POINT REYES STATION, Calif. — The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) announced that it collaborated with several local agencies in contributing part of the matching funds crucial to the Marin Resource Conservation District (RCD) being awarded a $1 million grant from the California Coastal Conservancy. The funding from this grant will help to plan, design and implement carbon farming projects that aim to improve soil productivity, water infiltration, biological diversity and increase greenhouse gas sequestration on ranches in western Marin County.
MALT contributed $100,000 of the $560,000 in matching funds that the Marin RCD secured from a broad collection of sources, including the County of Marin, California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, Conservation Corps North Bay, Point Blue and their Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW) program, federal funding and county funding, including from Marin’s Measure A quarter-cent sales tax.
“This marks a new era for agriculture in West Marin,” said Nancy Scolari, executive director of the Marin RCD. “Thirteen years ago, we funded a small experiment to test carbon farming techniques to fight climate change. Now, carbon farming projects are the primary way we are achieving our mission of conservation and protection of the environment and contributing toward achieving the goals of the county’s Climate Action Plan.”
In announcing the new $1 million grant, the California Coastal Conservancy said, “The project will enhance regional agricultural sustainability, climate resiliency, adaptability and inclusivity by expanding the existing Carbon Farming Program in Marin County and by providing hands-on carbon farming and agricultural training to disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities.”
Grant Award the Result of Collective Action
With required matching funds from other sources, Marin RCD’s actual financing for the California Coastal Conservancy grant totals $1,560,000. The largest source of matching funds was $225,000 from Marin County’s Measure A quarter-cent sales tax, from which the Marin RCD receives an allocation of one percent of the total, currently earmarked specifically for projects on ranches that have agricultural conservation easements. A ballot measure on Measure A renewal is scheduled for June of 2022.
In its written recommendation for awarding the grant, the Coastal Conservancy called out as a benefit MALT’s ability to monitor carbon-farming progress at participating ranches protected by MALT agricultural conservation easements.
According to Eric Rubenstahl, MALT’s stewardship and easements manager, MALT will not benefit financially from its partnership with the Marin RCD in the grant. The point, he said, is to “leverage the grant so that our agricultural producers, our community and the landscape all benefit.”
In 2008, the Marin RCD helped found the Marin Carbon Project (MCP), a countywide collaboration that MALT also helped initiate, along with the University of California, Berkeley, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Carbon Cycle Institute and others.
In addition, the Marin RCD runs its own Carbon Farming Program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers for the planning, design and implementation of carbon farming — beneficial practices that capture and hold carbon in vegetation and soils to help mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon farming helps farmers and ranchers adapt to existing and future climate impacts through practices that enable soil to hold more water, thus improving drought resilience, while increasing biodiversity and the health of the entire watershed.
Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a nonprofit organization created in 1980 to permanently preserve Marin County farmland and establish Marin County as a thriving and inclusive agricultural community in a healthy and diverse natural environment. Some of the Bay Area’s most highly acclaimed dairy and meat products and organic crops are produced on farmland protected by MALT, which totals more than 54,000 acres. To learn more about MALT, visit malt.org.
–Marin Agricultural Land Trust