Farm to College

Food Systems Working Group interns at the weekly Produce Pop Up in the Rachel Carson Red Room

The College Food Systems initiative at UC Santa Cruz links the Center’s Farm on the UCSC campus with other local organic farms and with UCSC campus organizations to bring organic produce to the campus dining halls and restaurants, while bringing students to CASFS for sustainable food systems education and engagement. Building on our previous Farm to College project (see below), the Center is committed to cultivating new research, education, and public service opportunities for UCSC students. The passage of UCSC's Measure 43, the Sustainable Food, Health and Wellness Initiative in Spring 2010 created more opportunities than ever for UCSC students to learn about and get involved in food systems activities.

UCSC has been noted by many leading rankings and awards as a prime public national model for the growing “farm-to-college” movement which, like the K–12 farm-to-school movement, is bringing fresh, local produce to student dining halls through direct relationships between farmers and educational institutions. Farm-to-school or farm-to-college arrangements help farmers gain more of the food dollar, benefit local economies, and help students gain access to locally-produced, fresh food.

With CASFS’s longstanding commitment to developing and promoting a just and sustainable food system, we are building upon the recognition of how young adults and students can contribute to this vision and be informed and active participants in social change.

In February 2012 the farm-to-college effort at UCSC reached a milestone when Chancellor Blumenthal signed the UC Santa Cruz Real Food Campus Commitment. The commitment was spearheaded by Food Systems Working Group students and CASFS food systems researcher Tim Galarneau. Read more about the commitment to bring "real food" to UCSC and find out about the Real Food Calculator project and how you can get involved.

Farm-to-College Project

Several features distinguish the UCSC Farm-to-College project: a collaborative group of stakeholders comprised of students, staff, faculty, and community members make up the campus Food Systems Working Group (FSWG), which works to bring sustainable food to campus and to educate the community throughout the year; a consortium of organic growers (Monterey Bay Organic Farmers Consortium) was formed to supply produce to the campus dining halls; sustainable food purchasing guidelines were developed by the FSWG; and education (both academic and experiential) is incorporated from the campus farm fields to the dining halls.

There are a number of organizations involved in UCSC farm-to-college and food systems activities. The 2019-2020 Campus Food and Garden Guide has more information on these groups and on many other opportunities to get involved in the UCSC campus and community food system:

  • UCSC Food Systems Working Group (FSWG)
  • Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS)
  • Agriculture Land Based Training Association (ALBA)
  • UCSC Dining Services
  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF)
  • Program In Community & Agroecology (PICA)
  • Community Agroecology Network (CAN)
  • Student Environmental Center (SEC)
  • Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP)
  • Kresge Community Gardening Cooperative
  • Food,What?!
  • Life Lab

Statewide and National Involvement

CASFS continued to be involved and support existing efforts emerging from students and their allies. Each February, over President’s Day weekend, CASFS has co-sponsored the annual Strengthening the Roots: Food, Justice, & Fair Trade conference, bringing together 200-300 students from over 35 campuses and high schools to share resources, build skills, and cultivate new thought leaders and steps toward improving sustainability in our agrifood system.

CASFS also makes presentations on college food system issues at a number of state and national conferences, workshops, and meetings. We also  provide advising support to the statewide California Student Sustainability Coalition and the national Real Food Challenge to inform their efforts, and develop publications to promote healthy, sustainable food systems.

See Also