Young urban farmers, farm-to-school programs and healthy students are just some of the uplifting stories you may have missed lately.

Supporting Urban Ag in California

urban farm
Photo credit: Steven Bornholz

It’s no secret that urban agriculture holds the potential to improve food access in communities and to create and strengthen economic opportunities. A team led by UC Agriculture & Natural Resources (UC ANR) partnered with a group of youth-focused urban ag organizations to give young people a voice.

As Rachel Surls, UC ANR sustainable food system advisor, explained:

“It was exciting … to showcase the amazing work of young urban farmers around the state. Their voices, which are so beautifully captured in the videos, remind us that urban agriculture has value in communities that extends beyond the production of food. It’s about a sense of belonging, and ownership of community spaces, as well as leadership development.”

Read the story and see the videos with youth farmers in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Understanding National Farm to School Network

Did you know National Farm to School Network empowers young people and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities?

A while back, we spoke with Anupama Joshi, who co-founded the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) in 2007 and now serves as the executive director. She told us:

“In the bigger picture, school meals need to be seen as an opportunity and core element of what the student experience in schools is about. The connections between nutrition and educational outcomes are often lost, and need to be highlighted.”

Read the story.

Encouraging Healthy Students

painted bus by karen roe
Photo credit: Karen Roe.

These days, universities are not only teaching students important life skills, but they are applying an inter-disciplinary approach to building healthier campuses.

We looked at successful programs at several UC campuses, including UC San Francisco and UC Santa Barbara. At UCLA, Dr. Wendy Slusser – Associate Vice Provost for the Healthy Campus Initiative – told us:

“There is a huge opportunity to enhance students’ food literacy, due to their strong interest in food. We are developing a variety of academic and experiential ways for them to gain healthier lifestyle habits. All different parts of the campus are working together to tackle health issues and create lasting solutions.”

Read the story.

Celebrating Edible Educations

Speaking of more food-savvy students, UC Berkeley has again teamed up with well-known chef and author Alice Waters to offer a course entitled “Edible Education 101: The Rise and Future of the Food Movement.”

But you don’t have to be in Berkeley to participate. The entire course is being streamed live on YouTube with interesting talks by influential thought leaders in food and agriculture.

Past lecture topics have included organic agriculture, school lunch reform, food safety, hunger and food security, farm bill reform, farm-to-school efforts, urban agriculture, food sovereignty and local food economies.

Read the story and start watching the talks.

Q&A with Ferd Hoefner

Ferd HoefnerMeet Ferd Hoefner, who is policy director for National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). This coalition advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources and rural communities. He tells us:

“It’s very positive that so many more people are interested in food and the food system … certainly more than at any time in my lifetime. I do think, however, that a lack of rural and farming literacy is impeding the conversation.”

Read the story.

Meanwhile, A Hat Tip To These Scientists

As World Ag Expo celebrated its 50th anniversary recently, 11 UC ANR scientists presented “lightning speeches” about their research to journalists at a Newsmaker Event emceed by UC Food Observer editor Rose Hayden-Smith. See for yourself how these hard-working scientists are supporting California’s farmers and ranchers.

Read the story.

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