What is in this article?:
- Richard Molinar, whose career has been focused on helping small family farmers succeed, retires in June from what he calls his "dream job."
In recent years, food safety has been an increasingly important arena for Extension activities with small-scale producers. In this case, the farmers do not have to cope with government regulation, but with retail and wholesale fruit and vegetable outlets that require growers to provide written food safety plans. With the director of the small farm program, Molinar developed a template the farmers can use to write a comprehensive plan by simply filling in information specific to their operations.
Molinar has maintained a one-acre demonstration and research plot at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center since 1995, where he conducted cherry tomato and mini watermelon variety trials, research projects comparing irrigation techniques, and experiments involving integrated pest management of weeds, insects and vegetable diseases. Crops that were grown for demonstration or research purposes over the years were nopales (cactus pads), capers, jujube trees, a wide variety of Southeast Asian vegetables and 50 kinds of Hmong medicinal herbs. The herbs, many which had not been documented as having been grown in California before, were submitted to the UC Herbarium at UC Davis to be pressed, dried and archived.
In the early 2000s, the Molinar and Yang transitioned the one-acre research and demonstration plot to organic production. Molinar also worked with the Kearney research advisory committee to set aside 10 acres at the field station for larger organic studies.
Molinar has reached out to Hispanic and African American and organic small scale farmers in Fresno. Every other year he teamed up with Manuel Jimenez, UCCE advisor in Tulare County, to offer a "Conferencia para agricultores," a conference on agricultural production conducted entirely in Spanish. He gave presentations at the Fresno farm of Will Scott, a leader in the African-American Farmers of California.
Though he retires June 30, with emeritus status, he said, he will continue to serve the family farmers who have been his clientele in Fresno County. He is also interested in taking up some small-scale farming himself. An Allis Chalmers garden tractor is already parked in the Molinar backyard and he is negotiating with landowners to secure a half-acre to one-acre site where he can grow food to be direct marketed to people in the Reedley community.