Thursday, August 31, 2017

September 2017: Sustainability Profile: Vanessa Ackerman

Tell us about yourself. How did you get involved at the farm and what inspired you to? 

I have been a staff member on campus for 8 years and recently made the transition from Science Hill to the UCSC Farm & Garden (CASFS). I eagerly joined the CASFS team to be a part of their amazing mission of implementing research and methods of sustainability and providing ethical food for all.

Why is the farm an important program here at UCSC and for Santa Cruz? How can students, staff, faculty, and the general public get involved?

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. And CASFS members are always looking at ways to address current issues, such as climate change, water shortages, and concerns over food equity and access.

What’s great about the Farm is that they constantly encourage people to visit, tour, harvest, and be a part of our community. Both the 30-acre Farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden are open to the public daily from 8 am to 6 pm! From April through November we also offer a free guided tour of the Farm on the first Sunday of the month, starting at 2 pm.

There are a lot of other ways that the campus and community can get involved. UCSC students can take Environmental Studies classes based at the Farm & Garden, do internships, or become part of the Food Systems Working Group. A number of grad students have based their research at the Farm & Garden facilities. We also put on campus and community tours, events and workshop every year, including the upcoming Fall Harvest Festival, taking place on Sunday, October 1. And of course the Farm & Garden Market Cart sells fresh food and flowers on Tuesdays and Fridays from 12-6 pm at the base of campus, from early June through early November. The CASFS website,, is a great place to stay up to date about what is coming up and how to get involved, or folks can pick up a copy of the new Campus Food & Garden Guide, which will be available at various places around campus in a couple of weeks.

Tell us about the 50th celebrations and how did it go?

Our 50th multi-day event was an awesome way to start my first year at the UCSC Farm & Garden! We had hundreds of supporters, apprentice alumni, instructors, and guests from farms around the world. Each day was filled with workshops, symposiums, and organic meals showcasing local items from the Santa Cruz area. We had a family-style dinner at the Cowell Ranch Hay Barn for 500 hosted by chef and activist Alice Waters who has a long history with the organic food movement. The 50th was a special and memorable event that I am proud to have been involved with.

What sustainable practices do you live by in your daily life and did working on the farm inspire you in anyway? 

Absolutely, working on the Farm coincides with how I like to lead my life; working as a team, helping folks, and making a better future for the next generations. I carpool, compost, eat a mostly plant-based diet, and try to purchase second hand as much as possible.

No comments: