What We Do
We have four interrelated program areas that each contribute to our work connecting a global grassroots network, collaborating with food and farming leaders, and cultivating community food systems.
Our flagship program, MESA’s International Exchange is a two-way exchange for food and farming changemakers to spur innovation, preserve traditional agroecological practices worldwide, and transform the global food system. For US-based programs, MESA provides international stewards with J1 visa documentation for up to 12 months of ecological food system training and cross-cultural exchange.
Collaborating with numerous partners, MESA recently launched the Farm-Centered Learning Network for Social Change, an online learning platform offering open-source curriculum and four online courses to complement hands-on farm training. For all interested farmers, students, educators, thinkers and doers, courses provide the technical and theoretical toolkit needed to face an increasingly globalized food system and build a just, agroecological food system.
MESA is committed to advancing food sovereignty initiatives here at home in the San Francisco Bay Area through our farmer training program, demonstration farm, workshops, and events.
Launched in the Spring of 2016, the Bay Area Farmer Training Program is a collaborative project between MESA and Planting Justice in Oakland, CA, that is focused on immigrants, refugees, and formerly incarcerated individuals who aspire to farm as a career.
Currently under construction is the MESA Farm, a farmer training and incubator site in El Sobrante, CA.
MESA also hosts events and attends conferences throughout the food movement. Our community workshops teach diverse elements about the local food system and increase food sovereignty and agroecology practices right here at home. Since 2011, MESA has recognized leaders who are building resilient, equitable, and joyful food systems throughout the globe with our Forging Farmers Awards, presented at our fall event.
MESA staff, Stewards, and global guests also regularly present keynotes, panels, and workshops at world-renowned conferences including Ecofarm, Women’s Food and Agriculture Network, Sustainable Agriculture Education Association, Soil Not Oil, Northeast Organic Farmers Association, Full Circle Fund, and the National Heirloom Exposition. See our upcoming events here.
MESA is committed to supporting on-farm projects to increase the practices of agroecology as well as farmer-driven research.
MESA manages a competitive matching grant and microloan program called Sustainable Projects for Resilience, Innovation and Germination (SPRIG). Exchange Stewards and Hosts can apply for funds to implement collaborative on-farm projects, and Exchange Alumni are eligible to apply for funds for projects in their home communities. Read more about on-farm projects here.
We are also involved in several collaborative on-farm research projects including climate resilience studies, organic no-till vegetable production, and dry-farmed tomatoes trials.
To stay updated on our program work and events, sign up for our e-newsletter!