Timeline: Cultivating a Movement, An Oral History Series on Organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture on California's Central Coast

556Camp Joy, Boulder Creek. Photo by Sarah Rabkin

This timeline places the development of organic farming and sustainable agriculture on the Central Coast in the context of historical events and trends in the broader movement.

1911: F. H. King, an American agronomist, toured China, Korea, and Japan in 1909, studying traditional methods of fertilization and tillage. In 1911, he publishes Farmers of Forty Centuries: Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan, which later serves as a repository of information for a new generation of organic farmers searching for information on soil fertility.

1924: A group of European farmers concerned with the decline of soil quality and crop health as a result of the use of chemical fertilizers seek the advice of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy (a philosophy based on the view that the human intellect has the ability to contact spiritual worlds). Steiner gives a series of lectures and conversations on biodynamic agriculture at Koberwitz, Germany, in June 1924. From these talks emerge Steiner’s fundamental principles of biodynamic farming and gardening, which Alan Chadwick later fuses with French intensive gardening methods in the Chadwick Garden at UC Santa Cruz.

1938: Microbiologist Masanobu Fukuoka resigns his job as a research scientist in Japan to devote his life to the development of the “no-till” organic method of growing grain. According to the Fukuoka Farming website, “Through 30 years of refinement he was able to develop a ’do-nothing‘ method of farming. Without soil cultivation such as plowing or tilling, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, weeding, pruning, machinery or compost, Fukuoka was able to produce high-quality fruit, vegetables and grains with yields equal to or greater than those of any neighboring farm.” In 1975 Fukuoka publishes One Straw Revolution, which inspires farmers and gardeners all over the world.

1938: The USDA Yearbook of Agriculture is entitled Soils and Men, an excellent manual on organic farming that is still used by organic farmers today.

1939: Lady Eve Balfour of Suffolk, England, one of the first women to study agriculture at an English university, conducts her groundbreaking Haughley Experiment in which she compares organic farming and chemical farming on two adjoining farms. In 1942 Balfour publishes the initial findings in her book, The Living Soil. In 1946 she co-founds the Soil Association, an organic advocacy group, which is the major organic farming organization in the United Kingdom today. Also in 1929, Swiss scientist Paul Müller discovers the insecticidal properties of DDT (first synthesized by a German chemist in the 1870s.) DDT is first used on a farm in 1942.

1940: British agronomist Lord Northbourne publishes Look to the Land, which describes farms as organisms, advocates an ecologically balanced approach to farming, and uses the word “organic” to describe a sustainable agricultural system.

1941: Twenty million Americans plant Victory Gardens during World War II.

1942: The United States and Mexican governments start the Bracero Program, which brings 4.5 million Mexican nationals north to work in the fields in the U.S. This sometimes exploitative and controversial program fills labor shortages in the fields until 1964, when labor unions organize to have it terminated.

1942: Jerome Rodale begins publishing Organic Farming and Gardening magazine.

1943: Sir Albert Howard, British mycologist and agricultural researcher, publishes An Agricultural Testament, based on research in India. This book will become a classic text on soil fertility. Howard is considered by many to be a founder of the organic farming movement.

1945: Nerve gas research during World War II results in the development of a new class of synthetic chemical pesticides, which begin to be widely used in the post-war period.

1947: Russel Wolter begins farming organically on his mother’s farm in Carmel Valley, California, decades before organic certification. Wolter’s expertise in organic farming methods becomes a valuable resource to a newer generation of farmers who begin applying organic practices on the Central Coast in the 1970s. After his mother’s death, Russel and his wife, Karen, farm forty-five acres of the family ranch as Down to Earth Farm.

1948: American agricultural writer and novelist Louis Bromfield publishes Malabar Farm, about his experiment in sustainable farming in Mansfield, Ohio.

1954: Helen and Scott Nearing publish Living the Good Life.

1959: The first edition of Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (written by J.I. Rodale) is published.

1962: Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, a landmark environmental book that documents the negative impact of agricultural chemicals.

1965: Mothers in Japan concerned about the rise of imported food and the loss of arable land start the first community supported agriculture (CSA) projects, called teikei (提携) in Japanese.

1965: The University of California, Santa Cruz opens its doors.

1965: Fred Rohé opens New Age Natural Foods in San Francisco, one of the first natural foods stores in the United States. Rohé later opens the Good Karma Café in the Mission District of San Francisco.

1965: El Teatro Campesino (“farmworkers’ theater”) is founded as the cultural arm of the United Farmworkers. The original actors are all farmworkers, and productions are held on flatbed trucks in the middle of the fields. In 1971, the company moves to San Juan Bautista, California.

1966: César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and others form the United Farmworkers Organizing Committee, which in 1972 becomes the United Farmworkers Union (UFW). Chávez and a band of strikers march 340 miles from Delano to the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento to draw national attention to the suffering of farm workers.

1966: The San Francisco Diggers begin giving away free food at gatherings in the city.

1967: English master gardener Alan Chadwick is hired to create a Student Garden Project on the University of California, Santa Cruz campus.

1967-1970: The UFW organizes a very successful international grape boycott.

1969: Sunset Magazine visits the UCSC Student Garden Project and calls Alan Chadwick “. . . one of the most successful organic gardeners the editors have ever met.”

1969: Staff of Life natural foods store opens in Santa Cruz, California.


Late 1960s: Citizens organize to purchase produce, dry goods, eggs, and other food directly from farmers and small distributors, in what become known as food conspiracies. These are usually affiliated with the New Left movements of the time. Some food conspiracies evolve into food co-ops and natural food stores.


1970: (April 22) Earth Day. Founded by Senator Gaylor Nelson (D-Wisconsin). Twenty million Americans take to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to teach, learn, and demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.

1970: The Whole Earth Restaurant opens at UC Santa Cruz. It is located in a cozy redwood building and features vegetarian meals based on produce from the Student Garden Project. This restaurant closes in 2002.

1971: Chez Panisse Restaurant is opened by Alice Waters in Berkeley, California.

1971: Rodale Press’s Organic Farming and Gardening Magazine initiates an organic certification program in California. This program ultimately inspires the formation of the California Certified Organic Farmers.

1971: Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont establishes organic certification standards.

1971: Jerry and Jean Thomas start Thomas Farm in Aptos, California.

1971: The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), is formed and is the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country.

1971: Jim Nelson and Beth Benjamin found Camp Joy Gardens in Boulder Creek, California.

1972: Amigo Bob Cantisano starts We the People Natural Foods Cooperative in Lake Tahoe, California. It later becomes the Mountain People’s Warehouse and then part of United Natural Foods (UNFI), now the leading independent national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods in the United States.

1972: The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) begins in Versailles, France on November 5th, 1972, during an international congress on organic agriculture organized by the French farmer organization Nature et Progrès.

1973: Dan Janzen publishes “Tropical Agroecosystems” in Science magazine, a seminal article in the development of agroecology.

1973: Alan Chadwick leaves UC Santa Cruz. Steve Kaffka becomes manager of the UCSC Farm and Garden. The apprentice program is formalized through University of California Extension.

1973: California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) is formed by six organic farmers sitting around Barney Bricmont’s kitchen table.

1973: Janet and Bob Brians found Brians Ranch in Hollister, California.

1974: Warren Weber founds Star Route Farms in Bolinas, California, now the oldest continuously certified organic grower in California.

1974: Veritable Vegetable, now the nation’s oldest distributor of certified organic produce, opens its doors in San Francisco, California. According to the company’s website, “Veritable Vegetable was part of a movement that sought to bring low cost, nutritious food to neighborhood coops and community storefronts. Called simply The People’s Food System, and extending throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, the idea was to provide a large-scale collective alternative to the corporate food system.”

1974: Oregon Tilth certification agency is founded.

1974: Sim Van der Ryn starts the Farallones Institute in Berkeley, California, an urban and rural research/teaching center for studying appropriate technologies.

1975: CCOF’s first chapter, the Central Coast Chapter, is founded by Santa Cruz County members.

1975: Richard Merrill founds the Environmental Horticulture Department at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, California.

1976: Robbie Jaffe, Barney Bricmont and others begin the first farmers’ market in Santa Cruz County. It is at Live Oak School. The market is later moved to Cabrillo Community College. This market later grows into the Monterey Bay Certified Markets.

1976: Wes Jackson founds The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, an organization that (according to its website) continues to devote resources “to developing an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops.”

1976: Amigo Bob Cantisano opens Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in Nevada City, California.

1976: Ecologist and horticulturalist Richard Merrill edits and publishes Radical Agriculture, a formative text in the sustainable agriculture movement.

1976: Jeff Larkey begins farming as part of Ivy Lane Commune on four acres of land near Santa Cruz, California.

1977: CCOF expands to include a North Coast chapter.

1977: UCSC Farm apprentice Stephen Decater (with his wife, Gloria) starts Live Power Community Farm in Covelo, California. Decater had studied with Alan Chadwick at the Round Valley Garden Project from 1972 to 1974. The Decaters mentor many other organic farmers, including Jered Lawson of Pie Ranch.

1977: Wendell Berry publishes The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, a devastating critique of industrial agriculture.

1978: Governor Jerry Brown signs the Direct Marketing Act, allowing California farmers to sell their own produce directly to consumers at locations designated by the Department of Agriculture. This is a boon to farmers’ markets in California.

1978: Richard Merrill publishes Energy Primer: Solar, Water, Wind, and Biofuels.

1978: Life Lab project starts at Green Acres School in Live Oak (near Santa Cruz), California. Life Lab teachers transform a vacant lot into a thriving garden, and develop curriculum based on the idea that children are motivated to learn scientific ideas by asking questions in the garden.

1978: Nancy Gammons and her husband, Robin, begin Four Sisters Farm on marginally fertile land in the hills of Aromas, California.

1978: The California Agrarian Action Project (CAAP) forms in Yolo County, California, to organize demonstrations in support of farm workers in dire economic straits due to unemployment partially caused by adoption of the mechanical tomato harvester.

1979: Life Lab Science Program becomes a nonprofit organization.

1979: CAAP files a landmark suit against the University of California for using taxpayer dollars to develop technologies that benefit large farms and hurt small farms and farm workers. This becomes known as the Research Priorities (or “Tomato Harvester” or “Mechanization”) case. CAPP wins the case in 1986, but later loses on appeal to the California Supreme Court in 1989. Nonetheless, in response to the suit, the University of California creates the Small Farm Center, the Fair Political Practices Commission requires that professors reveal personal financial interests that may involve conflict of interest with their research, and some funding is given to UC Santa Cruz for the Agroecology Program.

1979: The California Organic Food Act is signed into law. While it is a state-mandated local program, no budgetary appropriations are allocated for enforcement. Any infractions have to be taken up in the courts by organizations like CCOF.

1979: The Greens Restaurant opens in San Francisco under the auspices of the San Francisco Zen Center. Much of their produce is sourced from Green Gulch Farm in Muir Beach, founded in 1972, and also run by the Zen Center.

Early to mid-1970s: Community Foods begins as a worker-owned natural foods co-op called Consumer’s Co-op (located in a mobile home park at the end of North Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz), and eventually opens a large natural foods store in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz County. They also run Santa Cruz Trucking, a wholesale organic foods distribution company. Community Foods goes out of business in the late 1980s.

1980: USDA publishes the Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming to increase “communication between organic farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” The report is soon suppressed by the incoming Reagan administration, which also abolishes the USDA position of Organic Resources Coordinator, held by Garth Youngberg, who had been a member of the USDA Study Team for Organic Farming.

1980: Larry Jacobs and Sandra Belin found Jacobs Farm in Pescadero, California.

1980: The circulation of Organic Gardening magazine has increased from 260,000 in 1960 to 1,300,000.

1980: The original Whole Foods Market opens in Austin, Texas, with a staff of only 19 people. Whole Foods (as of 2009) owns 270 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.

1981: Stephen R. Gliessman is hired by the UCSC Environmental Studies Board as a faculty member. Gliessman founds the Agroecology Program, headquartered at the UCSC Farm.

1981: The first Ecological Farming Conference (organized by Amigo Bob Cantisano) is held at the Firehouse in Winters, California. Forty-five people attend. The conference continues to this day and is now the largest sustainable agriculture gathering in the Western United States.

1981: Dale Coke founds Coke Farm near Watsonville, California. Coke begins marketing berries, baby zucchini and “exotic” lettuces to Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, and later other high-end restaurants across the country. Coke can be credited with the invention of the spring salad mix, an assortment of baby lettuce greens, now one of the most lucrative products sold by the organic industry. He originally rinses them in an old washing machine cleverly set up to run only on the spin cycle.

1981: The Ecological Farming Association is founded. In addition to organizing the annual EcoFarm Conference, EFA puts on training programs, on-farm events and communications initiatives to “pursue a safe and healthful food system that strengthens soils, protects air and water, encourages diverse ecosystems and economies, and honors rural life.” EFA is located in Watsonville, California.

1982: Dee Harley starts Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, California.

1982: Oregon Tilth, an organic certification membership organization, is established.

1982: The Alfred E. Heller Chair in Agroecology is founded with a $375,000 gift from Alfred E. Heller and is the first endowed chair at UC Santa Cruz. Stephen R. Gliessman has held the chair since its inception.

1983: California Association of Family Farmers (CAFF) is founded to address problems faced by family farmers. In 1993 it merges with the California Action Network to form the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

1983: Sibella Kraus and others organize the first Tasting of Summer Produce festival in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Tasting of Summer Produce takes place again in 1985 and 1986-89. The last three festivals are held at the Oakland Museum.

1983: Sandra Ward and Ken Kimes begin New Natives Farm, a greenhouse-based sprout farm located in Corralitos, California.

1984: Jan VanderTuin brings the concept of community supported agriculture (CSA) to North America from Europe. Vander Tuin had co-founded a community-supported agricultural project named Topinambur, located near Zurich, Switzerland.

1984: Drew and Myra Goodman begin Earthbound Farm on 2.5 acres in the Carmel Valley of California.

1984: Molino Creek Farm is certified by CCOF. This farming collective pioneers the growing of dry-farmed tomatoes.

1985: Mark Lipson becomes CCOF’s first paid staff member.

1985: New Leaf Community Markets opens in its first location, called Westside Community Market, on the Westside of Santa Cruz.

Circa 1985: Sam Earnshaw and Jo Ann Baumgartner begin Neptune Farms near Santa Cruz, California.

1985: The Rural Development Center (RDC) is founded on a farm eight miles south of Salinas, California in 1985 by the Association for Community-Based Education (ACBE) of Washington, DC. The RDC pioneers the idea of a “Farmworker to Farmer” program where agricultural workers gain broader skills leading to their advancement on the job, in farm management or possibly farm ownership. José Montenegro spearheads an organic farming training program at the RDC. This program eventually grows into the Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association (ALBA).

1985: Jeff Larkey’s Route One Farms is certified by CCOF.

1985: Renee Shepherd founds Shepherd’s Garden Seeds in Boulder Creek, California.

1986: After a statewide organizing effort by CAFF and other activists, Senate Bill 872, which creates the University of California’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC-SAREP), passes in the California legislature.

1986: Slow Food begins in Italy when a group of organizers form Arcigola, dedicated to protecting the interests of small-scale producers, promoting the enjoyment of food and wine, and resisting the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome. Carlo Petrini transforms Arcigola into Slow Food, an organization devoted to preserving the cuisine and seeds indigenous to an eco-region. The movement now extends globally to over 100,000 members in 132 countries. Slow Food USA has about 16,000 members.

1986: Larry Jacobs and Sandra Belin work with a cooperative of family farmers in Baja California, Mexico, to start the Del Cabo organic growers association. Jacobs Farm becomes Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo.

1986: CCOF certifies Van Dyke Ranch, operated by Betty Van Dyke and family. Van Dyke learned organic farming methods from her Croatian father who never used pesticides. She is one of the pioneering organic farmers on the Central Coast.

1987: Bob Scowcroft is hired as the first executive director of CCOF.

1987: CCOF publishes the first edition of the CCOF Certification Handbook and Materials List and the first Farm Inspection Manual, as well as organizing the first series of farm inspector trainings.

1987: Swanton Berry Farm becomes the first certified organic strawberry farm in California.

1988: Stephen Decater starts the first CSA program in California, at his Live Power Farm in Covelo.

1988: USDA establishes the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.

1988: CCOF pursues an investigation, in cooperation with the California Department of Health Services, of Pacific Organics, a distributor that is selling conventionally grown carrots as organic. This event becomes known as “The Carrot Caper.”

1988: Greg Beccio and Andy Griffin begin Riverside Farms, which sells spring salad mix to a burgeoning national organic market. In 1996 they sell Riverside Farms to Natural Selection Foods.

1989: CBS’s 60 Minutes airs “Intolerable Risk: Pesticides in our Children’s Food,” highlighting a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council on the carcinogenic risks of the chemical Alar (Daminozide) a growth regulator sprayed on apples. Public outcry prompts Meryl Streep to appear later that year on the Donahue show supporting local farms and organic foods. This publicity has a tremendous impact on the growth of CCOF and the organic movement over the next decade.

1989: Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market begins in a parking lot. The market continues to this day and has expanded to four additional locations.

1989: Watsonville apple farmer Jim Rider converts all of his orchards to organic production in the wake of the public outcry over the contamination of apples with the carcinogenic pesticide Alar.

1989: Amigo Bob Cantisano opens Organic Ag Advisors. Cantisano is the only professional organic ag advisor in the state of California at that time, and perhaps in the United States.

1989: (October 17): A 6.9 earthquake centered near Watsonville, California, hits the Central Coast. It becomes known as the Loma Prieta Earthquake. The quake displaces the CCOF offices in downtown Santa Cruz and also (ironically) opens up a space for the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market to open.

1990: California Governor George Deukmejian signs the California Organic Foods Act (COFA) authored by California State Assemblyman Sam Farr. CCOF members Mark Lipson, Barney Bricmont and many others play a key role in COFA’s passage. COFA establishes standards for organic food production and sales in California, and later becomes one of the models for the National Organic Program’s federal organic standards.

1990: The Federal Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) is passed (but the final National Organic Standards are not signed into law until April 21, 2001) as part of the Farm Bill. This acts set out to establish national standards governing the marketing of organically produced products, assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard, and facilitate interstate commerce in both fresh and processed organic foods.

1990: Citizens Committee for the Homeless, a Santa Cruz County non-profit, founds the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, California.

1990: UCSC Agroecology Program researchers Sean Swezey, Steve Gliessman and others publish the first organic strawberry conversion study. The study is conducted on Jim Cochran’s Swanton Berry Farm.

1992: The UCSC Farm and Garden holds “Roots & Shoots,” celebrating its 25th anniversary.

1992: The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is formed as a spinoff of CCOF, to fund the educational objectives of CCOF and on-farm research of organic growing practices. Bob Scowcroft is executive director and Mark Lipson is senior policy analyst.

1992: The Organic Farming Research Foundation conducts the first of four National Organic Farmers’ Surveys, “collecting information about organic farmers’ research and information needs, their experiences in the organic marketplace, effects of GMOs on organic production and markets, organic farmer demographics and much more.”

1993: The UCSC Agroecology Program’s name is changed to the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems.

1993: The first of five biannual Organic Leadership Conferences is held at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. These conferences are formative for the organic movement and are organized by the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

1995: The first Western Region Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) conference takes place in San Francisco, California.

Mid-1990s: Cynthia Sandberg begins to grow heirloom tomato seedlings in Ben Lomond, California, an endeavor that eventually grows into Love Apple Farm.

1996: Lakeside Organic Gardens, run by veteran farmer Dick Peixoto, is founded in Watsonville, California.

1997: Dr. Carol Shennan is appointed director of CASFS, and serves as director for the next ten years.

1997: Dr. Stephen R. Gliessman publishes Agroecology: Ecological Processes in Sustainable Agriculture, the first textbook of its kind. A new edition is published in 2006.

1997: Mark Lipson and the Organic Farming Research Foundation publish Searching for the “O-Word”: An Analysis of the USDA Current Research Information System (CRIS) for Pertinence to Organic Farming. The report documents the absence of publicly funded organic research at a critical political moment in the trajectory of the organic farming movement.

1998: Swanton Berry Farm becomes the first organic farm to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers.


1998: California FarmLink is founded to build family farming and conserve farmland in California by linking aspiring and retiring farmers; and promoting techniques and disseminating information that facilitate intergenerational farm transitions.”


1998: Sean Swezey becomes director of the UC Sustainable Agriculture and Research and Education Program [SAREP].


1998: Andy Griffin and Julia Wiley begin Mariquita Farm in Watsonville, and join with High Ground Organics to form Two Small Farms and sell organic produce via a community supported agriculture program.


1999: The International Agroecology Short Course is founded by Steve Gliessman.


1999: Localharvest.org is founded in Santa Cruz, California by Guillermo Payet.


2000: The Wild Farm Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing biodiversity by expanding the idea and practice of wild farms, is founded in Watsonville, California.

2000: A farmers’ market begins in Watsonville, California.

2000: UCSC CASFS researcher Sean Swezey publishes the first organic apple production manual, based on research he does in collaboration with apple farmer Jim Rider.

2001: The Community Agroecology Network (CAN) is founded by Steve Gliessman and Robbie Jaffe.

2001: After ten years of political debate, the final National Organic Standards rule is published in the Federal Register on December 21, 2000, establishing USDA standards for organic food in the United States.

2001: Sean Swezey and his team of researchers at CASFS publish ground-breaking research on organic cotton growing.

2001: The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) grows out of the Rural Development Association.

2001: María Inés Catalán of Catalán Family Farms becomes the first Latina migrant farm worker to own and operate a certified organic farm (certified in 2005) in California, and the first Latina in the country to found a farm that distributes produce through a community supported agriculture program.

2001: The Organic Farming Research Foundation publishes Jane Sooby’s State of the States: Organic Systems Research and Land Grant Institutions. The report catalogues organic research, education, and extension projects in place at the nation’s public land grant agriculture schools, at public research stations, and through Cooperative Extension.

2002: CAFF’s Hedgerow and Habitat project begins on California’s Central Coast and North Coast, and in Stanislaus County. The program demonstrates the importance of growing native plant hedgerows to provide habitat for wildlife and beneficial insects. On the Central Coast, this project is managed by Sam Earnshaw of CAFF.

2002: Governor Gray Davis signs into law the California Organic Products Act (COPA) of 2003. Beginning January 1, 2003, all products sold in California with less than seventy percent organic ingredients are not allowed to use the word “organic” on the front panel. However, later in 2003, the State Assembly repeals the non-food provision of the COPA.

2002: Steve Gliessman, with colleagues and students, founds UCSC’s Program in Community and Agroecology (PICA) in collaboration with the Colleges and University Housing Services.

2002: ALBA creates ALBA Organics as a licensed produce distributor to generate market access for participating farmers while also providing sales and marketing education.

2002: Amy Courtney starts Freewheelin’ Farm with almost no motorized vehicles, incorporating used equipment and recycled materials wherever possible in the farm’s operations.

2002: Swanton Berry Farm is awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection for developing methods of growing strawberries without the use of methyl bromide, a chemical that depletes the earth’s ozone layer.

2004: The UCSC Food Systems Working Group drafts guidelines and goals to bring sustainable food to campus dining halls. UCSC Dining Services adopts guidelines that include buying local, seasonal, and certified organic food, buying direct from farmers, buying humanely produced animal products, certified fair trade products, and worker supportive products.

2004: University of California students from the California Student Sustainability Coalition’s (CSSC) meet at UC Santa Barbara to launch the UC Sustainable Foods Campaign.

2004: Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Jim Dunlop start TLC Ranch in Aromas, California.

2005: The Monterey Bay Organic Farmers Consortium is created as a collaborative means for ALBA Organics to secure greater quantities of local, source-verified organic produce in order to serve UC Santa Cruz Housing and Dining Services. ALBA Organics focuses particularly on wholesale and food service accounts, including customers such as Stanford University, Asilomar Conference Center, and regional hospitals.

2005: Jered Lawson, Nancy Vail and Karen Heisler found Pie Ranch on the North Coast of Santa Cruz County.

2006: An outbreak food-borne illness caused by the pathogen E. coli 0157:H7 sickens about 200 people and kills three; the outbreak is traced to bagged fresh spinach grown in San Benito County.


2006: Michael Pollan publishes An Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.


2006: “J.P.” Perez founds his J & P Organics Community Supported Agriculture program in 2006, while a college student, with a subscriber cohort of five friends and an advertisement on Craigslist and a campus electronic marketplace. Today, Perez employs his parents and siblings in his expanding farm enterprise, which serves about 300 (and growing).

2007: Dr. Patricia Allen, a leading scholar on social aspects of sustainable food systems, is appointed director of CASFS.

2007: Food, What?! A Youth Empowerment Program, begins as a project of Life Lab Science Program.

2007: Youth members of The Food Project, the California Student Sustainability Coalition, and other organizations meet at the Food and Society Conference sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to found The Real Food Challenge, a national organization working to unite students for just and sustainable food.


2007: Barbara Kingsolver publishes Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which helps galvanize the locavore movement, as does Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon’s Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally.


2007: The California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA) is formed in response to the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks of 2006.

2007: UCSC’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) holds The Back Forty, its 40th anniversary reunion, on July 27-29 on the UCSC campus.

2008: Larry Jacobs of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo wins a landmark pesticide drift case against pesticide application company Western Farm Service, Inc. The court finds that the contamination of organic crops caused by pesticides drifting after application violated the rights of the organic crop grower.

2008: CCOF surpasses a half million certified organic acres.

2009: President Barack Obama appoints Kathleen Merrigan, a scholar and teacher and former congressional aide who helped write federal organic food-labeling rules, as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.


2009: USDA hearings on a National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement are held in the fall. Organic Farming Research Foundation brings in several organic farmers from the Central Coast, including Dale Coke, to testify.



2009: First Lady Michelle Obama creates an organic vegetable garden at the White House.


2010: United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture (and longtime organic farming researcher) Kathleen Merrigan addresses the Ecological Farming Conference.