It’s been a rewarding five years serving as the founding Executive
Director of the Berkeley Food Institute. I have thoroughly appreciated
and enjoyed working with an amazing, dedicated group of colleagues,
faculty, students, funders, and community partners to develop and grow
programs to create more sustainable, healthful, and just food systems.
I am heartened by BFI’s progress in catalyzing research, empowering
students, impacting policy, and more. I’m inspired by the new
generation of leaders involved in food systems at Berkeley and far
With mixed emotions, I share news of my retirement as Executive
Director of BFI effective at the end of this year. I look forward to
moving on to new adventures but will remain in an advisory capacity
with BFI. I am excited to announce that Nina F. Ichikawa, currently
BFI’s Policy Director, will serve as Interim Executive Director. Dr.
Kristine Madsen will continue as BFI Faculty Director, and our other
highly capable BFI staff will continue to serve during this time of
I feel honored to have been involved in BFI since its beginning and am
excited to see the Institute’s continued success. I am very grateful to
our funders and wonderful team who have enabled BFI to thrive. Thank
you for your support of BFI, past, present, and future.
PS: Individual gifts provide a critical base of support
for BFI’s programs. As this season of giving and gratitude approaches, please consider a gift to fuel our
work to create diverse, just, resilient, and healthy food systems.
A class field trip to the UC Gill Tract
Agriculture at Berkeley
urban land-grant university, UC Berkeley is in a unique position to
conduct research, teaching, and outreach on metropolitan food
production. In this newsletter, we share cutting edge Berkeley Food
Institute research and resources on the challenges and opportunities of
growing and distributing foodin
the Field: Urban Agroecology in the East Bay is Producing Food,
Education, and Healthy Soils
agriculture is often an important component of community food security
and food sovereignty, for the simple reason that “growing your own food
is a transformative act” (Helmer
2016). This past spring the Berkeley Food Institute launched
a 3-year collaborative research, education, and extension urban
agriculture project, Sustainable
Urban Farming for Resilience and Food Security, to better
understand and address questions of urban agriculture viability,
sustainability, and equity within the East Bay community and beyond. In
a new blog
post lead researchers Jennifer
Sowerwine and Charisma
Acey discuss the project team’s work on assessing food
access and food distribution methods, soil health and soil
contamination, and beneficial insects and their habitats. Read more here.
City Slickers “Ag Day” brings local
elementary school students to explore the Farm Park on October 25, 2018.
Photo by: Alana Siegner
Focus: Berkeley Passes Urban Agriculture Ordinance
City of Berkeleyhas instituted a set of zoning and rule changes aimed
to make agriculture in the city easier and more affordable for would-be
urban farmers. Small-scale produce growers (livestock and cannabis are
excluded) are now able to grow and donate or sell without a permit;
larger-scale operations will see their fees lowered and paperwork
reduced. BFI friend Rob Bennaton of UC Cooperative Extension is
quoted in an article on the changes in Berkeleyside.
A research plot at the Oxford Tract.
Photo by Timothy Bowles.
Highlight: Urban Agriculture
Does Urban Agriculture Improve Food Security? Examining
the Nexus of Food Access and Distribution of Urban Produced Foods in
the United States: A Systematic Review
literature review in the Journal
of Sustainability conducted by Alana
Sowerwine, and Charisma
Acey,found that while many studies cite the potential food
security benefits of urban agriculture, there are few that robustly
measure the impact of urban farms on improving food security in
low-income communities. Without understanding deeper historical
and structural challenges including poverty, racism, and divestment in
specific communities and neighborhoods, policymakers and advocates risk
backing policies that could have unintended consequences or negative
impacts on vulnerable communities.
Indicators of Land Insecurity for Urban Farms:
Institutional Affiliation, Investment, and Location
article in the Journal
Arnold and Paul
Rogé report on how land security affects urban farms'
ability to persist. The researchers divided urban agriculture sites by
tenure status (high-security and low-security) and found that
affiliation with a school, sufficient funds for irrigation services,
and ability to hire staff are important indicators of their land tenure
status and can seriously impact the amount of food they can produce.
The authors emphasize the importance of equity in financial and
institutional support for urban farms.
Community: Experiential Learning Toolkits in Campus Farms and Gardens
year the Berkeley Food Institute collaborated with partners at UC Davis
and UC Santa Cruz to expand opportunities for experiential learning in
campus farms and gardens. Funded through the UC Global Food Initiative,
the three campuses increased programming, improved coordination between
garden spaces, and initiated off-campus garden internship programs in
local public schools. With representation from UC Davis' Student Farm,
UC Santa Cruz' Farm and Garden, and UC Berkeley's network of several
urban farms and gardens, each partner contributed unique and valuable
knowledge. In order to share these learnings more broadly, the team
created three toolkits, intended as practical guides for campuses
interested in starting and/or expanding similar programs. These
This presentation by Center for Diversified Farming Systems
postdoctoral scholar Antoinette M. Dumont will
focus on the socioeconomic dimensions of agroecology by first
identifying a list of principles in popular and scientific literature
and, as a second step, by putting the principles to the test of a
qualitative study of a diversity of Belgian food systems. Event details here.
2018, 11AM – 3PM | UC Gill Tract Community Farm
Get your hands dirty, and hang out with the community while cultivating
and nourishing the fruits and vegetables that help feed the Bay Area.
Create new relationships with local community members, spread happiness
to the neighborhood and the earth, and promote positive change for the
environment. Invite your friends; everyone is welcome! Event details here.