Social Justice Advocacy Committee/Social Justice Forum

The following are the guiding principles for the Apprenticeship Program's Social Justice Advocacy Committee (SJAC) and some of the events/activities by and for apprentices here on the CASFS Farm.

Mission Statement

The Social Justice Advocacy Committee (SJAC) advocates for and recommends program adjustments  that build towards a more inclusive and equitable learning environment within the Apprenticeship Program that are also reflective of the just food system and equitable society we envision.


We describe diversity in all forms, including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, age, geography, culture, ability, and life experiences.

Statement of Purpose

The world is full of social injustices related to unequal distribution of resources, power, and knowledge. This manifests in poverty, violence, ill-health, and oppression. These inequities are associated with differences related (not exclusively) to race, class, socioeconomic status, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, religion, education, participation in the uniformed services, age, geography, culture, mental and physical ability, and life experiences.

In the context of our food system, we find related injustice within labor, food security, availability of healthy food, and access to capital, land, technical assistance, and markets for those seeking to grow food. Farmers and farmworkers continue to struggle nationally and internationally, and the degradation of urban and rural communities continues. Sustainable agriculture demands more than ecological soundness. A truly sustainable food system requires economic viability for growers and workers, access to healthy food and social justice for all for all members of society.

We as a committee acknowledge that the Apprenticeship Program is housed in a primarily white organization and is reflective of the greater world where white people receive privilege and opportunity through a long history of exploitation, racism, and inequality in this country. We also acknowledge that our homogenous leadership structure is reflective of the greater institutional nonprofit industrial complex that is present in the current “food movement” today, where leadership and decision making tend to exclude those who are most impacted. Through SJAC, we are actively trying to embody and catalyze changes within CASFS/the Apprenticeship, that are reflective of a just and equitable society where all voices are heard, where power is distributed equitably, and where resources are shared equally by all.

We as a committee acknowledge that the Apprenticeship Program is not beyond the “isms” that exist in the wider society and that there is room for improvement both culturally and structurally. Just as we value diversity within our agroecological systems, we value involvement of people of diverse backgrounds within our program.  Through this broader participation, we hope to facilitate political and social awareness, gather varied perspectives, pass on positive images of farming to respective communities, and make the program more inclusive for future apprentices.

Committee Goals

  • Work to ensure that classes, workshops, and events throughout the Apprenticeship program aim to develop a more in­depth understanding of structural systems of power and injustice as they relate to food and agriculture which will enable each of us, personally and professionally, to act as advocates for equity and social change across the food system.
  • To facilitate a safe living and learning environment where all participants are encouraged and supported to explore how agriculture intersects with race, class, gender and other issues of power and privilege, and the implications of these intersections for health, the environment, labor, immigration, and economic justice.
  • To increase diversity of backgrounds and experiences amongst apprentices, staff and guest instructors.
  • To continue to educate ourselves and the Apprenticeship community about what it means to create true equity and justice by creating space for and facilitating dialogue, education, and activism.
  • To inform and influence programmatic changes at the institutional level for all CASFS programs
  • To engage in meaningful and anti­oppressive outreach with communities beyond the Farm.

Committee Activities

  • Communications Workshop
  • Diversity/Anti Oppression Workshop
  • Social Justice Panel
  • Field Trips and Discussion Forums on Urban Agriculture
  • Labor History and Farmworker Rights Class
  • On Farm Youth Festivals and collaboration with "Food, What?!" youth empowerment program

Social Justice Forum

  • Comprised of and coordinated by first year apprentices with support from Advanced Apprentices actively involved with SJAC.
  • Provides a safe space for all apprentices and staff to engage in meaningful exchanges around anti-oppression and social justice issues as they relate to the working and living experience at CASFS, in Santa Cruz, and the wider world of food and agriculture.
  • Serves to support apprentices who are members of marginalized groups (including but not limited to women, people of color, and queer communities) from being exploited and forced to educate other apprentices and staff on issues of oppression, discrimination and social justice.
  • Creates opportunities for apprentices to lead peer­to­peer discussions, reading groups, movie screenings, etc. and to create events for greater communities (Winter readings, Food What?!, UCSC student outreach, gleaning project, etc.).
  • Give end of year recommendations to the apprenticeship program for programmatic improvements.