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UC Global Food Initiative Fellows gather to discuss food system changemaking

Sustainability. Food justice. Research to action. These were the themes discussed April 13–14, 2018, as emerging food leaders throughout the UC system gathered in San Diego for a tour titled “The Rooted University: Bridging food system changemaking on and off campus.”

The trip brought together nearly two dozen 2018 Global Food Initiative Fellows, all of whom are working on projects that advance the mission of the UC-wide Global Food Initiative. This strategic initiative was started in 2014 by UC President Janet Napolitano to align the university's research to develop and export solutions — throughout California, the United States and the world — for food security, health and sustainability. The initiative funds student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on food issues. All 10 UC campuses, plus UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, participate in the program.

“We need to start thinking of the interconnectedness of our research, and begin to implement place-based solutions that take into account the environment, food-security, and sustainability,” said UC San Diego professor Keith Pezzoli as he welcomed the GFI fellows. Pezzoli, who leads the UC San Diego Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning and Design, hosted the GFI fellows for the weekend. Pezzoli and his team led the fellows to multiple campus and community-based projects that are implementing collaborative, innovative solutions that advance food security, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. GFI fellows were tasked to think of their projects critically and use the trip to gather ideas and inspiration for their own projects and in their work as future food leaders.

This year's GFI Fellows are working on projects that range from addressing food security and basic needs on UC campuses, to capturing the culture of eating through film, and from efforts to connect water salinity to crop yield, to creating energy-generating agricultural covers.

Ellie's Garden

Working in Ellie’s Garden teaches gardening and sustainability practices to UCSD students, who grow food and herbs while composting food waste from on-campus restaurants, creating a sustainable, closed-loop campus-based food system.

The trip started with tours of UCSD-based projects that implement research and student and civic engagement to create closed-loop food systems and create opportunities for innovation. Ellie's Garden, located in between UCSD campus dormitories, exemplifies sustainable gardening practices. The garden, which composts food waste from on-campus restaurants, was established to utilize the space in between dormitories in a more efficient way.

“By using food waste from campus restaurants to create compost that then helps develop fresh food for students, this garden is taking the food system into the entire campus. With this example, we're really walking the talk on campus,” Pezzoli said.

Ellie’s Garden fosters leadership in UCSD students, who serve as chairs of the garden and educate their peers on gardening and sustainability.

Triton Food Pantry

The GFI fellows then visited the Triton Food Pantry, which was established in 2015 following the launch of the Global Food Initiative. The pantry provides UCSD students with greater access to healthy foods, including grains, proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The pantry also helps to enroll students into CalFresh, a federally funded program (formerly known as "food stamps") that provides cash aid to low-income individuals who need food assistance. On average, Triton Food Pantry serves 600 students per week. In the 2016-2017 academic year, 10,000 student visits were logged overall.

Triton Food Pantry was started in 2015 with funding from the Global Food Initiative. The pantry serves 600 UCSD students on average every week, and served a total of 10,000 student visits in academic year 2016-2017.

Roger's Community Garden

A UCSD student discussed a closed-circuit aquaponic system created at Roger’s Garden. Multiple UCSD students as well as GFI fellows conduct research projects in the garden with the goal of replicating and scaling to gardens outside of UCSD and in the community.

Fellows then headed to Roger's Community Garden, a student-run garden that offers land to students, staff, faculty and alumni to grow herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables and conduct student-led research. With projects ranging from hydroponics, aeroponics, and anaerobic digestion, the UCSD students who work in the garden come from different majors and different backgrounds, but are united in their love for food and gardening.

“The garden allows us to take scientific innovation and reduce it down to something that is scalable and easy,” said a UCSD student involved in Roger's Garden.

GFI fellows visited Roger’s Community Garden, a UCSD-based garden that offers land to students, staff, faculty and alumni to grow herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables and conduct student-led research.

Dinner with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources - advising California for 150 years

The first day of the trip ended with a presentation by and dinner with advisors from UC's Agricultural and Natural Resources. Ramiro E. Lobo, small farm and agricultural economics advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, gave the GFI fellows basic information about the farming landscape in San Diego County and introduced the five UC ANR Strategic Initiatives. Lobo, who specializes in agricultural economics and marketing, talked about the challenges of farming in San Diego and the future of agricultural economics.

“San Diego,” Lobo said, “has the one of the highest prices of agricultural water in the world. The majority of our farms are small, specialty crop farms. So now, many growers and shutting off the water and letting their land dry up.”

In order to combat these issues and drive sales, Ramiro helps farmers market their products and share their stories.

“We're moving towards a ‘value-based' model of marketing,” said Lobo. “I help farmers figure out what their personal farming stories are and help share those stories with the public, a model that's really helping to drive sales.”

Fellows then enjoyed dinner with ANR advisors from throughout Southern California and discussed student-led topics related to food security, water quality, federal food programs and research ethics. With areas of work ranging from water quality to crop science, and from federal food programs to agricultural tourism, conversations were rich and varied as ANR advisors answered students' questions and shared their expertise.

UC ANR Advisors joined the GFI fellows for dinner and discussion on the future of food systems. From left to right: Oli Bachie (Imperial County); Chutima Ganthavorn, (Riverside and San Bernardino); Laurent Ahiablame, (San Diego); Natalie Price (Los Angeles).

“It was so interesting to hear the ANR advisors' perspectives on their particular issues. Also, I was really inspired by the wide range of expertise and backgrounds present among the advisors. Each one brings their own unique perspective to the work, and I enjoyed learning how each of their focus areas connected,” said GFI Fellow Mackenzie Feldman, an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley.  

Ocean View Growing Grounds

The second day of the trip kicked off with a tour of the Ocean View Growing Grounds (OVGG), a project of the Global Action Research Center that operates on a 20,000-square-foot property in southeastern San Diego. In partnership with UC San Diego and the Global Food Initiative, the OVGG has established a community garden, two food forests and a Learning/Action Research Center developed with local neighborhood residents. The OVGG also hosts the Neighborhood Food Network, a group of residents interested in growing and distributing food. Through this network, San Diego residents build dynamic neighborhood hubs that revolve around increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Paul Watson, President and CEO of the Global Action Research Center, introduces the Ocean View Growing Gardens to GFI fellows. “Not only do we apply the latest environmental research through our partnership with UCSD, but we’ve worked closely with community leaders and learned how to use food as a organizing tool in this neighborhood,” Watson said.

Deron White (center in white shirt), community outreach specialist with the OVGG, takes GFI fellows on a tour around his neighborhood. “I got involved with the garden so I can be a liason to my community,” White said. There had to be community buy-in for the garden, so I helped with that. Now, the garden is a space where we can just come together and bond.”

Jacobs Center and Kitchens for Good

Fellows then enjoyed lunch with Kitchens for Good, a nonprofit catering service that aims to break the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise. Kitchens for Good is located within the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a “creative catalyst and incubator” that partners with residents, local leaders and organizations, as well as regional and national investors, to revitalize southeastern San Diego, a culturally diverse yet under-served area that is prime for investment and transformation.

“We don't just want to teach residents how to fish, we want to teach residents how to buy the lake that the fish swim in,” said Bennett Peji, Jacobs Center's senior director of marketing and community affairs.

Since its inception, the organization has revitalized a nearby creek, built a metro station with the second-highest amount of traffic in the county, constructed a low-income apartment complex and built a shopping mall that includes the first full-service grocery store in the community. In a community where the high school has a 50 percent dropout rate, the Jacobs Center has had a transformational impact.

Bennett Peji of the Jacobs Center (left of center in white shirt) discuss economic justice with GFI fellows. “Our role is to convene partners, create models that work and see how nonprofits can better serve the community,” Peji said.

“After this trip, I am full of new ideas, energy and confidence that can I make a difference. I now know I need to find the right partners and keep believing that solutions to food justice and environmental sustainability are possible,” said Holly Mayton, GFI Fellow and PhD student at UC Riverside. “My thoughts and ideas are really falling into place, and I am creating a new framework for action and results.”

Additional resources:

Fact Sheet: UC Global Food Initiative Accomplishments


Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 1:12 PM

Dealing with Snails and Slugs in the Garden

Immature gray garden slug on strawberries. (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)

Snails and slugs can be destructive pests in gardens and landscapes when they devour entire seedlings or chew holes in leaves, flowers, fruit, and even the bark of plants. Manage these pests by getting rid of their hiding places, setting up traps, or...

Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 1:18 PM

Celebrate Earth Day with Insectary Plants

Photo Nectar and pollen-producing plants in full bloom. (Credit: Kathy Keatley-Garvey)

This Earth Day, Sunday April 22, help natural enemies by growing insectary plants. Natural enemies, also called beneficials or biological control agents, include lady beetles (ladybugs), lacewings, spiders, parasitic wasps, and even some mites!...

Posted on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 4:53 PM

UC IPM at Picnic Day 2018

Lady beetles. (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)

Come visit us at the UC Davis annual Picnic Day event this Saturday April 21, 2018! Every year, the UC Statewide IPM Program sets up informational tables as part of the Entomology Department events at Briggs Hall. As in past years, we will give out...

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 9:57 AM

New labor laws factored into UC cost studies for table grape production

Flame Seedless
To help table grape growers make decisions on which varieties to grow, the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center has released four new studies on the costs and returns of table grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. The studies on different table grape varieties are each based on a 500-acre farm with vineyard establishment on 40 acres.

The studies focus on four table grape varieties. There are two early maturing varieties, Flame Seedless and Sheegene-21, that begin harvest in July, one mid-season maturing, Scarlet Royal, and one late maturing, Autumn King, which begins harvest in October. The studies estimate the cost of establishing a table grape vineyard and producing fresh market table grapes.

“Labor costs are expected to rise with reduced labor availability, increases in minimum wage rates and new overtime rules that went into effect in 2018,” said Ashraf El-kereamy, UCCE viticulture advisor in Kern County and co-author of the cost studies.

“We included detailed costs for specialized hand labor of certain cultural and harvest operations.”

Sheegene-21
The sample costs for labor, materials, equipment and custom services are based on January 2018 figures. A blank column, titled “Your Cost,” is provided in Tables 2 and 3 for growers to enter their own estimated costs.

“The new California minimum wage law will gradually decrease the number of hours employees can work on a daily and weekly basis before overtime wages are required. There are additional stipulations for overtime wages and scheduling of work that are part of the new law,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center. 

Input and reviews were provided by UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisors, specialists, grower cooperators, California Table Grape Commission and other agricultural associates. The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for table grape establishment and production, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

Scarlet Royal
The new studies are:

  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Flame Seedless, Early Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Sheegene-21 (Ivory™), Early Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Scarlet Royal, Mid-season Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Autumn King, Late Maturing”

All four table grape studies can be downloaded from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available at the website.

Autumn King
For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Donald Stewart at the Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651 or destewart@ucdavis.edu.

For information about local table grape production, contact UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist Matthew Fidelibus at mwfidelibus@ucanr.edu, UCCE viticulture advisor Ashraf El-kereamy in Kern County at aelkereamy@ucanr.edu, UCCE entomology advisor David Haviland in Kern County at dhaviland@ucdavis.edu, UCCE weed advisor Kurt Hembree in Fresno County at kjhembree@ucanr.edu, or UCCE viticulture advisor George Zhuang in Fresno County at gzhuang@ucanr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 8:40 AM

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