Organic Farm Serves Life Lessons for UC Students

Coming from all corners of California, UC Global Food Initiative student fellows gathered for a springtime field trip in the Central Valley to learn about organic farming and get their hands dirty. After eating a fresh-from-the-farm lunch and touring the scenic 350-acre Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley, northwest of Sacramento, the 19 fellows pitched in, clearing weeds and spreading dark brown, aromatic compost on two rows of pomegranate and quince trees.

The far-flung fellows are working on projects that range from ambitious water conservation efforts to reducing food waste. The field trip was a chance to share those projects with one another while learning about the complexities of running a farm and growing food.

Fellow Claudia Villegas, a UC Riverside undergraduate student whose fellowship project promotes sustainable agriculture to students and families through UC Riverside’s community garden, relished the chance to network with peers.

“This is amazing,” Villegas said. “This is giving me an opportunity to talk to my other fellows and learn what they’re doing, the techniques they’re using to reach out to students.”

UC President Janet Napolitano, together with UC’s 10 chancellors, launched the Global Food Initiative in 2014 in an effort to help put UC’s campuses, the state, nation and world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed themselves.

This is the second class of GFI student fellows. The undergraduate and graduate student fellows, representing all 10 UC campuses plus UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have helped advance GFI by working on food-related projects and raising awareness of the initiative.

In June, UC Global Food Initiative and Carbon Neutrality Initiative fellows will gather around the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference in Fullerton for a symposium.

While this year’s fellowships will end in June, the hope is that the experience will inspire fellows to stay active around food issues, said Tim Galarneau, an education coordinator at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, who joined fellows on their field trip. “Hopefully, GFI is a springboard for their careers and academic pursuits.”

For more, go to UC Net.

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