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May 21

Rose Hayden-Smith named 2013 Bradford-Rominger award winner

by ehightow — last modified May 21, 2013 01:45 PM
Rose Hayden-Smith

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis announced today that Rose Hayden-Smith 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 Hayden-Smith tomorrow at a ceremony featuring distinguished speaker Craig McNamara.

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.

“I’m extremely humbled to receive the award and actually don’t feel deserving when I read about the amazing attributes and characteristics and qualities that defined the work and character of those two individuals,” said Hayden-Smith.

Learn more about the award.

Rose Hayden-Smith has been a UC ANR Cooperative Extension 4-H youth, family and community development advisor in Ventura County since 1992.  Since March 2011 she has served as the leader for ANR’s strategic initiative in sustainable food systems.

Learn more about Rose Hayden-Smith and past Bradford-Rominger award winners.

After the Bradford-Rominger award is presented to Hayden-Smith at tomorrow’s ceremony, Craig McNamara – an organic farmer, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, and the president of the Center for Land-based Learning – will give a talk entitled “Changing the Way We Think about Food.”

Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award Ceremony
4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 22
Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center
UC Davis campus


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

Mar 11

Accurate, site-specific knowledge of fertilizer use in California needed

by Aubrey White — last modified Mar 11, 2013 01:16 PM

March 11, 2013

Contacts: Aubrey White, Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, (530) 752-5299 

Janet White, California Agriculture, (510) 665-2201

Nitrogen fertilizer has undoubtedly benefited California's agriculture and citizens. However, applying more nitrogen than can be used by plants may lead to negative impacts on the environment and human health. Finding a balanced use of nitrogen to maximize benefit and minimize harm is essential to protect California's agriculture, people and natural resources.

fertilizer trucks

As California legislators focus on nitrogen use in agriculture and its ability to contaminate groundwater, potential regulation on fertilizer use will require solid information on the amount of fertilizer used by California farmers, and the extent to which that usage contributes to environmental pollution. A new study published in California Agriculture evaluates trends in fertilizer use by California's major crops. It also shows that major deficiencies in data collection need to be addressed in order to develop effective policies regarding fertilizer use.

The publication is one of the first peer-reviewed articles to emanate from the California Nitrogen Assessment (an ongoing project at UC Davis). Assessment research documents that while there are many pathways through which nitrogen can enter the environment, inorganic fertilizer use is responsible for the largest fraction of new nitrogen introduced into California annually. Currently, over 600,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer are sold in the state each year.

Information on fertilizer sales, however, is not an accurate indicator of fertilizer application, and authors found that fertilizer use data is not easy to come by — either because it is not tracked at relevant scales or because data sources are inconsistent.

"We found ourselves with very limited information to understand an issue with sweeping implications for California agriculture,” says Todd Rosenstock, the article's lead author. "We dug deep to create an accurate picture of fertilizer use in the state, but the remaining gaps will require attention.”

To estimate the amount of nitrogen applied to different crops around the state, authors aggregated data from different sources, including grower surveys and University of California studies, and show application rates for 33 of California's major crops.  

While nitrogen fertilizer use on a crop-by-crop basis has risen over the last three decades, this increase has been more modest than fertilizer sales suggest. Between 1973 and 2005, fertilizer sales increased 31 percent, but nitrogen application rates increased on 25 percent across the 33 crops studied. Both data sets reflect increased nitrogen application and a shift to growing more nitrogen-intensive crops.

lettuce field
 

For many crops, nitrogen use increases have been accompanied by well-recorded yield increases — at rates that show nitrogen's benefit, and also suggest that farmers may be becoming more agronomically nitrogen-efficient, requiring less nitrogen per unit of production.

"In the absence of good information, we could do the wrong thing,” says Tom Tomich, co-author of the article and director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

"Regulation without supporting data could fail to address the heart of the problem, or could damage agriculture,” says Tomich, who is also professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis, W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and director of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. "Better information on nitrogen use is indispensable to collaborative development of effective solutions that can increase nitrogen use efficiency and save farmers money.”

The article makes recommendations on how data could be better compiled to improve our understanding of statewide trends in fertilizer use.    

This article is part of an ongoing study, The California Nitrogen Assessment (CNA), a project of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis and UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. The CNA reviews existing data on nitrogen to draw connections between nitrogen use, surplus, and established environmental and human health effects of excess nitrogen. The CNA is a stakeholder-driven assessment that seeks public input on its research and products. To learn more about the California Nitrogen Assessment, visit http://nitrogen.ucdavis.edu.

###

California Agriculture is the University of California's peer-reviewed journal of research in agricultural, human and natural resources. For a free subscription, go to: http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu, or write to [email protected].

 

May 02

Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis names Ken Tate this year’s Bradford-Rominger Award recipient

by ehightow — last modified May 02, 2012 07:00 PM
Ken Tate

UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Ken Tate was named this year’s Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award recipient this week.

Given by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, the award is meant to recognize and honor 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.

“I believe this award carries with it a responsibility for each recipient to provide leadership throughout their professional and personal lives to advance agricultural and environmental sustainability. We can have healthy agricultural enterprises and a healthy environment – we will have them. We will accomplish this goal together, and only with leadership from all,” Dr. Tate said.

Dr. Tate runs the California Rangeland Watershed Laboratory in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, which focuses on the diverse ecosystems that comprise California rangelands.

He has developed numerous partnerships with UC Cooperative Extension advisors, ranchers, rangeland managers, other research laboratories and organizations focusing on natural resources conservation, management and regulation. His research and extension program has been exemplary in evaluating scientific information relevant to important issues, contributing new scientific knowledge, extending information to diverse stakeholders, and supplying tools and knowledge to implement on-the ground solutions. The impact of his research and service activities on rangeland management and the leadership role he has played in communicating the results to stakeholders and the public are recognized at the state, national and international levels.

Watch Ken Tate discuss his work and the significance of winning the Bradford Rominger Award



Additional resources:

 

Nov 09

UC Davis' Russell Ranch announces new fresh-dried tomato product

by Aubrey White — last modified Nov 09, 2011 01:45 PM

Sustainable farming study produces more than research results

Russell Ranch introduced a new UC Davis product today – organically grown dried tomatoes.

Russell Ranch Dried Tomatoes are organically grown at UC Davis’ Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, a 300-acre farm located in the warm Central Valley of California. Adding to a growing list of campus-produced products, the tomatoes are harvested when their sweet, tangy flavor is most intense, and dried within 30 miles of campus.

These organically grown tomatoes are part of a century-long study of agricultural sustainability at Russell Ranch that compares the long-term effects of different ways of farming on crops, soil and water quality, nutrient cycling, pests and profitability.

“We developed this product to help meet a campus desire for more locally grown food. We also wanted to share with those on and off campus what’s happening at Russell Ranch. It is unique for a research farm of this size to be entirely dedicated to a century-long study of agricultural sustainability, and it is the only one of its kind in Mediterranean ecosystems,” said Kate Scow, director of Russell Ranch, which is a program of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

After years of selling tomatoes off campus, Russell Ranch staff began working with UC Davis Dining Services. The Dining Services 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 allow Dining Services to include the robust flavor of dried tomatoes in dishes all year long, and are also available in prepared dishes at the Memorial Union Coffeehouse and the UC Davis Medical Center. They can be purchased online through the UC Davis Bookstore, and are available at the Memorial Union and downtown Davis bookstore locations.

Prices
$4 for 2.75 oz bag
$12 for 9.75 oz bag

Visit the Russell Ranch Dried Tomatoes site and the ASI blog for more information:

Contacts:
Emma Torbert, (530) 752-5208, [email protected]
Eve Hightower, (530) 752-8664, [email protected]

# # #

 

Oct 12

SAREP launches study to identify farmworker challenges

by Aubrey White — last modified Oct 12, 2011 02:35 PM

The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is launching a project to address California farmworkers’ living and working conditions. Through one-on-one interviews with members of local organizations that serve farmworkers, the researchers intend to learn how UC can best help with research, education and outreach.

“A sustainable food system is healthy and safe for everyone, including all those who work the land,” said Tom Tomich, director of SAREP. “As SAREP continues to support sustainable agriculture research, we look forward to identifying research opportunities that will improve farmworker conditions.”

California farmworkers face many challenges at work and in their communities. Nearly a quarter of California farmworker families live in poverty, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While farmworkers play a crucial role in feeding Californians, food insecurity is among the many challenges they face daily. Farm work is one of the most hazardous occupations in the state, but nearly 70 percent of California farmworkers have no health insurance, according to a California Institute for Rural Studies report.

SAREP aims to help researchers add context to these numbers by interviewing members of organizations that work with farmworkers and other stakeholders. Participants will be asked to suggest the types of research, education and communication projects they would find most helpful as they work to improve farm laborers’ working and living conditions. The research agenda is scheduled to be completed by September 2012.

“Projects such as this – creating a research agenda with the participation of people who will ultimately use the information for their work – is inspired by the University of California’s land grant mission to serve society,” said Gail Feenstra, SAREP food systems coordinator. “SAREP was founded to help ensure all California agricultural interests, particularly the underserved voices, are supported through scientific research, education and outreach.”

Research regarding California farmworker issues has been conducted, but there is more to do. SAREP aims to assist both researchers and farmworkers by identifying research that workers and community organizations would find most useful.

In addition to identifying research topics, key stakeholders and potential partners and funders, SAREP is forming an advisory committee to guide its farmworker research and outreach efforts.

SAREP provides leadership and support for scientific research and education in agricultural and food systems that are economically viable, conserve natural resources and biodiversity, and enhance the quality of life in the state's communities.


Contacts: Gail Feenstra, (530) 752-8408, [email protected]
Eve Hightower, (530) 752-8664, [email protected]

Oct 05

SAREP announces 2011 grantees

by Aubrey White — last modified Oct 05, 2011 01:05 PM

Taco trucks, farmworkers, low-income entrepreneurs receive sustainable ag funding

Fourteen projects ranging from exploring taco trucks as vehicles to provide healthy food in Central Valley communities with limited food access to a study of an Oakland/non-profit collaboration that develops urban agriculture parks are being funded for a total of approximately $150,000 by UC SAREP.  

“We’re happy to fund grants that will explore and support sustainable food production and marketing whether they’re in low-income rural communities or right in the heart of urban centers,” said Tom Tomich, UC SAREP director and director of UC Davis’ Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI).

Gail Feenstra, SAREP/ASI food systems coordinator, noted, “seed funding for innovative food systems projects contributes to long-term impacts that are changing the face of food and agriculture in the state.” Impacts from these kinds of projects include:

 

  • Educating the urban population about the importance of regional agriculture and providing opportunities for connecting growers and consumers;
  • Piloting innovative distribution strategies for supplying schools and other institutions with fresh, locally grown produce;
  • Helping ranchers make management decisions based on sustainability principles and environmental performance of beef production systems;
  • Involving limited resource farmers in marketing and distribution systems that retain value so that farmers get a higher price for their products in competitive, regional markets;
  • Exploring new direct markets for traditional, commodity crops

 

“The food system of the future will require that we work together to develop sustainable production, marketing, distribution and consumption patterns,” said Sonja Brodt, SAREP/ASI coordinator for agriculture, resources and the environment. “Many of these projects, spearheaded by our cooperative extension colleagues throughout the state, are taking the first steps.”

Tomich said the SAREP grants are directed toward research and outreach that provide solutions for the state’s producers and consumers who are working to produce, process and buy products in environmentally sound and socially responsible ways.

The awards are for county-based UC Cooperative Extension advisors, graduate students, and community-based organizations.

Read the details of individual projects. 

Conacts:

Sonja Brodt, UC SAREP, ASI, [email protected], 530-754-8547

Gail Feenstra, UC SAREP/ASI, [email protected], 530-752-8408

 

 

 

Aug 24

UC Davis adds new degree, its first focusing on sustainability

by Aubrey White — last modified Aug 24, 2011 12:05 PM

For the first time, UC Davis will offer undergraduate students a major focused on sustainability.

 The new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (SA&FS) Bachelor of Science degree uniquely integrates several subjects to provide students a thorough understanding of the issues facing farming and food systems* today.

 “This is an exciting addition to the college that reflects a change in how we think about food and agriculture. Students will gain a broad perspective of what it takes to put dinner on the table in an era of greater demand and fewer resources,” said UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Dean Neal Van Alfen.

 Students in the SA&FS program will focus on the social, economic and environmental aspects of agriculture and food – from farm to table and beyond – to gain a diversity of knowledge and skills both in the classroom and through personal experience on and off campus. 

 “The skills and knowledge gained through this interdisciplinary curriculum will prepare students to become 21st century leaders in agriculture and food systems,” said professor Thomas Tomich, the SA&FS major advisor and director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

 While the major was approved this summer, it is a part of a long history of field- and classroom-based interdisciplinary learning opportunities that have been available to students at the UC Davis Student Farm for more than 35 years, said Mark Van Horn, the Student Farm director who teaches a core course in the major.

 “Learning through doing and reflection adds a valuable dimension to students’ education because it helps them see the connections between theory and practice in the real world,” Van Horn said.

 Current students have already begun transferring into the SA&FS major. Applications for freshmen and transfer students to enter the major will be available in November.

 *A food system includes the production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management involved in feeding a population. 

 

# # #

Media contact:

Eve Hightower, Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis communications coordinator, (530) 752-8664

 

For additional information about the major, see the SA&FS Web page.

 

May 27

Russell Ranch Field Day to focus on biodiversity

by ehightow — last modified May 27, 2011 01:55 PM

Russell Ranch Field Day
Russell Ranch Field Day

Registration is now open to attend the 23rd annual Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Field Day on Thursday, June 9.

 

Find out more about biodiversity in agriculture, which is this year’s field day theme. Hear about ecosystems, food safety, cover crops, irrigation management and soil from more than 20 growers, researchers and other experts.

 

After lunch, which is included in the registration fee, this year’s grower panel will discuss using and conserving biodiversity on the farm and ranch.

 

The field day at Russell Ranch spans from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The day begins with refreshments and an equipment demonstration at 8 a.m. Opening remarks begin at 8:30 a.m. followed by field presentations and hay-bale wagon rides to plots at 8:45 a.m. Find the full agenda attached to this e-mail.

 

Register online by June 3* here.

 

General admission is $8. Students and growers are free. E-mail Emma Torbert at [email protected] for the free-admission coupon code.

 

PCA and CCA Continuing Education units are available.

 

Find event directions here.

 

For more information follow this link.

*This press release has been edited to reflect a revised event registration deadline of June 3.

 

May 20

Agricultural Sustainability Institute names first Bradford-Rominger Award winner

by ehightow — last modified May 20, 2011 02:25 AM

UC Davis graduate student Kelly Garbach was named the first Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award winner this week.

 

Given by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, the award is meant to recognize and honor 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.

 

“Both Eric and Charlie were big thinkers, and had the ability to realize their aspirations. Kelly possesses the same quiet determination and genuine modesty while leading by example,” said Tom Tomich, director of the institute.

 

Kelly Garbach

 

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan presented the inaugural award at a public ceremony prior to giving a presentation Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, about a USDA initiative that focuses on improving health and creating economic opportunity in rural America through local and regional food systems.

 

“Eric and Charlie created new pathways and excitement around sustainable agriculture. It’s a pleasure to see this energy, this optimism pass on to the next generation,” Dr. Merrigan said.

 

Garbach is a doctoral candidate in Ecology at UC Davis studying agricultural land preservation. In addition to her graduate studies, Garbach leads the laboratory section for the Agro ecosystem Sustainability field-based course and mentors high school students in farmland restoration as a volunteer for Audubon California’s Land Owner Stewardship Program.

 

She has served as a natural resource conservation consultant for both the Academy for Educational Development and the U.S. Agency for International Development. She has also worked with non-profit organizations Chile, Argentina, and San Francisco on natural resource management and environmental justice issues.

 

“I am very grateful that the Bradford and Rominger families and their friends have invited us to come to know Eric and Charlie, and be inspired to continue their legacy,” Garbach said. “At UC Davis, we are surrounded by some of the brightest minds in agricultural research and management, but what makes Davis unique is that these great minds actively create space for new ideas and encourage emerging leadership.”

Kathleen Merrigan

May 04

US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture to speak at UC Davis

by cbishop — last modified May 04, 2011 06:01 AM
Merrigan
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan

The distance between American consumers and farmers is shrinking as people nationwide develop a hunger for knowledge about their food and its production.

“Locally sourced meats and seafood” and “locally grown produce” are the top two trends of 2011, according to a National Restaurant Association survey.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan will give a public talk at UC Davis on May 18 about this trend and its potential consequences.

What: “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” a talk by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan

When: Wednesday, May 18, 2 to 3:15 p.m.

Where: Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, UC Davis

Speaker: Working alongside Secretary Tom Vilsack, Merrigan oversees the day-to-day operation of the USDA’s many programs and spearheads the $149 billion USDA budget process. She also manages the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food effort to strengthen local and regional food systems by helping consumers connect with those who produce their food.

Merrigan’s talk will follow the announcement of the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award.

About the award:
The Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award is a $1,000 prize given by ASI to an individual who has exhibited the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by livestock geneticist Dr. Eric Bradford and sustainable farmer Charlie Rominger. The award winner will be announced the day of the event.

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

Contact: Eve Hightower, ASI Communications Coordinator, (530) 752-8664, [email protected]

Apr 21

Guest speaker to discuss genetically modified foods

by cbishop — last modified Apr 21, 2011 05:15 AM

UPDATE:  Watch Greg Jaffe's presentation from April's event here.

Jaffe photo

Are genetically engineered foods as risky as some people claim?

Some say engineered crops and animals will solve the world’s agricultural constraints and eliminate food insecurity.  Others claim GMOs are risky, too risky for wide-spread use and consumption.

Tuesday, Greg Jaffe, the director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Project on Biotechnology, will share his thoughts on the benefits and risks of engineered crops.

What: “Genetically Modified Foods: The raw truth”

A talk by Gregory Jaffe, the director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Project on Biotechnology

When:  4:10 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 26

Where: Room 3001, Plant and Environmental Sciences building, UC Davis campus

Speaker bio: Prior to joining the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Jaffe was a trial attorney for the U.S. Dept of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division. He also served as senior council with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Enforcement Division, and was a member of the Secretary of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture from 2003 to 2008.

Sponsors: Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, the Department of Plant Pathology and the Department of Plant Sciences.

This event is free and open to the public.

Feb 14

Special session introduces solutions to global nitrogen challenge

by cbishop — last modified Feb 14, 2011 03:25 PM

New Tools and Policy Solutions to Tackle Global Disruption of the Nitrogen Cycle: AAAS session charts progress and opportunities on nitrogen management issues

 

WASHINGTON, DC-- A symposium of the nation’s leading thinkers in nitrogen science will report at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting on the recent scientific findings as well as the results of assessments at the state, national and international level that link nitrogen science, practice, and policy. At the AAAS session, “Global and Local Responses to the Nitrogen Challenge: Science, Practice, and Policy,” the panel of biologists, biogeochemists and economists will review policy responses aimed at addressing the challenge reactive nitrogen presents to human health and the environment, including a draft EPA Science Advisory Board report on nitrogen expected to be released this spring. Two new, practical tools geared toward agriculture and consumers will also be announced.

When: Saturday, February 19, 2011 - Press Briefing: 10am; Session: 1:30pm-4:30pm (EST)

 Where:  Press Briefing is in Room 202B; The Session will be in 140A (Washington Convention Center) 801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest Washington D.C., DC 20001-3614

 Background materials are available at the AAAS virtual newsroom, where an audiobriefing of the press briefing will be posted at 12pm EST for reporters registered with EurekaAlert and/or the AAAS Annual Meeting.

 Speakers and presentation titles


Why: The development of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer spurred modern prosperity and supported the food, fiber, and biofuel demands of a growing population.  But in the last 50 years, a dramatic increase in the use of fertilizer and fossil fuels has been matched by an equally dramatic rise in nitrogen pollution. Though reactive nitrogen is necessary to grow food, fiber and biofuel crops, much of it eventually escapes to the environment - in the atmosphere or in groundwater, freshwater, or ocean ecosystems. There, it can cause a suite of environmental and health problems including climate change, air and water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Learn more at Nitrogen News.

Contacts:

Todd Rosenstock, Agriculture Sustainability Institute, UC Davis, [email protected] 530-752-5085

Colin Bishop, Agriculture Sustainability Institute, UC Davis, [email protected] 530-752-5299

Dec 22

ASI-led project aims to boost school nutrition and specialty crops

by cbishop — last modified Dec 22, 2010 09:35 AM

December 22, 2010

A new farm-to-school initiative, led by a UC Davis team, will help provide children in three Northern California school districts with the healthier school lunches called for in the recently passed federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis has begun working with school districts in Oakland, Winters and Redding on a participatory project to expand student access to local, seasonal fresh produce; provide local markets for specialty crop growers; and help integrate school food with nutrition education, school gardens and classroom lessons. The institute received a $497,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop the program.

The initiative will help those districts improve the nutritional quality of cafeteria meals in order to promote health and address childhood obesity, central concerns of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

“Providing access to healthy school lunches is a vital part of childhood nutrition, and this program will also help kids develop lifelong healthy eating habits,” said project leader Gail Feenstra, the food systems coordinator at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute.

Gail Feenstra
ASI Food Systems Coordinator Gail Feenstra

The UC Davis team—which also includes Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, Co-Director of the Center for Nutrition in Schools (UC Davis department of nutrition)—will work with the three school districts to benefit more than 50,000 children by increasing the availability of seasonal, local fruits and vegetables in school meals. In about two-thirds of the schools in these districts, at least half of the students receive free and reduced-price lunches.

“Right now, only about four in 10 California kids eat five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day,” said Feenstra. “The child nutrition bill paves the way for more healthful school lunches, and our program will help connect schools with local farmers who grow the fruits and vegetables that are an important part of healthful meals.”

As part of the program, schools will work with community partners, UC Cooperative Extension and the UC Davis team to design menus that incorporate fresh, local produce. Ultimately, this project will develop farm-to-school methods that can be expanded and replicated by school districts statewide.

This fall, the USDA awarded $55 million in specialty-crops funding; California received nearly $17.3 million, more than any other state.

The UC Davis grant will also allow California specialty-crop producers to expand their market opportunities into farm-to-school programs. California is the nation’s largest producer of specialty crops, accounting for 40 percent of the nation’s specialty-crop production according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and dried fruits.

About ASI:

Founded in 2006, the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis works to ensure access to healthy food and promote the vitality of agriculture today and for future generations, through integrative research, education, communication and early action on big, emerging issues. The institute includes the UC statewide Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, the UC Davis Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility and the UC Davis Student Farm. More information from the institute is available online at: http://www.asi.ucdavis.edu.

Media contact(s):

Dec 16

Feeding the world: The top 100 questions for global agriculture

by cbishop — last modified Dec 16, 2010 10:15 AM

November 24, 2010

Anticipating a world population of 9 billion people by 2050, global agriculture faces the daunting challenge of increasing food production by 70 to 100 percent in the next four decades, without significantly increasing prices.

To better focus on the overwhelming task at hand, a multidisciplinary team of 55 agricultural and food experts from the world’s major agricultural organizations, scientific societies and academic institutions recently identified the top 100 questions that must be answered to achieve such a dramatic increase in global food production. Among this group was Thomas P. Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

Those 100 key questions for the future of global food production appear this month in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, available online at http://www.earthscan.co.uk/?tabid=503.

To read more about this story, visit the UC Davis newsroom, here.

Oct 28

ASI Hosting National Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems

by cbishop — last modified Oct 28, 2010 12:05 PM

MEDIA ADVISORY

The 2nd National Symposium on Food Systems and Sustainability: “Making the Invisible Visible”
Davis, CA
November 9 and 10, 2010

Sponsored by the Inter-institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability (INFAS), and hosted by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis. With major support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and additional support from UC Davis College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Clover Stornetta Farms.

The theme of the 2nd National Symposium on Food Systems and Sustainability is “Making the Invisible Visible.” The agenda includes interactive tours where guests will explore four thematic areas important to food and agriculture – youth, power, justice, and resilience.

The tours include an opportunity for reporters to join symposium guests and do one of the following:

  • Work in the field and meet new, young farmers
  • Meet farmworkers and learn about the hidden health costs of their labor
  • Take part in seeding hedgerows used in on-farm habitat restoration (as weather permits)
  • Sample greenhouse gases from soils in cover cropped and fallow fields
  • Meet with teenage & adult leaders improving food access in low-income communities
  • Tour with national Real Food Challenge student activists, including those who pushed the University of California (UC) system to agree to purchase 20 percent sustainable food for their campus dining halls by 2020. 


WHAT:  Interactive tours and opportunity to hear from young farmers, farmworkers, ag researchers, water experts, youth leaders from the national sustainable food movement and academic experts from the nation’s top agricultural institutions. For a complete, detailed list of the tours available and more details about the symposium go to asi.ucdavis.edu/conferences/fss2010.

WHEN:  Tours will take place Tuesday, November 9, 9am – 3pm

WHERE: Davis/Sacramento, California region 

CONTACT:  To sign up for a tour contact Penelope Whitney at 415-397-5000 x 313, or [email protected]  Space is limited, so please confirm tour participation by COB, Thursday, Nov. 4.
 
MORE: The tours are hosted by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at the University of California, Davis as part of its 2nd Annual Food Systems and Sustainability Symposium. The event aims to nurture the next generation of sustainable agriculture leaders and invigorate agricultural research and education in the US.

Founded in 2006, the mission of ASI is to ensure access to healthy food and to promote the vitality of agriculture today and for future generations. For more information please visit ASI’s website at asi.ucdavis.edu.

Jul 21

ASI receives major gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

by cbishop — last modified Jul 21, 2010 02:00 PM

NEW KELLOGG FOUNDATION ENDOWMENT TARGETS HEALTHY FOOD FOR KIDS

A gift of nearly $1.6 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to the University of California, Davis, will support a national network that will focus on improving children's access to healthy food.

The $1.57 million gift creates an endowment that will be managed by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis to support in perpetuity the Inter-institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability, a network of scholars from 14 universities. A primary goal of the network will be to improve food-system sustainability to advance the health of people, society and the natural environment.

The Kellogg funds will enable the network to nurture a diverse corps of scholars in the early stages of their careers who will lead initiatives to address food-system challenges.

"This gift recognizes the work of leaders from across the United States, and I am gratified that my colleagues in the network have endorsed the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute as the network's host," said Tom Tomich, the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at UC Davis and director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute. "We also are grateful to the Kellogg Foundation for supporting such important work," Tomich said.

Neal Van Alfen, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, also emphasized the gift's importance. "UC Davis is recognized globally for its agricultural and environmental research and is a leader in scientific study of sustainability," he said. "This investment by the Kellogg Foundation will allow us to work nationally with colleagues to identify the most critical issues in agricultural and food-system sustainability and to provide solutions toward sustainable food systems for everyone."

The network includes scholars from Iowa State University and its Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Michigan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Minnesota, University of New Hampshire, University of New Mexico, University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin and Washington State University. Additional institutions and scholars will be added in the future.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Established in 1930, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Its grants are concentrated in the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean and southern Africa. More information about the foundation is available online at: www.wkkf.org.

About the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis

UC Davis' Agricultural Sustainability Institute, founded in 2006, is committed to helping ensure access to healthy food and promoting the vitality of agriculture today and for future generations by coordinating integrative research, education and communication efforts. It includes the UC statewide Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), the UC Davis Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility and the UC Davis Student Farm. More information from the institute is available online at:
www.asi.ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world.

Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 32,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $600 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools -- Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Media contact(s):

Tom Tomich, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, (530) 752-3915, [email protected]

Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, [email protected]

Mar 04

USDA administrator to visit Davis schools

by iancahir — last modified Mar 04, 2010 08:25 AM

Rayne Pegg, administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will visit the Davis Joint Unified School District on March 8 to observe first-hand one of the nation’s most-promising public school-lunch models.

District officials are honored to host the visit and showcase Davis’ pairing of commodity foods with local produce as well as community partnerships with Davis Farm to School, the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, Sutter Davis Hospital and the Davis Farmers’ Market.

Pegg will tour the Student Nutrition Services (SNS) central kitchen as well as an elementary and a secondary school site to see the school-lunch and recycling-programs in action and to sample the food being served to students. She will also meet with Superintendent James Hammond, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin -- who championed “A Garden in Every School” -- Jim Mills of Produce Express, -- and representatives from various partner organizations. They will complete their tour of Davis with a visit to one of the many school gardens used to teach a variety of academic subjects and to increase food and agricultural literacy.

Hammond provides administrative leadership and support for improving school lunch as a part of creating a healthy school environment. Local farm fresh produce is infused in every aspect of the school lunch.  The community at-large supports the district’s vision of a whole child, ready to learn, with lifelong healthy eating habits and an appreciation for the land from which food comes. The relationship between nutrition and cognition is well documented for student achievement.

Gail Feenstra, academic coordinator for the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) at ASI, said SNS purchased 43 percent of  produce locally in fall 2009. SNS defines local as within 300 miles of Davis, encompassing the growing Sacramento Valley region that includes Davis. As of last year, the SNS serves only organically grown rice from the Sacramento Valley. Davis’ K-12 seasonal salad bars feature locally grown fruits – including blood oranges, kiwi and strawberries when in season – and vegetables to create a wide range of salad and menu items. SNS makes soup from scratch every Thursday, incorporating seasonal vegetables, including beef barley, turkey, winter vegetable chowder, and Mandarin coconut soups served with locally made whole-wheat rolls.

Davis Farm to School has provided a cooking school with five lessons annually for the past two years to the SNS staff to help teach them about the preparation of fresh, seasonal produce, and to help cooks develop flavor profiles for basic dishes that students love.

“I’ve never worked with a more interested and enthusiastic group than the staff of SNS,” said Georgeanne Brennan, a nationally known author and cooking teacher who provides professional development to the SNS staff. “The director, Raphaelita Curva, provides inspired leadership for her team and has a commitment to providing fresh, local food to the students. That makes a huge difference,”

In building a sustainable school-lunch program, community partnerships have been key to success, Curva says resources provided by Davis Farm to School, a nonprofit organization now in its tenth year, have played a major role. Sutter Davis Hospital, the Davis Farmers Market, the Davis Food Co-op and local service clubs have partnered to assist Davis Farm to School with its school-lunch booster club work. In 2007, the citizens of Davis passed a parcel tax in which a portion -- $70,000 per year for four years -- is available to Curva to increase fresh, local food being served to school children. Curva also creatively integrates commodity products along with fresh local products in entrees as well as salad bars, thereby reducing overall costs. Children and adults alike love the results.

Media availability is possible during the visit. Please contact us at [email protected]

Jan 11

New UC strip-tillage online publication for farmers

by iancahir — last modified Jan 11, 2010 07:10 AM

DAVIS -- A new University of California online publication outlines strip-tillage, a management practice with potential to save farmers money in fuel, labor and equipment costs while decreasing the amount of soil disturbed and dust generated as fields are prepared for planting.

The eight-page publication, Strip-Tillage in California's Central Valley, may be downloaded in pdf format free at http://ucanr.org/strip-till.

Strip-tillage is a form of conservation tillage that was first used in the southern United States to break up the naturally settling subsoil layers while leaving the soil surface and crop residue relatively undisturbed, according to Dennis Bryant, a co-author of the publication and crop production manager at the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, part of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis.

"Less disturbed soil allows beneficial soil food web communities to thrive, which can improve soil conditions and potentially reduce herbicide use," he said.

Bryant noted that while the publication focuses primarily on dairy/forage based systems in the San Joaquin Valley, Russell Ranch researchers have developed energy efficient strip-till equipment for transplanted tomato systems. The strip-till, ground-driven (dragged rather than powered through fields) incorporator sequence for reducing energy inputs is part of the tillage progress at Russell Ranch, he said.

"Our current emphasis on tillage in conventional and organic food production systems is focused on the development and evaluation of management techniques that require less horsepower or fuel consumption, reduce in-field time, build soil structure and are applicable to farms of all sizes," he said. "We're particularly pleased that the immediate impact from the Russell Ranch work is that farmers are aggressively putting these techniques in place on regional farms, including some of our cooperating farmers."

Bryant said organic and conventional farmers are excited about the expected cost savings of these innovative tools. He noted that tillage equipment has been tested as part of a sequence of implements and modified/prototype tools aimed at reducing energy inputs in whole systems. Photos of some of the equipment are included in the new online publication.

"It is great to be able to provide farmers who have supported agricultural research at UC Davis with tillage strategies to reduce energy inputs," Bryant said.

Strip-Tillage in California's Central Valley was co-authored by Jeff Mitchell, UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and the Kearney Agricultural Center in Parlier; Anil Shrestha, California State University, Fresno Department of Plant Science; Marsha Campbell-Mathews, UC Cooperative Extension, Stanislaus County; Dino Giacomazzi, Giacomazzi Dairy, Hanford; Sham Goyal, UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences; Dennis Bryant and Israel Herrera, ASI at UC Davis.

 

Media contacts:

Jeff Mitchell, Cooperative Extension Specialist - UC Davis Plant Sciences Department, (559) 303-9689, [email protected]

Dennis Bryant, Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, (530) 752-5368, [email protected]

Israel Herrera, UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, (530) 757-3162, [email protected]

Lyra Halprin, UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, (530) 752-8664, [email protected]

$50,000 pledge to support ASI programs

by iancahir — last modified Jan 11, 2010 07:05 AM

Craig McNamara, a UC Davis graduate and president and owner of Sierra Orchards in Winters, and his wife, Julie, have pledged $50,000 to establish a fund to help the Agricultural Sustainability Institute in its educational mission.

Through the McNamara Fund for Excellence in Agricultural Sustainability, ASI will focus on the growth of its experiential learning programs. The first program to benefit from the McNamaras’ generosity is the UC Davis Student Farm initiative.

“The initiative’s focus on providing ‘hands on’ agricultural education to youth is of great interest to us,” the McNamaras said in a statement.

The fund will support one program per year for five years.

“It is through the generosity of friends like Craig and Julie that we are able to do the work we do,” said Tom Tomich, ASI director. “Craig has given his time as part of ASI’s external advisory board, and now this fund will help to extend the mission of ASI to more people.”

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute, as part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis provides leadership for research, teaching and outreach and extension efforts in agricultural and food systems sustainability at the Davis campus and throughout the UC system.

For more information, contact us at [email protected]

Media contact:

Tom Tomich, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, (530) 574-2503, [email protected]

UC Davis Begins $2.8 Million Studies

by iancahir — last modified Jan 11, 2010 07:05 AM

UC Davis researchers will receive $2.8 million in new grants to study the use and impacts of nitrogen, a hero of the agricultural revolution that is increasingly viewed as a worrisome source of water and air pollution and potent greenhouse gases.

"This is one of the most important and least publicized environmental issues we face: Escaped nitrogen from agricultural production affects the quality of our air, water, and soil and has huge potential to contribute to climate change," said Tom Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

"Many members of the public and politicians are unaware of the scope of this challenge. And many farmers are increasingly interested in nitrogen management to cut costs."

Nitrogen is a chemical element that occurs naturally in Earth's air, water and soil. It is essential to life, and cycles through all plants, animals and people. Nitrogen-based fertilizers help California farmers produce more than 400 agricultural commodities -- vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy products worth $36 billion a year.

But excess nitrogen is emitted from soils, seeps into groundwater and runs off into surface waters. Wastes from cattle, chickens and other livestock include nitrogen. Farm machines burning oil, gasoline and diesel release nitrogen to the air.

The resulting environmental impacts include:

Trapped solar radiation in the atmosphere, contributing to the "greenhouse effect" that is changing the Earth's climate;

Decreased high-altitude ozone, which allows more solar radiation to reach Earth's surface, causing skin cancer and adding to the greenhouse effect;

Increased smog and ground-level ozone, which can cause or worsen respiratory diseases such as asthma and viral infections such as the common cold;

High concentrations of nitrates in groundwater, which can cause methemoglobinemia, or "blue baby disease," and possibly bladder and ovarian cancers; and

Nitrogen runoff in bays and coastal areas, where it makes algae numbers spike then crash, drawing oxygen from the water and leading to "dead zones" -- areas that cannot support finfish, shellfish or most other aquatic life.

Those environmental impacts are not fully documented, Tomich said.

"With this new funding, we can start to fill in those blanks, and improve management of nitrogen, carbon and water to help move agriculture toward sustainability in significant ways," he said.

Data on agricultural nitrogen pollution are limited, and some nitrogen pollution forms are difficult to monitor. Measurements can be labor-intensive and expensive and are influenced by variables such as weather conditions, irrigation timing and method, and crop-specific fertilization practices.

The new studies should improve data-collection methods, said Agricultural Sustainability Institute researcher Johan Six, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences.

"It's urgent that we know how much nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases are released during irrigation and fertilization of farm lands in California," Six said. "The good news is we know that it is economically feasible to reduce these emissions. The first step is quantifying the necessary reductions."

The new Agricultural Sustainability Institute grants and objectives include:

$1.5 million from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for a statewide assessment of existing scientific evidence on nitrogen use in conventional and alternative farming systems, and relevant practices and policy options. Also: a program to improve communication about nitrogen concerns among California farmers, ranchers, extension advisors, environmental and community groups, agribusiness (including the fertilizer industry) and government agencies (including California Department of Food and Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). This grant is to the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, in collaboration with the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, Kearney Foundation for Soil Science, and the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

$500,000 from the California Energy Commission and $350,000 from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to Johan Six for new research on nitrous oxide emissions in various farming systems.

$300,000 from the California Air Resources Board to Will Horwath, professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, for research on practical ways to reduce nitrous oxide emissions in California agriculture.

$150,000 from the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Fertilizer Research and Education Program to Horwath, Six and David Goorahoo, an assistant professor at the Center for Irrigation Technology at California State University, Fresno, to measure nitrous oxide emissions from cotton, corn and vegetable cropping systems.

About the Agricultural Sustainability Institute

Established in 2006 by the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Agricultural Sustainability Institute includes the University of California's statewide Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), the Student Farm at UC Davis, and the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility at UC Davis, as well as programs at other campuses across California. More information: http://asi.ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science -- and advanced degrees from six professional schools -- Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. More information: http://www.ucdavis.edu.