About the Center for Agroecology

Students in an Agroecology Practicum class at the UCSC Farm.

Rooted in the Division of Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, the Center for Agroecology is an organization of staff, faculty, students, and volunteers who work to advance agroecology and equitable food systems through experiential education, participatory research, agricultural extension, and public service.

50+ years of experiential education

The Center manages the Alan Chadwick Garden, a 3-acre organic and bio-diverse garden on the UCSC campus founded in 1967, and the UCSC Farm, a 30-acre organic farm founded in 1971 that serves as an outdoor classroom and research site. For more than 50 years these sites have hosted students, residential apprentices, and community members who learn about organic gardening, farming, and the food system. A portion of our staff work on the Farm and Garden, teaching learners and maintaining the spaces.

Advancing organic, sustainable agriculture through research

Center staff participate in interdiscplinary research projects that focus primarily on improving organic farming practices and increasing the sustainability of local food systems. We collaborate with UCSC faculty and students, local farmers and gardeners, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR), and others to study farming and food systems issues including organic soil pathogen control in strawberries, organic no- and limited-till agriculture, insect diversity in urban gardens, and more.

Increasing campus food security

The Center works to provide students access to free and low-cost food, including produce grown by students at the UCSC Farm. Since 2017, the Center has donated thousands of pounds of UCSC Farm-grown produce to students each quarter as part of a campus effort to ensure all students' basic needs are met, including equitable access to housing, health care, and nutritious food. The Center also manages the Cowell Coffee Shop, a non-transactional cafe and student hub that provides free meals and beverages to all students.

What is agroecology?

At the Center, we define agroecology as the integrative study of the entire food system, encompassing ecological, economic and social dimensions. We acknowledge that in order to create an ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just food system, agroecology must integrate science and research, technology and practices, indigenous knowledge, and movements for social change. We embrace agroecology as a transdisciplinary, participatory, action-oriented, and politically-engaged transformation of the food system. We also recognize the foundations of agroecology as a peasant social movement, and its current context in food sovereignty movements across the world.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Mission Statement

The mission of the Center for Agroecology is to advance agroecology and equitable food systems through experiential education, participatory research, agricultural extension, and public service.

Vision Statement

We envision an equitable food system that empowers local communities, builds relationships, and nourishes all people and the environment.

Values Statement

Our work is rooted in collaboration and innovation. We are committed to fostering diversity throughout the Center and equity in access to food, resources, and knowledge. From the soil to the table, we value service and operate with a commitment to respect, transparency, integrity, and accountability.