In 2009, Simply Organic established a scholarship award in perpetuity for the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UC Santa Cruz. Simply Organic and Frontier Natural Products Co-op™ made a combined contribution of $130,000 to CASFS to create the scholarship fund.
This year’s Simply Organic scholarship recipient is Israel Dawson, who came to the Apprenticeship program with a lot of self-taught food production knowledge but little formal training. “I was mostly learning from the reading I was doing and from trial and error,” says Dawson. “This program is giving me the real grounding I need.” The six-month, full-time program prepares participants to establish their own organic farms and market gardens, or to be hired by the growing number of organic farming operations nationwide.
Dawson’s focus is on developing the skills to create Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects, with the goal of getting locally grown organic food into the hands of more people through coops, farmers’ markets, and urban farming efforts. He would like to develop a local CSA business model that could be readily adapted in a variety of settings. “This local model would help establish jobs and provide affordable means for people to have a healthy diet from their local communities,” says Dawson.