Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems: 28(1), pp. 97–98; doi:10.1017/S1742170511000627


Copyright © 2012 Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.


Edited by I. Reti and S. Rabkin 2011. UC Santa Cruz Library, Santa Cruz, California. 299 p., US $19.95, ISBN 9-780972-33431, paper.

Often the most compelling evidence for success of organic farming comes from the personal stories of farmers. Coupled with reports on the application of science in organics, the practical knowledge of people in the field provides a rich foundation for the ongoing growth of this intriguing sector of the food system. This collection of interviews by the staff of the Regional History Project is one unique activity of the UC Santa Cruz library, and a valuable contribution to the literature on organic systems. In stark contrast to the industrial, large-scale monocultures that dominate the agricultural scene in California, ‘tucked away along rivers, bluffs and canyons, and even within city limits, another, alternative agricultural landscape is emerging. The land tells this story through the voices of those who farm the soil and devote their lives to the sustainable agriculture and organic farming movement’ (from the introduction by Congressman Sam Farr, D-CA). An unlikely complement to the high-tech production and global marketing systems, the organic food business continues to be the fastestgrowing component of the food industry. With focus on local production and direct sales to consumers, organic farmers often put high value in ‘relationship marketing’. As the stories from these interviews reveal, the crops, systems and sales strategies are as varied and creative as the farmers who designed them. This diversity is reflected in the crops grown, the crop/ animal systems and interactions, and the long-term plans of owners.