American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, was recently awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The grant will be used to expand AFT’s San Joaquin Valley Land and Water Strategy, with a focus on increasing water infiltration and groundwater recharge in the San Joaquin Valley counties of Madera and Stanislaus.
This project will provide a unique and innovative framework for decision-making — introducing a web-based mapping tool that, along with its associated manual, will help conservation organizations and agencies select projects that meet priority criteria and therefore have the greatest potential to effectively infiltrate and conserve water while also protecting the region’s most productive, versatile, and resilient farmland.
“Water resources in California’s San Joaquin Valley are vital to food production for the nation and fundamental for the economy, producers, communities and livelihoods of thousands of people who work and reside in the region,” says Kara Heckert, AFT’s California state director.
She continued, “Increasing groundwater infiltration is a critical tool in improving the long-term sustainability of farming in the region and complying with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.”
AFT has worked on the ground in the San Joaquin Valley for 37 years, fighting to protect the region’s farmland and natural resources. AFT’s comprehensive San Joaquin Land and Water Strategy was developed from the insights gained through years working in the area. This recent expansion builds on AFT’s current work and knowledge, furthering the strategy’s aim to promote changes in both policies and practices that support conservation and sustainable use of water and land resources, improved soil health, and protection of farmland, while providing economic benefits to the economy, communities and the environment.
AFT’s work in the San Joaquin Valley underscores the critical importance of protecting our most valuable farmland, not only for continued production of food and fiber, but also for carbon sequestration and groundwater recharge.