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

California Farmland Trust Appoints Arisman, Beretta and Whitman to Trustee Council

California Farmland Trust Appoints Arisman, Beretta and Whitman to Trustee Council

California Farmland Trust (CFT) has announced the addition of three new members to the organization’s Trustee Council.

“Our Trustee Council is comprised of influential industry leaders and we are honored to add to that prominent group,” shared Charlotte Mitchell, CFT Executive Director. “The addition of Mia Arisman, Jennifer Beretta and Becca Whitman will compliment a very professional and passionate group who will continue to advise CFT as we continue our efforts to protect farmland.”

Newly Appointed Trustee Council Members

Mia Arisman currently serves as the California Association, Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Secretary. As a State FFA Officer, Mia and her team spend a year learning about California’s diverse agriculture industry and share their knowledge with the more than 95,000 youth California FFA members. In addition, Mia provides insight to industry leaders on how to engage with the next generation of the agricultural workforce. Mia shared “I’m excited for my role promoting the conservation and protection of California agriculture to my peers and learning how to make this diverse industry better for future generations.”



 Jennifer Beretta resides in Santa Rosa and serves as the Assistant Herdsman for her family’s dairy operation. In addition, she serves as the First Vice President for the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, is the current Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) State Chair, is a local 4-H leader, Holstein Club President and is on the Dairy Advisory Board for the Sonoma County Fair. “As a Trustee Council member, I look forward to creating a better partnership between CFT and YF&R and learning more about conservation         opportunities for agriculture,” Beretta expressed.



Becca Whitman is the Senior Manager for Community Relations, and Executive Director for Food For Families for Raley’s. Becca has built her career on creating successful partnerships and currently leads Raley’s community giving efforts in supporting causes that make significant impacts, including California Farmland Trust among many other agricultural organizations. “It’s an honor to serve as an advocate for California Farmland Trust and help protect the farms that feed our families,” shared Whitman. “So much of our health and happiness is based on the food we eat, and it’s incredibly important to me and Raley’s that we grow healthy communities in partnership with our farmers,” Whitman added.


For more information or headshots, please contact:

Katie Otto, or (209) 712-0918

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

California Farmland Trust Elects New Officers, Appoints New Board Members

California Farmland Trust Elects New Officers, Appoints New Board Members

With a passion for preserving California’s farmland, California Farmland Trust is proud to share the results of those elected to serve our Board of Directors as well as new Board member appointments.

“We’re honored to have such well-known and well-respected individuals serve on the CFT Board” shared Charlotte Mitchell, CFT Executive Director. “Our board members each bring professional skills and a passion for agriculture that serve in furthering our mission and protecting farmland.”

Newly Elected Officers  

Jon Harvey, President 

Jon Harvey retired from Cisco as a Hardware Engineer Manager and is now a ski patroller at Sugar Bowl. A former Board member of Brentwood  Ag Land Trust (BALT), Harvey joined the CFT Board in 2018, following the BALT and Central Valley Farmland Trust merger that formed California Farmland Trust. Harvey became immersed in land conservation at a young age, when he recognized the connections between his appreciation for wildlife, a family history of farming, and his love for fresh food.  


Patrick Johnston, Vice President 

Patrick Johnston lives in Brentwood where his family has farmed since 1923. He is currently a partner in Dwelley Family Farms, growing both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables. He was a board member of the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust, until its merger with Central Valley Farmland Trust to form CFT. 


Maxwell Norton, Secretary 

Maxwell Norton is a retired Farm Advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension, and a founding member of the Merced County Farmland and Open Space Trust, which later formed the Central Valley Farmland Trust.  He is the Past President of the Merced County Chamber of Commerce, Past President of the California Association of Farm Advisors and Specialists, and Past Chairman of Merced County Economic Development Task Force. 




Ken Oneto, Treasurer 

Ken Oneto resides in Elk Grove where he grows cherries, walnuts, dry beans, tomatoes and wine grapes on the family farm.  He is a graduate of the California Ag Resources Training Program and the Ag Leadership Program.  He was a founding member of the Sacramento Valley Ag Land Conservancy which helped to form the Central Valley Farmland Trust, and currently serves as the President of the Sacramento County Farm Bureau. 


New Appointed Board Members 

Ryan Jacobsen 

Ryan Jacobsen resides in Fresno, where he currently serves as the CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. He is the first Board member to serve the organization from Fresno County.  Jacobsen currently serves as president of the Fresno Irrigation District Board of Directors, secretary/treasurer of the Kings River Water Association and president-elect of the Rotary Club of Fresno. He is also the host of the television show, Valley’s Gold. 


Theresa Kiehn 

Theresa Kiehn is the Acting President and Chief Executive Officer of AgSafeHer career also included a tenure with the Great Valley Center, where she supported the formation of the Central Valley Farmland Trust. In addition to her current role, she serves on the Turlock Farmers Market Board of Directors, the Salas Family Foundation, is a member of Modesto Downtown Rotary and is engaged in a variety of capacities with her faith-based community.  

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 16,708 acres of farmland on 77 family farms. To learn more visit us: 

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.

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.