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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.
carbon cycle


General Public

Farmers & Ranchers


Earth’s carbon is stored in five main pools: soils, ocean, atmosphere, biosphere, and fossils. Carbon flows between these pools in an exchange called the carbon cycle. Currently, the carbon pools are far from balanced. There is too much carbon in the atmosphere, and not enough in our soils. Even as we replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, the excess carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere.

To mitigate the worst effects of climate change, we must also rapidly decrease the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere.

Carbon farming is a way to transfer excess carbon out of the atmosphere – where it is causing a lot of harm – and store it in the soil – where it does a lot of good. We call this “sequestering” the carbon.

The most effective way to remove carbon from the air turns out to be the most basic function of plants: photosynthesis. Certain agricultural practices enhance photosynthesis. This is carbon farming – a land-based, natural solution to climate change.


Piloting Carbon Farming Implementation
CEC is collaborating on two large scale carbon farming pilots in the California, one in Santa Barbara County at Chamberlain Ranch and one in Ventura County at Limoneira Ranch. Both projects incorporate on-the-ground implementation of soil-building practices (including mulch and compost application), along with research, education and demonstration of the climate resilience benefits of investing in soil health. These benefits include reduced water demand and harmful runoff, improved yield and plant health, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. These projects are collaborative by nature, and CEC partners with regional Resource Conservation Districts, the UC Cooperative Extension and other non-profits to engage the community in this work. Both of these demonstration pilots are funded through the California Healthy Soils Program, that has funded dozens of carbon farming projects throughout the State.

Learn more about the early impacts of these efforts in this video about our Chamberlain Ranch project.

Healthy Soils Kick Off March 2018 © Sarita Relis
Healthy Soils Kick-Off, March 2018. Photo by Sarita Relis

Supporting De-Centralized On-Farm Composting
One barrier to large-scale compost application is a lack of high-quality affordable compost. Though the County of Santa Barbara is currently pursuing a large-scale municipal system to manage organic waste, CEC is interested in supporting farmers in making their own compost – with their feedstock, for their crops. We are currently supporting decentralized on-farm composting systems, including securing funding for a large-scale on-farm vermicompost (worm compost) system that would divert food waste from the landfill, reduce nitrogen fertilizer use, and sequester atmospheric carbon.

Stakeholder Engagement and Scaling Up
Since 2015, CEC has held a variety of stakeholder engagement meetings in Santa Barbara County to better understand barriers to carbon farming adoption and to identify opportunities to support farmers in becoming more resilient in the face of the climate crisis. Read the report by CEC and the Cachuma Resource Conservation District (CRCD), Scaling Up Carbon Farming : Opportunities & Barriers In Santa Barbara County.


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