At our Wednesday weekly meetings, we shared a meal with representatives from campus organization. and discussed the on-going movement of boycotting Driscolls. In case, you're not aware Driscoll's is one of the largest berry distributors and their growers have been violating the human rights of their employees. These farmer workers- both in the US and Meixco have reported being paid less than minimum wage, skipping breaks unwillingly, exposed to harmful chemicals, and denied of medical insurance. This is only a short list of what these employees are addressing.
Hello Everyone! We kicked off the school year with La Bienvienda hosted by El Centro. We ate pupusas, tabled and met many lovely faces interested in learning about how our organization advocates social, economical and environmental justice to our daily lives.
This winter quarter foCAN held the 5th annual intercambio and the 2 unit course Cultivating a Daily evolution. Students had the opportunity to not only hear about faculty research based in Latin America but also had the opportunity to engage with rural communities from CAN's agroeco coffee partnerships. Students from CDR came together with the Intercambio delegated and prepared a meal together.
Additionally students had an opportunity to learn more about the coffee through a coffee commodity chain panel held on the second to last week of the course. CAN staff gave presentations on their partnerships with both the communities in Mexico and Nicaragua along with presenting about their established relationship with Santa Cruz Coffee Roasters. Our special guest on the panel was Katrina Benedicto a UCSC alumni that works in coffee distribution. She provided great insight on how coffee markets have shifted their approach to move forward with going beyond fair trade.
Once again we would like to thank all our partners and collaborations this quarter. We would like to thank CSC for the funding that was made available for these events.
Intercambio was wonderful week spent among 17 youth exchanges from Veracruz & Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico and Esteli & San Ramon, Nicaragua. The week was full of activities involving seed banks, youth networking, and panel discussions. Meeting this group of people changed my perspective on youth famers from speaking to a man with a family to speaking with university students in the Yucatan. The young man I had the opportunity to speak with spoke about the struggles with the government in Nicaragua along with poverty issues while the youth from the Yucatan spoke more about implementing gardens and better educating communities around their university. Youth from Estelí, Nicaragua spoke very passionately about their organization and the techniques they appreciated most when dealing with environmental hardships (water usage and water availability in homes).
The week involved a series of organization both on campus and off-campus: Food what, PICA, The Digital Nest in Watsonville, El Centro, and Mesa Verde Gardens to name a few. The activities were specifically to create networks between the youth here and the youth from Mexico and Nicaragua. We had three public events; one was conocimiento to meet the youth, a panel about their work, and a coffee cupping to meet the spectacular people who cultivate coffee beans.
Conocimiento was a great event because it was open to the public. UCSC students came to support us from 5-8pm for a table discussion and free food. The panel was during a Kresge class seminar so we had an entire lecture as audience and free snacks after the panel. Lastly, we had a coffee cupping at New Leaf on the west side where some of the cultivators spoke about their coffee practices and coffee struggles.
On the other hand, we also had activities that were closed off to FoCAN, CAN, and the international youth. Cocina compartida was one of my favorites, which translates to shared kitchen, because we had 4-5 groups preparing a meal from their own regions. The night was hectic but the food turned out great, folks were happy, and belly’s were filled. The other event I liked most was despedida, although it was a farewell dinner, the vibes in the room made all the best farewell. The youth had all of us laughing through dancing, singing, and eating. In sum, the week was a great turn out and the synergy among everyone brought hope for a better future and support from each other.
Special thanks to CAN staff, Intercambio Coordinator, FoCAN, and all those who helped make these events possible.
Youth have vast learning abilities and creativity that should be played upon when developing sustainability model that include positive social change. In 2011, the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) developed a Youth Network for Food Security and Food Sovereignty (Jovenes SSAN) to promote youth leadership opportunities in order to involve younger generations create transformative food systems. The youth network has expanded from its coffee sites in Nicaragua and Mexico and has included university students from Veracruz and Quintana Roo. Connecting and training youth leaders across multiple project initiatives deepens knowledge and capacity, creating beneficial exchange and innovation within each of the associated communities. The youth network comes together annually as an 8 day conference known as Intercambio, (Exchange) which has become a platform for knowledge exchange on strategies and models for achieving food sovereignty. A similar food security initiative is being developed in Santa Cruz County. Last spring (2014) FoCAN held a local intercambio “Beyond Organic” in which they brought multiple workers in the food systems into one panel.
The Youth Network has had four annual exchanges and two regional exchanges. In concluding the intercambio, youth leaders have expressed a strong desire to continue expanding the youth network, receive more training in agroecology, and build stronger national and international ties.
Exploring trade markets in Cosmotepec. 4th Annual Intercambio Veracruz Mexico
Concerned consumers look to labels to ensure that they are making conscious decisions in their food purchases in order to use their dollars in line with their values. However, the multitude of certification labels for the same product and the lack of knowing the difference between them all. Let us demand transparency in the food system--one step towards food system justice!
Food for Thought
Amah Mutsun Speaker Series
The Spirit of Resilience in the Face of Oppression
This Amah Mutsun Speaker Series will be held on May 10 at the UC Arboretum from 12-5pm. The event will also be followed by a social where people can enjoy food and socialize with each other. Two native hip hop groups will also be present: Redstar (Wicahpiluta Candelaria) and AlmasFronteriazs. The guest speakers include: Lisbeth Haas, Professor of History and Chair of Feminist Studies, UCSC. Elias Castillo, author of the forthcoming book, A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of the California Indians by Spanish missions. This book presents irrefutable evidence regarding the brutal treatment of the Indians by the Franciscans. And the final guest speaker Lucio Ramirez, PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan Social Psychology program. This event is free for anyone to attend and we hope everyone can make it.
Did you know that there are 8 varieties of native California potatoes? Or that the grazing grasses we see all alongside the road and hillsides is not native to this region?
Amah Mutsun tribal chairman and elder, Valentin Lopez, and Rick Flores, curorator of the native California plant collection at the UCSC Arboretum shared this wisdom and more with UCSC students, CASFS Apprentices and community members during a special night of Cultivating a Daily Revolution at Kresge College.
The Amah Mutsun are dedicated to protecting mother earth and all of the living things. They pray for balance in the relationships that exist between the plants, bees, birds, soil, and all living things on earth. But first they must relearn their knowledge and heal relationship with one another as a tribal community. Through Wellness Meetinfs and Talking Circles they seek to heal seven generations of historic trauma and re-teach lessons of love, optimism, & self worth, values that have been hindered by the discrimination the Native community faces. Shifting their focus to survival, these families were not able to pass on these lessons.
Despite drawing links to the mission period to Mission San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz, the Amah Mutsun receive no government assistance. Valentin described one practice exercised by missionaries to lure indigenous peoples to the missions: women would be tied in a chain by their thumbs, then taken to the mission only to be soon followed by children and men Although Mission Santa Cruz’s priests’ were notorious for their cruelty, the U.S. holds that there is no evidence of the Amah Mutsun’s mistreatment by the Catholic church.
While this relationship might be tense, the tribe has successfully partnered with researchers and science to restore health to the bad. Through the discovery of native varieties and explaining traditional land stewardship practice and their history through the translation of historical documents of which there are a ton!
The Amah Mutsun partner with organizations to protect Mother Earth through the new Tribal Land Trust. Partners include the UCSC Arboretum and Pinnacle National Park. Together they re-learn land stewardship practices like when native resources were used to make baskets, homes, food, etc.
Some closing notes:
FoCAN, CASFS, and UCSC would like to extend all of our thanks and heartfelt appreciation to Valentin and Rick!