How do we continue to feed ourselves sustainably in the future, and what will that look like? Students from the Woolman Semester School, located in Nevada City, went on a road trip from Davis to Oakland this past week to find out through visiting different organizations involved with varying aspects of the local and national food system.
A semester program for high school juniors, seniors and gap year students who hail from all over the country, Woolman offers the opportunity to learn first hand about social and environmental justice. Educating through experience is at the heart of Woolman’s program. One of the main ways Woolman puts this philosophy into practice is through three experiential learning trips correlating to each core class.
The Food Intensive is a week-long trip that is part of the Environmental Studies class. One goal of this class is for students to “explore contemporary environmental problems through a solution based approach,” said Environmental Studies teacher Jacob Holzberg-Pill.
Feeding the population as it continues to increase is one of the most pressing environmental problems the class looks at. This trip is a way for students to meet people in California who are attempting to find different solutions to this problem.
The trip kicked off with students hearing from practitioners of conventional methods of food production, including the manager of the University of California at Davis cattle feedlot and Kent Bradford, the director of the seed bio technology center, who talked about the benefits of genetically modified organisms for feeding growing populations quickly.
From there the group travelled to Santa Cruz, the Central Valley and the Bay area, exploring alternative solutions to food production.
In Santa Cruz, the students learned how Swanton Berry Farm became the first certified organic strawberry farm in California and the first strawberry farm to implement fair labor practices, including giving long-standing employees a share in the company.
The trip ended with a visit to People’s Grocery in West Oakland, where students heard about the organization’s success at making gardening accessible and educating about healthy eating practices in their local community, where there has been little to no access to fresh, healthy food.
“This trip has allowed students to see various perspectives of our food system, both within California and around the world. It is incredibly powerful to hear them grapple with and question their own beliefs about food and how it should be produced both on a small and large scale,” said Intern Zooey Salazar.
Students return to campus with multiple strategies for food production for themselves, their communities and the greater world.
Go to woolman.org for more information.