Urban Agriculture Food Security Field Education Program
Urban Agriculture Food Security Field Education Program is a field education program focused on training young and diverse people to join in the creation of sustainable and technologically savvy-agricultural careers.
Due to a citizen referendum that passed called Proposition R (1979) and Measure C (1987), Riverside contains roughly 5000 acres of agricultural land that has been protected from development. This land is now called the Greenbelt by Riverside residents. Much of this land has traditionally been in citrus cultivation. Unfortunately, over the years this area has seen a decline in the amount of land that is in production. Much of the acreage is in nursery stock for housing developments that are being built in the region. Following national trends the farmers in the Greenbelt are near or at retirement age and there is not a ready set of young professionals to take their place.
Recent studies conducted by the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, and the Graduate Well-being survey all indicate that a large sector of the student population is food insecure using USDA measures. The most recent study conducted in 2016 has been analyzed by the campus and a negative correlation was found between student food insecurity and their cumulative GPA.
Food security is not only an issue on campus, but also within the community. Within the City of Riverside there are four USDA recognized food deserts.
Building on UC Riverside’s legacy of agricultural research we hope to begin the process of addressing the need for experiential learning opportunities for young people interested in agriculture by creating the Field Education Program. We hope that these young people can attain sufficient knowledge to join in agricultural careers. So they will not only help tackling food insecurity problems on campus and within the community, but also inspire next generations to work and research on agricultural fields.
Urban Agriculture R’ Courses: The R’Course program is a student-led course where undergraduates work with faculty and staff to create a course on a topic of interest. It offers students and faculty to explore other topics of mutual interest that are not currently available. This will be an opportunity for students to gain both hands on skills in the R’ Garden, but to also gain a deeper understanding of the food system in general.
Field Day: An opportunity for students, residents, and farmers to engage in peer-to-peer learning in a real-world setting. The City of Riverside through its initiative Grow Riverside will help coordinate with farmers in the city and region to develop short one day learning experiences for other farmers, students, and residents. Click here to check out our field trip to UC Santa Cruz!
Farmers Guild Meeting: We will work with the City to bring UC research and information to the guild as well as receive valuable feedback about what topics and research might be done. Undergraduates will be involved in the coordination and with the event itself to gain insight into professional agricultural careers.
Grow Riverside Annual Conference: The GFI grant will enable undergraduates will attend the Grow Riverside conference as well as support them in their submissions for poster and panel presentations.
Juntos 4-H Summer Academy: The GFI grant would allow undergraduate students to be Program Leaders so that they can mentor the youth. They will also be able to plan and coordinate parts of the week to gain leadership and communication skills. They will be able to utilize the knowledge they have gained throughout the year from the Urban Agriculture R’Course, Field Days, Farmers Guilds, and the Grow Riverside Conference.