Cultivating Commerce welcomes you to our website. We are a non profit (North Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council) whose mission is to support youth education and action and to foster sustainable communities within Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties of California.   We work with individuals, groups, and communities to support resource protection, resilience and sustainability.

Cultivating Commerce includes our Sustainable Futures program which has several key initiatives:  Fire Resiliency, Youth Empowerment & Leadership, Innovative Forestlands, Ag and Eco Tourism, and other economic opportunities.

We also encourage entrepreneurship opportunities whether at the farmer level or in a business that recognizes the importance of maintaining a rural community and our quality of life. Whether adding a niche marketing endeavor such as boutique honey production to an existing winery or pursuing a startup organic vegetable farm, entrepreneurs struggle in developing and implementing a viable business model in our rural area.  Cultivating Commerce is designed to assist these entrepreneurs in a variety of ways.  Information on educational workshops, online training, funding, and more is posted to help users in developing business plans, marketing plans, whole farm plans, and other tools--all designed to assist entrepreneurs in beginning or expanding their rural enterprise

The NCRC&DC is also a Kiva.Zip sponsor (Trustee), and successfully helped a new entrepreneur achieve their micro-loan goal in less than a week of fundraising.  If you need a startup loan for a sound project, check out Kiva Zip.

We are recuiting new Board members--interested in finding our more about our programs?  Please attend one of our meetings to hear about the exciting environmental education and action projects with youth and our community that involve on-the-ground change and make a real difference in pollinator protection, water conservation, climate change, and sustainable communities in our rural north coast. Our programs all rely on making simple changes that cumulatively make for big impact. Come be a part of our change-making organization.

Please visit our home website of to learn how you can help us help others.   You may make a secure online tax deductible donation at our home website, and all donations are used to further our mission.



All About Acorns

The youth working in the Willits Watershed have planted over 700 acorns. In that planting effort, the youth learned all about acorns, which are the nut of the oaks and their close relatives (genera Quercus and Lithocarpus, in the family Fagaceae). The acorn usually contains a single seed enclosed in a tough, leathery shell.

After gathering acorns, the nuts need to be planted, but not all of the gathered acorns actually are able to be planted, as some may be damaged our inbfested with a parasite.  But first, the children needed to look inside the acorn to see how it was formed, and learn the botanical structure of the nut.  The boys and girls took the acorns and rolled them on the ground with their feet to crack the tough leathery shell.  They then peeled off the shell, and looked inside.  They could see where the root will come out, and how the acorn will grow.

The youth could also see other things--like the worm parasite.  Infested acorns needed to be discarded.  A fun part of acorn planting is determining which nuts are actually useable through doing the “float test”: place the acorns in a bucket of water, discard the floaters, and keep the sinkers for planting. Insect damaged and dehydrated acorns typically have some air space inside the shell and tend to float.

The “Float Test” was a popular activity--kids had buckets of water gathered from a hillside spring and placed acorns in the water. Those that sank were saved for planting. “You can also open up the acorn,” one child explained to another, "and look inside to see the worm.”  Most worms (or in some cases weevils) were easy to see.  "That's yucky," another child said, but happily sorted through the bad acorns to save the sinkers for planting.




Ag tourism entails visiting a working farm or any agriculture, horticulture or agribusiness operation, fokortum trailr the purpose of leisure, education or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation.  Agritourism can include farm stands or shops, U-pick, farm stays, tours, on-farm classes, fairs, festivals, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, Christmas tree farms, winery weddings, orchard dinners, youth camps, barn dances, hunting or fishing, guest ranches, and more.  Examples of Ag-Tourism opportunities across California can be found here.  The University of California also has resouces for businesses interested in starting an Ag-tourism opportunity, and Fact Sheets can be downloaded at their Small Farm site.

 Similarly, Eco-tourism is a form of tourism involving visiting unusual and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial mass tourism.   Eco tourism may be either a destination or an experience.  Some Eco-tourism businesses offer ways to restore or protect the natural environment as part of the experience.

The Eco-tourism industry in the U.S. is predominantly privately owned and locally managed. However, the U.S. government has several major land and water management agencies that support and promote ecotourism, including the National Park Service, National Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Marine Fisheries Service. A number of Eco-tourism destinations are also managed by state and local levels of government. In addition, historical studies indicate that nearly 50% of rural land owners permit recreational use of their land by non-family members on the nearly 60% of U.S. privately owned land.



We recently launched a study evaluating native Turkey Tail mushroom spores as an alternative to herbicides for inhibiting brush growth in tanoak following logging operations. Thanks to grants from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County and the George & Ruth Bradford Foundation, we have commenced a preliminary evaluation of the potential efficacy of Turkey Tail mushrooms for brush control purposes. The grant project is for at least two years, and we are maximizing use of volunteers, including the pro bono services of one of our Board of Directors who is a registered professional forester working in Mendocino County.

The Turkey Tail fungus is a very common mushroom native to Mendocino County woods, generally found on fallen logs or tree stumps year round, although the fungi can also be found on living trees. The Turkey Tail fungus breaks down the dead wood of a tree, using it as nutrients for itself while helping clear the forest for new growth. This evaluation will develop information on whether the turkey tail and/or similar saprophytic native fungi could eliminate or retard tanoak sprouting, obviating the need for chemical treatment and creating an ecosystem approach to brush control. In addition, Turkey Tail is considered a medicinal mushroom with proponents citing benefits in boosting immune systems and fighting cancer. This evaluation will also be useful in determining whether Turkey Tail could be grown to create a secondary economic benefit of medicinal mushroom cultivation in our local forests.

We are currently seeking to hire an Intern Program Assistant-- preferred application deadline is August 30, 2019, but applications will be accepted until position is filled.  Click here for more information.