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UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden 50th Anniversary

(gentle music) – Nobody in 1965 thought
that there would be a 33 acre organic farm here, hosting thousands of people every year. – Because we’ve been here for so long and the land, really,
has been so successful in demonstrating some of the
principles and practices, we’ve been able to bring
in so many different groups and organizations that when
I first got here as staff, I was blown away by how many people visit the fam each and every day. – We have an opportunity
to educate individuals from around the country
and around the world on organic and sustainable
farming and gardening practices, knowing that they take that
back to where they come from. – [Narrator] The garden
is the original site. That’s the place that Alan Chadwick, along with students and
Paul Lee and others, selected, and they picked
a challenging site. – Probably the bio-geographic center in North America for poison oaks, so it was really a difficult slope but the genius of the place was its due south facing orientation,
its warmer microclimate and Chadwick being the dramatist
wanted to make a statement. You can do this with skilled
labor and good practices. – Chadwick took this as a matter of his free spirited personality. He went out and bought
his own spade downtown and he picked out the slope
right here and started to dig. And everybody went who the hell is that? And who gave him permission,
where’d he get the spade? So anyhow he just went at it. – Dean McHenry himself was
a mom and pop farm boy and he had a respect for and understood the agricultural lifestyle. – Once in a while the chancellor would get some criticism about Alan. My favorite one is when
they criticized Alan for planting by the moon. How are you handling a
cult on your own campus? The chancellor said my father was a farmer and he planted by the moon. That shut them up. – He was a riveting personality. He had one foot in the theater, drama, and one foot in horticulture,
world class horticulturalist. And he fused the two together and taught in a way that was very
oral and demonstrative. – I think one of the finest
things he represented was a sacramental relation to nature. Alan in effect worshiped nature, and he transmitted that to the students just in the moment when they needed that. – If you’re here during
the crepuscular hours, the dawn and dusk hours when
the birds are out chirping and you were to walk through
just before the main slope when there’s citrus on both
sides and they’re in bloom you get this overwhelming
fragrance of citrus walking through the garden,
and that’s something that I’ll keep with me for my whole life. – So that was the original
site, but in the early 1970s, the students wanted to take
their show onto a larger space. They wanted to go from
gardening to farming. Chancellor McHenry said well you can have 17 acres down here on the meadow. And they got a couple of
draft horses to do the plowing and they made a go of it. – I was attracted to this work
because it’s simultaneously I get to use my hands, use my body. I get to be outside and be very physical but I also get to be very analytical. I get to use my mind as well and I think that’s what really draws so many people to farming. – The students just get so much out of their experience here. You can see the joy in their
face when they’re leaving here covered in soil, going
off to their next class. – What’s unique about UCSC in
the case of the farm and garden is that honoring and
balancing the two modalities, the apprentice style and
the scholastic model. We have a phrase we say
we teach the teachers, we train the trainers. – We work with undergraduates and we have kind of a student farm. We also work with folks
that have graduated from university in our
apprenticeship program and are maybe beginning
farmers and gardeners. We also do university high
level academic research. We also work with community. We also partner with organizations to work with K through eight
and high school age youth that are interested in engaging with sustainable agriculture. – It’s that steady stream of
people coming through here that I find inspirational,
that and the fruit. – The farm and garden
really was at the nexus, the genesis of starting this
movement in this country. – In the first 50 years we came a long way from beautiful eccentric
oddity up by Merrill College to a world class model of
sustainable agriculture. – We’re celebrating 50 years this year, but in many ways I feel like right now the farm has just as much potential as it did when it first got going and the reason is that the conversation has moved so far and we want
to keep moving it further. – I can’t think of not farming now. My purpose is with the ground and with everything that comes out of it. I want to share, share the joy of what farming and gardening is. (pleasant music)

One Comment

  1. Chris Vorster Author

    I was blessed to be able to work in the garden while I attended Merrill back in the late 60's . To put it mildly what I learned in that garden had more of an impact on my life than the degree I earned. I am still a gardener.


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