Property slated to become a center offering education, training and research opportunities

By Serena Guentz,

Contributing Writer

After recently completing a $6 million campaign, the White Buffalo Land Trust has acquired the 1,000-acre Jalama Canyon Ranch, which it plans to use for regenerative agriculture.

Previously used for JCR Vineyard and as an event venue, Jalama Canyon Ranch will become a center for regenerative agriculture with opportunities for education, training and an emphasis on research.

The first phase of the campaign took about two years to complete, as the White Buffalo Land Trust took time to fundraise the $6 million and educate the community of its plans for the land, which is located south of Lompoc.

The campaign reached its goal April 20 with help from donors throughout the community and funding led by the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.

“We feel inspired and grateful to the community for their support,” said Steve Finkel, founder and president of the White Buffalo Land Trust. “This is really a long-term community ride.”

Finkel started the White Buffalo Land Trust after the passing of his wife, Lyndsey McMorrow, who developed a passion for regenerative agriculture while caring for two white buffalo sisters on her land in Santa Ynez.

The trust “now serves as a leader in regenerative agriculture in our region and a connected hub in the growing global effort,” according to the trust’s website.

The next phase of the campaign will kick off in June with a goal of raising $4 million by May 2022.

Regenerative agriculture involves principles and practices meant to rehabilitate the land and ecosystem, aiming to improve soil health, improve the water cycle and increase biodiversity.

“It’s a way of engaging with the landscape as a living cycle,” Finkel said.

Along with the center for regenerative agriculture, some of the White Buffalo Land Trust’s plans for Jalama Canyon Ranch include oak woodland restoration, rehabilitated vineyards and orchards, revitalized pastureland, increased water-holding capacity and much more.

The White Buffalo Land Trust also has addressed barriers in adopting regenerative agriculture such as limited scientific research, a lack of access to information and training, and limited examples of economically viable regenerative farms.

The trust plans to provide solutions to these barriers at Jalama Canyon Ranch by conducting research on the land and collaborating with science and research-based organizations, as well as by offering educational and technical training courses for current and future land stewards. 

Jalama Canyon Ranch also will serve as a 1,000-acre example of regenerative agriculture, and the trust will share its financial and ecological outcomes from which other producers can learn.

A press release announcing the completion of the first phase of the campaign also said that public field days, school field trips and multiday workshops will be available at Jalama Canyon Ranch in the future.

“I believe that Santa Barbara is perfectly suited to do this,” Finkel said of the regenerative agriculture plans. “What we do here matters.”

Finkel encouraged those interested in the White Buffalo Land Trust and Jalama Canyon Ranch to join its email list or consider becoming a recurring donor or member.

More information on the White Buffalo Land Trust’s plans and goals for Jalama Canyon Ranch can by found on the trust’s Campaign for Jalama website.

“We really hold this as a community accomplishment,” Finkel said. “This is really just the beginning.”