- Farmers and ranchers bench-testing gasoline power saws or using combustible heaters for warming indoor maintenance areas risk exposure to lethal doses of carbon monoxide, warns William Steinke, a UC Davis Cooperative Extension farm safety specialist. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, slurred speech, sleepiness and dizziness and may be noticed within minutes or several hours. To treat victims, remove them from the gas-filled area and immediately take them to a doctor. Accidental poisonings can be prevented by installing carbon monoxide detectors, similar to smoke detectors, in maintenance shop areas.
- Herbs are a fast growing segment of the specialty crop market, according to the December 1997 issue of Central Coast Family Farm Report. The top 10 herbs in terms of sales in 1996 included (in order of sales) echinacea, garlic, ginseng, ginko, goldenseal, ma huang, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, saw palmetto and cascara sagrada. Herbs projected for future growth include cat's claw, ginko, kava kava, bilberry, elderberry and grape seed. One third of the nation's adults spend an average of $54 per year on herbal remedies to treat common health conditions. The leading uses of herbs for health problems include colds (59% of respondents), burns (45%), headaches (22%), allergies (21%), rashes (18%), and insomnia (18%).
- Ellen Straus, cofounder of Marin Agricultural Land, the first agricultural land trust in the nation, received the American Farmland Trust's second annual $10,000 Steward of the Land Award. The award recognize s her efforts in farmland conservation policy, protection of open space, and the use of environmentally and economically sustainable farming practices. Straus and her family own the Straus Family Creamery, an organic dairy in Marin County.