LA FARGE, WIS. - Organic Valley has implemented riparian restoration projects at two of its Sonoma County, California, farms. The projects will provide ecological restoration of roughly two acres of riparian areas (i.e. streambanks and spring areas) on both properties. Together, those projects have the potential to store 40 metric tons of carbon within their first five years. 

"You plant the 'seed' somewhere and it will grow – we have additional farmers signed up for Climate Smart Farm Planning plans in Sonoma County just because these two farmers did it," said Jessica Luhning, sustainability manager at Organic Valley. "Across the US, interest in carbon farm planning in our cooperative continues to grow." 

The first restoration started in December 2018 on the McClelland dairy farm in Petaluma on two acres of designated land near Stemple Creek. Over 150 students and teachers of the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) program planted 90 individual plants consisting of 12 species of native trees and shrubs. 

"It's important to take care of the land, water, and air we breathe,” said Jana McClelland, McClelland Dairy owner. “Every little bit that we can all do contributes to having a healthier earth." 

The second phase will begin in summer 2020, when STRAW will install irrigation systems on both farms. After the school year, STRAW staff will monitor and maintain the projects for one to two years. This project will help prevent erosion, maintain water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and preserve the health of the entire ecosystem. 

The second restoration project started earlier this year on the Bordessa farm, Ocean Breeze Dairy, in Valley Ford. At the beginning of 2020, students and volunteers planted almost 700 native species during the first phase of the project. The second phase will begin in early spring 2021, when STRAW will install an irrigation system. 

"I wanted to implement the practices that the Organic Valley sustainability team was talking about and see what would happen on my farm," said Jarrid Bordessa, Ocean Breeze Dairy owner.