I'm ecstatic and honored to announce that I've been accepted as a participant in the 2013 Apprenticeship for Ecological Horticulture Program at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems!
Founded in 1967, the apprenticeship program is one of the oldest internationally recognized programs that provides training in the concepts and practices of organic gardening and small-scale farming. Offered through the University of California-Santa Cruz Extension, the Apprenticeship requires the completion of 20 units of Extension credit through300 hours of classroom instruction and 700 hours of field training and hands-on experience in the greenhouses, gardens, orchards and fields of the Center's 25-acre farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden. Graduates from the program have gone on to do everything from establishing their own commercial farms and market gardens to running community gardens and food justice projects to consulting on international development projects around the world.
Since I pulled my first weed (or a plant growing out of place whose value has yet to be learned) as a volunteer at Rattlesnake Community Farm in the summer of 2006, I've joined a number of amazing, gracious, innovative, and action-oriented travelers on the road to realizing food sovereignty for all! Volunteering at Rattlesnake Community Farm provided my first introduction to the concept of food as political issue: who has access to healthy food, who's growing it, who makes the decisions about what family farmers can and can't grow on their own land, the patenting of seeds and the impact on farmers to save their own seeds, suicide seeds creating market dependency for farmers, distribution and processing, food worker and farm worker rights and the connections between the US Food and Farm Bill. And everything from environmental land conservation policies, food access, and immigration issues to the consumers right to know if their food was grown using harmful pesticides or if it's been genetically modified.
Inspired, engaged, and deeply concerned by the state of our food system and the impact I could now see that it was having on individuals, communities, our nation, and specifically my own family"” my grandmother died due to complications with diabetes and 6 out of 7 of my aunts and uncles have diabetes"” I set out to learn more, get involved, and figure out how I could help. I've since been grateful to work with organizations like Just Food, WhyHunger, and Black Urban Growers (BUGs) which deeply understand the need to address and change our food system both holistically and from the ground level, in partnership with and through honoring the leadership and the voices of the communities who are most impacted: low-income and People of Color, our Indigenous communities, family farmers, farm workers, and food-chain workers.
In becoming an apprentice at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, I'll be following in the footprints of many of my mentors and friends: Karen Washington, Jane Hodge, Onika Abraham, Maggie Cheney, Molly Culver, Bee Ayer, and Deborah Greig to name a few. I am humbled, honored, and deeply grateful for this opportunity and look forward to sharing all that I learn with my family and friends and the larger community in the movement for justice and food sovereignty for all!
Whatever contribution you can make to support me during my 6-month apprenticeship at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems is greatly appreciated.
With much love and gratitude to all,
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