About the Center/CASFS

Students in an Agroecology Practicum class at the UCSC Farm.

The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS or the Center) is a research, education, and public service organization at UC Santa Cruz. The mission of CASFS is to advance agroecology and equitable food systems through experiential education, participatory research, agricultural extension, and public service.

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.

What is agroecology?

At CASFS, we define agroecology as the integrative study of the entire food system, encompassing ecological, economic and social dimensions. We acknowledge that in order to create an ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just food system, agroecology must integrate science and research, technology and practices, indigenous knowledge, and movements for social change. We embrace agroecology as a transdisciplinary, participatory, action-oriented, and politically-engaged transformation of the food system. We also recognize the foundations of agroecology as a peasant social movement, and its current context in food sovereignty movements across the world.

CASFS Mission, Vision, and Values

Mission Statement

The mission of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems is to advance agroecology and equitable food systems through experiential education, participatory research, agricultural extension, and public service.

Vision Statement

We envision an equitable food system that empowers local communities, builds relationships, and nourishes all people and the environment.

Values Statement

The work of CASFS is rooted in collaboration and innovation. We are committed to fostering diversity throughout the Center and equity in access to food, resources, and knowledge. From the soil to the table, we value service and operate with a commitment to respect, transparency, integrity, and accountability.

See Also