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Farm Advisor

The Farm Advisor serves the people of Inyo and Mono counties in matters related to agricultural production by providing research-based production advisement.

Our Farm Advisor, Dustin Blakey, has a background in Horticulture. His emphasis is on improving the productivity and sustainability of local food producers growing in the challenging Eastern Sierra climate. The office conducts research and offers advisement in the following areas:

  • Season extension
  • Appropriate varieties
  • Planning and budgeting
  • Pest control
  • Best management practices for small-scale horticultural crops

Our goal is to help producers of all sizes fill in the gaps in knowledge that may hinder the viability of their enterprise. We can do this by cooperating on research projects, providing unbiased advice, and connecting you with other resources.  We're your connection to the University of California's division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

In addition to advising food production, we can provide advisement in Environmental Horticulture issues. Nurseries, arborists, landscapers and agencies should contact the Farm Advisor for more information.

If you are a producer of livestock, alfalfa, forages, or another crop and you need assistance, please contact us, as we can provide help though our statewide connections. 

Questions related to regulations or statistics should be directed to the Inyo-Mono Agricultural Commissioner.

Home Gardens

Home gardeners who require assistance should contact our Master Gardener volunteers for answers to their gardening and landscape questions. We also have Master Food Preservers who can help with home preservation questions.

Their help line number is (760) 872-2098. You can email your question to them at immg@ucanr.edu

Beginning Commercial Operations

Starting a commercial agricultural enterprise anywhere is challenging. Our harsh conditions and an environment that is very different from most of California compounds the issue.

The Farm Advisor can help you get started and answer key questions you may have. 

Our area is well-suited for livestock grazing, forage crops, and root crops. Other crops can grow here, but we are not the optimal location for them, and access to markets can be challenging.

We also have very little suitable land available to farm on. If you find a parcel, definitely do due diligence before purchasing it if your primary goal is to establish a commercial operation.

There are opportunities here, but you will find that what works elsewhere may be hard to implement in this region. We're glad to answer your questions or review any plans.

Tips for Potential New Farmers

Our area poses unique challenges due to our climate, remoteness, and land access. But it is possible to succeed with thoughtful planning and commitment.

Here are some thoughts potential operations should consider before jumping in.

  • Spend at least a year learning how our climate works compared to where you have past experience
  • Determine if our growing season conflicts with other activities you want to pursue in the Eastern Sierra such as backcountry hiking, fishing, or climbing
  • Check your soil to determine its suitability for raising crops (This site is useful: https://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/gmap/ )
  • Investigate your potential market outlets as transportation costs (and time) are high for this region, and the local population is low...and many have gardens of their own
  • Consider season extension to have crops ready to market before local gardens begin to bear
  • Plan for wind, lots of wind
  • Labor can be in short supply here so plan for how that will be addressed
  • Freezes are a real issue you may have to plan for here
  • Look for opportunities to add value to your harvest (some of those will require permitting from the county's Environmental Health Department)
  • Wildlife and viruses tend to be our biggest pests

Contact the Farm Advisor if you have questions about growing in our region.