Bio

I have a passion for all things food and farm related, as well as new sustainable business models that advance equity, ecological integrity, and restore human relationships. I’ve spent the last 17 years in all facets of sustainable agriculture and the food chain: as a farmworker, food retailer, agricultural researcher, educator, business owner, non-profit manager, and consultant to farms of all sizes. Building on the foundation of a B.S. in Natural Resources Management and a M.S. in International Agricultural Development and Agroecology, I have a holistic understanding of the human and ecological dimensions of the food system. One of my more formative professional experiences was working close to seven years at the well-respected farm incubator ALBA in the Salinas Valley of California where I developed and delivered programs for beginning and more experienced growers as Director of Programs. I also ran a successful pastured livestock and poultry farm business called TLC Ranch for six years with my family near Watsonville, CA. More recently I’ve been working as a sustainability and business consultant for NGOs, food manufacturers and family farms, helping organizations work on operational, strategic, and financial issues.  I served on the board of the national organization Sustainable Food Trade Association and a regional sustainability group Gorge Owned. My first book, “Farms With A Future: Creating & Growing a Sustainable Farm Business“, a business guide for new and experienced farmers, was published by Chelsea Green Publishing in November 2012 and my second book “The New Meat Market” is in the works for a 2015 release. I live in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge with my little family of three and spend my free time volunteering, trail running, gardening, raising pigs, and fermenting foods. Find my current resume here.

10 thoughts on “Bio

  1. Hello,

    I have been researching how to start a farm and I keep running across your name.

    I am interested in starting a grass fed beef farm. I would sell to farmers markets and the fitness community.

    I have no money and no farming experience.

    Any suggestions on research avenues I can take? Any help you could offer is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    David Halpin

    • David- I would first read my book Farms With a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business to learn about the various business techniques/skills you need to get started. Also buy some good beef books such as Julius Reichel’s book “Grassfed Beef”. You may want to offer to volunteer or apprentice on a nearby livestock farm so you get some experience working with animals. Starting with no money is very, very hard. You have to start very small, keep a day job, and just keep reinvesting what little money you make back into the business. But it can be done. We started our farm with nothing and used a couple zero percent credit cards to get us started.

  2. Hi Rebecca

    I can’t believe it has been so long ago that you were with ALBA. I recall you working with RCD of Monterey County. Best of luck with your new book! Jeane Errea (former board member RCD of MC)

  3. Hello Rebecca Thistlewaite, I applied as a farm hand with your Watsonville farm, I have since moved to Marin county 2 1/2 years ago after exhibiting heirloom seeds at the first heirloom seed expo in Santa Rosa. I just finished my Certificate in Organic Farming/Gardening & Environmental Landscape at the College of Marin. I have been looking for a career in agriculture for past many years, still doing odd jobs: food catering. house and yard work to bring some money in. I would like to own a farm in Oregon. Now due to death in family I am moving back to socal but will still maintain some work in Marin area along with my novice hobby of Karaoke singing once a month or so for a week when I can get away from caretaking the ranch is socal. I also worked on a 100 acre mixed crop farm in the Columbia Basin in Eltopia. I had my picture in the Columbia Basin News in May 2008,
    while working for Alan Schrieber & Sons and lived on the farm. Carrie Hudson 760 220-4889

  4. Are you related to the Thistlethwaites who have a Pennsylvania historically certified farm near Pittsburgh begun about 1815?

  5. Hi! I heard you speak (took the workshop) at the PASA conference . . . bought your book (energizing read) . . . and now just watched the Ground Operations DVD and saw you and your husband at the former TLC ranch. So . . . would love to be in touch about a number of things to do with farming, business, veterans.

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