Craig McNamra discusses the Cannery in Davis, The Cannery Logo

Craig McNamara Comments on Urban Farm at The Cannery in Davis, California

“To see The Cannery today on the brink of becoming a viable farm community is not only personally exciting for me, but also one of the most fulfilling accomplishments in my career,” said Craig McNamara, founder of the Center for Land Based Learning. “The Cannery Urban Farm honors what I believe in most: Connecting eaters directly to food.”

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Global Food Initiative

Craig McNamara Supports UC Food Initiative Fellowships

“Part of the UC Global Food Initiative, a systemwide effort to address global food needs, the fellowship program aims to support both graduate and undergraduate research promoting food sustainability. To establish the fellowships, the university allocated $7,500 in July to each campus, as well as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Each campus will offer three fellowships worth $2,500 each."

"Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and owner of walnut farm Sierra Orchards, and his wife, Julie McNamara, pledged to support to the program."

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Dramitic picture of the California Drought

Craig McNamara Discusses Proposition 1 and Revitalizing California Water System

“This is our life blood,” said McNamara, peering into the churning waters. “This is our future. By the time August came around we had to put a new well in to supply these trees - to continue irrigating," McNamara said."

"With the skies offering little hope of a quick end to the drought - McNamara and other farmers in the state have pinned their hopes to Proposition 1, the state ballot measure that would dump $7.5 billion into water system improvements in California, including the addition of several new dams and reservoirs."

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Craig McNamara Keynote Image

Keynote Speaker, Craig McNamara, Celebrates the Stone Family

"The birth is the mother of us all," McNamara said quoting a passage written by Henry Wallace in 1938. "The phosphorus and calcium of the earth build our skeletons and nervous systems. Everything else our bodies need, air and sun, comes from the earth. Nature treats the earth kindly. Man treats her harshly."

"We continue to have unbelievable challenges," McNamara said. "What I am so excited about is this celebration of you, of people like the Stones, of ranchers and farmers in Yolo County. We are meeting these challenges on an incredible basis."

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Craig McNamara posing in Sierra Orchards Walnut Orchard for Agriculturist of the Year

Craig McNamara Unanimously Chosen as the Agriculturalist 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

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Craig McNamara posing next to tractor for Sac Town Magazine

A Winters Tale

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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Picture of Rice Fields in Sacramento, California

California Farming's Growing Concerns

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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Portrait of Craig McNamara

Sacramento Business Journal - Leaders of the year

Craig McNamara was one of five Californians to receive the 2012 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. He was honored for his role at the Center for Land-Based Learning, which for 18 years has worked to raise a new crop of farmers. This year the center launched California Farm Academy, which provides intensive training...

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How I Made It: Craig McNamara

Craig McNamara, the son of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, balances public policy work with organic farming and teaching in the Sacramento Valley.

The gig: Craig McNamara is a sustainable farming expert, organic walnut farmer in the Sacramento Valley town of Winters, founder of the nonprofit Center for Land-Based Learning and the California Farm Academy, and president of the state Board of Food and Agriculture, which advises state officials on farming policies.

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Craig McNamara Receives the 2012 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award

On hundreds of farms and ranches across California, Craig is introducing a new generation to agriculture by providing hands-on training to aspiring farmers and thousands of school-age students.

On Craig’s Solano County walnut farm, the Center for Land-Based Learning is raising new crops of land stewards, in the hopes of averting an emerging crisis in California agriculture.

Golden State farmers are graying, and far too few young people are willing to step into a career beset by volatile prices, long hours and complex regulations. Craig, the center’s founder, fears that left alone, these trends could lead to a major sell-off of land within the next decades, threatening production in one of the world’s leading breadbaskets. The answer, he believes, lies in imaginative training and support for future farmers, as well as consumer education.

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Photo of Craig McNamara

Appointed President of the State Board of Food and Agriculture

“Governor Brown has made an excellent choice in appointing Craig McNamara as president of the board,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “Craig is dedicated to the agricultural community of this state and will work tirelessly to ensure the sustainability of our food and farming system. California’s farmers and ranchers, along with our diverse stakeholder community, can have no better champion.”

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture advises the governor and secretary of food and agriculture of findings as they impact agriculture and consumer needs. The board conducts forums that bring together local, state, and federal government officials, agricultural representatives, and citizens to discuss current issues of concern to California agriculture.

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Pacific Institute - Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future

Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future and Profile of Craig McNamara and Sierra Orchards

“The report Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future shows that California agriculture can flourish despite diminishing water supply and future uncertainty from climate change, but it will require great strides in increasing the water efficiency of the agricultural sector.

Many farmers and irrigation districts have already been making water-use efficiency improvements. Yet the analysis estimates that potential water savings of 4.5 - 6 million acre-feet each year can be achieved by expanding the use of efficient irrigation technologies and management practices. ”

Read the full July 2009 Issue

Picture of Craig McNamara at Sierra Orchards

Profile of Craig McNamara and Sierra Orchards

“As a farmer I think of myself first and foremost as a conservationist and environmentalist. Protecting our nation’s land, water and air resources are my most important goals. As a farmer, it is incumbent upon me to be an example for the rest of society. Therefore, it is natural that I would want to create educational and demonstration projects on our land.”

“Conservation has to be a critical part of what we’re doing on the farm and as citizens of California.”

“One of the greatest acknowledgements that we have received...came in the form of Conservation Security Program funding. This funding partially compensated us for the voluntary conservation efforts that we had undertaken on our farm over the past 20 years.”

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Picture of Craig McNamara with a class

Stewardship is all in a Day's Work in California's Countryside

"Today's youth are incredibly bright, incredibly open to new ideas and incredibly challenged," McNamara said. "Author Richard Louv coined the term 'nature deficit disorder' and it is occurring across our nation. Young people and many adults are disconnected from nature and have no idea where their food comes from."

“Sierra Orchards is an outdoor classroom where hundreds of students come each year to learn about sustainable farming practices. Like other farmers and ranchers across California, they are not only feeding the world but they are doing it in a way that helps this state remain productive and pristine.”

"Our students are our seeds," McNamara said. "They will be making decisions that will affect our future. That's why this investment is so important."

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Craig McNamara is Awarded Leopold Conservation Award (2007)

Craig McNamara is awarded the Leopold Conservation Award in 2007. A.G. Kawamura, California Secretary of Food & Agriculture states, We have many outstanding conservation farmers in the state, but few have dedicated themselves so wholeheartedly to conservation agriculture and the education of our youth.

Read the full article about the Leopold Conservation Award.

Craig McNamara Recieves the Leopold Conservation Award

California Walnut Farmer Links Environmental Stewardship with Economic Success

“Craig McNamara's 450-acre Sierra Orchards is a diversified farming operation in Yolo County that demonstrates both stewardship and prosperity, integrating habitat conserving practices with bottom line results. His proactive investments have significantly enhanced the watershed on his land, improved water quality downstream and established thriving wildlife habitat. McNamara is also helping high school students become lifelong learners, overcome barriers to change, develop leadership skills and build greater human and social capital in their communities through the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL). Founded in 1993, the program reaches more than 2,000 California students annually, teaching them about sustainable agriculture first-hand.”

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Craig McNamara gives Fall 2007 Convocation at UC Davis

2007 UC Davis Fall Convocation

“I fear that today our children are experiencing what has been termed a "nature deficit disorder." This occurs because of the disconnect between our food, our land and our people. Today our fellow Americans spend 95 percent of their time in houses, cars, malls and offices. We are becoming an indoor species. It is predicted that 25 percent of the next generation of children born in the U.S. will begin their lives in slums and never experience or visit the lands upon which their food is grown.”

Read the 2007 UC Davis Fall Convocation

Craig McNamara, the other Mr. McNamara

The Other Mr. McNamara

“For Craig, it’s the culmination of 30 years of pursuing his passions for agriculture, environmental protection and social justice. He talked with SN&R about his long journey from being a privileged son of D.C.'s political establishment to becoming a political activist, a farmer out of his depth, and ultimately a teacher. Craig also reflected on the ways American foreign policy drove him apart from his father and how the issue of U.S. military adventures abroad now have drawn the two men together again.”

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