February: Summit Scheduled in March, 1st Cal Ag Roots Podcast Up + More

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 In this Newsletter  

Save the Date: Summit Scheduled for March 9 in Merced

Cal Ag Roots Podcast LIVE

Notes from the Field

Focus on CIRS Partners: JBS International

Rural California Blog

3rd Annual Farmers Guild Raising

California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) is the only California non-profit with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California's rural communities. 

  Keep in touch!



Summit Scheduled for March 9, in Merced

 FLYER Working for Justice in the Valley

"Working for Justice in the Valley: People, Food, Land & Water" is a Rural California Summit for Action, which will be hosted on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, by California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) at UC Merced in collaboration with the San Joaquin Valley Sustainable Agriculture Collaborative and the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI).

The one-day summit is designed to create dialogue between researchers and community members about historic and current struggles for access to resources in the Valley. Moving from theory to action we will discuss the tools needed for community based research and the politics of social change. 

**This event is free and open to the public, but you need to register at http://ruralcaliforniasummit.bpt.me/, by March 1, 2016**

In the morning session, participants will hear a Cal Ag Roots story about an activist group fighting to enforce water law in the Valley in the 1970's and about current activism in the Valley around access to resources. In the afternoon, we will discuss tools that communities can use for action, including partnering with researchers to document pressing issues and creating policy change.

As part of the afternoon session on Tools for Action, CIRS will be facilitating a conversation between researchers and organizers about why good research is vital to powerful organizing and how communities can engage with researchers. This conversation will focus on two complementary questions: How can research support organizing? What do organizers need from researchers? This session will be set up as an opportunity for organizers to interview researchers in front of the summit audience. The organizers and researchers will all do brief introductions, but the majority of the hour and a half session will be spent in conversation with one another about ways they can work together.
Full schedule here (with more speakers and panelists to be added as they are confirmed)

Cal Ag Roots 1st Podcast is LIVE!

Tomato Podcast

Our Cal Ag Roots podcast #1, There's Nothing More Californian Than Ketchup, is now available!

This first podcast in our three-part Docks to Delta series tells the incredible tale of the invention of the mechanical tomato harvester, which transformed the tomato industry and launched the California food movement in one fell swoop.  For now, you can tune into the podcast on the Cal Ag Roots Story Hub-- we're working on putting it up on iTunes as well so you all can subscribe. Please take a listen, share it with friends and tell us what you think!

The other two Cal Ag Roots stories in production and will be available soon. By the spring, we'll have all three podcasts up as our Docks to Delta series, which Amtrak will also be promoting to Capitol Corridor riders. For anyone who missed our Docks to Delta train ride last fall, you'll be able to re-create the experience with a mobile device and a set of headphones. 

We'll keep you posted as our other podcasts go live-- and as we work on our 2016 podcast series, which will unearth stories about how immigrants from around the world have built California farming. 

Thanks for helping to launch Cal Ag Roots in 2015!

Notes From the Field

ECV Interview 

Above: Local CIRS survey team conducting community interviews in the Coachella Valley.

by Dr. Jaime Lopez, Eastern Coachella Valley Field Project Manager

A typical day as a field research manager can be quite busy! My team and I begin early in the morning and work through the evening. I have had meetings with local families to discuss our housing and health survey and to present the purpose, benefits, and planned use of the health data we are collecting. I have had the pleasure of meeting friendly, hospitable, and hard-working agricultural families as well as many other residents in this rural setting. There have been a few people who are protective of their families and decline participation which is totally understandable. We owe a lot to these families since they work hard and still make time to participate in our survey. I encounter the silent, overlooked and at risk people that work from the beginning of the day till nightfall.

We’ve had 30 support staff working as interviewers and environmental field agents. It has been a challenging experience to form working teams and visit homes that are distant from one another and the communities where we live. Our rural research field team is made up exclusively from local community members, many of them promotoras de salud. They are dynamic and quickly adapt to changes we encounter in the field.

We are continuously moving forward and are near to completing our goal of 1,750 interviews in four rural and resource limited communities. Families within these communities are vulnerable since they lack common public services we all take for granted, like sanitation, potable water, livable and safe housing, employment, and local healthcare services. Our goal is to gather data that can raise awareness and be used to advocate for political change within these forgotten and invisible communities. We believe that we are all indebted to agricultural families since they provide the food we all eat to live a healthy and happy life.

Focus on CIRS Partners: JBS International

Carmen Sum JBS  Jorge Nakamoto JBS

Carmen Sum and Jorge Nakamoto, JBS International

CIRS has a long history of partnering with experienced researchers and research groups to collect data on rural communities and populations. JBS International is one of our trusted partners and is currently working with us to conduct focus groups with farmworkers on heat illness prevention and workplace safety as part of the California Heat Illness Prevention Study (CHIPS). JBS researchers, Carmen Sum and Jorge Nakamoto, have worked with CIRS to conduct focus groups with over 170 farmworkers throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

Carmen has nearly 20 years of research management and cross-cultural research experience. She has a strong interest in research that investigates social inequalities among marginalized populations. With over 20 years working with minority and hard to reach populations, Carmen notes that, “our work with CIRS on CHIPS  shows there has been progress to help the farm worker community, yet many are still lacking a voice and at times, deprived of basic needs that are considered common or a “right” as an employee in the U.S.” Jorge draws on his training in education and over 25 year of experience with cross-cultural data collection, to design and moderate focus groups with racially and ethnically diverse communities.

Working with JBS has allowed CIRS to gather extensive data on farmworker experiences and concerns for their health and safety. We look forward to working with JBS in 2016 as we begin to collect data on promising practices for avoiding heat illness among farmworkers in California. 

Rural California Report Blog Round-Up

San Joaquin Valley Tree-Fruit Farmers Welcome Wintry Weather by Robert Rodriguez, California Conservation Leader by Sharon Licht, If You’re 26, These California Water Disputes Have Lasted Longer than You’ve Been Alive by Michael Doyle as well as our feature, below, What is 4 Per 1000? by our Co-Executive Director, Gail Wadsworth. All the articles are featured on our website and are available as free downloadable files. 

What is 4 Per 1000?


by Gail Wadsworth

This International Year of Soil resulted in some serious action that has brought the soils beneath our feet into the limelight.

With recent agreements in Paris, participating countries have decided to work together to sequester carbon globally in soils. Our soils currently hold two to three times more carbon than our air. Frequently carbon is released from the soil into the air through agricultural practices that degrade the soil at the same time as they contribute to climate change. By altering these practices we can both mitigate climate change and increase agricultural productivity while protecting our valuable soil resources. Reducing extractive methods of agriculture by increasing agroforestry and reducing tillage, we can keep carbon sequestered in the soil, boost yields, and offset greenhouse gas emissions. Continue Reading

Farmers Guild 3rd Annual Guild Raising

3rd Guild Raising logo

On February 20, agrarian communities from across California converge in Sonoma County to re-envision our food system at The Farmers Guild's 3rd Annual Farmers Guild Raising at the Santa Rosa Junior College's Shone Farm, in Forestville.

All eight Farmers Guilds—from the Mendocino Coast down to San Luis Obispo—unite for one day to engage on vital issues such as carbon farming, land access and agricultural policy, exploring opportunities like growers’ cooperatives and innovative markets for organic produce. Want to start a Guild in your county? This is the time to talk about that.

Ildi Carlisle-Cummins will also be there representing CIRS, and narrating her Cal Ag Roots story about the mechanical tomato harvester. 


Thank you for your continued support!

Gail Wadsworth & Michael Courville

 Co-Executive Directors,

California Institute for Rural Studies

 California Institute for Rural Studies
P.O. Box 1047, Davis, CA 95617


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