Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

A farmer’s perspective from the fire zone – from the UC Food Observer

A view of the Thomas Fire this week from the author’s farm in Ventura County

By Chris Sayer


This week is California Soils Week

I have been chewing on an appropriate commentary, but hadn’t found quite the right angle on it. What was there I could say that was new?

And then the fire came.

A dear friend was one of the first evacuees; fleeing her home with trailered horses before the news even broke to the world. The last three days have been a literal whirlwind of bad news. I haven’t been able to keep track of all the friends and acquaintances who have suffered from this fire. Homes, farms and businesses are gone.

And we have several more days of Santa Ana winds to go.

I’ve been fortunate. Though evacuated from one ranch, I’m safe at the other. I’ve lost nothing but sleep. Writing was something I haven’t had time for. Besides, how could I worry about the soil at a time like this?

Yet it occurs to me that this will be a disaster of the soils as well. As I write this, nearly one hundred thousand acres of my home county have been scorched. On barren hillsides and rangeland, the soil lies wounded and vulnerable.

A friend is putting together a GoFundMe to obtain seed to help restore grazing land and secure slopes. Many details to be worked out. And we’ll need some rain. But soil is built upon the leaves and roots of plants, and we know how to make that happen.

We can help the soil help us to recover.

That seems like exactly what I should write about for California Soils Week.

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