Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Feb 10th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Growing History

blog_slugUCSC library to launch an online oral history of organic farming

Dale Coke grew up on an apricot orchard in California’s Santa Clara Valley. In 1976 he bought 10 acres of farmland near Watsonville in Santa Cruz County but continued to work repairing fuel injection systems rather than farming at his new home. In 1981, a struggle with cancer inspired him to rethink his life and become an organic farmer. His neighbor, who had grown strawberries using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, asserted that strawberries could not be grown organically. Coke set out to prove him wrong.

Coke—who did, in fact, prove he could grow organic strawberries (and sell them to places like Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley), is just one of the many sustainable agriculture pioneers documented by UC Santa Cruz’s Regional History Project in “Cultivating a Movement: An Oral History Series on Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Farming on California’s Central Coast.” The Regional History Project’s Director, Irene Reti, came up with the idea to interview local individuals and organizations that played a major role in the development of organic farming and sustainable food systems. “[The oral history office]’s mission is to document the history of not only UCSC but of this entire region,” says Reti. “Sustainable agriculture is one of the major contributions that this area has made both national and internationally so it just stood out as something we wanted to document.”

The project examines the past 50 years of the sustainable agriculture movement in Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. It includes interviews with large- and small-scale farmers and a host of farm advisors, activists, educators, researchers, policymakers, Farmers’ Market managers, and food distributors—58 in all. “We started out thinking we were going to interview 15 people and we ended up with 58,” laughs Reti.

Transcripts of the interviews, audio clips from the oral histories, and photographs will all be available on the UCSC Library’s website (library.ucsc.edu/reg-hist/cultiv/home) on April 22, and can be sorted by narrator, organization, and role (farmers, activists, researchers, etc.). The site also offers a Google Map with the locations of the participants and a timeline listing key events in Central Coast organic and sustainable agriculture in the context of historical events and trends in the international movement.


In addition to the website, the UCSC Library will feature an exhibit based on the project in the fall. Transcripts of the interviews and photos that are on the website are also available in printed volumes through several local libraries, including the UCSC Library. To purchase copies of some or all of the volumes, or to learn more, email Irene at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . A book of edited excerpts from the oral histories will be published in 2011 by the UCSC Library and distributed by the University of California press.

Photo: JP Perez of JP Organics poses with a bounty of his fresh, organic produce. Credit: Gerry McIntyre

 

Comments (1)Add Comment
Chief Gardener on my private plot
written by Francis Smith, January 22, 2014
This collection serves a valuable purpose in tracing the history of the organic farming and gardening movement from its beginnings in California. Many of the contrlibutions are careful and accurate descriptions of the struggles that were necessary to begin looking at farming in a new way. Others, unfortunately, suffer from inaccuracies and distortions that marr the whole effort.In particular, I take exception to the misleading statements made by some of the interviewees about the role and character of the most important figure in the organic movement, Alan Chadwick. In particular, Orin Martin, Richard Merrill, and Steve Kaffka provide less than reliable information about Mr. Chadwick. For a good look at the other side of the story, see the following website:

Alan Chadwick

The section on "Memories of Alan Chadwick" has commentaries on the interviews of these three persons, as well as by many others who knew him.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Walking With a Ghost

How ‘ghosting’ has become a dating norm and why it needs to stop

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster

 

Soquel Vineyards

Sensuous wines for Valentine’s weekend

 

Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street