Making the Invisible Visible: Youth, Power, Justice, Resilience

The theme of the 2nd National Symposium on Food Systems and Sustainability is “Making the Invisible Visible.” The agenda includes a hands-on examination of four thematic areas important to food and agriculture – youth, power, justice, and resilience.

YOUTH. Part of the symposium will focus on the role of youth in agriculture and food systems, asking questions like: Who will be farming in 20 years? … in 40 years? Who will be the next generation of leaders in food and agriculture? Many of this year’s participants are organizers with the Real Food Challenge – a national organization of students working for socially just & sustainable food on their campuses.

This focus area will include field trips hosted by the following:

  1. Free-Spirit Farms at the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL, located in Winters -- this trip is combined with the trip to the Student Farm):  CLBL began as the FARMS Leadership Program, launched in 1993 by walnut farmer Craig McNamara. Its mission is to inspire and motivate people of all ages, especially youth, to promote a healthy interplay between agriculture, nature, and society through their actions and as leaders in their communities. Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  2. The Student Farm (at UC Davis, part of ASI -- this trip is combined with the trip to Free-Spirit Farms): Since its inception in 1977, the Student Farm has served the UC Davis students and faculty, farmers, gardeners, school children and many others. The Student Farm offers a wide range of opportunities for students to learn about and explore the many aspects of sustainable agriculture. These opportunities include internships, formal courses and research projects.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  3. Grant Union High School, GEO Academy (located in Sacramento -- this trip is combined with the trip to Soil Born Farms):  The GEO Environmental Science and Design Academy provides strong academic coursework and real world-based projects to prepare students for entrance into four year universities and green collar careers in the following pathways: Environmental Science, Sustainable Agriculture, Environmental Design, Community Nutrition and Green Business.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  4. Soil Born Farms (located in Sacramento -- this trip is combined with the trip to Grant Union High School):  Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project started as a small urban for-profit farm in 2000. It has since grown to operate two urban farms on over forty acres in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, and evolved into a nationally recognized center for the promotion of urban agriculture, sustainable food systems and healthy food education.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).


POWER. What are the most effective coalitions shaping farm and food policy today?  Are these likely to change in composition or modes of operation during the next farm bill cycle? … the next decade? … the next generation?  

This focus area will include field trips hosted by the following:

  1. Ag Innovations Network (AIN, located in Sebastopol):  AIN was founded in 2000 to build a better future for farmers, consumers, and communities. In the years since, they have worked across California and across the United States to bring together unusual partners to support change in the food system.   Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  2. The California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF, located in Sacramento):  CFBF is California's largest farm organization, comprised of 53 county Farm Bureaus currently representing approximately 85,000 members in 56 counties. Farm Bureau strives to protect and improve the ability of farmers and ranchers engaged in production agriculture to provide a reliable supply of food and fiber through responsible stewardship of California's resources.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  3. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA, located in Sacramento):  CDFA strives to support California's tradition of innovation and agricultural diversity by working with private industry, academia and public sector agencies. These partnerships allow the department to adapt public policy to a rapidly changing industry – California agriculture.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  4. The California State Assembly (located in Sacramento):  California’s Legislative Branch is composed of the State Assembly, the State Senate, and several other departments. This branch holds the principal lawmaking powers of the state. This field trip is designed to give participants a hands-on introduction of how agricultural policy is formed in the California State Assembly.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).


JUSTICE. What does “fairness” or “social justice” mean in practical terms that can support action? What would a system that provides healthy food for everyone look like? What would a health-centered food system look like? What would prosperity and equity for farmers, farm workers, food system workers, and for their communities look like?  If we were talking about “fairness” and “justice” in ways that engage various groups and lead to constructive action, what would that conversation sound like?

This focus area will include field trips hosted by the following:

  1. The Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP, located in Fresno – trip will be to Ceres):  CCROPP was developed to work with communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley on creating healthier and safer places for people to live, learn, work and play.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  2. California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF, located in Sacramento):  CRLAF is a nonprofit legal services and advocacy organization founded in 1981 to improve rights and opportunities for California’s immigrants, their families and communities.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  3. HOPE Collaborative (located in Oakland):  A group of organizations, institutions, and community residents formed the HOPE Collaborative to improve health and quality of life by transforming the food and fitness environments in Oakland neighborhoods suffering the most from health disparities.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).


RESILIENCE. What would a resilient agriculture and food system look like? Do our agricultural production systems have the capacity to adapt to both expected and unexpected environmental changes, including abundant biological and knowledge diversity and self-organizing behavior? Are learning, principles and insights from biology and ecology informing people who shape our agricultural production systems? If so, how do they come to understand these principles and gain these insights?

This focus area will include field trips hosted by the following:

  1. Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (located in Capay Valley):  The historical inhabitants of California’s Capay Valley, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation manages and cultivates more than 7,300 acres of farm and rangeland.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  2. California Central Valley Flood Control Association (located in Dixon): The Association was established in 1926 to promote the common interests of its membership in maintaining effective flood control systems in California's Central Valley for the protection of life, property and the environment.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  3. Hedgerow Farms (located in Winters): Hedgerow Farms is Northern California’s largest native grassland seed production farm. They produce origin-known California native grass, sedge and wildflower seed on over 500 acres. Hedgerow Farms host regular farm tours to explore the on-site examples of roadside, canal and ditch re-vegetation; grassland restoration; and hedgerow plantings.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).
  4. Russell Ranch (at UC Davis, part of ASI): The Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility conducts long-term research assessing the sustainability of different cropping systems by comparing system outputs and soil quality indicators. Russell Ranch is a 1500 acre tract near the UC Davis campus, which hosts several research projects including the Long Term Research on Agricultural Systems (LTRAS) and Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS) projects.  Click here for a detailed site profile (including activities and expected outcomes -- opens as Adobe PDF).