System-wide leaders visit campus to discuss next steps in Agricultural Experiment Station designation

People in a field with a tractor
UC Santa Cruz faculty, staff, and students show UCANR representatives an autonomous tractor at the UCSC Farm & Garden. Photo: Stacy Philpott
People gather inside a structure with large tanks within
UCANR representatives and UCSC faculty and staff gather in the campus's ecological aquaculture research facility. Photo: Stacy Philpott
People talk together at an outdoor farm structure
Environmental Studies Assistant Professor Hannah Waterhouse explains her research on agroecology, soils, and water management to UCANR representatives at the UCSC Farm old packing shed. Photo: Stacy Philpott

On September 28, a group of leaders from University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) met with administrators, faculty, and staff at UC Santa Cruz and the Center for Agroecology to discuss implementation for the campus’s official designation as an Agricultural Experiment Station (AES). 

With this new designation, UC Santa Cruz will join a nationwide, federally funded network of Agricultural Experiment Stations that study potential improvements to food systems and deliver useful innovations to farmers and other stakeholders in agriculture and food production. 

As part of the AES mission, deepened partnerships with UCANR and the county-level Cooperative Extension Service will enable UC Santa Cruz to achieve new levels of outreach and impact in agriculture. And new state and federal funding will support more groundbreaking research on campus and the hiring of additional world-leading faculty. 

Within the AES network, UC Santa Cruz aims to make unique contributions based on the campus’s long history of leadership in agroecology, organic farming, and the critical study of social justice issues in food systems. 

“I was impressed with the UCANR representatives’ real excitement about UCSC and what we bring to the table,” said Social Sciences Dean Katharyne Mitchell of the visit. Mitchell has also been appointed as Dean of UCSC’s Agricultural Experiment station. 

UCANR staff toured the Center for Agroecology and UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden during their visit and saw the campus’s ecological aquaculture research facility, greenhouses, research plots, gardens, and a new programmable autonomous tractor.

“I appreciated that our visitors from UCANR took the time to go on a farm tour and meet with faculty and students,” said Stacy Philpott, Faculty Director of the Center for Agroecology and Executive Associate Dean for the campus’s new AES. “They had excellent questions and ideas for partnerships that we can make and strengthen as a result of our new status as an AES campus.”

The planning process for the rollout of UC Santa Cruz’s Agricultural Experiment Station will be ongoing through the spring of 2024, with funding for new AES faculty and projects expected to arrive in fall of 2024. 

For more information, see our prior coverage of the initial Agricultural Experiment Station announcement.