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

history of organic farming, sustainable agriculture

Regional History Project, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz

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CynthiaHands Photo by Tana Butler

“I tell the world that the organic movement started in California, in Santa Cruz County.”

—Congressmember Sam Farr, co-chair of the Congressional Organic Caucus

This Site is Still Under Construction. Official Release date is April 22, 2010.

Navigable Map of Project Interview Sites (Farms, Organizations) Click on markers for HTML links to the oral histories.

Welcome to Cultivating a Movement: An Oral History of Organic Farming & Sustainable Agriculture on California’s Central Coast. This documentary project conducted by the Regional History Project at the University of California Santa Cruz’s University Library includes sixty interviews with farmers, activists, researchers, and educators. It covers the 1960s through the present. Here you will find transcripts of all of the interviews in PDF format, audio clips from the oral histories, photographs, and additional resources. We hope that this archive of oral histories will be a resource to all of us on this planet who are co-inventing a sustainable future. We invite readers, including those who have been involved in diverse aspects of this movement, to send us your stories and comments for inclusion on this blog.

The individuals interviewed for this project wonderfully defy categorization. For example, many of the farmers are also activists, researchers, and educators.  Mark Lipson, Senior Policy Analyst for the Organic Farming Research Foundation also dry-farms tomatoes at the Molino Creek Farm in the hills above Davenport, California. In her long career, entomologist Lyn Garling has conducted research in integrated pest management,  but she also taught apprentices at the UCSC Farm and Garden, and runs Over the Moon Farm in Pennsylvania. We offer some navigable categories on this blog, but this structure should be held lightly. The entire collection of oral histories is fully searcheable (across interviews) through the Digital Collections site (ContentDM) at UCSC. Link here.

Use policy: Under “fair use” standards, excerpts of up to two hundred words (per interview) may be used without the Regional History Project’s permission as long as the materials are properly cited. The citation should include the title of the work, the name of the narrator, the date of publication, and the fact that the work was produced by the Regional History Project at the University Library, UC Santa Cruz. Quotations of between two hundred words and six hundred words (two pages) require the written permission of the University Librarian and a proper citation. Any excerpting beyond six hundred words requires the written permission of the University Librarian, appropriate citation, and may require a fee. Under certain circumstances, not-for-profit users may be granted a waiver of the fee. In all instances, the Regional History Project requests a copy of the publication for the UCSC Library’s collection. In cases where the publication is a review or article, a photocopy is acceptable. Please contact us at if you have questions about this policy.

Link to the Regional History Website at UC Santa Cruz

Written by Irene Reti

November 7, 2009 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized