Jul 23

New ASI study finds California almonds have small carbon footprint compared to other protien foods

by Aubrey White — last modified Jul 23, 2015 03:59 PM

Originally appeared on the UC ANR Green Blog.

Almond orchard

California produces more than 80 percent of the world's commercial almonds. Popularity of the nuts has spurred almond acreage in the state to expand from 510,000 acres in 2000 to roughly 890,000 acres in 2015, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which requires statewide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the growing interest among consumers and food companies in the carbon footprint of food products, prompted some University of California scientists to examine how almond production affects the environment.

Research by UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists found that almonds have a relatively small carbon footprint, which could be further reduced with advanced management practices.

Two related articles published in the current issue of Journal of Industrial Ecology examine the environmental impact of this agricultural industry. Co-author Alissa Kendall, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and her colleagues noted that certain practices substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, including the strategic use of co-products, and the choice of water source and irrigation technology.

"Our research shows that 1 kilogram of California almonds typically produces less than 1 kilogram of CO2 emissions, which is a lower carbon footprint than many other nutrient- and energy-dense foods," said Kendall.

“These results include the use of almond co-products — orchard biomass, hulls and shells — for renewable power generation and dairy feed,” said Kendall. “Under ideal circumstances, which are feasible but not in place today, California almonds could become carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative, largely through the improved utilization of orchard biomass."

David Doll, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor in Merced County, agrees.

“As California farmers improve their nitrogen and water use efficiencies, they will reduce the carbon footprint,” Doll said. “This will happen as we continue to transition into a nitrogen budgeting system, which will reduce over-applications of nitrogen. Furthermore, on the other end, research conducted by Cooperative Extension has shown that the entire biomass of an orchard can be incorporated back into the soil, which increases the amount of total carbon sequestered.”

“Only a full life cycle-based model like the one we developed for this research will allow us to accurately assess whether incorporating the biomass into the soil or using it for power generation instead results in a lower net carbon footprint,” said Sonja Brodt, academic coordinator in the UC ANR Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, noting that there will be some trade-off.

The first article, "Life Cycle-based Assessment of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Almond Production, Part I: Analytical Framework and Baseline Results," is authored by Kendall, Elias Marvinney, a graduate student in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences; Brodt and Weiyuan Zhu, a UC Davis graduate student in horticulture and agronomy.

Marvinney is lead author of the second article, "Life Cycle-based Assessment of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Almond Production, Part II: Uncertainty Analysis through Sensitivity Analysis and Scenario Testing," in collaboration with Kendall and Brodt.

This research was supported by grants from the Almond Board of California and the CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Brodt and Marvinney will host a webinar to discuss their life cycle assessment analyzing the environmental impacts associated with walnuts, prunes, peaches, almonds and pistachios. The researchers are quantifying energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in orchard crop production both within and beyond the farm. To join the webinar, visit https://uc-d.adobeconnect.com/orchard-lca at noon on Wednesday, July 29.

Apr 14

Isao Fujimoto to receive 2015 Bradford Rominger Award

by Aubrey White — last modified Apr 14, 2015 09:22 AM
Isao Fujimoto photo
Navina Khanna photo

   Isao Fujimoto, lecturer emeritus of Community Development and Asian Studies at UC Davis, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award for his commitment to California agriculture, rural communities, and social change.

     The prestigious award, given each year by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, will be presented at a ceremony at UC Davis on April 23. The keynote speaker will be Navina Khanna, a UC Davis alumna and leader for food justice in California. 

    The Bradford–Rominger award honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late G. Eric Bradford, a livestock genetics professor who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.

    Former students describe Fujimoto as a prophet and “energizer bunny of social change.”   

  “Isao began advocating for more socially just and environmentally sustainable forms of agriculture over 40 years ago,” said Mark Van Horn, director of the Student Farm at UC Davis. “At the time, it made him quite unpopular in some quarters, but he remained true to what he knew was right.”  

  In his early days at UC Davis, Fujimoto used the campus’s signature red, double-decker buses to transport children of farm workers to school when public bus service was cancelled. The incident sparked conversation about the need for the university to focus on California’s rural communities, and led to creation of the Community and Regional Development Graduate Program at UC Davis in the mid-1970s.

    Fujimoto was also instrumental in starting the Asian American Studies program on campus, and was mentor to many students who have become sustainable agriculture leaders in their own right. Throughout the 1970s, Fujimoto’s home served as a local hub for community activism, with projects such as the Davis Food Co-op and the Davis Farmers Market starting out at his kitchen table.

    “He has helped countless students understand the world around them and clarify their personal values and principles,” Van Horn said. “Most importantly, his actions have provided lessons and inspiration for those wanting to act upon their values and principles to bring about positive change in the world.”

    Like Eric Bradford, Isao Fujimoto is a respected mentor and a consensus builder. Like Charlie Rominger, Fujimoto has consistently stood up for his beliefs, regardless of their unpopularity, and has done so with a kind heart and humble nature.

    “The kind of commitment and sense of responsibility that Eric and Charlie had is a pretty remarkable trait,” Fujimoto said. “I find this award set up by the Bradford and Rominger families as a pretty significant marker of change in terms of broadening the scope of agriculture to include being conscious of the environment and using agriculture as a tool for building community.”   

      Fujimoto will receive the award at the annual Bradford–Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award Ceremony which begins at 5 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room at the Student Community Center at UC Davis. Khanna’s keynote speech will address, “Claim Your Superpower: Meeting the Moment for a Winning Food Movement.” On April 24, Khanna will meet with UC Davis students to further discuss leadership in the food movement. 

   This event is free and open to the public. Students are encouraged to attend.

Learn more about the award here.

Learn more about the event.

    For more information, contact Aubrey White at 530-752-5299,  abwhite@ucdavis.edu


Feb 13

Trees in Crop Fields – boosting a farm’s natural economy

by Aubrey White — last modified Feb 13, 2015 01:30 PM
Musangu tree

By Sonja Brodt
Agriculture, Resources and Environment Coordinator

The mid-afternoon sun beats down on the dry earth as Elleman Mumba takes us to the cool shade of his musangu trees – tall 8-year-old trees that he has planted in wide rows in the middle of the crop fields where he grows maize and other annual crops for food and sale. Mr. Mumba is one of a growing number of farmers across Zambia and other southern African countries who are bucking conventional wisdom that planting trees in crop fields creates competition with the standing crop for sunlight, water, and nutrients.

While this may be true in some cases, these trees, Faidherbia albida -- known locally as “musangu”—are rather unusual in how they fit into the cropping system. Not only are these native trees leguminous, and thus capture nitrogen gas from the air and make it usable for themselves and surrounding plants, they also lose their leaves and go dormant during the summer rainy season, when most small-scale farmers plant their maize crop. They leaf out during the dry season, just when livestock are most in need of precious fodder and when the fallow fields would otherwise be baking in the sun. Research and farmers’ experience have documented maize yields doubling or tripling underneath the Faidherbia canopy, demonstrating the substantial boost to soil fertility attributable to these trees. This is significant in a country where many farmers cannot afford enough fertilizer and where maize yields average under 1 ton/acre.

Farmer Elleman Mumba with Faidherbia trees

I recently took a study tour to Zambia to learn more about these agroforestry systems and to see what insights they might hold for California farms.  In my position as Coordinator of the Agriculture, Resources, and the Environment portfolio of research and outreach activities at the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP), I’m always thinking about ways to increase what farmers gain from our natural ecosystems and what these ecosystems can gain from farming.

What can we learn from the Zambian agroforestry system here in California, where farmers can usually afford the fertilizer needed to produce much higher yields, whether they are growing feed corn, vegetables, or perennial fruit crops? These Zambian farmers are successfully designing cropping systems that are more adept than their previous monocrops at harnessing natural processes that directly benefit crop production. They are putting in place a more complex natural economy where biological organisms – trees, bacteria, and crop plants – do the work of exchanging goods and services – in this case nitrogen and organic matter – to the ultimate benefit of the farmer. This system replaces a simpler one that is more reliant on the work of the farmer and the money economy, as well as on fossil fuels and the pollution inherent in their use, to sustain desired production. 

All farmers already make use of ecosystem services to some degree or another, whether by relying on soil to hold and release nutrients or on bees to pollinate crops. But the more a cropping system can be designed to capitalize on natural processes and build up its natural economy, the greater the likelihood that we will avoid irreparable damage from pollution as well as risks from disturbances in the money economy.

Such designs are usually not one-size-fits-all – even in Zambia, farmers with sandier soils have more difficulty establishing Faidherbia trees.  However, regionally-specific and scale-appropriate systems that accomplish more of the work of farming through natural processes are well worth exploring in all parts of the globe. Identifying such systems and quantifying their benefits is what my colleagues here at UC SAREP have been doing for the past two decades, whether by characterizing the benefits of cover crops or working with growers to design Biologically Integrated Farming Systems. This kind of work also continues at the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, which serves as the venue for studies that identify and quantify the factors that contribute to healthy agroecosystem functioning, for the sake of better nutrient retention and cycling, weed management, and other agronomic outcomes. Ultimately, all these programs converge on the common goal of building farming systems that rest on the foundations of natural economies that have the capacity to sustain and regenerate critical farm functions into the foreseeable future, just like the majestic 30-year old musangu tree I had the privilege to behold on a Zambian farm.

Aug 19

Viewpoints: Scientists are rising to the challenges of drought

by Kaleigh Basso — last modified Aug 19, 2014 11:20 AM

Op-ed by Tom Tomich and Marcia DeLonge.

Appeared in the Sacramento Bee August 11, 2014

This week, scientists from around the world are convening in Sacramento for the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting to discuss cutting-edge research for a sustainable future.

The meeting comes at a pivotal time for California, as the three-year drought drags on. According to the latest Drought Monitor report, more than 58 percent of the state is experiencing “exceptional drought,” the most severe classification, characterized by extreme water shortages and crop loss. This is a big problem for the nation’s top agricultural state, where the value of agricultural products exceeds $40 billion a year. To achieve this remarkable productivity, California agriculture uses well over half of the state’s managed water.

As the drought intensifies, farmers are opting to grow less because water is just too expensive. This is an immediate threat to the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, farmworkers and others. What does the future hold for California agriculture, especially as climate scientists are predicting that droughts could become more frequent and more intense?

Scientists are rising to the challenge. Many are finding answers in an emerging field – agroecology.

With its roots in crop science, agroecology draws on other disciplines, including ecology and the social sciences, to broaden our understanding of agriculture as part of a larger environmental and societal context. Agroecology considers the needs of today and the future by revealing the connections among soils, plants, livestock, the environment, our economy and our society to cope with challenges such as the current drought. For example, the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program works with California communities to develop in-depth assessments of a region’s food system, including the viability of its farms, their impact on the environment and nutrition and food access issues that affect residents. In this way, whole regions are better equipped to find solutions to their problems.

The Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility at UC Davis is another example of agroecology at work. The ranch tests a wide array of farming methods, examining their impact on yield, soil quality, irrigation requirements, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The facility is 21 years into a pioneering, century-long study of which agricultural practices best respond to pressing challenges. Among the many results so far, experiments have shown that planting cover crops can increase water infiltration into soil, offering one practical step that farmers can employ today to battle drought.

Another local example of agroecology at work is the Marin Carbon Project, which brings together scientists, farmers, ranchers and others to sustainably and profitably manage the region’s grazing lands. This research, led by UC Berkeley scientists, has found that adding compost to grazed grasslands can increase soil’s water retention and production of grasses and other feed sources, while reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions.

So if agroecology shows such great promise, why does it receive a small fraction of availableresearch funding?

Understandably, the bulk of private investment in agricultural research goes where the returns are: seeds, chemicals and services that fit within established business models – not the innovations in information and agroecological practices that can and should spread freely among farmers and ranchers. And while government research programs and public agricultural research institutions, like the University of California, have historically been responsible for conducting research in the public interest, taxpayer dollars are not keeping pace with the need.

It’s time for a change. More than 250 scientists and other experts recently signed a statement calling for an increase in public investment in agroecology. Farmers would benefit from this joint effort with scientists through greater resilience against droughts, floods and other climate extremes.

Droughts will always pose challenges, but we can make investments today that will help us all weather climate changes and protect our food supply tomorrow and for generations to come.

Tom Tomich is the founding director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. Marcia DeLonge is an agroecologist with the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/11/6617698/viewpoints-scientists-are-rising.html?sp=/99/110/#storylink=cpy

Jul 29

Director Tom Tomich appointed to global science advisory council

by Aubrey White — last modified Jul 29, 2014 04:49 PM
Tom Tomich headshot

We are pleased to announce that Thomas Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, has been appointed a scientific adviser to the world's preeminent agricultural research system, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

CGIAR is a publicly funded research consortium working in more than 100 developing countries to eliminate hunger and poverty, improve food and nutritional security, and sustainably manage natural resources. CGIAR programs around the globe focus on topics as diverse as increasing profitability for small-scale rice farmers in the Philippines and global efforts to adapt to climate change.

Tomich will be a member of CGIAR's Independent Science and Partnership Council, providing expert scientific advice to improve the quality, relevance, and impact of CGIAR's research portfolio of more than $1.1 billion per year.

"With this council appointment, I will stay at the cutting edge of global science on food systems and sustainable agricultural development, and bring that back to ASI and my research and teaching at UC Davis," said Tomich, a UCD professor and W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems. "I hope this effort contributes to maintaining California's leadership in agricultural science and innovation."

Seven scientific advisers compose the Independent Science and Partnership Council representing disciplines in agriculture, environmental sciences, ecology, and economics. Council members are from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom. Tomich is the only U.S.-based member of the council.

"For half a century, CGIAR has been the single most effective use of development aid funding," said Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer at Mars Inc. and Chair of ASI's External Advisory Board. "This indispensable institution has grown rapidly and is in the midst of reforming to meet huge 21st century challenges." Shapiro currently serves on CGIAR's midterm review panel, guiding its reform process.

"The Independent Science and Partnership Council plays a key role in ensuring scientific quality and integrity for the whole research system," said Shapiro. "Tom is committed to the highest standards of science, and has the deep understanding of sustainability required to make transformative change at a global level. His appointment is a great opportunity to help shape the future of food on the planet and also to better link UC Davis to global agricultural research."

Prior to his service at UC Davis, Tomich worked for the World Agroforestry Center, a CGIAR center, as principal economist and global coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. He has worked in a dozen countries, including significant periods based in Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, and now in his home state of California.


Jul 27

Meet the Sustainable Ag and Food Systems Community at UC Davis

by Kaleigh Basso — last modified Jul 27, 2014 12:00 AM

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major at UC Davis is more than an academic program. It is a community of learners and educators trying working together to bring about positive change in world. SA&FS is an interdisciplinary major where students develop a comprehensive understanding of our complex food system. The program is rigorous and offers students real world experiences in agriculture and food systems. But to learn about what is at the heart of the program, you must ask the right questions to the students, faculty, and staff involved in it. 

Jadda Miller, a 2014 graduate from Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, did just that and put together a video that embodies what it means to be involved in the major and the community that surrounds it. As we welcome a new crop of students into the major, we can reflect on what makes it as strong a program as it is—its students, faculty, and staff. Take a look!

 Learn more about the SA&FS major here.



Jul 15

UC provides the resources to help Urban Ag succeed

by Kaleigh Basso — last modified Jul 15, 2014 03:14 PM
Edible Landscaping
Edible Landscape design photo courtesy of ANR.

With a growing interest in gardening, food preservation and livestock, urban agriculture is making its way to the forefront of planning and policy agendas. The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (UC ANR) released a portal for Urban Ag enthusiasts and farmers at the beginning of July. The portal features an array of information for beginning and experiences farmers alike. "The site will be a resource for urban farmers who are selling what they grown, as well as school and community gardeners, and folks who are keeping some backyard chickens and bees. We also intend it to be a resource for local policy makers who are making decisions that impact farming in California cities," says Rachel Surls, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles county and one of the creators of the website. You can visit the website here.

Farmers, urban gardeners, and community-based organizations can find a wide range of information on the site, including resources for pest management, business management, food safety, handling, and processing, as well as how to create an edible landscape via farm/garden design.

We highlight a few of the resources here we find most useful.  

Pest Management

When doing urban agriculture, or any form of agriculture, pests will always be an issue. Pest management can be tricky depending on what type of product you are looking to produce whether it be organic or conventional. However, because urban agriculture often happens in close proximity to people and residences, urban farmers commonly use organic methods or Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to manage pests. The Urban Agriculture website helps growers find resources on pest management, as well as regulations in pesticide use and updates on pest quarantines that growers should stay aware of. 

Business Management

Farming is a complex business, and it’s important to plan accordingly for success. Through the website farmers can find important California based programs that provide additional information to urban farmers who are seeking to start or develop a business.  Look out for updates on the business management section of this site. 

Food Safety, Handling, and Processing

Foodborne illness is a serious concern, and urban farmers should learn about how to make sure that the food they produce is safe for consumers. California food safety regulations make it not just a good practice to understand food safety, but legally required. UC ANR provides links to help urban farmers avoid contamination in the pre and post-harvest phase, how to properly store agricultural products, and process value added products so that quality and safety are maintained.

Edible Landscaping

Agriculture happens all over the city- in vacant urban lots, rooftops, and backyards. Through the Farm and Garden Design tab on the website under Production, people can find a link to Edible Landscaping through UC ANR’s Master Gardening Program. Edible landscaping is an exciting way to have your landscape pull double duty for you. You’ll have healthy food, save on your grocery bill, and support sustainable gardening practices. 

Mobilizing the Urban Agriculture Movement 

In addition to practical resources for urban agriculture practitioners, it is important to understand the broader impacts and benefits of urban agriculture.  In collaborate with UC ANR, UC SAREP conducted a literature review of current research on urban agriculture to help researchers, policy makers, and community organizations understand the social, environmental impacts. 

A literature review and annotated bibliography on urban agriculture research are available on the UC SAREP website and UC ANR Urban Agriculture site

Apr 14

Mary Bianchi to be awarded Bradford Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award

by Aubrey White — last modified Apr 14, 2014 11:45 AM
Mary Bianchi photo

We are pleased to announce today that Mary Bianchi of the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is this year’s recipient of ASI’s Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award.

The annual award will be presented to Bianchi tomorrow, April 15, at a ceremony featuring distinguished speaker LaDonna Redmond. The Bradford-Rominger award recognizes and honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.

Bianchi has worked for UC Cooperative Extension for 20 years, currently serving as Farm Advisor and County Director for San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. Among her achievements include the development and implementation of a water quality workshop series that required collaboration of over 100 team members and brought timely and essential information on water quality management to 2,200 growers in California.

Bianchi is quick to share her success. “I’ve had partners in all the efforts that I’ve undertaken who just wanted to find a way to get information out to people so that they can make their own decision. Sometimes that means staying within the lines, and sometimes that means stretching and taking some risks and being willing to push the envelope. Growers, industry, agencies and universities have stepped up to find a way to make our efforts work.”

Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger are remembered for their abilities to approach major agricultural challenges with grace, honesty, and a commitment to collaboration across disciplines and interests.

Sonja Brodt, Academic Coordinator at ASI says Bianchi “does not hesitate to address the critical needs of her clientele, even if they require extending herself into new subject areas. She is down-to-earth and creates the space in collaborations for each party’s concerns to be heard and valued in the process to reach viable solutions.”

Bianchi’s own work ethic reflects those qualities. “I think that you do create change one person at a time by listening to what they have to say and respecting the fact that they are bringing their own successes and constraints and baggage that you don’t know about,” says Bianchi.

“Eric and Charlie were a lot the same way,” she continues. “If you see that there’s a need, you just find a way to make it work. And you find the people that are willing to do that with you and it happens.”

Learn more about the award here.

After the Bradford-Rominger award is presented to Bianchi at tomorrow’s ceremony, distinguished speaker LaDonna Redmond will speak on “Food + Justice = Democracy.” Redmond is a food justice activist who was inspired to fight for a fairer food system after facing limited access to healthy, organic food in her Chicago community. To facilitate her community’s food access, she launched an initiative converting vacant lots into urban farms.

She is founder of the Campaign for Food Justice Now, an organization focused on social justice within the food system, creating community-based solutions and engaged advocacy.

Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award Ceremony
5:00 p.m., Wednesday April 15
Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center
UC Davis campus

This event is free and open to the public. Students are encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact Aubrey White at
(530) 752-5299 or abwhite@ucdavis.edu


Jan 15

Linking Knowledge with Action for Sustainaibility: ASI Distinguished Speaker William C. Clark

by Aubrey White — last modified Jan 15, 2014 10:30 AM

ASI Distinguished Speaker William C. Clark was quick to admit that a Harvard Professor discussing outreach and research for the public good to a room full of Aggies seemed amiss.  But Clark has long studied how academics can be better involved with the public in order to meet their needs, and how that involvement is an essential element to sustainable development.  His talk pushes for stronger collaborations amongst academics and with the public, better political engagement, and more risk taking in our research--recognizing that true innovation is always preceded by failed attempts.  UC Davis and UC ANR are, in many ways, successful at these attempts.   Clark urges us, "just tell the stories louder." 

The full talk is available to view here, including a compelling question and answer period at the end. 

Sep 30

Farm to Fork

by ehightow — last modified Sep 30, 2013 10:23 AM

ASI is participating in several farm-to-fork and Food Day events this fall, including the Davis Chamber of Commerce Ag Economy luncheon which will feature broccoli seedlings grown by UC Davis Student Farm students.

The broccoli seedlings the Student Farm is sharing with the Davis Chamber of Commerce are one example of the sort of hands-on education students receive at the Student Farm, which is a program of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis

Learn more about the UC Davis Student Farm.

Caring for your broccoli plant

Wondering how to take care of the broccoli plant you received today? Alice Del Simone is happy to help.


Planting instructions:

  • Transplant seedling into your indoor, or outdoor, garden in the next couple of weeks
  • If you’re planting into a pot, use at least a two-gallon container per seedling.
  • Broccoli prefer at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Fill the pot with potting soil mix.
  • Before transplanting water your seedling.
  • To plant, gently squeeze the sides of the seedling pot before removing it by holding near the base of the stem
  • Place it in the hole and firmly pack the soil around the base of the seeding
  • Water the pot.

Care instructions:

  • Water regularly, about one inch per week
  • Add nutrients, such as a fish fertilizer or another nitrogen-rich amendment
  • As the plant grows, check for pests such as cabbage worms or aphids. Cabbage worms are small green worms that are generally on the undersides of the leaves.  Remove any worms immediately.
  • Harvest the central head as it comes to maturity. After you cut off the first head of broccoli, side heads will continue to grow well into the cooler weather. These can be harvested as they mature.

Sep 23

Welcome Back

by ehightow — last modified Sep 23, 2013 12:35 PM

Student Farm to give broccoli seedlings at UC Davis Fall Convocation

Welcome new and returning students, faculty, staff and friends of the University of California.

Thank you for joining the UC Davis Student Farm, a program of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis, at Fall Convocation 2013.

This year’s convocation focused on how the UC Davis community is innovating together to advance food and health. ASI – with programs such as the Student Farm, Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), and more – plays an important role in that innovation as it seeks to ensure access to healthy food and promote the vitality of agriculture today and for future generations.

In addition to doing this through integrative research, communication and early action on big, emerging issues, ASI is focused on sustainable farming education as it supports both the new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major and the well-established Student Farm.

The broccoli seedlings the Student Farm shared with Convocation attendees are one example of the sort of hands-on education students receive at the Student Farm.

Learn more about the UC Davis Student Farm.

Caring for your broccoli plant

Wondering how to take care of the broccoli plant you received today? Alice Del Simone is happy to help.


Planting instructions:

  • Transplant seedling into your indoor, or outdoor, garden in the next couple of weeks
  • If you’re planting into a pot, use at least a two-gallon container per seedling.
  • Broccoli prefer at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Fill the pot with potting soil mix.
  • Before transplanting water your seedling.
  • To plant, gently squeeze the sides of the seedling pot before removing it by holding near the base of the stem
  • Place it in the hole and firmly pack the soil around the base of the seeding
  • Water the pot.

Care instructions:

  • Water regularly, about one inch per week
  • Add nutrients, such as a fish fertilizer or another nitrogen-rich amendment
  • As the plant grows, check for pests such as cabbage worms or aphids. Cabbage worms are small green worms that are generally on the undersides of the leaves.  Remove any worms immediately.
  • Harvest the central head as it comes to maturity. After you cut off the first head of broccoli, side heads will continue to grow well into the cooler weather. These can be harvested as they mature.

Jul 11

Food systems literature and research in one, easy-to-navigate location

by ehightow — last modified Jul 11, 2013 05:40 PM

Community food systems are gaining attention nationwide as an important way to create links between farmers, consumers and communities in particular regions.  A recently released bibliography created by researchers with the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis documents the growing interest in community food systems, focusing mostly on analyses of food-related activities and trends within the United States.

The Community Food System Bibliography gathers published literature on local and regional food systems and categorizes the literature by key topics.  It can help students and researchers better understand the landscape of the literature, gaps and needs for future research; non-profits can use it to help them identify the potential successes and shortcomings of existing strategies and highlight opportunities for future work.

Download the Community Food System Bibliography.

Jun 01

2013 Bradford-Rominger award ceremony

by ehightow — last modified Jun 01, 2013 07:20 PM

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis held its annual Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award ceremony May 22.

The institute named Rose Hayden-Smith of the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources this year’s award recipient.

Learn more about the award and this year’s recipient by watching the full event, including this year’s distinguished speaker, Craig McNamara. McNamara is an organic farmer, owner and co-founder of Sierra Orchards, and president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

Apr 20

Picnic Day -- Saturday

by ehightow — last modified Apr 20, 2013 07:00 AM

The Agricultural Sustaipeppersnability Institute at UC Davis and its programs are at two locations at this year's Picnic Day at the UC Davis campus Saturday, April 20, 2013.

The institute is sharing organic pepper plants grown by students at the UC Davis Student Farm. Visit the ASI booth at Robbins Hall along California Avenue from 10 a.m. until we run out of plants.

Learn how to care for your pepper plants.

Also, stop by the Memorial Union booth, where we are handing out samples of Russell Ranch Dried Tomato pesto, cream cheese and julienned dried tomatoes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Picnic Day. The booth is directly outside the bookstore in the courtyard next to Freeborn Hall.

Learn more about Russell Ranch Dried Tomatoes.

Mar 15

New video lecture from Tom Tomich on global agroecology

by Aubrey White — last modified Mar 15, 2013 09:50 AM

In 2012, ASI Director Tom Tomich co-authored an article with ASI Affiliated faculty members and UC Davis faculty about Agroecology from a global perspective in the Annual Reviews and Environment and Resources.

The Annual Reviews has added a video lecture from Tom as a way to share more broadly the messages of this article. In this video lecture, he discusses the agricultural challenges brought on by a world population that could surpass nine billion individuals by 2050, as well as water scarcity, climate change, pests, nitrogen prices, and geopolitical factors. An important question will be how to feed nine billion people and do it in a sustainable way. He stresses the importance of approaching agroecology from an scientific perspective, integrated across disciplines, from economic and social sciences to entomology and genomics.


The entire article can be found here
(though access may require a subscription).

Jan 31

Is there a sustainability science?

by ehightow — last modified Jan 31, 2013 10:55 AM

The first in a series of webinars focused on the science of sustainability at the University of California is now available. Watch the video by clicking the image below.

ASI powerpoint slide

Is there a sustainability science?

  • Sustainability: What does it mean?
  • Is there a “sustainability science”?
  • What is at stake?

Speaker: Tom Tomich

  • Director of the Agriculture Sustainability Institute at UC Davis (ASI)
  • Director of the UC ANR Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SAREP)
  • W.K. Kellogg endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at UC Davis
  • Professor of Community Development, Environmental Science & Policy
  • Master Advisor of the newly established Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major at UC Davis

Presented by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis and the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SAREP)

The full webinar took place:
Friday, Feb. 15

Details to follow about additional webinars in the series.


Dec 19

Give the gift of sustainability this holiday season

by ehightow — last modified Dec 19, 2012 01:30 PM

Harold McClarty wants to feed the world while teaching his grandson about the importance of giving back.

by Courtney S. Miller

While many grandparents will be giving a bike or doll to their grandkids this holiday season, Harold McClarty is giving his grandson, Reed, a more unusual gift.

Through the Adopt-an-Acre program at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, McClarty recently made a donation to “adopt” an acre at UC Davis’ Russell Ranch Sustainable Agricultural Facility in honor of Reed McClarty, the youngest member of the McClarty family. McClarty, who is a prominent Central Valley farmer, said he made the gift because he wants to teach his one-and-a-half year old grandson and the entire McClarty family about the importance of agricultural sustainability while supporting a program that coincides with the family philosophy of giving back.

“Purchasing this acre is a legacy to Reed,” McClarty said. “We’re giving him something for the rest of his life.”

Continue reading.

Dec 04

ASI-affiliated faculty position available

by ehightow — last modified Dec 04, 2012 03:43 PM

The UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences seeks to hire an assistant Professor in Plant Sciences who would be affiliated with ASI.

The successful candidate’s research will focus on agricultural systems and how management practices affect the use and quality of natural resources. Possible topics might include cropping systems analysis and research to attain sustainable production of irrigated annual and perennial crops (e.g.: resource cycling (nutrients, carbon, water), energy flows, climate change, agrobiodiversity, agroecosytem services. Creativity in collaborative research using field station and farm locations is expected. The appointee will collaborate with other scientists at UC Davis including staff and faculty affiliates of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, Cooperative Extension specialists, advisors and researchers from other universities and agencies to address important agricultural/environmental issues in California. Interest in international agriculture is desirable. Teaching is assigned by the department chair and will include responsibilities in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems undergraduate major and include courses in sustainable agriculture systems, agroecosystem management and crop ecology.

Learn more about the position.

Terroir of Russell Ranch

by Aubrey White — last modified Dec 04, 2012 01:20 PM

Russell Ranch recently participated in the Robert Mondavi Institute's 2012 Terroir Event .  The event, focused mostly on wine grapes, examined the current understanding of terroir -- the concept that soil, climate, topography and similar elements of a local environment affect the quality and taste of the foods we grow. 

So much of the focus at Russell Ranch is on soils, we thought it appropriate to share a bit about our own terroir with an infographic.

Click to learn a bit about what makes the Russell Ranch tomatoes so tasty. 

RR terroir jpeg

Nov 30

Russell Ranch digs deep

by Aubrey White — last modified Nov 30, 2012 11:24 AM

Approximately every ten years, the research team at the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility gets the chance to dig deep into their research material to help answer questions about the long-term sustainability of agricultural systems. 

With a steel probe attached to the back of a tractor, the team digs three meters deep to take soil samples at 432 different points around the 72-acre field. The initiative takes the team nearly a month to complete, and the information in each soil core can answer major research questions about the long-term effects of different farming methods on soil health and help inform year-round research efforts at the ranch.

“The effort that has gone into collecting this unique set of samples will pay off in figuring out agricultural impacts on processes happening not only in plain sight, but also out of view, buried deep in the soil,” said Russell Ranch director Kate Scow

The sampling effort is part of the Century Project, Russell Ranch’s 100-year-long experiment. The project divides 72 acres of land into individual one-acre plots, with each plot given different treatments throughout the year. Some plots are irrigated; other plots are farmed without added water. Some plots are treated with compost; others are treated with synthetic fertilizer. Each individual plot demonstrates how a combination of different practices can affect crop yield, soil health and the health of surrounding ecosystems.

Read more about the 10-year soil sampling at UC ANR's Green Blog. 

Nov 15

ASI's 2012 Strategic Snapshot and Director's Message

by Aubrey White — last modified Nov 15, 2012 04:47 PM

In anticipation of our fifth annual External Advisory Board meeting, we are pleased to share our 2012 Strategic Snapshot and message from ASI's Director, Tom Tomich.  


Nov 02

Learn about ASI's Sustainable Sourcing project

by Aubrey White — last modified Nov 02, 2012 10:05 AM

sustainable sourcing collageIn collaboration with the Information Center on the Environment at UC Davis (ICE), ASI's initiative on sustainable sourcing seeks to enhance the sustainability of how we source raw materials from around the world.  The project seeks to create a scientifically-validated framework that food companies and other stakeholders can use when making decisions about agricultural sourcing. 

 ASI's director Tom Tomich and academic coordinator Sonja Brodt recently presented a webinar on the Sustainable Sourcing Project to interested stakeholders.  The webinar is available on the Sustainable Sourcing Web page.

Learn more about the project

Oct 23

Learn more about Russell Ranch's long term agricultural research efforts

by Aubrey White — last modified Oct 23, 2012 04:55 PM

Located in one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, Russell Ranch seeks to answer the question: Can we increase sustainability as we increase food production?

Russell Ranch operates as a commercial scale farm under strict research parameters, seeking to better understand long-term trends in ho changes in farming practices affect yield, profitability, resource-use efficiency and environmental impacts.

Visit Russell Ranch's Web page to learn more about research efforts, and how you can support this long-term initiative through our Adopt an Acre campaign. 

New UCTV web series featuring the work of ASI

by Aubrey White — last modified Oct 23, 2012 03:25 PM

UCTV Prime, the YouTube channel for the University of California, is now airing a series of short videos in a series called The Future of Farming. The series was produced by UC Davis Director of campus communications Mitchel Benson with the help of several faculty and staff affiliated with ASI.

This four-part series examines the challenges of reforming our food production to meet the needs of a growing population, and demonstrates how UC Davis is leading the way in developing sustainable, high-tech agriculture practices and training the next generation of farmers.

A teaser video and the first video in the series – which mentions the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major, the Student Farm, Russell Ranch, and more – can now be seen here: http://www.uctv.tv/farming/

Episodes three and four will be released Nov. 6 and 13. 

Sep 27

Student farmer awarded Switzer Fellowship

by ehightow — last modified Sep 27, 2012 09:15 AM
Photo by John Stumbos / UC Davis


Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, a UC Davis graduate student pursuing her passion for sustainable agriculture, has been awarded a $15,000 fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.

As part of her graduate studies, Carlisle-Cummins works on a chile pepper project at the UC Davis Student Farm to teach fellow students and the public about the importance of plant diversity and breeding.

Read the full story.

Aug 06

Celebrating the excellence of staff member Israel Herrera

by Aubrey White — last modified Aug 06, 2012 03:11 PM

Israel citation for excellence

Israel Herrera, facility manager at the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility at UC Davis, was awarded a Citation for Excellence by Chancellor Linda Katehi and the UC Davis Staff Assembly this month. The award recognizes outstanding achievements by UC Davis staff.

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis nominated Herrera out of appreciation for his overall positive attitude, generosity, intelligence and integrity.

Herrera has been an integral part of Russell Ranch’s success.  He has designed farming equipment for better cover crop incorporation with a local equipment manufacturer.  In order to improve water research and water monitoring capabilities, Herrera negotiated the repair of two on-site wells with campus Utilities that included adding automated controls and remote access for system monitoring.  Herrera advocated for switching from contract-based farm labor to hiring two permanent, fairly paid farm laborers for the ranch.  Herrera also keeps strong ties with the local farming community through personal visits and by assisting them with new equipment in conservation tillage and cover crop management. 

Herrera remains steadfast in his devotion to both the research and practical needs of Russell Ranch, working long hours and weekends during peak seasons.  He has skillfully managed a complex research station with limited resources and support for many years. His leadership, creativity and outreach to the community have created long-lasting relationships within and beyond the university community.

Thank you for all you do, Israel!

Jun 19

Congratulations, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems graduates.

by Aubrey White — last modified Jun 19, 2012 01:45 PM
SAFS graduation pic

On Sunday morning, June 17, thousands of students marched through UC Davis' campus in caps and gowns to receive their diplomas.  That afternoon, we gathered at the Ecological Garden to celebrate with Genna Lipari and Alannah Kull, the two students who make up the first graduating class of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Major (SA&FS). 

The SA&FS major, officially launched at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, integrates multiple subjects to provide students with a thorough understanding of the many issues facing modern farming and food systems, including production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management. 

The degree was created with the goal of instilling in students the ability to step back and see the big picture, said Professor Ryan Galt, who teaches a core course in the major.

For Genna Lipari, that goal was met.  "I'm well positioned," she said.  "I think I get the big picture a little better than most [new graduates].  It's a valuable perspective to have in the work force."

We want to congratulate Genna and Alannah on their accomplishment, and wish them the best of luck as they head out into the work force.  New students are frequently showing interest in the SA&FS major, so we look forward to future graduation ceremonies and the chance to celebrate the work of our students.       

Apr 21

ASI Picnic Day booth: Learn how to care for your basil plant

by ehightow — last modified Apr 21, 2012 11:30 AM

The UC Davis campus is the place to be Saturday, April 21.

Join the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for one of the largest student-run events in the nation – Picnic Day.

The institute will be giving out organic basil plants grown by students at the UC Davis Student Farm – a campus-based program within the institute that was founded in 1978.

Drop by the institute’s booth at Robbins Hall. Take home a basil plant, and learn more about food sustainability.

 Learn from a student at the UC Davis Student Farm how to care for basil here.


Picnic Day flyer

Apr 13

Organic vegetable production manual wins design award

by Aubrey White — last modified Apr 13, 2012 01:10 PM
Organic vegetable production manual cover

We are always excited when we get the chance to share the work of our staff and faculty.  What excites us even more is when that work is more formally recognized for its quality. 

UC SAREP Program Coordinator, Jeri Ohmart and former SAREP employee David Chaney served as the publication coordinators for the recently released Organic Vegetable Production Manual published by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). 

The Manual, which provides detailed information for growers on how to farm vegetables organically and how to succeed in a competitive marketplace, recently received a Silver Award from the 2012 PubWest Book Design Awards.  

Congratulations to Jeri and David, as well as Milt McGiffen, the manual's technical editor and UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for their hard work and high quality product.  

The Organic Vegetable Production Manual, along with many other publications on agricultural production practices can be purchased through the UC ANR catalog. 

Mar 16

California School Garden Training Program

by Aubrey White — last modified Mar 16, 2012 10:59 AM

The UC Davis Children's Garden is collaborating with Life Lab, the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego and the California School Garden Network to host the California School Garden Training Program. 

These workshops, offered throughout California, April through June, will offer important information for teams working to create or enhance their school gardens.  Separate "Train the Trainer" workshops will teach school garden professionals how to replicate the workshop model to better expand the reach of California school gardens.  For more information or the register for the events, visit Life Lab

CSGT 2012 img


Feb 22

ASI Director and affiliated faculty join ANR advisory panel

by Aubrey White — last modified Feb 22, 2012 09:40 AM

New members have been appointed by UC ANR VP Barbara Allen-Diaz to the advisory panel for the Sustainable Food Systems Strategic Initiative, announced Rose Hayden-Smith, initiative leader. 

Among these new members are Tom Tomich, director of ASI and UC SAREP and ASI affiliated faculty member Ermias Kebreab, professor in the department of Animal Science at UC Davis and Sesnon Endowed Chair in sustainable agriculture. 

Areas covered in the SFS initiative include:

  • Improve Water Quality, Quantity, and Security
  • Enhance Competitive, Sustainable Food Systems
  • Increase Science Literacy in Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Nutrition
  • Sustainable Natural Ecosystems
  • Enhance the Health of Californians and California’s Agricultural Economy
  • Healthy Families and Communities
  • Ensure Safe and Secure Food Supplies
  • Managing Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases
  • Improve Energy Security and Green Technologies through Innovative Science Linking Engineering, Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences

Learn more about ANR's Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, or read the SFS draft strategic plan.  




Feb 10

"In Organic We Trust" film screening

by Aubrey White — last modified Feb 10, 2012 09:50 AM

"In Organic We Trust" is a new documentary film that looks beyond 'organic' for other practical solution like farmer's markets, school gardens and urban farms that are revolutionizing the way we eat. 

The film features Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis Director Tom Tomich, Sierra Orchards and the Center for Land-Based Learning President Craig McNamara, and many other important voices in agriculture.

Watch the "In Organic We Trust" Teaser.

 Check out the "In Organic We Trust" world premier at the San Francisco Film Festival in February.

Where: Roxie Theater in the Mission district (3117 16th St.)

When: Sunday, Feb. 12 at 2:45p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:15p.m.

Tickets are $11 and can be purchased here.  

Visit the "In Organic We Trust" Web site to learn more.

Feb 01

Join SAREP at EcoFarm 2012

by Aubrey White — last modified Feb 01, 2012 04:10 PM

Several sessions at this weekend's EcoFarm conference in Pacific Grove, Calif., will feature UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program- and program-funded research.

We are looking forward to celebrating the program's 25th anniversary with our EcoFarm friends and UC Davis colleagues, including 10 UC Davis students in attendance with the help of Agricultural Sustainability Institute travel scholarships.

You are encouraged to attend UC SAREP and ASI events at EcoFarm.

  • Join us to celebrate SAREP's 25th anniversary at a reception on Thursday evening. 
    • Thursday, Feb. 2, 8-10 p.m., Kiln room.  The reception is open to anyone attending the EcoFarm conference.
  • Food hubs and value-based supply chains, plenary session

    • Thursday, Feb. 2, 3:30-5 p.m.


Friends of UC SAREP are participating in sessions at EcoFarm that are sure to be interesting and informative.  Check out:

  • Immigration is always an Issue! 
    • Featuring  George Daniels III, Richard Hobbs, and Dave Runsten
    • Thursday, Feb 2, 8:30am
  • Grazing Systems: From set stock to mob grazing, and everything in between
    • Moderated by Roger Ingram, UC Cooperative extension
    • Thursday, Feb. 2 10:30am
  • On farm habitat diversity for bees and beneficials
    • Featuring John Anderson, Hedgerow farms
    • Thursday, Feb. 2, 10:30am

Nov 09

Russell Ranch announces new UC Davis fresh-dried tomato product

by Aubrey White — last modified Nov 09, 2011 10:15 AM

Sustainable farming study produces more than research results

Russel Ranch Dried Tomatoes Label

Adding to a growing list of campus-produced products, Russell Ranch introduced a new UC Davis product today -- Russell Ranch Dried Tomatoes.

Today, in celebration of the new product, Gunrock Pub is offering an appetizer that includes the organically grown, locally dried tomatoes as a gift from the chef with purchase of an entree. 

Also, Tuesday, Nov. 29, Russell Ranch will host a tasting at the UC Davis Bookstore from noon to 2 p.m.

Russell Ranch Dried Tomatoes are grown at UC Davis' Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, a 300 acre farm west of campus.  The organically grown tomatoes are part of a century-long study of agricultural sustainability at the ranch that compares the long-term effects of different ways of farming.

After years of selling tomatoes off campus, Russell Ranch staff began working with UC Davis Dining Services as it sought more sources of locally grown food in order to reduce the carbon footprint of food served on campus.  For the past two years, freshly harvested Russell Ranch tomatoes have been used in the Russell Ranch Roasted Tomato Sauce that accompanies a variety of dishes - from pizza to polenta and ratatouille - served on campus. 

This year, Russell Ranch staff developed a new limited-quantity product that can be enjoyed on and off campus.

Russell Ranch Dried Tomatoes are also available at the Memorial Union Coffeehouse, the UC Davis Medical Center and for purchase through the UC Davis Bookstore.

$4 for a 2.75 oz bag
$12 for a 9.75 ox bag

Visit the Russell Ranch Dried Tomatoes site and ASI newsroom for more information.  

Nov 07

New publications in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources

by Aubrey White — last modified Nov 07, 2011 10:29 AM

ASI and SAREP staff and affiliated UC Davis faculty have recently published two new articles in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 

The Annual Review of Environment and Resources provides a complimentary one-time access to each article as a PDF, downloadable from their website. 

Agroecology: A Review from a Global-Change Perspective
Tom Tomich, Sonja Brodt, Kate Scow, and affiliated UC Davis faculty formed a multidisciplinary team to map key components of agroecology.  The article conceptualizes the future of agroecology as a discipline and seeks to identify forward-looking scientific questions to enhance the relevance of agroecology for the key challenges of mitigating environmental impacts of agriculture while dramatically increasing global food production, improving livelihoods, and thereby reducing chronic hunger and malnutrition over the coming decades.

Energy Intensity of Agriculture and Food Systems
SAREP's Sonja Brodt is a contributing author for a new article in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources.  The relationships between energy use in food systems, food system productivity, and energy resource constraints are complex. Moreover, ongoing changes in food production and consumption norms concurrent with urbanization, globalization, and demographic changes underscore the importance of energy use in food systems as a food security concern. The article reviews the current state of knowledge with respect to the energy intensity of agriculture and food systems and highlights key drivers and trends in food system energy use along with opportunities for and constraints on improved efficiencies.


Nov 01

UC SAREP collaborators help us celebrate our 25th year

by Aubrey White — last modified Nov 01, 2011 02:00 PM

At the request of the California State Legislature, the University of California established the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) in 1986 both to help Californians understand the significance of participating in a sustainable food system and to assist farmers and ranchers in developing and implementing sustainable production and marketing systems.

In celebration of  SAREP's 25th anniversary, we asked present and past collaborators to reflect on their work with SAREP, and on SAREP's history with California agriculture.

Oct 27

Kate Scow to speak at Outlook Speaker Series

by Aubrey White — last modified Oct 27, 2011 08:39 AM

The College of Agriculture and Environmental Science is hosting its first Outlook Speaker Series on Saturday, November 5. The topic of the program is “Feeding a Hungry Planet.”  Faculty members will address their research and how each topic is helping to feed people locally and globally.

Rusell Ranch Director and ASI Deputy Director, Kate Scow, will speak at the event, alongside Dr. Beth Mitcham of Plant Sciences and Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam of Animal Sciences.

Saturday, November 5 at 9:00am
Location: UC Davis Conference Center

8:30–9 a.m.           Optional Continental Breakfast
9–9:30 a.m.           Welcome: Dean Neal Van Alfen
9:35–10:20 a.m.    Capacity building: Dr. Beth Mitcham,
                              Plant Sciences
10:25–11:10 a.m.  Sustainable agriculture: Dr. Kate
, Land, Air and Water Resources
11:15–noon           Biotechnology: Dr. Alison Van
, Animal Science

For more information, visit the Outlook Speaker Series website.

Oct 24

Celebrate Food Day

by ehightow — last modified Oct 24, 2011 12:25 PM

In recognition of Food Day, more than 2,000 events are being hosted across the nation today to inspire Americans to take part in a more sustainable food system by eating healthier; expanding access to food; eating food produced in ways that improve our land, air and water, and more.

ASI is among those sponsoring student-organized Food Day activities at UC Davis today.

Try freshly harvested Student Farm produce prepared by UC Davis Dining Commons:

Noon-2 p.m. Silo Patio

6-8 p.m. Cuarto Dining Commons

6-8 p.m. Tercero Dining Commons

Stop by the CoHo this evening to find but more about this nationwide campaign for delicious, healthy, and affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.

6:30-9:30 p.m. Pedal powered smoothies, food samples and photo booths in the Memorial Union Coffee House

7:30-8 p.m. ASI-affiliated faculty member Ryan Galt will talk about the food system.

8-9:30 p.m. screening of ‘The Greenhorns’, a fun film exploring the lives of America's young farming community - its spirit, practices, and needs.

For more information about Food Day, including a list of events, visit the Food Day Web site.

Oct 18

New Job Announcement: Network coordinator position. Apply by Nov. 7, 2011

by Aubrey White — last modified Oct 18, 2011 09:16 AM


50% part-time position

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the full position description including a description of the essential job responsibilities and qualifications.

To apply, review directions for “How to Apply” on the UC Davis Career Opportunities Web Page: https://www.employment.ucdavis.edu.  Refer to Requisition # 03006375, Payroll Title: Program Representative II. For full consideration, apply by Monday Nov. 7th, 2011.

Job Summary

Under direction of the Director for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI), provide coordination and organizational support to the networking, education, research, and engagement activities of the national Inter-institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability (INFAS).

In consultation with Network members, establish an action plan to identify and track the steps necessary to achieve Network goals; facilitate communication and convene Network members as a group (virtually or in person); promote community engagement with Network members and connections with other networks; and serve as a catalyst to connect people strategically where there is potential for mutual benefit. 

Guide the development of grant proposals to secure additional funding for collaborative projects. Coordinate national symposia and other meetings to engage diverse stakeholders in discussion of critical issues. Draft and coordinate review of reports and other documents.  Organize content and provide oversight to INFAS web page. Facilitate outreach to potential new Network members.

Develop opportunities for mentoring and involvement of emerging leaders and young scholars seeking to address agriculture and food systems challenges.

Oct 14

SAREP announces new grant recipients

by Aubrey White — last modified Oct 14, 2011 09:24 AM

The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) has awarded $150,000 in grants to 14 projects that focus on sustainable food systems research and outreach. 

While all of the projects explore and support sustainable food production and marketing, this year's grant recipients' projects range in subject from health food access issues to rangeland stewardship. 

For additional information about this year's grants, including a full list of this year's grant recipients, see SAREP's press release

For more information, contact SAREP's Sonja Brodt, (530) 754-8547, or Gail Feenstra, (530) 752-8408.



Sep 30

October Speaker Series

by Aubrey White — last modified Sep 30, 2011 10:13 AM

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute invites you to attend the following guest presentations:

Monday, October 3, 1pm:

Christoper Graham, Cornell University  

Balancing Nitrogen Sinks and Sources Using Cover Crops and Manured Fields

Location: 140 Robbins Hall 

Thursday, October 6, 1pm 

Kathleen Guillozet, Oregon State University

Livelihoods and Land Use Change in Highland Ethiopia

Location: Olive room, DANR Building, 225 Hopkins Road

See Map

Friday, October 7, 9:30am:

Elizabeth Cedar Louis, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

The Political Ecology of Food Sovereignty Movements in Neoliberal India

Location: Olive Room, DANR Building, 225 Hopkins Road

See Map

Monday, October 10, 1pm:

Dilruba Yeasmin, University of Arizona

A Framework for Evaluating and Assessing the Effects of Urban Growth on Protected Areas

Location: 140 Robbins Hall

Round-table discussion: Harnessing Soil Biology in Agriculture

by Aubrey White — last modified Sep 30, 2011 09:48 AM

Please join us on Tuesday, October 4 for a round-table discussion with Nuffield Farming Scholar, Michael Inwood. 

Michael Inwood

Nuffield Farming Scholar

Sheep and rangeland farmer, Toulon

When: 2-3pm, Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where: 140 Robbins Hall, UC Davis

Free and open to the public


Michael Inwood is a third generation sheep and wool producer from Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia.  The Inwood family run up to 10,000 superfine wool, merino sheep on their farm "Toulon."  Michael has been awarded a prestigious 2011 Nuffield Scholarship to study regenerative and sustainable agriculture with a focus on soil inputs.  He is specifically interested in how soil biology can improve the efficiency of nutrient utilization and what inputs are needed to assist the process.  He is conducting a farm-level farming systems project in Australia, "Toulon- Engaging Nature" with a focus on future sustainability and includes work on solar powered farm vehicles for sowing crops (www.engagingnature.com).  This project aims to engage nature to solve many pressing environmental, farm management and community concerns.  

For more information please contact:

Emma Torbert |  eetorbert@ucdavis.edu  |  530-752-5208

Sep 12

New SAREP article on Farm-to-Institution programs

by Aubrey White — last modified Sep 12, 2011 01:06 PM

Gail Feenstra of SAREP, Jeri Ohmart of SAREP/ASI and Shermain Hardesty of Agricultural Resource Economics at UC Davis are contributing authors on a recently published article in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. The article,  Using a Supply Chain Analysis to Assess the Sustainability of Farm to Institution Programs, responds to rising interest in local and sustainable food among colleges and universities.  The study focuses on how to foster farm-to-institution programs by exploring barriers, opportunities, and potential solutions from different perspectives in the supply chain. Using a values-based supply chain approach, the article offers unique insights to people developing and maintaining these programs.

The full abstract for the article can be found here.

*The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development is a new online journal and requires a subscription for complete articles.  For UC affiliates, the journal articles can accessed through the UC library system.



Sep 07

New Resource: Values-Based Supply Chain Annotated Bibliography

by Aubrey White — last modified Sep 07, 2011 02:01 PM

SAREP compiled an extensive annotated bibliography of literature relating to values-based supply chains for Know Your Farmer/Know Your Food: A California Project.   The bibliography can serve as a valuable resource for anyone involved in creating or researching supply chains, food hubs, and farm to institution programs. 



Sep 01

New SAREP article in Journal of Argiculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

by Aubrey White — last modified Sep 01, 2011 03:30 PM

SAREP's Gail Feenstra and Julia Van Soelen Kim are contributing authors on a new article "Value Chains for Sustainable Procurement in Large School Districts: Fostering Partnerships"  The article chronicles two separate pilot efforts to create value chains for mid-scale farms to supply large school districts' food-service operations with more healthful, local, and sustainably produced foods, using a modified farm to school model.  

The full abstract for the article can be found here.

*The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development is a new online journal and requires a subscription for complete articles.  For UC affiliates, the journal articles can accessed through the UC library system. 

Aug 31

SAREP to develop solution centers

by ehightow — last modified Aug 31, 2011 02:20 PM

The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is collaborating with Verliant Energy Partners to launch a new approach, called solutions centers, to showcase the latest sustainable solutions to critical issues in agricultural and food systems.


A solution center is a combination of virtual, web-based information portals along with networks of live demonstration sites and technical experts who can provide practical, science-based information to end-users. Each solution center will focus on a specific issue in agriculture and food systems, and will provide guidance on how to adapt information to a wide range of conditions, or different use cases, in California. 

"Given the diversity of California agriculture, we prioritize engaging end-users like farmers and cooperative extension farm advisors to help us to develop a structure for solution centers that is highly adaptable, and avoids a one-size-fits-all approach," says Sonja Brodt, Academic Coordinator and SAREP's leader on the first solution center project.


Verliant Energy Partners is partnering with SAREP in the first phase of this launch, to develop a prototype solution center focused on re-purposing agricultural waste streams for bioenergy creation (using anaerobic digesters) and for nutrient capture and re-use. The first steps in this phase are already underway - to organize all UC assets on this topic into a central repository. These assets include existing information and learning tools, as well as an inventory of demonstration sites and researchers.


"Best practices in sustainable agriculture are being sought by the ag industry in general.  UC Davis is a thought-leader in this field.  Creating a platform on campus to allow easy collaboration and flow of information helps all parties.  We are committed to supporting this platform by helping to make the SAREP Solution Center a reality," said Haider Nazar, CEO of Verliant Energy Partners and incoming ASI External Advisory Board member.


"SAREP has 25 years of history connecting UC science with the needs of California farmers and ranchers.  With the help of Verliant Energy Partners, we feel SAREP's solution center approach will enhance our ability to assist California agriculture in addressing new challenges and seizing emerging opportunities," said Tom Tomich, Director of SAREP and ASI.

Aug 30

New SAREP report on visioning food hubs in Yolo and Solano counties

by Aubrey White — last modified Aug 30, 2011 03:25 PM

Prepared by a team of UC Davis students for the Yolo Ag and Food Alliance, this report examines the plausibility of creating a food hub in Yolo and Solano Counties.  Researchers explored recent trends in food hubs across the country and conducted a food system assessment of the two counties.  The food system assessment tracks historical trends and data in Yolo and Solano Counties for five sector of the food system: production, processing, distribution, retail, and consumption.  By analyzing these sectors, the report provides a context to better understand the viability of a possible food hub in the region and includes exercises and recommendations to help guide the AFA through a planning process.  

Read the report.

Read other SAREP and ASI publications. 

Aug 26

ASI connects with AGree

by Aubrey White — last modified Aug 26, 2011 11:02 AM

AGree, a new initiative to transform food and agricultural policy, unveiled the members of both its advisory and research committees this summer.  ASI External Advisory Board members A.G. Kawamura and Judith Redmont will both serve on AGree's advisory committee.

ASI Director Tom Tomich was named to AGree's research committee, which provides expert advice to help AGree develop effective policy solutions.  

We at ASI are excited for these new important partnerships!

Dr. Ryan Galt wins Outstanding Mentor Award

by Aubrey White — last modified Aug 26, 2011 11:01 AM

Dr. Ryan Galt won the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Consortium for Women and Research at UC Davis.  This award is meant to honor Academic Senate and Academic Federation members for mentoring post-docs, graduate students and/or undergraduates in research, professional development. 

Galt works closely with graduate students in the Geography and Community Development grad groups who focus largely on food systems and sustainable agriculture-based research.  His undergraduate course in Food Systems is entering its fourth year and will be one of the core courses offered in the new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major.  

Find out more about the Outstanding Mentor Award here.


Jul 18

ASI seeks to fill two postdoc positions

by ehightow — last modified Jul 18, 2011 08:42 PM

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute, with the support of Mars, Inc, is launching a new initiative to improve the sustainability of global agricultural raw materials sourcing, with particular emphasis on key commodities.  The institute is searching for two postdoctoral researchers to assist in this endeavor.

Find out more about the positions.



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