has been recognizing California's best for over 160 years, and honoring Craig is in keeping with this tradition of excellence," said Rick K. Pickering, chief executive officer of the California State Fair. "His leadership on critical policy issues facing California's farmers, his passion to inspire the next generation of farmers, and his tireless dedication to responsible land stewardship, are samples of how he has positively impacted our great State for generations to come. California is a better place because of leaders like Craig McNamara."

"Craig is a uniquely visionary leader – someone who is highly deserving of this prestigious award. Beyond his deep commitment as a farmer and as president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, Craig has a passion to bring disparate parties together to focus on the big challenges of our time. He has demonstrated his understanding of the need to reach our next generation through the great work of his groundbreaking Center for Land Based Learning in Winters, which connects students to nature and agriculture and, in the process, helps to groom our future farmers and leaders. Again, my heartfelt congratulations to Craig. He’s an agriculturist for all-time." ~ Karen Ross

Read the statement issued by the California Agriculture Secretary
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Posted on 30 June 2013 by Imperial Valley News

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 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.

Watch Farm Academy on YouTube

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