Daniel Press is the Executive Director of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
What started out as a garden in the 1960s flourished into a 6-month apprenticeship program at the University, open to anyone eager to learn about farming, agriculture, and sustainability. “We have over 1,500 alumni from our apprentice program, and then 3-400 undergraduates here doing this work,” says Press. “If we had a degree in sustainable [agriculture], we’d have the most undergraduate majors in the country overnight.”
But these fields serve for more than experimentation. The food gathered from this fully-functional, working farm is used for UC’s dining halls, as well as neighboring farmer’s markets. “It’s really a people’s farm,” says Press in a video by Mark Bittman. “It’s open; it has fierce devotion by the community. It’s a lot of things to a lot of people, from preschoolers into retirement.”
Students learning at the oldest organic farm on any university in the country witness every aspect of food production. “It’s their opportunity to work the land and begin to appreciate how much work it takes to actually engage in field harvesting, and post-harvest handling,” says Tim Galarneau, a coordinator of UCSC’s Food Systems Working Group. “They harvest that food, they box it, wash it, and prep it, and deliver it, and feed their peers.”
Bittman explored the farm and the campus for his 10 part web series, ‘California Matters.’