Projects

Graze Ojai: Ojai Valley’s Community Supported Grazing Program

As a part of the Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council’s community-focused and community-driven wildfire risk mitigation strategy, we launched in 2021 our Community-Supported Grazing Program (CSGP) using the prescribed grazing of sheep, goats, and cattle for fuel reduction, vegetation management, and ecosystem enhancement projects in the Ojai Valley and Ventura River Watershed. Prescribed Grazing is the use of ruminants as a tool to meet specified land management objectives. This ecological approach is a practical and impactful alternative to chemicals and fossil fuel-dependent mechanical methods of vegetation management and fuel reduction.This program will engage the community to closely observe fire fuel reduction at work with grazing animals in some of Ojai’s most populated areas and in critical fuel beds surrounding the valley and watershed. The CSGP will seek to bolster public participation in, and support of, efforts to increase our communities’ fire safety and resilience.

The CSGP is a multi-stakeholder approach with private and public landowners and managers to create diverse funding sources and collaborative management oversight of contract grazing services to carry out the goals and implement the strategies set forth by the prescribed grazing program.

Prescribed grazing is being carried out by local targeted grazing businesses to support a growing local industry for public safety and ecosystem services using this ecologically-sound management strategy as another important tool in the fire prevention and preparedness toolbox.

 

GOALS & VISIONS OF THE CSGP:

  • To develop a prescribed grazing program that integrates holistic approaches to impactful and efficient fuel reduction and other vegetation management of the wildland-urban interface of Ojai Valley and the Ventura River Watershed.

GRAZING SCHOOL OF THE WEST

To reach the grazing acreage targets set by the CSGP (and other prescribed grazing programs in Southern and Central Coast counties), there is an unmet demand for skilled shepherds.  To address this important need, the OVFSC is the fiscal sponsor The Grazing School of the West.

The Grazing School of the West offers multidisciplinary vocational training, peer exchange, technical assistance, and professional development for individuals working within regenerative livestock and land management.  The GSW mission is to support and promote individuals utilizing regenerative livestock grazing as a land stewardship methodology. 

The Team

Brittany "Cole" Bush

Brittany "Cole" Bush

Cofounder and Consultant, Co-Director of Grazing School of the West, Shepherdess Land & Livestock LLC

Brittany Cole Bush, AKA Cole is an entrepreneur, educator, and practitioner in the fields of climate beneficial agriculture, land stewardship, and prescribed grazing based out of Southern California. With over a decade of experience, Cole has developed and managed the treatment of thousands of acres on private and public lands using prescribed herbivory with commercial-scale herds of sheep and/or goats as a tool for restoration, remediation and fire hazard reduction in Northern and Southern California. Clients have included: CalTrans, PG&E, East Bay Regional Parks Districts, city municipalities, land trusts, homeowners associations, and private landowners.

Michael Leicht, Consultant

Michael Leicht, Consultant

Ventura Brush Goats LLC

Michael has been passionate about regenerative agriculture from an early age. At 20 years old, he began writing about the importance of local versus global food economies. When he started his own small farm at 23, he would slip short essays lauding the benefits of localized agriculture into his weekly ‘CSA’ veggie deliveries. When asked why he was so passionate about local food, Michael would exclaim “Localizing agriculture is not only good for our health; it benefits our community, our planet, and just tastes better!”

Diane Anastasio, Program Coordinator

Diane Anastasio, Program Coordinator

Grazing School of the West

Diane Anastasio is a weaver, writer and shepherd currently working with Shepherdess Land & Livestock in Ojai, California. Diane arrived in agriculture through overlapping explorations of food systems, nutrition, and a deep desire to carry on the work of her agrarian ancestors. Her mission as a land-based weaver is to exemplify the full circle of wool production, from raising sheep on pasture, to breathing new life into their wool in the form of utilitarian pieces of art that serve as reminders of the ancient relationship between humans and sheep.

Maurica Anderson

After growing up on the East Coast, Maurica (more-EE-suh) has been fortunate to make California’s Central Coast her home and living laboratory since 1996. Driven by a life-long understanding that change is the only constant, her research interests span a wide array of topics such as land restoration and reengaging (western) humanity with the landscape, chaparral ecology, and sociology and wisdom.

Our Partners