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Open Access Publications from the University of California

About

The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems is a research, education, and public service program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system. Our mission is to research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and that serve as a foundation for future generations. The Center's work covers a spectrum that includes both theoretical and applied research, academic education and practical training, and public service for audiences ranging from local school children to international agencies. The Center is a part of UCSC's Social Sciences Division.

On the UCSC campus the Center manages the 30-acre UCSC Farm and the 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden as sites for teaching, training, and research in organic horticulture and agricutlure. Both sites are open to the public daily.

Dr. Daniel Press, Executive Director
CASFS
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
831.459-3240
casfs.ucsc.edu

Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

There are 86 publications in this collection, published between 1990 and 2017.
For the Gardener Series (15)

Cover Crops for the Garden

Describes cover crop uses in the home garden, including tips on varieties and seeding rates.

Choosing and Growing Stone Fruits

Discusses the various types of stone fruits and some good choices for the home garden, along with growing requirements and cultural advice.

Water Conservation Tips

Offers ideas for water-conserving irrigation techniques, including a brief overview of drip irrigation.

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Furthering Healthy Food Systems in California (1)

Farm to School Efforts: Innovations and Insights

In this article we review the benefits and challenges of Farm to School efforts, and describe some of the innovative ways that Food Service Directors (FSDs) on California’s Central Coast are working to over- come several of those challenges by forming effective partnerships with food banks, produce distributors, and other school districts. We also describe how efforts to formalize a regional school food alliance as well as share innovations via California- wide FTS trainings have further contributed to advancing FTS pro- grams. We close with suggestions for “next steps” to consider in develop- ing effective FTS efforts.

Grower Guides (Specialty Crops) (9)

Organic Winter Squash Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Winter squash production can be done with low capital investment and simple infrastructure. Squash has low seed cost, modest fertility needs, and relatively little labor requirements during the growing season. The broad leaf canopy minimizes weed pressure, and many varieties are fairly resistant to pests and diseases. “Winter” or “hard” squash is grown in the warm season and can be stored for some months (through the winter). Unlike “summer” squash (zucchini and other “soft” squashes) that must be harvested daily and stored in a cooler, winter squash has a flexible window of harvest and sale (with proper dry storage). These characteristics make winter squash a viable crop for beginning specialty crop growers.

This guide addresses the steps involved in growing winter squash organically on the Central Coast of California, with a focus on planting to moisture to minimize weed pressure.

Organic Cut Flowers on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Cut flowers have become a popular crop for small- and medium-scale mixed organic production farms. They can diversify and increase your income stream and offer an attractive option that draws consumers to your farmers’ market stall or farmstand. Cut flowers are a value-added specialty crop that in general can be managed like many other row crops while generating increased income per acre compared to most vegetables.

This grower guide provides examples of how to select and grow cut flowers, with a focus on crop planning and selection, harvest efficiencies, equipment needs, and market bouquets.

Organic Mixed Production Blocks for Direct Markets on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Crop diversity on small-scale farms is key to direct marketing strategies such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers’ markets, farm stands, and restaurant accounts. Crop diversity also benefits on-farm ecology, risk management, and economic viability. However, managing a diverse cropping system requires significant experience and planning for the farm operation to be productive, competitive, and financially viable.

This guide focuses on producing mixed blocks of 30- to 60-day, direct sown and transplanted crops suitable for CSA and direct market sales, with the goal of improving cropping system efficiencies and economic viability. Note that the guide does not address specific crop information, but focuses instead on managing the mixed crop production block as a whole.

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Innovative Business Models Case Study Series (6)

Case Study No. 4: Organically Grown Company

Developed by the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, this series of case studies focuses on the social and environmental efforts of innovative U.S. food system businesses across different geographies, scales, legal structures, and points along the food supply chain.

While these represent only a handful of the thousands of socially and environmentally responsible food businesses across the nation, they have many features that others can learn from in developing sustainable businesses that incorporate the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits.

Case Study No. 3: Destiny Organics

Developed by the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, this series of case studies focuses on the social and environmental efforts of innovative U.S. food system businesses across different geographies, scales, legal structures, and points along the food supply chain.

While these represent only a handful of the thousands of socially and environmentally responsible food businesses across the nation, they have many features that others can learn from in developing sustainable businesses that incorporate the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits.

Case Study No. 1: Alvarado Street Bakery

Developed by the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, this series of case studies focuses on the social and environmental efforts of innovative U.S. food system businesses across different geographies, scales, legal structures, and points along the food supply chain. While these represent only a handful of the thousands of socially and environmentally responsible food businesses across the nation, they have many features that others can learn from in developing sustainable businesses that incorporate the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits.

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The Cultivar Newsletter (15)

The Cultivar newsletter, Fall/Winter 2004

Feature Articles:

USDA Grant Funds Central Coast Organic Research

Center Examines Central Coast Consumers' Interest in Food Systems Issues

New Training Manual on Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability Released

New Book on Changes in Food System Released

Tips for Growing Stone Fruit in Backyard Gardens

The Cultivar newslettter, Fall/Winter 2006

Feature articles:

Center Researchers Lead USDA-funded Study of Farm-to-Institution Programs

Watershed Monitoring Efforts Expanded

Farm-to-College Set to Go Systemwide

For the Gardener: Growing Spinach, Beets, and Chard

The Cultivar newsletter, Spring/Summer 2002

Feature articles:

Community Supported Agriculture on California's Central Coast

Developing Nutrient Bugets

Farming with Nature in Mind

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Other Publications (4)

1999-2001 Activity Report and Research Summary

The 1999–2001 Activity Report/Research Summary reports on the research, education, and public outreach work of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2001.

Mapping the markets: the relative density of retail food stores in densely populated census blocks in the central coast region of California

Research in the United Kingdom and more recently in the United States has found geographic differences in access to affordable, nutritious food. In some cases more limited access has been associated with a higher proportion of residents in ethnic minority groups. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), we explored the potential existence of “food deserts” and their relationship with ethnicity in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties. Relative to the region as a whole, there were few clusters of census blocks with less access to retail food outlets with fresh produce (grocery stores, supermarkets and fruiterias) after adjusting for population density. In addition, access to these retail food outlets was not associated with the percentage of the population that was Latino. However, we identified some areas that would benefit from further investigation, and that may be suitable locations for locating new fruit and vegetable markets. Such markets may benefit local residents, as well as new, limited-resource, and minority farmers who often have inadequate access to distribution networks for their produce.

Central Coast consumers want more food-related information, from safety to ethics

Information is lacking on what consumers want to know about food production, processing, transportation, and retailing. Focus groups and a random-sample mail survey of consumers in the Central Coast region indicate that food safety and nutrition generate the most interest. However, ethical concerns such as the humane treatment of animals, the environmental impacts of food production, and social justice for farmworkers also have strong support. The results suggest that voluntary food labels on these issues may be a promising way to meet consumer needs for more information.

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Research Briefs (17)

Land Use and Phosphorus Levels in the Elkhorn Slough and Pajaro River Watersheds

In this research brief we present data from water quality monitoring conducted between October 2000 and September 2004, to demonstrate the way that agricultural land use influences phosphorus concentrations in streams and rivers. We discuss the nature of phosphorus pollution from agriculture along the Central Coast, examine the implications of these data for agricultural regulations, and offer suggestions for reducing phosphorus losses from farmlands.

Community Supported Agriculture on the Central Coast: The CSA Grower Experience

This research brief examines the experiences of growers running Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects on the central coast of California, including their motivations for starting a CSA, the economic viability of their projects, the challenges they face, and issues of equal access to their products.

Can Hedgerows Attract Beneficial Insects and Improve Pest Control? A Study of Hedgerows on Central Coast Farms

The objectives of this study, conducted from 2005 to 2007, were (1) to assess the habitat quality of different hedgerow plants for insect natural enemies and pests, (2) to track the movement of insects from hedgerows into adjacent crop fields and (3) to test the effect of hedgerows on parasitism rates of an economically important pest, the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni). This study took place at four farms with hedgerows on the Central Coast of California.

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Sustainability in the Balance: Issues in Sustainable Agriculture (4)

Sustainability in the Balance: Raising Fundamental Issues

Summarizes social issues critical to sustainable agriculture. Raises questions to be considered in clarifying sustainability goals and translating them into action. 

What Do We Want To Sustain? Developing a Comprehensive Vision of Sustainable Agriculture

Discusses ways to broaden the concept of sustainable agriculture so as to include issues of class, gender, and race.

Expanding the Definition of Sustainable Agriculture

Raises concerns about current sustainability definitions and suggests ways to incorporate social, environmental, and economic issues into a new definition of sustainable agriculture

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Training Organic Farmers and Gardeners (15)

Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors, 2nd Edition. Part 7 - Food Safety on the Farm

For a variety of reasons, including the demands of buyers and insurance companies, food safety has become a major concern in farming operations. Federal regulations governing food safety on the farm are still developing, but even in their absence, all growers should be aware of and employ practices that minimize the risk of food-borne contamination. This unit introduces the concept of food safety, and the steps involved in the developmnent of a food safety plan based on “good agricultural practices” (GAPS).

The first lecture discusses some of the reasons behind recent food safety concerns, reviews the categories of microbes and the pathogens most involved in food contamination, and discusses the need for a food safety plan and the current status of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Lecture 2 discusses potential sources of pathogens, practices that minimize risks of microbial contamination, and the use of logs, checklists, and standard operating procedures in implementing and tracking good agricultural practices. The concepts of conservation and biodiversity on the farm as they relate to food safety are also introduced, along with third party audits and sources for help in developing a food safety plan.

Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors, 2nd Edition. Unit 6 - Building Resilience: Small Farm Planning and Operations

This unit is about integrated farm planning. The goal of this approach to planning is to integrate the crop plan, the marketing plan, the financial plan, and the time management plan in order to minimize risk and maximize return.

All businesses have to manage uncertainty, but farmers face significant risks that are beyond their control, including the vagaries of nature, the fiercely competitive global market, land access challenges, and increased demands from local markets for ever-improved food safety plans and marketing materials. The farmer does not know what will happen each year, but over the life of the farm all of these pressures (and more) will surely influence the farmer’s success. While larger farmers selling into the undifferentiated commodity market can manage a great deal of production and marketing risk with crop insurance and marketing contracts, small-scale direct-market farmers have to manage their risks with their wits.

As with many things in farming, diversity—combined with planning—is the key. The lectures, exercises, and background scenario presented in Units 6.0–6.4 provide a framework for planning and operating a small direct-market farm to ensure resilience in an ever-changing world.

Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors, 2nd Edition. Part 9 - Land Tenure Options and Strategies

Affordable and secure access to land is crucial for assuring both the economic viability of small-scale agriculture and the adoption and use of sound land stewardship practices. In order to help beginning farmers secure long-term land tenure in the face of development and increasing land prices, new and innovative options for land tenure must be explored. This unit introduces students to a range of strategies that may be used to secure affordable access to land. Although the focus is on those farming or seeking farmland in California, this information will also be useful in other regions.

Lecture 1 examines the challenge of finding affordable farmland, and outlines various land tenure options, including leasing and purchasing, and alternative models such as community land trusts and shared ownership arrangements.

Lecture 2 offers “how to” information on finding land and developing a lease agreement. It also identifies government programs that offer help to beginning farmers who are looking for land and improving farmland.

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