[Currents header

December 9, 1996

$16,000 grant will bolster UCSC Farm's community supported agriculture project

Community-supported agriculture is one of the fastest-growing trends in agriculture these days. The way it works is simple: Farmers set a price for a share of the year's produce, then recruit a group of shareholders who receive a weekly box of freshly harvested vegetables and fruits throughout the season. It's a partnership that allows farmers to plant with a source of guaranteed income, and shareholders to get the freshest goods for an average price of about $20 per week.

Two years ago, UCSC's Farm and Garden launched its own community supported agriculture project (CSA), recruiting shareholders from the campus community.

A new $16,000 grant from the Mary A. Crocker Trust will formally establish the CSA project, enabling coordinators to create a formal CSA Training and Demonstration program and expand their public education activities. The grant will also support the final phase of expansion of the CSA in 1998.

"This program offers benefits to several groups, including the apprentices at the Farm who want the experience of running a CSA, and shareholders who've supported the CSA from the beginning," says Margaret FitzSimmons, an associate professor of environmental studies at UCSC and acting director of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. "We're filling an educational niche and providing a community service."

The grant will establish the CSA program as part of UCSC's Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, a six-month training program in organic farming and gardening, making the CSA the cornerstone of the Farm and Garden's production and community-outreach efforts.

Specifically, the grant will fund:

"This grant enables us to create a comprehensive CSA training program for apprentices and for farmers in the area," adds FitzSimmons. "We hope to become a regional hub for CSA activity on the central coast."

The Mary A. Crocker Trust, which was established in 1889, supports educational and environmental organizations primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. The trust has a special interest in supporting sustainable agriculture.

For more information about the UCSC Farm and Garden's CSA or the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, call (408) 459-3240.

--Jennifer McNulty