Welcome to the online newsroom for the California Farmland Trust.  Here you’ll find all the elements you need to craft a story on California farmland conservation.  For media inquiries, please contact us at (916) 687-3178 or by email.

Press Releases

Katie Otto Joins CFT Team

Katie Otto Joins CFT Team

The California Farmland Trust (CFT) is pleased to announce Katie Otto as their new Development and Operations Director. She joins the CFT team after 12 years with the California FFA Foundation (Foundation) and brings her deep roots and experience with agriculture, fundraising and finance management to the organization. 

A native of Galt, Ms. Otto spent her early years growing up on her family’s vineyard and thus began her love of the farming way of life and the values it instilled in her. Her agricultural career started after graduating with an Ag Business Degree from Fresno State University. Ms. Otto gained momentum in the ag industry after working with organizations like The Great Valley Center and the California Cattlemen’s Association.

When asked about her career highlight, Katie referenced the success of the Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign because of the immediate impact it had on FFA Students.  “The FFA jacket is symbolic for the organization and I wanted each chapter to be represented at our 2017 Gala, our signature event. However, these jackets are a financial burden for many students,” said Otto. “To ensure each student had a jacket, we raised the funds necessary to provide jackets for all students from each chapter at the event.” This, along with having Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs serve as the Foundation’s gala keynote speaker made an impressive impact on their Giving Tuesday campaign. Coupling these achievements with developing a relationship with Blue Diamond Growers to expand the campaign in recent years, has aided in ensuring that every FFA member could have a blue corduroy jacket of their own. 

“Katie has a passion for agriculture and the meaningful work of non-profits in the industry,” said Charlotte Mitchell, executive director. “She has a keen understanding of the challenges that face agriculture including the protection of farmland.  Katie will be an important part of the California Farmland Trust team to continue our mission of protecting these important working landscapes.”  

Ms. Otto envisions a future for CFT that brings together a wide array of the public, landowners, and partners who make farmland conservation a priority. “I did not set out to be a fundraiser, but I have realized the general obligation I feel to either give back to or volunteer for the efforts that make this world better and it’s an opportunity I can offer others. This effort is about sharing and storytelling and building relationships – these come easy to me because I am passionate about this work and it’s part of who I am.”

“We are excited and honored to have Katie onboard to direct our fund development efforts and assist in guiding the organization,” said Mitchell.

Welcome Katie to the team by sending her a welcome email.

Six Farms Connect – a reason to celebrate!

Six Farms Connect – a reason to celebrate!

Together, six farms connect and expand farmland conservation.
A reason to celebrate!

California Farmland Trust (CFT) announces the conservation of six new farms in Merced County. Four adjacent farms have created a large area of closely protected farmland; while nearby two other properties join already previously protected areas.

Connected Farmland

Nearly 220 additional acres of California farmland are now conserved forever, resulting in a total of 16,200 acres administered by CFT. Like-minded farmers worked with CFT to permanently protect their properties through agricultural conservation easements.  The easements dedicate the land to farming and prohibit the conversion to non-agricultural uses, even if the land is sold or inherited.

“This is an important milestone for agriculture in the region,” said Charlotte Mitchell, CFT Executive Director. “When we can group farms with prime and important soils that are adjacent to one another through permanent conservation, we help farmers have the peace of mind to know their land investment will be forever agriculture and support the robust agricultural economy in California.”

All the properties remain separate parcels and are still owned individually; however, when viewed through the lens of their proximity to one another, their productivity as connected farmland increases and creates long-term opportunities for current and future farm operations and families.

The Gail Martin Trust Farm, Kruppa Farm, Kruppa Reed Farm, Magneson Property, Slater Trust Farm, and Tanner Farm encompass 220 acres of vibrant, productive land. They grow almonds, sweet potatoes, irrigated pasture for an organic dairy, and various row crops on Prime and Statewide Importance soils. As cities in the Central Valley continue to grow, each of these farms faced development pressure as city boundaries and spheres of influence grew even closer.

At the close of the Tanner Farm conservation project, Mike Tanner owner and operator shared with us, “I have always been an advocate for saving our best agricultural land for the production of food, fiber, and other products to sustain our lives. I have been involved with this ranch and its operation all my life. As we near the 100-year anniversary for our ranch, I am extremely proud to have been a part of it and for getting it placed into an agricultural conservation easement with the California Farmland Trust.”

Kruppa Farm and Slater Trust Farm  were permanently protected with funding from the Agricultural Land Mitigation Program, administered by the California Department of on behalf of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The Gail Martin Trust Farm was permanently protected with funding by the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, administered by the California Department of Conservation and the Natural Resources Agency on behalf of the Strategic Growth Council. The program invests in agricultural land conservation with revenue from the California Climate Investments (CCI) Fund.

Expanding Conservation

In 2006, the Magneson family protected 472 acres with farmland conservation easements. This year CFT helped the Magneson’s add additional acreage to their network of land to bring their total of preserved farmland to nearly 500 acres. The Magneson’s currently operate an organic dairy with the conserved lands supporting grazing dairy cattle in accordance with organic standards and additional feed crops.


CFT hosted an easement celebration October 3rd at the Slater Trust Farm to recognize and thank those who chose to protect their farms. “My late father would be proud to know the first farm he purchased is now forever protected for agriculture,” said Gail Martin as part of her remarks to the morning crowd.

“Linking these properties through permanent conservation is a win-win for everyone,” continued Mitchell, “the landowners, the public, and the land.”

For more information or photos, please contact: Aundriea Montzingo or (916) 687-3178

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @cafarmtrust


The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date, we have protected nearly 16,200 acres of farmland on 73 family farms. Visit us:


The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment– particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at: Twitter: @CAClimateInvest

16,000 Acres Forever Protected

16,000 Acres Forever Protected

Significant Goal Achieved: 16,000 Acres of CA Farmland Protected

Elk Grove, CA– California Farmland Trust (CFT), a Sacramento County based non-profit, has recently reached permanent protection of over 16,000 acres of California farmland – and CFT is celebrating! Why is this noteworthy?

“16,000 acres represents a huge milestone in CFT’s vision of a California where farmland is seen on par with land uses such as houses and shopping malls, or other environmental initiatives,” says Charlotte Mitchell, CFT’s Executive Director. “Public opinion is shifting and we see it in the form of more donors and more agency funding. From small, humble beginnings, and a still small staff, our community of supporters has helped 50 farming families.  We’ve also built relationships with agency funders who now come to us seeking more farmland projects.”

This achievement exemplifies the findings in a recent scientific survey conducted by Valley Vision and California State University, Sacramento. The study found 89% of respondents felt preserving farmland is more important than creating retail and office space. Further, respondents ranked protecting farmland from conversion more important than protecting open space and wild space from the same threat.

In a state where development is booming, these 16,000 acres mark a significant acknowledgement that landscapes not often accessible to the public, although very beneficial to them, are a substantial part of a thriving lifestyle.

Farmland on the valley floor competes with land uses directly connected to the publics’ needs – housing, transportation, and amenities. Landscapes with wildlife habitat or environmental designations get much of the attention while the loss of farmland often takes a back seat when public funding is concerned. “While there are many funding sources that can give huge grants for wildlife, wetlands, urban open space, and coastal lands; there is very, very little available for preserving working farms,” says Maxwell Norton, retired county extension agent and a founding CFT board member. “We have been resourceful in digging up resources to do projects throughout the Valley.”

“This success will act as a key motivator for residents, foundations, and agency funders in recognizing farmland conservation is a fundamental priority in sustaining our way of life now and for future generations,” said Mitchell.

California farmers keep producing more food on fewer acres, while our population keeps increasing.  Farmland conservation efforts go hand in hand with the recent Farm to Fork movement, enabling the local eating movement that has exploded in popularity. Farmland is a vital component of a lifestyle that is full of fresh and healthy food and jobs; plus it gives open space that provides for cleaner air, ground water recharge, and wildlife habitat.

“It is amazing what a small organization can accomplish when it has a clear mission and stays focused on the one thing that will make a difference in the long run – protecting our working lands,” said Norton.

16,000 acres is 25 square miles, dotted across California’s Central Valley, of highly productive and unique land ideally suited for growing a wide variety of food from grains to specialty produce.  That land will forever feed Californians, plus much of the US and even the world.

If we consider that recent research indicates a family of four that eats meat, dairy and eggs would need around two acres of land to feed themselves for a year, that’s 9,000 families forever fed.

“Just think of how much more we can do if the momentum to make farmland conservation a priority is continued,” said Mitchell. “9,000 families can become 100,000 in a few short years.”

For more information or photos, please contact:

Melanee Cottrill, or (916) 687-3178

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @cafarmtrust


The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date we have protected 16,011 acres of farmland on 50 family farms. Visit us:

Story Resources

Media Kit







Peaches yielded the sweet smell of success

By Vicky Boyd   Standing on the family’s original “Home Ranch” near Ballico, California, Gail Ferrari Martin recently described the arduous journey her father took from a teenager on his own to becoming one of the world’s top canning peach producers. To honor...

Planting the Seed

Aunt’s words of wisdom spurred support for farmland conservation By Vicky Boyd Growing up, Webster Williams’ and Bonner Mendez’s aunt — Alberta Webster Lewallen — used to tell them, “You can never create more land. Don’t ever sell the land.” This was something...

The Road to Conservation

The Road to ConservationBy Vicky Boyd The family history of Jim Jorgensen and his sisters, Joanne Mills and Janice Jorgensen, is deeply rooted in California agriculture. The three were raised on a farm where their parents, William P. and Elinor Jorgensen, grew walnuts...

Concrete California

A Family’s Story of Perseverance To Jean Okuye, nothing is more important than her family and friends.  That’s why, in 1980, Jean didn’t hesitate when a sudden death left untended the family farm where her husband Paul was raised.  She and Paul immediately...

A Good Life

100 Years of Family Farming  “It’s been a good life,” Pete says softly with a wistful smile.  He and his wife of 63 years, Kathy, are seated at their oak kitchen table, where they still welcome friends every Friday evening.  At 89, Pete’s voice is sometimes so soft...

Meet Jim

At 93 years young, Jim Messick started to wonder what would happen to his farm without him.  And then he started to worry about what would happen to his farm without him.  Would it be broken up into tiny pieces, or turned into a parking lot?  Jim knew he didn’t want...

“Old Aggie” – A Fresno State Icon

“Old Aggie,” is an old 1938 International farm truck that was a symbol of Fresno State’s dedication to agriculture. Looking back, “Old Aggie” was rescued by Bill Jones, former California Secretary of State, from the wrecking yard in 1969...

Brandstad Farm: Cherries

Preserving the Past, Stewarding the Future The Brandstad Family grows cherries, walnuts, and olives on their farm in San Joaquin County. Their 150-year old farming legacy and a partnership with our land trust forever protected this special farmland in 2014 – and...

As Long As We Have Enough

As Long As We Have Enough Living and working on a conserved farm “I haven’t been anyplace that I enjoy more than here.”  There is nothing but humble honesty in farmer Tom Ulm’s voice, nothing but sincerity in his eyes, as he admits his adoration for the family...

Brandstad Farms

Preserving the Past, Stewarding the Future: The Brandstad Family has already conserved 175 acres of their family property and now the remaining 158 acres are in the final stages of completion – on its way to a forever-farm ...


The California Farmland Trust is proud to have been an accredited land trust since 2008.  We were one of the first land trusts ever to be accredited.  The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.  It is awarded to land trusts meeting the highest national standards for excellence and conservation permanence.  Each accredited land trust completes a rigorous review process and joins a network of organizations united by strong ethical practices.

More Information

For more information, contact us at (916) 687-3178 or by email.