History and Impact

Now in our 20th season, MESA celebrates a growing network of food system changemakers and resilient communities around the world.


 

 

History

The network celebrates two decades of preserving ancestral knowledge, spurring innovation, and cultivating solidarity between growers, global citizens, and organizations advancing agroecology to rebuild a healthy, just, and joyful food system.

Inspired after speaking with an organic farmer and alarmed by the increasing incidence of pesticide-related medical claims made by trainees in a “conventional” agriculture exchange program, Lauren Augusta established MESA in 1994 to promote sustainable farming solutions throughout the world, with the first exchange program in 1997. Two decades and thousands of exchanges later, MESA has grown into a well-respected partner in the global food movement.

Impact

Since our founding, MESA has facilitated nearly 1,500 agroecology exchanges among farmers, researchers, activists, and innovators from 33 countries on 260 host farms through our flagship International Exchange Program.

Over the last two decades, MESA has provided over $186,000 in grants and micro-loans to Stewards and Hosts through our SPRIGs (Sustainable Projects for Resilience, Innovation and Germination) to support ecological farming and food justice projects in 16 countries including Armenia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Georgian Republic, Ghana, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United States.

We have also created relationships with Global Partners including farms, NGOs, university programs, social movement partners, and other organizations that are well-regarded in the field of sustainable agriculture, agroecology, food justice, and cultural exchange to facilitate, deepen, and enrich our experiential learning programs.

From starting women-led cooperatives and heirloom seed banks to organic farmers’ markets and online courses in participatory plant breeding and agroecology, MESA’s network continues to foster creativity and collaboration between farmers, scientists, activists, and innovators.