On-Farm Research

One graduate from MESA’s Bay Area Farmer Training Program (BAFTP) will be offered a two-year paid position to manage an organic, no-till vegetable experiment located on the Oxford Tract in Berkeley, California. This “agroecology trainee” will learn about experimental design, innovative farming techniques, and crop planning suitable for East Bay climatic conditions and targeted to local markets. Over two years for these experiments, we will measure crop yields, labor requirements, and input costs (e.g. compost, cover crop seeds, and water) to evaluate economic costs and benefits of these production methods. The agroecology trainee will also take a leading role in facilitating dialog and trainings with urban farmers in the East Bay.

This position is supported by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) through its Seeding Solutions grant program, which calls for bold, innovative, and potentially transformative research proposals. This grant supports the Urban Food Systems Challenge Area, which aims to enhance our ability to feed urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture, augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.

FFAR, a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan congressional support, awarded a $295,000 Seeding Solutions grant to the Berkeley Food Institute at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) to improve the ecological resilience and economic viability of urban and peri-urban farming systems and improve urban food distribution systems to reduce waste and meet fresh produce needs of low-income consumers. MESA partnered with researchers at UC Berkeley reach a 1:1 match of funds.

MESA is honored to work alongside researchers at UC Berkeley through the Seeding Solutions grant to improve the sustainability and resilience of urban farms by building health of soils, conserving water, and promoting beneficial insects. Researchers will also evaluate the effectiveness of existing urban and peri-urban food access and food distribution methods for meeting food needs of urban low-income, food insecure communities. Research will take place in the San Francisco East Bay Region of Northern California and findings will be applicable to other urban communities throughout the United States.