BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Business of Farming Workshop wrapped up its series here in Kern County today, as farmers and ranchers from all over the state got to attend in-person and online to learn more about the finances involved in starting and running a farm.
“I’m glad for this workshop dealing with you know, the tax issues and how to properly file the schedule, how to make sure that we have our balance sheets in order you know,” said Gwen Patrick, farmer, and co-owner of Patrick Family Farms. “All these little things that are sometimes scary if you’ve been more produce or product emphasis in your business.”
One big challenge for farmers in the central valley this time of the year is dealing with the high temperatures.
“Because we are in the desert, we know we are going to have triple-digit days. But, to have consistent triple-digit days has just been really tough on the plants. Thank God that we have pumpkins and sweet potatoes that are very heat tolerant,” said Patrick.
Patrick said that this year’s wildfire season has also had an impact on their farming. Their pumpkins that usually need to be harvested by October or November were fully mature by just August.
“We haven’t been affected that much by the fires, but then, on the other hand, we have because you know the heat has kept temperatures up and so that’s the biggest impact that the fires have had,” said Patrick.
Brooke Raffaele, public affairs officer for USDA, said if farmers have challenges with their crops because of wildfire evacuations or smoke, there are resources to help.
“So, if their crops or their farms are affected, even if it’s by smoke, and they are noticing that when their crop comes in, it’s affected or it’s no good; I always say the first thing to do is contact their local farm service agency at the local USDA service center for Bakersfield and Kern County. I highly recommend contacting them,” said Raffaele.
Patrick said that to combat the trouble with the smoke, they planted a new crop to replenish nutrients in the soil.
“A few months ago, we opted for a cover crop for two reasons, one to put nitrogen in we planted in February Buckwheat,” said Patrick.
Another perk of attending the session in person, for Patrick, was meeting other farmers from different communities and regions and interacting with them. She said her dream is to pass on her love for growing to future generations.
“Our desire is to have agriculture, horticulture, aquaponics, kind of a learning center that kids will be able to come and visit and maybe on a small scale learn things about agriculture practices,” said Patrick.