Making Healthful Native Foods More Available

CHANGING THE SPECIALTY CROP BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM TO INCLUDE NATIVE PLANTS NOT IN CULTIVATION

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has what’s called a Specialty Crop Block Grant program through which farmers can obtain grant funding to study ways to improve the viability of their farming of what are called specialty food crops.  I had hoped to use that program to have studies done to determine why so few California Bay Laurel trees (native to California and plentiful) produce their delicious and healthful nuts.  I was disappointed to learn that grant funds could not be used to study native food plants towards the end of having them become commercial food sources because they were not yet in cultivation.

This year CDFA solicited changes to the program.  In response to my suggestion, which was supported by the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians and the University of California, Davis, Hopland Research and Extension Center, they modified the program so that it now includes “Examining the feasibility of commercially managing or cultivating native food plants.”   Here’s a link to my suggestion and the letters of support from Kashia and UC Davis Hopland: Native Food Plants Suggestion to CDFA

I was then able to call upon and support the efforts of a great team from UC Davis, including Professors Daniel Potter and Irwin Donis-Gonzalez, who beat the December 4th deadline and got a conceptual grant proposal filed to: “promote awareness of the [California Bay Laurel] nut while researching causes of yield limitation, management practices that increase yield, nutritional value of the nuts, and optimal postharvest handling.”

THE GRANT PROPOSAL BY UC DAVIS

Here are the two documents which, together, constitute the Conceptual Proposal submitted by the UC Davis team to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

As you’ll see, the purpose of the proposed grant is “Assessing the Feasibility of Managing or Cultivating California Bay (Umbellularia californica) for Commercial Nut Production

We expect to learn whether the conceptual proposal has been accepted in February, 2016.  If the concept is accepted by CDFA, the team will then submit the formal grant proposal.

Again, my thanks to Professors Daniel Potter, Irwin Ronaldo Donis-Gonzalez and the other members of their team working on this great project.

UmbellulariaConceptProposalSubmitted (002)

UmbellulariaConceptProposalBudget

NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF CALIFORNIA BAY LAUREL (“PEPPERWOOD”) NUTS

Why am I so interested in pepperwood nuts?  One reason is that i find them to be delicious, like coffee and chocolate combined, but unsweetened.

Another reason is that they are nutritious, about the same as walnuts:

nutritional label 1oz

And yes, they called me a Tree Nut, and I accept that!  🙂

And, of course, a really important reason: these trees are growing where they want to.  Unlike most food plants we rely upon, which were native to areas far from California and require major environmental changes for successful cultivation,  no major environmental disruption is required to produce native foods!  Imagine the possibilities!

AND . . .

It’s so rewarding to do something good and get appreciation for it! Check out this great article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat about my California Bay Laurel fascination!