News and Media

October 14, 2014 - 1:29pm
Michelle Roses Wight, Program Coordinator, michelle@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

 

Come support new leaders in sustainable food systems by celebrating

our 2014 alliance of global stewards!

 

Enjoy flavorful, multi-cultural tapas sourced from our local organic breadbasket and served by Executive Chef Damien Jones from the Natural Grocery Company Annex. Be inspired by the powerful work of MESA Stewards, Hosts and Educators. Sip on California's finest beer and wine while you persuse our silent auction boasting artwork from Bay Area artists, getaways to nearby attractions, gift baskets from local purveyors, and more!

 

We're thrilled to announce MESA's 2014 Forging Farmers awards!

 

Forging Farmers Educator:

Anna Lappé is an internationally acclaimed author, educator and sustainable food activist. She directs the Real Food Media Project and co-founded the Small Planet Institute in partnership with her mother, Francis Moore Lappé. The Small Plant Institute supports grassroots democracy movements worldwide addressing the causes of hunger and poverty. Anna's recent book, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork & What You Can Do About It, examines the inextricable links between our climate and the food system.

 

Forging Farmers Community Changemaker:

Pandora Thomas' life and work is rooted in creating a world where all people have access to empowering and hands-on environmental education experiences. Pandora is a certified permaculture designer and co-founded Earthseed Consulting, a holistic ecological advocacy firm deepening connections to the earth in diverse communities. Her current and past work with Pathways to Resilience, Environmental Service Learning, Global Women's Water Initiative, and Grind for the Green links critical issues in global human rights, youth empowerment and ecological, social and racial justice.

 

Forging Farmers Emerging Leader:

Isabel Quiróz is a 2013 MESA alumni from Aguascalientes, Mexico who completed her exchange at Golden Rule Mini-Farm in Willits, CA. Isabel focuses on the Grow Biointensive methodology and is passionate about food sovereignty and women leadership. She received a MESA Sustainability and Innovation Mini-Grant and is now developing three community gardens in Mexico in partnership with municipalities afflicted by high violence rates to improve food access, community collaboration and gender equality.

 

Forging Farmers Host Mentor:

As a longtime MESA Host Partner and former Board member, Bob Gerner and the Natural Grocery Company (NGC) have hosted MESA Stewards from Ecuador, Georgia, Peru, Sri Lanka and Thailand for experiential learning in organic produce marketing and worker-owned cooperative retail practices. MESA alumni from NGC have gone on to expand their own local marketing, partnering with small farmers and educating eaters about the value of sustainable production. Bob started the NGC in 1981 with the goal of providing wholesome food that tastes good. The NGC sells 100% organic produce and is committed to being GMO-free by 2018.

 

 

We will be featuring the incredible trio, Chaskinakuy.
Multi-instrumentalists Edmond Badoux, Francy Vidal and Daniel Zamalloa bring traditional Andean music to life, performing the compelling melodies and infectious rhythms of high mountain festivities.
Equipped with an extraordinary collection of regional instruments that includes flutes and panpipes of bamboo, bone and feathers, goatskin drums, the 10-foot long Peruvian trumpet, violin, harps, guitars, mandolins and more, the trio explores musical terrain traveled by few. 

 

Reserve your tickets here. Space is limited.
Tickets are $50
Discounted rates for beginning farmers and groups
Email michelle [at] mesaprogram [dot] org for limited number of volunteer sign up opportunities.

 

Can't attend, but want to contibute? Your donation is greatly appreciated!

 

August 20, 2014 - 12:22pm
Michelle Roses Wight, Program Coordinator, michelle@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

You did it! 
We Raised $31,078!

 

Our hearts are full with gratitude for your support, generosity, and encouragement. We started this campaign not knowing what to expect, and the collective action of 236 global citizens has been nothing short of astounding.

Thank you for supporting small farmers and aspiring food leaders. Thank you for creating a future of food to nourish people and the planet. Thank you for believing in us.

We'd like to extend a special shout out to JNSQ Project, Rhize Consulting and MESA's indefatigable staff, board, volunteers and in-kind donors who made this campaign possible. We couldn't have done it without you!

Together we'll move forward to exchange innovation, preserve ancestral heritage and deepen collaboration for build a more resilient, equitable and joyous food system.

Here's to you, us and the next generation!

 

February 3, 2014 - 2:26pm
Elsa Calvillo, International Program Development, elsa@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

Summer-Peru:
Eight-Week Certificate in Global Agroecology and Local Food Systems
in Peru from June 25th-August 6th

 

Inspired by the efforts of MESA's robust Alumni network to further advance sustainable agriculture and farmer-to-farmer exchange in Peru, MESA’s Summer-Peru Program aims to connect allies in food justice and global stewardship for a reciprocal, cross-cultural exchange of innovation and ancestral knowledge. 

The Six-Week Program spans from June 25th to August 6th, ideal for students, recent graduates, and aspiring farmers who are not yet committed to land during the northern hemisphere’s summer months. Program highlights for Stewards participating in Summer-Peru include:

  • Workshops and trainings alongside Peruvian MESA Alumni and partners at the National Agrarian University – La Molina in Lima, Peru 
  • Language study and cultural immersion
  • Historic and agrarian tours in Lima and the nearby coastal town of Mala
  • Compelling academic curriculum exploring traditional Peruvian agriculture, farmer-to-farmer exchange, agroecological practices, local market drivers, social movements, and agricultural reform
  • Rural homestays with Peruvian MESA Alumni and their communities ranging from the Peruvian highlands to the biodiverse rainforest 
  • Project-based education and community fieldwork projects in farmer cooperatives, organic dairy and cheese-making, farmers markets, biointensive greenhouses or agroecological self-sufficiency.

MESA Alumni Jose Ccalla and Maria Fernandez, respectively, are responsible for the latter two projects in agroecological self-sufficiency and women farmer associations.

Jose, a 2010 Alumni from Pike Valley Farm in Kentucky, is uniting ancestral farming techniques with agrotourism in Cochiraya, located in the Puno Region of Peru. He and his community of 30 families farm three hectares, sharing in farm labor and animal duties. They grow quinoa, barley, potatoes, fava beans, wheat, oats, carrots, onions, herbs for tea and several types of tubers. Summer-Peru Stewards placed with Jose will not only partake in daily farm and animal chores, but they will also contribute to the community’s agro-tourism vision. The participatory-project will focus on improving the current infrastructure for agro-tourism by designing and building a community garden demonstrating organic and indigenous practices. Increasing the visibility of the community’s time-honored, farming techniques will provide additional revenue streams for the area and further incentivize the preservation and perpetuation of these traditions.

 

After working at Ecology Action in California in 2006, Maria organized a women’scooperative in the Amazonas region of Peru. The organization, “Club de Madres Emprendedoras de la Agrobiodiversidad” (Entrepreneurial Mothers Club of Agrobiodiversity), initiated a monthly community farmer’s market called “Frutos de la Tierra” and holds workshops for other women.


 In these workshops, Maria addresses how to overcome challenges faced by females in agriculture, provides tips on small-scale organic farming, and stresses the importance of organization among small, organic producers. Marie and Summer-Peru Stewards will partner with the women’s cooperative to build biointensive backyard gardens and to improve local market outlets for members’ produce. This participatory project aims to expand growing space, cultivate market outlets, and thereby create greater opportunities for female farmers who are generally disadvantaged and marginalized because of their gender.

 

For more information about the program offerings and how to join MESA’s network of global agrarians and food justice advocates, please visit the MESA-Peru webpage.

Program Fee: $3,500

Applications  due by May 11th. Please contact elsa [at] mesaprogram [dot] org ( Elsa) with any questions.

 

January 15, 2014 - 1:33pm
Lauren Augusta, Co-Executive Director, mesa@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

Check out the photos from MESA's 9th Annual Cultural Cuisine Celebration and Forging Farmers Fundraiser

at the San Francisco Ferry Building
on Wednesday, November 13th at 6:30pm.

A packed room of supporters celebrated with new leaders from MESA's 2013 team of global farm Stewards! 

 

  • 3rd Annual Forging Farmers Awards, featured 2013 Forging Farmer educator: UC Berkeley Professor of Agroecology Miguel Altieri, PhD
  • Inspired Steward presentations on farmer-to-farmer exchange and innovative community projects;
  • Silent Auction showcasing sustainable farms tours and winery tastings, eco-friendly spa get-aways, farm-to-fork dinners at local restaurants, and more!

 

Couldn't attend but still want to contribute or become a monthly sustainer? We will welcome your DONATION!

 

We gratefully acknowledge our generous Stewardship Sustainers and Event Sponsors:

Big thanks to our in-kind Silent Auction and Event donors:
Rancho Gordo, Equal Exchange, Farm Fresh to You, St. George's Spirits, Good Eggs, Harbin Hot Springs, La Cocina SF, Marmot, Lagunitas Brewery, Build Pizzaria, Organic Valley, Concannon Vineyard, SF Ballet, Wente Vineyards, The New Parkway Theater, Freight & Salvage, and The Local Butcher Shop.


Many thanks for our fabulous in-kind Food donors:
Acme Bread, Greenleaf SF, Frey Vineyards, Bicycle Coffee, Bi-Rite Market, Linden Street Brewing, Equal Exchange, Gordon Biersch, Lundberg Family Farm, Natural Grocery Company, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, Straus Family Creamery, Whole Foods Market Berkeley.

 

THANK YOU also to the management team at the Ferry Building and to CUESA staff for use of their terrific kitchen!

January 10, 2014 - 7:37pm
Lauren Augusta, Co-Executive Director, mesa@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

Last November MESA awarded the 2013 Forging Farmers’ Steward alumnus award to Hemantha Abeywaradhana from Sri Lanka. Before Hemantha joined MESA, he was a professional social worker, but he always had a passion for agriculture. In 2012 Hemantha trained at the Golden Rule mini-farm in Willits, CA where he learned GROW BIOINTENSIVE (GB) farming techniques and mentoring skills from the dedicated Golden Rule farm staff and Ecology Action trainers.

Upon return home in November, 2012, Hemantha hit the ground running: in just over one year he’s already made a huge impact on the direction of agricultural development in Sri Lanka!

Initially, Hemantha started out with his own home garden, applying GB techniques and sharing with his neighbors. He then purchased a 1.5 acre plot to begin a research garden, and connected with members from his NGO to develop simple training modules for young farmers, with the assistance of MESA’s global Partner the Sewalanka Foundation. Soon after, Hemantha accepted work as project facilitator with the Practical Action Network to introduce GB techniques to home gardeners, and develop training documents and presentations. He’s currently focused on home gardens and research and serves as a technical consultant for two GB demonstration gardens and 150 home gardens under the RUAF research project and Janathaksan organization. He has taught GB techniques to 100+ government field officers and over 300 home gardeners, and says he feels like he’s just getting started! He writes “I’ve planned a training program with assistance from the commissioner of the department of Agrarian services in Colombo District to be started next month. (Targets: Raise Awareness for 200 field officers and train 100 field officers in GB techniques, and implement 5 model gardens, 100 model home gardens, thereby training 1000 farmers and raising awareness of 2000 home gardeners). I’ve been in discussion with Government development authorities to start the GB training program. Both REDA (Regional Economic Development Agency–Central province) and SPDA (Southern Provincial Development Authority –Southern Province) have agreed to implement these GB training programs. I initiated the GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sri Lanka program to empower home gardeners and small farmers. I’ve recorded a GB documentary for telecast on my government’s national television channel. I am also planning with Ecology Action to raise funds for a GB Asian internship program.”

In addition to the agricultural skills and expertise Hemantha gained during his MESA program, he also fondly notes “the members of Golden Rule and their activities helped me to change my attitude for the better about USA people and culture.”

As if Hemantha hasn’t already accomplished enough since his MESA program experience, he now aims to write a book titled “The Silent Revaluation of Sri Lanka - Chapters of a Social Worker” about his own transformative experience as a student of GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini-farming in California that appears likely to transform the Sri Lanka’s traditional paddy-farming sector and influence his nation’s agriculture policies for generations to come.

If you’d like to see Hemantha in action, please check out this terrific video he put together, and like his Facebook page!

January 10, 2014 - 4:58pm
Lauren Augusta, Co-Executive Director, mesa@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

Berkeley resident Josh Caraco completed MESA’s first program in Thailand last year, having the time of his life crafting herbal tinctures and learning Thai language at the Wanakaset Forest Agriculture Center, as organized by the GreenNet Foundation, MESA’s global partner for Thailand. Josh also trained alongside MESA alumnus Aphisak “Un” Kamphen on his thriving CSA farm in Mae Tha. We recently asked Josh to interview Un about what influenced his decision to start a CSA in his home village. Here are some excerpts from Josh’s interview with his Thai “brother” Aphisak “Un” Kamphen:

Un and I exchange greetings as brothers (in Thai you actually always call someone of your own generation either older or younger brother/sister).  We do some small talk: he asks me if I have a job yet; we talk about what we ate for our last meal and how each others’ parents are (pretty standard conversation); then we get down to business.  

Q: Tell us about something you learned from your MESA host farm that you use on your farm?

A: At Drippings Springs Garden in Arkansas I learned about garden management but I also really learned about marketing to sell products at farmers markets—I learned to make bouquets and I learned the CSA system too.  I also got to share culture and food with Thai, English and Spanish speakers present.

Q: How is your CSA in Thailand the same and/or different as your U.S. host farm's CSA? 

A: Our CSA is almost the same as my host farm but we do it with a group of 5 new generation farmers for management and include about 84 members of our organic agriculture community.   We have about 30 subscribers and are just beginning to search the possibilities of the CSA system in Chiangmai.  The different thing about my CSA is that in my country people don't understand and don't know what a CSA is.  We are always trying to communicate to the public anywhere we have the chance.

Q: When I was with you I remember helping write a letter to your customers.  Did you get that idea from your host farm?

A: Yes, I brought that idea from my host farm.

Q: What was it like to have an American come learn from you and your family?

A: We very much appreciated having an American come to learn and share experience with our family.

Q: This is like free space, you don't have to answer this one if you don't want.  Is there anything else you would like to say about farming in the world? 

A: I want to say thank you for all farmers in the world because we are the producers of food that still keeps everyone alive!

May 2, 2013 - 4:35pm
Leah Atwood, Program Manager, leah@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

Isabel Quiroz, from Aguascalientes, Mexico and a 2013 MESA Steward, is developing plans for a community garden to provide healthy food, training in social change and food justice, and a peaceful sanctuary for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The garden and it's training programs will service the most vulnerable population of women and children in Aguascalientes. Training programs will cover sustainable food production, gender equality, issues in food access, drug addiction and domestic violence.

 

Read Isabel's community description and her vision as a local leader.

 

April 29, 2013 - 6:20pm
Jaclyn Wypler, International Intern, jaclyn@mesaprogram.org, (510) 654-8858

Summer-Peru:
Eight-Week Certificate in Global Agroecology and Local Food Systems
in Peru from June 24th-August 18th

 

Inspired by the efforts of MESA's robust Alumni network to further advance sustainable agriculture and farmer-to-farmer exchange in Peru, MESA’s Summer-Peru Program aims to connect allies in food justice and global stewardship for a reciprocal, cross-cultural exchange of innovation and ancestral knowledge. 

The Eight-Week Program spans from June 24th to August 18th, ideal for students, recent graduates, and aspiring farmers who are not yet committed to land during the northern hemisphere’s summer months. Program highlights for Stewards participating in Summer-Peru include:

  • Pre-departure Urban Agroecology Short Course with UC Berkeley Professor Miguel Altieri in California’s Bay Area*
  • Workshops and trainings alongside Peruvian MESA Alumni and partners at the National Agrarian University – La Molina in Lima, Peru 
  • Language study and cultural immersion
  • Historic and agrarian tours in Lima and the nearby coastal town of Mala
  • Compelling academic curriculum exploring traditional Peruvian agriculture, farmer-to-farmer exchange, agroecological practices, local market drivers, social movements, and agricultural reform
  • Rural homestays with Peruvian MESA Alumni and their communities ranging from the Peruvian highlands to the biodiverse rainforest 
  • Project-based education and community fieldwork projects in farmer cooperatives, organic dairy and cheese-making, farmers markets, biointensive greenhouses, agroecological self-sufficiency, or women farmer associations 

*optional shortcourse June 24th-June 28th

MESA Alumni Jose Ccalla and Maria Fernandez, respectively, are responsible for the latter two projects in agroecological self-sufficiency and women farmer associations.

Jose, a 2010 Alumni from Pike Valley Farm in Kentucky, is uniting ancestral farming techniques with agrotourism in Cochiraya, located in the Puno Region of Peru. He and his community of 30 families farm three hectares, sharing in farm labor and animal duties. They grow quinoa, barley, potatoes, fava beans, wheat, oats, carrots, onions, herbs for tea and several types of tubers. Summer-Peru Stewards placed with Jose will not only partake in daily farm and animal chores, but they will also contribute to the community’s agro-tourism vision. The participatory-project will focus on improving the current infrastructure for agro-tourism by designing and building a community garden demonstrating organic and indigenous practices. Increasing the visibility of the community’s time-honored, farming techniques will provide additional revenue streams for the area and further incentivize the preservation and perpetuation of these traditions.

 

After working at Ecology Action in California in 2006, Maria organized a women’scooperative in the Amazonas region of Peru. The organization, “Club de Madres Emprendedoras de la Agrobiodiversidad” (Entrepreneurial Mothers Club of Agrobiodiversity), initiated a monthly community farmer’s market called “Frutos de la Tierra” and holds workshops for other women.


 In these workshops, Maria addresses how to overcome challenges faced by females in agriculture, provides tips on small-scale organic farming, and stresses the importance of organization among small, organic producers. Marie and Summer-Peru Stewards will partner with the women’s cooperative to build biointensive backyard gardens and to improve local market outlets for members’ produce. This participatory project aims to expand growing space, cultivate market outlets, and thereby create greater opportunities for female farmers who are generally disadvantaged and marginalized because of their gender.

 

For more information about the program offerings and how to join MESA’s network of global agrarians and food justice advocates, please visit the MESA-Peru webpage. New spots available - Applications now due by May 24th. Please contact jaclyn [at] mesaprogram [dot] org ( Jaclyn) with any questions.

 

Join MESA for our 10th Annual Cultural Cuisine and Forging Farmers Celebration October 22nd at El Cerrito Natural Grocery.