I think it is extreme to eradicate volunteer programs on organic farms ("Nothing's Free," Aug. 11). World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a beautiful program. It permits the exchange of trade information, helps small organic farms to survive on their already limited yield, and allows community to be built between like-minded eaters. There is no money exchanged; it is an educational opportunity with the "tuition" and training being hours worked on the land, and food and some housing provided. It cannot substitute for the skilled farm workers who make farming their living. It is a gateway towards more work, as some interns may gain inspiration and confidence to start a farm themselves.
Many industries are powered by volunteers who give their products or services away for free. If we support the eradication of volunteers in rural life, we should also eradicate highway-cleanup volunteers who take jobs away from paid government cleanup crews, volunteers who work for causes, musicians who give away their music for free on the internet, and anything else that takes jobs away from workers.
A moderate approach would be to limit the number of volunteer/internship workers farms can have or the number of hours they may contribute. I just hope that our wonderful small organic farms do not drown in paperwork.
Decimation not preservation
Our local bit of moral reckoning, aptly named Preservation Ranch, seems to have fallen off the radar, while the economy and the environment in the Gulf has been decimated.
Located near Annapolis, in Sonoma County's fifth district, the ironically named Preservation Ranch will do the opposite of its name. It will scrape bare 1,600 acres of redwood forest and coastal grassland to create more vineyards. Eighty-five miles of deer fencing will be installed to keep native deer out of the wine grapes. It will use the remaining 17,000 acres for timber harvesting. Sensitive coho salmon habitat will be forever gone as the water in our watershed will be captured in 40 reservoirs to serve those vineyards and the people who will purchase 90 parcels created out of perhaps 400 acres for the luxury housing associated with this monstrosity.
This project is larger than the cumulative total of vineyard conversion projects of the past put together. It will be a game changer for the way we imagine and develop Sonoma County.
Recently, the Pacific Forest Trust, a forward-thinking organization, purchased the large coastal Richardson Ranch and is restoring it to productive forestland—no vineyards or wealthy enclaves. It will sequester carbon that we need to counter global warming and serve as a safe haven for wildlife. The redwood forest grows in a thin coastal region. It is one of the world's most biologically productive ecosystems.
Now is the time to take this idea out of the county plan and banish it. Be sure to email county supervisor Efren Carrillo to let him and other supervisors know that you could not vote for a candidate who supports the creation of "Preservation" Ranch. Check out the Sierra Club's position on this project.