Sunday, July 18, 2010

150 Years of the California Wool Growers Association

I was invited to be part of a panel discussion on new opportunities in the sheep industry at the 150th anniversary convention of the California Wool Growers Association in San Francisco yesterday.  My family and I drove to Vallejo and caught a Baylink ferry into the city.  We had lunch at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market, which was amazing.  The panel included a person who has started a sheep dairy in Monterey County, a producer who contract grazes vernal pool mitigation banks in Sonoma County, a producer who is finding new uses for wool, and the manager of a small custom wool carding company in Yreka.  We had great questions and discussion with the other producers in attendance.

I have several observations about our day.  The farmer's market was one of the largest and busiest I've ever attended.  I was struck by the difference in the way San Francisco's environmental health department enforces market rules - none of the food booths were screened, meat vendors were able to display meat in ice-filled tubs on their tables (rather than in closed ice chests), and everyone was passing out samples.  At the conference itself, I got a real sense of the heritage and longevity of the sheep industry in California.

The high temperature in Auburn yesterday was 99.  In the city, the high was probably 75.  All in all, it was a nice break from the heat and an enjoyable one-day vacation with my family!

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