JOURNALIST: Reporter, Producer, Photographer

From a school lunchroom to the cab of a combine and the deck of a ship, my career has introduced me to people with amazing stories to tell. I've lived and worked in Iowa, Massachusetts, Alaska, and California and have reported from places as disparate as Argentina, Australia, and Panama on everything from a pig coronavirus to tiny penguins to climate change.

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Beth LaBerge/KQED

At Kiss My Boba, Tongan Specialty Helps San Bruno Shop Stand Out

The ubiquity of boba drink shops in the Bay Area did not discourage Willy and Chelsea Tatola from pursuing their dream of opening one. Instead, it challenged the husband-and-wife team to offer something new and different. “We tried to come up with a unique name that, once you came to our shop, you would never forget,” Willy Tatola says. The result is Kiss My Boba, which launched as a food truck more than four years ago and opened a storefront in October 2021.
Courtesy of Pedro Lange

Bay Area Chicana Blues Singer's New Album Is a Celebration of Spanish — a Language She Fought to Learn

But it was expensive to hire a teacher, and Crouse’s family couldn’t afford to help support her education. Crouse, who grew up in a lower-income, single-parent home, needed financial security, and wasn’t sure her love of music would translate into a true career. Still, after college, graduate school, and a divorce, Crouse's daughter encouraged her to return to music. She discovered that her bold, brassy voice was perfect for singing blues, and released her first album, “Never Too Soon,” in 2018

Bagman for Bay Mussels – Estuary News Magazine

Martin Trinh practically bounces along the dock at the Coyote Point Yacht Club on a breezy, sunny spring morning. He’s carrying a case full of instruments and scopes out an open slip at the end of the pier. Soon he’s lowering a probe into the water, alongside kelp clinging to the underside of the dock. Another trip back to his Prius, still sporting South Carolina license plates, and he’s got a white plastic dish pan and a scrub brush. He fills and rinses a brown plastic bottle several times before finally capping it while full and placing it into a zip-top plastic bag. Then he lies on his belly, reaches into the water, and with blue nitrile gloves feels amidst the kelp for the last thing he needs here today: five medium-size mussels.

Ford Pro, Wilbur-Ellis partner with Sonoma County Winegrowers on susainability, electric vehicles

A partnership aimed at helping farmers and ranchers transition to an electric vehicle future has taken another step as an agribusiness announced plans to purchase 10 electric pickup trucks for use serving agricultural customers in California. Wilbur Ellis - an international marketer, distributor and manufacturer of agricultural products, animal nutrients, and specialty chemicals and ingredients - has a global commercial fleet of 2,800 vehicles. CEO John Buckley says beginning the transition to electric in California makes sense because of the state’s incentives and its leadership on electrification. He joined a Ford Pro event showcasing the new electric F-150 pickup truck at Dutton Ranch in Sebastopol last week.
courtesy
Olivia Watkins

Advocates say community groups are key to helping underserved farmers

Olivia Watkins’ family has owned land in North Carolina since the 1890s. Since her grandmother recently passed away, Watkins has become the responsible party for the forested acres. She has an MBA from North Carolina State University and her mother is an attorney. She recognizes these are privileges that not all Black farmland owners enjoy. “We were able to successfully retain our land without it getting caught up in heirs property loopholes and things like that,” she said, referring to property with unclear title, which can prevent the landowner from being eligible for loans and can inhibit succession planning. Even so, Watkins has not enrolled in any federal programs, even when she started an agroforestry business growing mushrooms.

Hemp indusry seeks expansion support in next farm bill

Hemp supporters are touting the crop's myriad uses and soil-nurturing properties while pushing some ideas for increasing its viability as Congress prepares to update the 2018 farm bill that legalized the crop. In 2021, the nation’s total hemp production reached $824 million in value across 54,200 open acres and 15.6 million covered square feet, according to USDA, just three years after the 2018 farm bill fully allowed for its cultivation. During that time, farmers have experimented with the crop across the country.

We Met at Wellesley | Wellesley Magazine

Falling in love on an idyllic New England college campus has storybook qualities. But for generations, the narrative at Wellesley was a certain spin on the fairy tale: Students would find their mates off campus. Even though LGBTQ relationships likely stretch back far in the College’s history, students remained largely quiet about coupling up for probably close to a century. Today, the alumnae community includes many couples who were both Wellesley students, are comfortable being public about it, and represent a broad spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities.
Jay Fram

Small meat processors try to grow while Congress questions competitiveness of beef marketplace

Recent attention to the country’s meatpacking plants has illustrated that when the four dominant companies face disruptions to processing, smaller, independent operations don’t have adequate capacity to pick up the slack. That’s part of the reason the federal government has decided to invest in upgrades to some of those local shops. Plus, when those smaller businesses are federally inspected, producers will be able to market their own branded meat products across state lines. Still, it will be a tall order to compete in the marketplace, which several senators allege is already not operating in a transparent and consistently fair way.
Paige Green Photography

Farm-to-fashion offers local destination for California wool

An environmentally concerned fashion company and a fifth-generation rancher are the opposite endpoints on a short line that connects a luxury brand with sustainable agriculture. The Los Angeles-based firm Co recently unveiled its Natural World “capsule” (which is a group of designs that isn’t as robust as a full collection) featuring California-sourced wool mostly spun, woven and sewn by American businesses.
courtesy

Lessons from Pandemic Education: How biology professors pivoted and what they may keep doing.

When biology education emerges from the pandemic, some faculty say lasting changes might well occur. These could include expanding the role of peer learning assistants; more flipped classes, where students watch recorded lectures in advance and do collaborative group work during class time; and a renewed recognition that the lecture model, which is how many of today's professors were taught, does not have to be how they lead the next generation into scientific inquiry.
courtesy THEC

House Ag members working to address lagging HBCU funding

As the country, including the food and agriculture sector, continues to grapple with racial injustices brought into focus in 2020, the historically Black land-grant colleges and universities are gaining attention. The issues facing HBCUs — and the possible approaches to fix them — are complex, but a pair of lawmakers who themselves are products of the institutions are leading efforts to improve the standing of the colleges and the students they educate.

For dairy farmers, this technology turns methane from cow manure into cash

Jared Fernandes runs a dairy farm with 3,000 dairy cows that generate about 45,000 tons of manure annually. So when the state mandated that he reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like the methane released from all that poop, “you get upset,” he said. California regulations require farms to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. But the state helped pay for on-farm changes, like new technology designed to capture methane.
courtesy Masumoto Family Farm

A decade after ending a marketing order, stone fruit acres are mostly down, but sector remains strong

Fewer acres of California farmland are dedicated to growing stone fruit compared to 10 years ago when growers of freestone peaches and nectarines voted to end the California Tree Fruit Agreement. But apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes (which USDA distinguishes from plums in its data) and sweet cherries continue to perform well.
courtesy Almond Board of California

Grapes and almonds poised to maintain top sales spots in California

As drought grips many of California’s prime agricultural areas, its two top-grossing crops are positioned well to pull through, much as they did during the last prolonged dry spell in the mid-2010s. Grapes and almonds, which since 2004 have been the state’s top sellers, both have some natural drought tolerance thanks to their origins in the Mediterranean climate where recurring aridity is expected. But in California, their success is also tied to irrigation.
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