40 years at the forefront of sustainable agriculture

Research being conducted today at UCSC's Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems is rooted in programs and facilities that have been developed since 1967. Here is a brief timeline that shows the evolution of UCSC's leadership in sustainable agriculture.


Alan Chadwick introduces organic, French intensive/biodynamic cultivation to the United States on a steep 4-acre site near UCSC's Stevenson College. He and a group of enthusiastic students lay the groundwork for what will become the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture.


Organic production is introduced on a second site that will ultimately become the present 25-acre UCSC Farm. Run primarily by apprentice labor, the Farm supports an array of educational activities, including field research trials, undergraduate education, community events, a "Farm to Cafeteria" program that provides food to UCSC dining halls, and K-6 educational programs through the Life Lab Science Program, which is located on the Farm. It also generates about $120,000 a year in produce sales.


The Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture is established as a yearlong program offered by UC Extension (streamlined to a six-month program in 1981).


The Agroecology Program is established within the UCSC Division of Social Sciences, with an environmental studies faculty member as director, to integrate the apprenticeship's hands-on focus with academic research.


The Alfred E. Heller Chair in Agroecology, UCSC's first endowed chair, is founded with a $375,000 gift from Alfred E. Heller. Environmental studies professor Stephen Gliessman becomes the first holder of the chair.


The University of California provides permanent funding for the Agroecology Program.


Center affiliate Patricia Allen's book Food for the Future: Conditions and Contradictions of Sustainability establishes a broader framework for discussions of agricultural "sustainability," encompassing resource depletion, toxins in the food chain, hunger, and farmers losing their land.


The program becomes a formal university research center, supporting comprehensive food-systems research from a social science perspective and natural-science research related to organic and sustainable production systems with an emphasis on water-quality, nutrient management, and insect ecology. Renamed the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS).


The first college textbook on agroecology is published by UCSC's Stephen Gliessman. Agroecology: Ecological Processes in Sustainable Agriculture provides the theoretical and conceptual framework for the study of the environment and agricultural systems.


Allen, CASFS associate director for sustainable food systems, publishes Together at the Table: Sustainability and Sustenance in the American Agrifood System, which showcases movements to reconstruct the agrifood system to become more ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just.

Center affiliate and UCSC professor of community studies Julie Guthman publishes Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California. The first comprehensive study of organic farming in California, Agrarian Dreams shows how organic farming in the Golden State has replicated what it set out to oppose.


The Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture receives a Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award from the Ecological Farming Association in recognition of its 40-year contribution to sustainable agriculture.

The Breaking New Ground Symposium July 27-29 will showcase the impact UCSC has had in the field of sustainable agriculture, with speakers from programs at the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture and food systems -- all of which flowed from the UCSC Farm & Garden, the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, and the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture.