Farmers Build Fire Resilience: Online Course for Farmers

Farmers Build Fire Resilience

A hybrid online course and network dedicated to helping farmers and ranchers face a future of fire.

February 13 – March 26, 2020

Do you want to better prepare your farm or ranch and community for fire-related risk, and plan for the future collectively?   

Drawing on decades of training small-farmers amidst climate change, MESA in collaboration with CAFF | The Farmer’s Guild, bring you an interactive course  that will give you the technical and theoretical toolkit needed to reduce the human, production, financial and legal risks from wildfires. Utilizing MESA’s Virtual Campus for Farmers paired with CAFF’s live Town Hall meetings, you will garner actionable solutions, co-create fire response and prevention networks, and leave with an on-farm fire resilience plan to help you and your community face a future with fire.

The unpredictability and sheer magnitude of fires can leave farmers and ranchers feeling threatened and helpless.

The size, longevity and intensity of wildfires is rapidly increasing in the Western region – California acreage burned in 2018 tripled the state’s annual average. This trend is expected increase as the region gets warmer and drier due to climate change. As a result, agricultural producers are faced with severe property, crop, livestock, labor and market losses and uncertainty. This course addresses farmers’ increasing need for resources, support systems and enlivening networks to build resilience for fire response, so you don’t have to face fires alone.

Learn About:

Land Management for Fire Preparedness and Mitigation

Emergency Response, Preparing Your Home, Family and Livestock

Understanding Fire Ecology

Community Preparedness and Organizing for Recovery

Fires and Finances

Health and Food Safety: During and After Fire

By taking this course you will:

Assess your farm or ranch and community's unique risks to fires

Use tools to create and implement a Fire Resilience Plan to reduce fire-related risk on your farm

Connect with experts and peers to form strong regional prevention and response networks

Pair online learning with in-person opportunities like Town Halls near you

Connect with MESA's global, multi-generational network of farmers, educators and mentors

Gain access to key community players, insurance programs and government programs

Match with a Mentor for one-on-one review of your Fire Resilience Plan

As farmers, we not only grow food, but we are also stewards of land and natural resources, and this a critical time for us to receive practical, accessible educational support to increase our resilience through courses like this. 

Farmer Joey Smith

Letter of support, Let's Go Farm

How learning happens

Online Lessons

Starting learning without leaving your farm. Combines community-driven practical, scientific, socio-political knowledge in 7 online lessons over 8 weeks.

Farmer Networks

Learn alongside an engaged farmer cohort. Using our Farm Map & peer-peer private forums, compare ideas and co-create solutions with fellow farmers in fire prone regions.

Live Classroom

You'll get to join live classrooms of your peers, talk with experts from the field as well as hear stories from farmers who have overcome fire related disasters.

Resilience Plan

Assess your farm's vulnerabilities, strengths and create an actionable plan by the end of the course to improve your farm, family, and community's resiliency to fire.

Applied Activities

Each lesson includes an on-site Applied Activity, helping you analyze and apply new principles and practices while reflecting how different concepts relate to your own farm and/or community.

Designed for You

Set the pace to shape learning around your busy schedule. Offering video, podcasts, discussion forums, readings and multimedia, this course is designed for all learning styles.

During the course, you’ll be building your on-farm Resilience Plan as well as more ways to continue strengthening your networks. Part of that will be to the option to meet in person for one of CAFF’s Town halls:

TownHalls (Hosted by CAFF):

  • May 2019: Amador County
  • Aug 2019: Mendocino County
  • Sep 2019: Sonoma County
  • Feb 2020: Salinas, Monterey County
  • Feb 2020: Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County – 2020 Small Farmers Conferenc

Course FAQ

The course will run from February 13 – March 26. During that time, there will be optional bi-weekly live meetings hosted online where you’ll learn, discuss with your peers and have Q&A with guest experts and farmers. New pre-recorded materials, such as podcasts and videos, will be released each week that the course is in session, totaling no more than an hour or less of material. Applied assignments and optional readings will be offered as well. 

A computer & high speed internet connection to download readings or watch videos; a farm or an open space suitable for doing Applied Activities; a willingness to participate in live discussions. You must have a strong interest and desire to practice fire resilient farming/ranching

Note: There is no scale requirement for your operation. Prior experience with fire resilient farming not required. Background in organic/sustainable/agroecological farming and ranching also not required.

Course materials are highly applicable for farmers, interns, apprentices, person(s) serving farmers, college students, and anyone regardless of background. While accessible to many different learning backgrounds and styles, this course is currently tailored for those with a minimum of basic English reading and comprehension. 

All course materials are freely accessible for farmers and ranchers. Non-farmers and those that are able are encouraged to submit a fee as this course is being subsidized intentionally for farmers. That being said, we want to make this important course available for anyone who would benefit, so no one turned away for lack of funds!

While this course is tailored for people currently farming or ranching in California, anyone regardless of region or profession are encouraged to join. One-on-one feedback for On-Farm Fire Resilience Plans as well as Applied Assignments however, will be reserved for farmers and ranchers. 

So glad you asked! Click the “Enroll” button at the top to register for the course, follow prompts to add this course to your cart and/or submit payment (if paying). If you’d like to get in touch, email <[email protected]> We look forward to learning with you!

If you’re curious about the backends of the project, please check out our Press Release here:

Created in Community

MESA's Network

Enriched by contributions and resources from MESA’s amazing 22 year old network of farmers, ranchers, scientists, and community field experts across the world.

Farmers & Field Experts

With deep appreciation for contributions from the farming and ranching community, and for sharing your stories of disaster, community, and resilience.

Sponsors & Contributors

Made possible by generous support from our sponsors and contributing University Extensions, Academics, Nonprofits, Disaster Relief Agents and Professionals. 

Start Building Fire Resilience Today

Join a cohort of farmers working to build fire resilience on farm and in community, together.

Special Thanks to our Collaborators:

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28587

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MESA, Inc., P.O. Box 40113, Berkeley, CA 94704