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 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.

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

Story Resources

Media Kit







Peaches yielded the sweet smell of success

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Planting the Seed

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The Road to Conservation

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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...

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“Old Aggie” – A Fresno State Icon

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Brandstad Farm: Cherries

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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

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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.