Diversified Farming Systems Roundtable

Spring 2016

What Does 40 Years of Science Tells Us about Organic Agriculture?

Monday, April 11, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Dr. John Reganold

Organic agriculture has a history of being contentious and is considered by some as an inefficient approach to food production. Yet organic foods and beverages are a rapidly growing market segment in the global food industry. The performance of organic farming will be discussed in light of four key sustainability metrics: productivity, environmental impact, economic viability and social wellbeing. Organic farming systems produce lower yields compared with conventional agriculture. However, they are more profitable and environmentally friendly, and deliver equally or more nutritious foods that contain less (or no) pesticide residues, compared with conventional farming. Moreover, initial evidence indicates that organic agricultural systems deliver greater ecosystem services and social benefits. Although organic agriculture has an untapped role to play when it comes to the establishment of sustainable farming systems, no single approach will safely feed the planet. Rather, a blend of organic and other innovative farming systems is needed.

Dr. John Reganold has shaped his career by his interest in agriculture and the environment, receiving his M.S. in Soil Science from UC Berkeley and his Ph.D. in Soil Science from UC Davis. He joined Washington State University in 1983 and is currently Regents Professor of Soil Science and Agroecology. He has spent 30-plus years bringing a blend of innovative research and teaching on sustainable farming systems into the mainstream of higher education and food production.

Edible Memory: How Tomatoes became Heirlooms and Apples became Antiques

Monday, March 14, 4 – 5pm
103 Mulford Hall

Speaker: Jennifer Jordan

How do the stories we tell each other about the past shape the food we eat? Even as countless varieties of edible plants have vanished permanently from the face of the earth, people are working hard to preserve the biodiversity and “genetic heritage” not only of rare panda bears or singular orchids, but also the plants of the backyard vegetable garden. A major consequence of this work is the emergence of heirloom food—varieties of fruit, vegetables, grains and livestock left behind by modern agriculture, but now experiencing a striking resurgence. Through a close examination of apples and tomatoes, this talk reveals the phenomenon of edible memory—the infusing of food, heirloom and otherwise, with connections to the past, in ways both deeply personal and inherently social. Paying attention to edible memory reveals deep connections between food and memory, social and physical landscapes, pleasures and possibilities.

Jennifer Jordan is a professor of sociology and urban studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and other Forgotten Foods (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and Structures of Memory: Understanding Urban Change in Berlin and Beyond (Stanford University Press, 2006), among other publications.

Agroecology Enters the Vocabulary of the United Nations

Monday, February 8, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Barbara Gemmill-Herren

The intergovernmental process on agriculture (thus, policy carried out on international level, between governments) has often been fraught with disagreement. While major issues are recognized with a food system that is failing to nourish a large percentage of the global population, radically divergent paradigms of the future of agriculture are proposed as solutions. Unlike agreements on biodiversity or climate change, there are no negotiated agreements between governments on commonly agreed targets in the agriculture sector. In 2014, a process was begun at the Food and Agriculture Organization to discuss and recognise alternative pathways, specifically agroecology. This process, and its status, will be presented.
Dr Barbara Gemmill-Herren, until she retired in August, was Delivery Manager, Major Area of Work on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture Programme Specialist, Sustainable Agriculture at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She was previously director of Environment Liaison Centre International, international environmental non-governmental organization based in Nairobi, Kenya and was an honorary lecturer in Plant Ecology at University of Nairobi, Kenya. Within the FAO, she built and coordinated a global project on Pollination Services, implemented in Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Nepal. For the last five years, she has been responsible for FAO’s work on Ecosystem Services in Agricultural Production, and has been central to FAO’s new focus on Agroecology. She has been the principal investigator for the TEEBAgFood on rice production systems. She presently works as a consultant to ICRAF (The World Agroforestry Centre), continuing to support the United Nations’ work on agroecology.

Fall 2015

The Large Potential of Local Croplands to Meet Food Demand in the United States

Monday, November 2, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Elliott Campbell

Local food systems may facilitate agroecological practices that conserve nutrient, energy, and water resources. However, little is known about the potential for local food systems to scale beyond niche markets and meet a substantial fraction of total food demand. Here we estimate the upper potential for all existing US croplands to meet total US food demand through local food networks. Our spatially explicit approach simulates the years 1850 through 2000 and accounts for a wide range of diets, food waste, population distributions, cropland areas, and crop yields. Although we find that local food potential has declined over time, particularly in some coastal cities, our results also demonstrate an unexpectedly large current potential for meeting as much as 90% of the national food demand. This decline in potential is associated with demographic and agronomic trends, resulting in extreme pressures on agroecological systems that, if left unchecked, could severely undermine recent national policies focused on food localization. Nevertheless, these results provide a spatially explicit foundation for exploring the many dimensions of agroecosystem sustainability.

Elliott Campbell’s research emphasizes the use of spatial analysis and environmental modeling to explore environmental policy, urban agroecology, and watershed sustainability. This work has appeared in media ranging from NPR’s “Morning Edition” to The Economist and has provided a basis for consultations to the U.S. EPA and other government agencies. He serves as Associate Editor to Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and is the recipient of the NSF CAREER award. Dr. Campbell received his BS and MS from Stanford University and his PhD from the University of Iowa. He is currently an associate professor of Environmental Engineering at UC Merced.

Rediscovering Our Lost “Farmacy”

Tuesday, October 6, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Daphne Miller, MD

What protective health factors are lost when moving from an acroecological to an industrial model of agriculture? It is well documented that populations experience a sharp increase in the prevalence of most chronic diseases – including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, cancer and depression – when they abandon a traditional lifestyle in favor of a more industrial one. While many environmental and behavioral factors are responsible for this phenomenon, research shows that the nutrition transition is an independent and significant contributor. To better understand this dietary transition, most investigations have focused on identifying the aspects of the Western diet that are potential promoters of disease such as ready access to fast food and processed food. By contrast, this talk focuses on understanding the agricultural systems underlying the nutrition transition and exploring what protective dietary factors are lost when individuals are no longer connected to a traditional way of farming based on agroecological principles. The protective benefits of agroecology will be discussed in four domains: 1) dietary diversity, 2) microbial diversity 3) medicinal foods, and 4) dietary behaviors.

Daphne Miller is a practicing family physician, author, and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Her writings and profiles can be found in many publications including the Washington Post, the New York Times, Vogue, Orion Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Food and Wine, The Guardian UK and Harvard Medical Magazine. She is author of The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World, Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You. and Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up. She is currently a Fellow at the Berkeley Food Institute.

Diversified Farming Systems Utilizing Outfield Resources: Coastal Heathlands in Norway and Mid-montane Forests in Nepal

Monday, September 21, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Inger Elisabeth Måren

Age-old farming systems have evolved out of the necessity for local food production. In many of these systems, outfield resources have provided vital contributions to the infield production and yields. In these systems secondary succession is manipulated to yield certain desirable ecosystem services. Some of these semi-natural systems go back a long time, e.g. the North-Western European coastal heathlands and the mid-montane forests throughout the Himalayas. In this talk I will describe these two systems in detail and link them to the discussion of sustainable natural resource management. Are these systems out-dated or can systems like these help us develop better food production and food availability?

Inger Elisabeth Måren is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography, University of Bergen, Norway. Her research focuses on the dynamics in coupled human and natural systems, including natural resource management, agro-biodiversity, sustainable forest use, and food security. She works with colleagues across the social and natural sciences to elucidate links between anthropogenic activities and the environment, in Europe, as well as in Asia and Africa.

Spring 2015

Agroecology, Farmer Livelihoods and Ecosystem Services in Santa Catarina, Brazil

Monday, April 20, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Joshua Farley, Associate Professor, Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont.

With an estimated 12% of forest cover remaining, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has likely crossed a critical ecological threshold beyond which it faces a collapse in biodiversity accompanied by a catastrophic reconfiguration of the ecosystem unless extensive restoration takes place in the near future. Brazil’s national forestry code requires restoration of enough forest cover to likely avoid catastrophic collapse. If small family farmers comply with the law, however, many will have inadequate arable land to sustain their families, which has triggered weakening of the code and a continued national debate over its future. We are working in the coastal mountain ranges of Santa Catarina, Brazil to develop and disseminate agroecological systems that can increase ecosystem services and economic output, reduce purchased inputs, comply with the forestry code, and improve farmer livelihoods. After describing the project, I will present the alternative definition of agricultural efficiency that drives our research: the ratio between food security gained and ecosystem services lost. I break this ratio down into an efficiency identity, consisting of economic, technical and ecological efficiency, each of which represents a leverage point for attaining a more efficient agricultural system. I assess the efficiency of agroecology and conventional agriculture in the region, and of Brazil’s Ministry of Agrarian Development and its conventional ministry of agriculture. I will conclude with our collaboration with the state program on payments for ecosystem services (PES), family farmers and agroecology cooperatives to develop policies that will facilitate the dissemination of agroecological practices at a sufficient scale to restore forest resilience in the state and beyond.

Slow Food and Ecological Economics: What Global Capitalism Cannot See

Monday, March 2, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Luis I. Prádanos (Iñaki), Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese, Miami University. Originally from Spain, Professor Prádanos did his undergraduate work in Spain and Italy, and completed his MA and Ph.D. in the US. Before coming to Miami University, he was an assistant professor of Hispanic studies at Westminster College in Utah.

This presentation demonstrates that maintaining the conventional model of industrial agriculture for much longer is a biophysical impossibility due to energy restrictions (e.g. peak oil, global EROI decline, entropy, geopolitical conflicts). Although it is possible to stretch this agroindustrial model for a decade or two more, the social, political, and ecological consequences of doing so could be catastrophic. However, some international institutions (IMF, WB, WTO) are still promoting such a system on a global scale because their “experts” are trained in an obsolete economic paradigm that is blind to the biophysical realities of the biosphere. From the standpoint of a scientifically updated economic paradigm (ecological economics), it is obvious that the current agroindustrial system is uneconomical, unsustainable, and irrational. Slow Food Movement suggests (and is successfully implementing) alternatives to such a destructive model that are economically viable, socially desirable, and ecologically sound.

Food Security Governance: Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations

Monday, February 23, 4 – 5pm
338 Koshland Hall

Speaker: Nora McKeon is engaged in teaching, writing and advocacy on food issues and social movements, following a career at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. She is the author of Food Security Governance: Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations (2014), Global Governance for World Food Security (2011), The United Nations and Civil Society (2009), and Peasant Organizations (2004).

Today’s food system generates hunger alongside of food waste, burgeoning health problems, massive greenhouse gas emissions. Applying food system analysis to review how the international community has addressed food issues since World War II, this book proceeds to explain how actors link up in corporate global food chains and in the local food systems that feed most of the world’s population. It unpacks relevant paradigms – from productivism to food sovereignty – and highlights the significance of adopting a rights-based approach to solving food problems. The author describes how communities around the world are protecting their access to resources and building better ways of producing and accessing food, and discusses the reformed Committee on World Food Security, a uniquely inclusive global policy forum, and how it could be supportive of efforts from the base. The book concludes by identifying terrains on which work is needed to adapt the practice of the democratic public sphere and accountable governance to a global dimension and extend its authority to the world of markets and corporations.

After the Plantations: Empowering Youth to Rebuild Hawai'i’s Food System Through Action Education at the University of Hawai'i, West O'ahu

Monday, February 9, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Albie Miles, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems, University of Hawai’i, West Oahu.

Dr. Miles received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California at Berkeley in 2013. His natural science research explores the synergies between farming system biodiversity and the provisioning of globally important ecosystem services from agriculture. His social science research explores the socio-economic and political obstacles to a more ecologically sustainable and socially equitable food system. Dr. Miles teaches a wide range of courses on the topics of agroecology and sustainable food systems, and is directing the development of a new undergraduate concentration in Sustainable Community Food Systems at the University of Hawai’i, West O’ahu. Dr. Miles has an extensive background in curriculum development and post-secondary education emphasizing experiential and hands-on learning. He has held posts at the Organic Agriculture Program at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question

Monday, January 26, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Speaker: Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Professor, Department of International Development Studies, Trent University. Trained as an economist, the focus of Haroon Akram-Lodhi’s research interest is in the political economy of agrarian change in developing capitalist countries, on the economic dimensions of gender relations, and on the political ecology of sustainable rural livelihoods and communities in contemporary poor countries.

Hunger and obesity sit side by side in the world today because a food system dominated by money, markets and profits allows those with money to obtain above and beyond their needs while those without cannot get the fundamentals of life. The result is a growing polarization of global agriculture, between a small number of haves and an ever-increasing number of have-nots. In Hungry for Change, Haroon Akram-Lodhi explains how capitalism was introduced into farming and how it transformed the terms and conditions by which farmers produce food. Written in accessible language and incorporating accounts from farmers and agricultural workers, this book explains how the creation, structure and operation of the capitalist world food system is marginalizing family farmers, small-scale peasant farmers and landless rural workers as it entrenches us all in a global subsistence crisis. Building upon the idea of food sovereignty, Akram-Lodhi develops a set of additional solutions to resolve the current crisis of the world food system.”

Cosponsored by Food First.

Fall 2014

Practitioner and Expert Panel on Soil Health and Ecosystem Services

Monday, November 3, 4 – 5:30pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Soil health is the basis for the ecosystem services that soils deliver to society, such as plant growth, erosion control, and pollutant mitigation. Its great importance to agriculture has prompted the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a national Soil health Initiative to meet the challenges of farming in the 21st century. The NRCS has identified four key management practices that lead to soil health, while helping to ensure that soils will be resilient in the face of climate change and increasing demand for food as the world population grows and developing economies improve.  However, important questions remain as to how these practices should be implemented and their results assessed.  For example, does managing for soil health differ from the management practices in organic farming? Can soil health be quantified or is it only an intangible, qualitative concept?  Our panel, which includes academic, agency, and grower perspectives, will discuss these and other big questions that are driving new research and stimulating changes in the way agriculture is done today.

Panelists:
Dennis Chessman
, State Conservation Agronomist, USDA
Gil Eshel, Researcher, Soil Erosion Research Station, Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, Israel; Visiting Fellow, Berkeley Food Institute
Celine Pallud, Associate Professor, Ecosystem Science, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley
Carl Rosato, Farmer and Owner, Woodleaf Farm
Moderated by Garrison Sposito, Professor of the Graduate School, Betty and Isaac Barshad Professor, Emeritus, Chancellor’s Professor, Emeritus, Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley

Social Action and Agrifood Movements: Diversity, Aims and Outcomes

Monday, October 6, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

From Slow Food to better school food to Occupy Big Food and well beyond, the agrifood arena has become a hotbed of social action and concern. Media pundits, food commentators and everyday enthusiasts now speak almost offhandedly of a “food movement.” However, beneath the broadbrush of a “food movement” lies considerable diversity in social movement antecedents and commitments, levels of organization and forms of action. We readily view diversity, perhaps especially agrobiodiversity, as a valuable and desirable attribute of farming systems.  How should we think about the implications of an agrifood movement field manifesting diverse and sometimes contradictory forms of social action? Drawing primarily on the North American context, this talk presents a developing sociological framework for considering diversity, divergence, change and impacts of both unorganized and more organized social action and initiatives related to agrifood issues.

 

Clare Hinrichs is a professor of Rural Sociology at Penn State University and a Visiting Fellow at the Berkeley Food Institute this Fall. Her work centers on the social dynamics in transitions to sustainable food and agricultural systems, and has included both discipline-focused research projects and larger multi-institutional, interdisciplinary collaborations.  She and her students have worked recently on the development, organization and outcomes of local and alternative food initiatives; the social impacts of sustainability and other quality standards for food and agriculture; and emerging knowledge systems and practice to support sustainable regional food and energy security.

Urban Foraging: Low Hanging Leaves

Monday, September 8, 4 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Wild foods are less considered in conversations of urban food systems. However, foraged foods might represent an untapped resource of accessible and nutritious foods.

Speaker: Thomas Carlson, Lecturer, Integrative Biology; Curator of Ethnobotany, Jepson and University Herbaria, UC Berkeley

Spring 2014

Participatory Research Methods for Agricultural Extension

Monday, May 5th, 3 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge 

Presenter: Jennifer Sowerwine

How can farmers be engaged with agricultural research?  Jennifer Sowerwine is a Research Associate, with the University and Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley and leads a number of innovative and participatory research projects within key agricultural sites of California.

Developing Seeds in Diversified Farming Systems

Monday, April 28, 3 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Presenters: Kevin Murphy, Mathew Dillon, Charlie Brummer
Moderated by Liz Carlisle

Seeds are an essential part of agri-food systems. Without seeds, we would not have food crops to feed humans and animals; and without the thousands of years of plant breeding that farmers have carried out, we would not have the countless varieties that enrich our food cultures. With the rise of industrialized agriculture, highly concentrated seed companies, and GM crops, seed diversity has begun to shrink greatly. In recent decades, the vast majority of seed R&D effort and spending has focused on conventional crops. This means that organic and diversified farmers often use seeds that are poorly adapted to their conditions. That is, the historic practices of developing seeds in their farming and agrobiodiversity contexts are being lost.

This panel will explore the role of seeds and seed breeding in fostering sustainable agriculture. Specifically, we will look at how seeds can be developed for the conditions of diversified farming systems (e.g., multiple crops, intercropping, pest control/ecosystem services). How can seed development help diversified farmers better adapt to their changing environments, especially climate change? What is participatory plant breeding, and how might this give greater control to farmers and breeders over what seeds they can use? How can alternative breeding programs be developed in the current US and international agri-food system?

More information here.

Food Chain Restoration: Recovering Monarch and Bee Populations in the Face of Climate Change and Herbicides

Wednesday, April 23, 2 – 4pm
338 Koshland Hall

Presenter: Gary Nabhan

Because of dramatic declines in monarch butterfly, honey bee and bumblebee populations in North America, some ecologists and farmers are concerned that the risk of “food web collapse” is becoming more probable in insect-pollinated fruit, vegetable and forage crops in North America. To achieve “food chain restoration” of sufficient magnitude to avert the “extinction of ecological relationships” involving migratory and center-foraging pollinators, a broad array of stakeholders must be engaged in supporting on-farm habitat restoration and population recovery to ensure food security. The Make Way for Monarchs Alliance and Borderlands Restoration L3C are but two of many organizations now attempting to build broader partnerships for collaborative conservation of pollinator habitat in working landscapes west of the Mississippi.  Our strategies for designing and maintaining hedgerows, filter strips and other pollinator habitat in the face of climate change will be highlighted.

Gary Paul Nabhan is the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable ood Systems at the University of Arizona, and a MacArthur Fellow. He is also an orchard keeper and co-facilitator of www.makewayformonarchs.org, a milkweed-butterfly recovery alliance. Along with bee ecologist Steve Buchmann, his co-author for The Forgotten Pollinators, he was among the first to sound the alarm about bee and butterfly declines in the mid-90’s. His latest book is Cumin, Camels and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey, has just come out from the University of California Press.

Pollinators as a Poster Child for Diversified Farming Systems

Monday, March 10th, 3 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge 

Presenter: Claire Kremen

As well as being a Professor in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, Dr. Kremen is also the director of the Center for Diversified Farming Systems and the co-faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute. Her work on pollinators has attracted national news coverage and is of great importance to California agriculture.

Biodiversity on the Farm: Inefficient, Unproductive, Only for Luddites?

Monday, February 10th, 3 – 5pm
Morgan Hall Lounge

Presenter: Judith Redmond, Co-founder and Co-owner of Full Belly Farm

Full Belly Farm is a 350 acre certified organic farm located in the beautiful Capay Valley of Northern California. They are committed to fostering sustainability on all levels, from fertility in their soil and care for the environment, to stable employment for their farm workers. Full Belly’s system includes: growing and marketing over 80 different crops; providing year-round employment for farm labor; using cover crops that fix nitrogen and provide organic matter for the soil; selling produce within a 120-mile radius of the farm; and planting habitat areas for beneficial insects and wildlife. The farm owners are Andrew Brait, Judith Redmond, Paul Muller, and Dru Rivers. With help from about 60 employees, the farm produces an amazing diversity of vegetables, herbs, nuts, flowers, and fruits year-round. The farm also has a flock of chickens, a herd of sheep, a tribe of goats, and several cows. Judith will address the roles of biodiversity on the farm.

Food and refreshments provided after the talk.