The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California at Santa Cruz is working to transform the way we grow and distribute food into a sustainable system that provides social justice and protects the environment. This internationally recognized program integrates social and natural science research, academic and experiential education, and public service.
In December 2009, the Simply Organic 1% fund and the Frontier Foundation made a combined $130,000 donation to the Center to establish a perpetual scholarship in their Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture program. That year, the first recipient was Evelyn Rosas.
The six-month, full-time program at the University of California Santa Cruz prepares participants to establish their own organic farms and market gardens or to be hired by the growing number of organic farming operations nationwide.
This year’s winner of the Simply Organic scholarship for the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture is Israel Dawson. Congratulations, Israel!
Israel says he’s starting with a lot of self-taught food production knowledge, but little formal training. “I was mostly learning from reading and from trial and error,” he says. “This program is giving me the real grounding I need.”
Israel’s focus is on developing the skills to create Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects, with the goal of getting locally grown organic food into the hands of more people through co-ops, farmers’ markets, and urban farming efforts.
He would like to develop a local CSA business model that could be readily adapted in a variety of settings. “This local model would help establish jobs and provide affordable means for people to have a healthy diet from and within their local communities,” he says.
“This is the premier sustainable and organic training program in the U.S.,” says Kathy Larson, Vice President of Sustainability at Frontier. “During my visit in August 2009, I was impressed with the quality of the program – and even more so with the apprentices enrolled in the program. Our scholarship empowers a new generation of sustainable agricultural leaders, who otherwise might not have the opportunity to participate in advanced training and contribute as fully to the organic community.”
Each year, one apprentice receives a scholarship for 100% of tuition to learn organic farming techniques, develop and evaluate new ideas to tackle issues of inequality in the food system, and integrate social and natural science research, academic and experiential education, and public service to transform the food system.
A donation of $70,000 was made from the Simply Organic One Percent Fund (SO1%), which is generated by one percent of sales on all Simply Organic products. The Frontier Foundation™ donated the remainder.
Please let us know if you’ve visited the program at UCSC, or if you have any programs such as this one in your area.