About the Center/CASFS

Students in an Agroecology Practicum class observe garden bed preparation at the Alan Chadwick Garden.

The mission of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS or the Center) is to research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and that serve as a foundation for future generations.

Our status as a Center within the Division of Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz enables us to undertake projects in many disciplines in the pursuit of these goals, and to work with faculty, staff, and students from throughout the university. Beyond the campus we collaborate with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), growers, community members, visiting students and researchers, and state and federal agencies, including UC Cooperative Extension and the US Department of Agriculture. The Center's work includes both theoretical and applied research; academic education and practical training; and community outreach and public service for audiences ranging from local school children to international agencies.

Why is the Center's work needed?

Today's agriculture and food systems are extraordinarily productive, but in the long run may not be sustainable. They have created tremendous pressure on natural resources and surrounding natural habitats, as well as compromising the economic health of rural communities, the food security of economically disadvantaged citizens, and the well-being of many of those who grow and harvest our food.

Through our research, education, and outreach programs, the Center works to create agriculture and food systems that sustain both human communities and the environments in which they live. The growing public and academic interest in sustainable agriculture, organic food, resource-conserving farming techniques, and issues of social justice underscores the need for the type of work conducted by Center staff, faculty, and students.