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UCSC releases oral history of organic farming & sustainable agriculture on CA Central Coast

Cultivating a movement: new oral history series documents history of sustainable agriculture and organic farming on California’s Central Coast

A wealth of colorful, informative stories told by dozens of pioneers in the development of organic farming and sustainable food systems in California’s Central Coast region is now available on the UCSC Library’s website.

Several years in the making, the groundbreaking documentary project includes interviews with 58 large- and small-scale farmers, farm advisors, activists, educators, researchers, policymakers, farmers’-market managers, food distributors, and other shapers of the region’s past 40 years of agricultural history. While the project focuses on developments in California’s Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, many of the interviewees have influenced the movement for sustainable food systems at the national and international level. Organizations represented include the Agricultural and Land-Based Training Association, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, California Certified Organic Farmers, Organic Farming Research Foundation, California FarmLink, the Ecological Farming Association, the Homeless Garden Project, UCSC’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, the Life Lab Science Program, and the Wild Farm Alliance.

The project was conceived and overseen by Irene Reti, director of the UC Santa Cruz Library’s Regional History Project, with interviewing and editorial assistance from Sarah Rabkin and Ellen Farmer. “An astonishingly multifaceted, interdependent community of change-makers inspired this oral history endeavor, which is the first substantial documentation of the historical trajectory of this transformative movement,” says Reti.

Interview transcripts, audio clips, photographs, and other resources are available online. In addition, the set of ten bound, printed volumes of interview transcripts and narrator photographs is available through several libraries, including the UCSC Library the Watsonville Public Library, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Alternative Farming Systems Information Center. Individuals and institutions interested in purchasing copies of some or all of the volumes may email

To learn more please call Irene Reti at 831-459-2847 or email Irene at

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