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September 22, 1997

UCSC celebrates 30 years of organic farming and gardening

By Jennifer McNulty

Thirty years ago, on a scrub-covered hillside of the young UCSC campus, Alan Chadwick planted a revolution in gardening. The iconoclastic Englishman was a pioneer of organic, French-intensive gardening in northern California, and his influence has made its way from that steep hillside to farms around the world and to the tables of the nation's finest restaurants.

The training program Chadwick founded at UCSC has launched hundreds of students on careers in organic farming and gardening, environmental education, community development, the natural foods business, and international agricultural training programs.

UCSC is celebrating Chadwick's legacy with a three-day anniversary celebration October 3-5 featuring a special anniversary edition of the popular annual Harvest Festival, a symposium highlighting the activities of graduates of UCSC's unique training program in organic farming and gardening, and an all-organic benefit dinner (full schedule of events).

Chadwick was an advocate of gardening without synthetic chemicals or pesticides, and his techniques for producing abundance from limited space have been transported literally around the world by UCSC graduates. His emphasis on high-quality, organically produced food has been embraced by a generation of American cooks and has helped fuel the excitement over California cuisine.

The informal apprenticeship begun by Chadwick in 1967 gave rise to the UCSC Farm and Garden Apprenticeship and UCSC's Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. More than 800 people have participated in the apprenticeship, a six-month residential training program for people interested in acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to grow crops with ecologically sound methods. Center staff and faculty conduct research on organic farming techniques and social issues in sustainable agriculture and are internationally known for their contributions to these fields.

Among those who will gather October 3-5 to honor Chadwick's contributions and celebrate 30 years of UCSC's apprenticeship program are farmers, educators, chefs, wholesale produce buyers, and former Peace Corps volunteers who have helped spread Chadwick's vision. Among the former UCSC apprentices who will participate in an alumni symposium on Sunday, October 5, are Martha Boyd (1993) of The Food Project, a youth development program in Boston; Cathrine Sneed (1987) director of The Garden Project, a garden training program for prisoners in San Francisco; David Brodkey (1986), a teacher at Alianza Elementary School in Watsonville; Liza Buckner (1987) of St. Anthony's Farm in Petaluma, a horticultural therapy program for people in rehabilitation; and Carl Elliot (1985), a Seattle-based urban gardening instructor and host of a radio talk show on gardening.

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