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Claire O'Connor, Policy Analyst, Santa Monica

Claire O'Connor
I grew up on a multi-generational family farm in Nebraska. My dad and grandpa taught me the importance of being a good steward of the land and having respect for natural resources — the family business depends on healthy soil and water! After a stint in D.C., I headed out to California to join NRDC and advocate for sustainable farming practices, particularly with regard to water resources. Although I’m not a “steward” in the same way as my family in Nebraska, I try to promote the same principles they taught me and promote safe, healthy, and sustainable food production in the United States.

Recent Posts

Soils Support Urban Life

Posted February 27, 2015 by Claire O'Connor

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I grew up about as rural as you can get. My closest neighbors lived a half a mile away from me, and my road dead ended within a quarter of a mile from my house. When it was time for...continued

Celebrating the International Year of Soils

Posted January 29, 2015 by Claire O'Connor

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Did you know that 2015 is the International Year of Soils? Each month, the USDA is celebrating the International Year of Soils by focusing on a different benefit of healthy soil. I kicked off January's theme of "Soils Sustain Life"...continued

Guest Post: Healthy soil keeps family farmers on the land

Posted January 7, 2015 by Claire O'Connor

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This post is a guest blog written by Jonathan and Kaylyn Cobb, who farm in Rogers, Texas. You can hear more from Jonathan at the Southern Soil Health Conference (an event NRDC is helping to sponsor) in Fort Worth on...continued

Giving thanks for a bountiful, beautiful harvest season

Posted November 25, 2014 by Claire O'Connor

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Thanksgiving has a special place in the hearts of most farming families.  It’s a time for farmers to give thanks for the literal fruits of their labors at the end of harvest season.  This year, I had the opportunity to...continued

Our Food Lifeline: A SXSW Eco 2014 Preview

Posted September 30, 2014 by Claire O'Connor

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How can we help family farmers feed the world while caring for the earth? That’s the focus of World Food Day 2014, organized by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.  It’s also a topic that is near and dear...continued

Using compost to improve soil health and crop productivity

Posted August 11, 2014 by Claire O'Connor

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Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, I spent most summer afternoons outside, exploring, digging, and collecting “treasures”—usually rocks, feathers, bugs, and other lovely items I’m sure my mother was thrilled to have me drag into the house.  These days,...continued

A Tale of Two Farms: How Water Efficiency could help Drought-Proof California Farms

Posted June 5, 2014 by Claire O'Connor

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This article was written jointly with Heather Cooley, Director of the Pacific Institute's Water Program, and is cross-posted at the Pacific Institute's website. For many California farmers, this growing season has been the “worst of times”. While all of the...continued

Health, happiness, and financial stability on the farm: John Reganold is a 2014 NRDC Growing Green Award Winner

Posted May 15, 2014 by Claire O'Connor

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If you ever visit Washington State University’s certified organic teaching farm, chances are you’ll find Regents Professor John Reganold there, bent over and closely examining a handful of soil, but don’t mistake him for being myopic.  This 2014 NRDC Growing...continued

"We don't know what normal is anymore": Confronting Extreme Weather on U.S. Farms

Posted May 1, 2014 by Claire O'Connor

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Matt Russell has seen strange weather before.  As a fifth-generation Iowa farmer, he’s used to being at the whims of the skies.  But ominous changes are underway at his Coyote Run Farm, and lately, he’s been trying to cope with...continued

A 'Dry Day Fund' for California Farms

Posted February 25, 2014 by Claire O'Connor

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My grandfather, Art, is 82 years old.  I’d say he’s been farming for about 80 years, give or take a few months.  He’s supposedly “retired” now, but he’s still out in the field every day with my dad during planting...continued

5 Signs of Healthy Soil in Honor of World Soil Day

Posted December 5, 2013 by Claire O'Connor

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There’s so much to celebrate during this time of year.  But have you stopped to think about where your holiday dinner comes from?  Today, December 5, let’s take a moment to celebrate the amazing resource that makes all of our...continued

Farmers Reap Benefits as No-Till Adoption Rises

Posted November 14, 2013 by Claire O'Connor

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A recent Washington Post article hailed the increased adoption of no-till farming in the United States.  As I’ve previously written, no-till farmers plant directly into the stubble of the previous year’s crop. The stubble acts like a garden mulch, protecting...continued

Soil Matters: How the Federal Crop Insurance Program can encourage farming methods to build soil health and resilience against extreme weather

Posted August 26, 2013 by Claire O'Connor

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In 2012, farmers in my home state of Nebraska lost $1.5 billion worth of crops. $177 million of that was just due to heat.  $35 million due to hot wind.  And $1.2 billion due to drought.  In fact, 92% of...continued

How the 2012 drought could lead to one of the largest Gulf of Mexico "Dead Zones" ever recorded

Posted June 20, 2013 by Claire O'Connor

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It looks like this year’s “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be one for the record books.  Scientific experts predict that the annual, low-oxygen area that suffocates fish, shellfish, and other marine life will be one of the...continued

Good food on the menu for Los Angeles school children

Posted November 15, 2012 by Claire O'Connor

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Growing up, I ate school lunch at my rural public school every single day.  The head cook at Hamlow Elementary, Mrs. Hummel, was as sweet as her famous cinnamon rolls.  She was like everyone’s grandmother, and she wanted each one...continued


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