The family-run Gaviota Givings at Orella Ranch is located on the Gaviota Coast of California, a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean and just 20 miles west of Santa Barbara. Purchased in the 1860’s, the land has passed through the care of many generations. Today owner Mark Tautrim manages the ranch with the support of his children and fellow owners, Kimberly and Guner. Guner and his wife Heidi run the livestock operation on the land, raising cattle, sheep and pigs.
STEPPING IT UP A NOTCH
Part of Kiss the Ground’s Transition Program, Guner attended Soil Health Academy’s regenerative training in 2018 and has since been an active participant in the regenerative movement in his community. Kiss the Ground is honored to be able to award Gaviota Givings a Regenerating Communities Grant for their next project – a demonstration of pasture (rangeland) enhancement through pollinator hedgerows, compost application, and seeding.
Guner describes the project as “throwing all the tools in the toolbox;” they’ve already employed rotational grazing of their animals, and use neighbor Cuyama Lamb’s sheep for fire mitigation and to help fertilize the pasture.
They’ve applied compost and compost tea, and they’ve been testing hedgerow species for almost 10 years – they feel like they know the species that will show the greatest success. They’ve planted hundreds of trees and shrubs over the last five years on the Gaviota Givings property, which is their successful multi-species grazing operation.
Now, on a 13-acre area of Orella Ranch, the Tautrim family is ready to “step it up a notch” and demonstrate to their community and beyond how they can enhance their rangeland through increasing the biodiversity of species above and below ground.
“A large metric for success of this project will be adoption of regenerative practices by other land stewards,” – Guner Tautrum
Healthy Soils Grant
The Tautrims applied for a Healthy Soils Grant through the CDFA to start this project. They’ve set up new fencing and new irrigation which are critical infrastructure that support their multi-species grazing operation.
The Regenerating Communities Grant from Kiss the Ground will supplement the Healthy Soils Grant, supporting the installation of 1,659 linear feet of pollinator hedgerows, half an acre of tree and shrub establishment, and half an acre of rangeland planting. In addition, they will apply eight tons of compost per acre. The grant will also help support the purchase of protection for the trees and shrubs (above ground and below ground), as well as irrigation to establish perennial plantings.
While the objective of the project is to increase biodiversity, Guner also hopes the outcome will increase awareness of holistically managed landscapes in his community. He strives to provide a space to bring interested members of the public to see the benefits of hedgerows within a multi-species grazing operation. The Tautrims plan to host “field days” for the public that will be coordinated through the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council.
“The relationship with the Community Environmental Council is superb – they have a great track record of hosting ‘Field Days’ with many local farmers and ranchers joining,” says Guner. He believes he can encourage a farmer to transition to regenerative if they see evidence of success.
“Providing evidence of a rangeland environment that looks like none other and performs a multitude of beneficial environmental services, in addition to being a multi-species grazing operation, is long overdue,” - Guner Tautrum
Building a Regenerative Site of Inspiration
The Tautrums believe this 13-acre demonstration site can be that inspiration. The area is visible from the highway 101 corridor and they hope to receive a steady stream of student visitors; they already have a relationship with both Santa Barbara City College as well as the University of California Santa Barbara. They’ve also been selected as a silvopasture producer to be highlighted in a statewide project funded by the USDA National Agroforestry Center.
With public visitation, Guner also hopes that a public informed about the benefits of these practices will be a measurable success. Finally, the survival rate of the new plants and trees at year three will also be a barometer of success. Once a plant, tree, or shrub has survived for three years, it is there for good,” says Guner. The Healthy Soils Program requires annual soil testing so that the Tautrims can see if they’re hitting their marks of CO2 reductions – using the Comet Planer, this project is estimated to sequester 64 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
“Perennializing a rangeland landscape and providing supplemental feed to multiple species of grazers while sequestering 64 metric tons of CO2 is a win win. Add the public exposure and we are sure to provide inspiration and motivation for others to do similar projects,” says Guner.
Engage and learn with Gaviota Givings based in California at @gaviota_givings.