Stay tuned for our next Cal Ag Roots Story Series!

coming soon

 

Our 2016-17 Story Series focuses waves of immigrants to CA farm fields and their innovations that helped to build the California agricultural industry. This series will introduce you to agricultural innovators whose names you might not know, and break down the commonly held misconception that California farming is simply a product of science, technology and a lot of capital. Waves of immigrants from all over the world came (and are still coming!) to California's fields, bringing with them cultural, ecological and agricultural knowledge that has helped to build this industry. 

We're currently in story research phase-- please reach out if you have ideas, resources or archives (including sound archives for our podcasts) that relate to this story series theme! We'll also be curating the stories a bit differently this time around, treating this Story Hub as a true hub of information from a wide variety of sources. If you have papers, video, pictures or other relevant items that you'd like to post here, please get in touch! You can email Project Director Ildi Carlisle-Cummins at icarlisle-cummins[at]cirsinc.org or use the contact us page on this site.

 

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Podcast 3: Break Down of the Bracero Program

We've been hearing a lot of searingly anti-immigrant statements in the news lately. It’s hard to imagine, but Mexican immigrants who came to work in California’s farm fields weren’t always treated as criminals. In fact, Braceros were guestworkers sent to the US by the Mexican government during WWII as part of the war effort. They were young men, sent to save the crops left in the fields as American men enlisted. And they were seen at the time as heroes pitching in-- a forgotten part of the “greatest generation.”

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Of course, as well-intentioned as the program might have been, things were never easy for immigrant workers here. This is the story of how the Bracero program became abusive over the course of decades, eventually crumbling under organizing pressure from farm workers. And it’s also the surprising story of what that farm worker movement missed in bringing down the Bracero program-- told here by people with personal connections to the work.

This story was produced in collaboration with Ignacio Ornelas, History PhD Candidate at UCSC and Archivist at Stanford University, Mario Sifuentez, Assistant Professor of History at UC Merced and Frank Bardacke, independent scholar. Special thanks to Ignacio Ornelas for sharing audio from his extensive oral histories with braceros. Aubrey White served as audio produced for this story. 

 

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Podcast 1: There's Nothing More Californian than Ketchup!

Cal Ag Roots stories focus on pivotal moments in the development of California agriculture. This story and podcast are the first in a three-part series called Docks to Delta, which launched with a  live event aboard the Capitol Corridor train in the fall of 2015. Photos published here by permission of the photographer, Richard Steven Street.

Many thanks to Audio Producer Aubrey White and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, storytellers Bill Hoerger, Izzy Martin, Don Villarejo and Bill Friedland, and the Cal Ag Roots Advisory Council including Lisa Morehouse, who provided crucial editorial advice for this project.

When you think of California cuisine, do you imagine baby lettuces doused in olive oil, and carefully arranged on white plates?

If you’ve ever driven down the Highway 99 corridor, which cuts through California’s Central Valley, you might have a different sense of the state’s contributions to global food culture. Driving 99 any hour of the day or night, from July through September, you’ll likely have to swerve around trucks mounded impossibly high with tomatoes. You’ll pass acres and acres of dense, low tomato plants being harvested by machines that spit them out into trailers bound for a string of processing facilities that dot the valley. 

This year promises to be a record for processing tomatoes, with a projected 14.3 million tons harvested. California’s Central Valley will, yet again, play a critical role in ensuring that one of America’s favorite condiments—ketchup—remains in plentiful supply. On the surface, this cheap condiment might not seem to have anything to do with California cuisine. But, as it turns out, there’s an incredible tale that ties the two together in surprising ways.

 

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Podcast 2: Can Land Belong to Those Who Work It?

Cal Ag Roots stories focus on pivotal moments in the development of California agriculture. This story and podcast are the second in a three-part series called Docks to Delta, which launched with a live event aboard the Capitol Corridor train in the fall of 2015.

Many thanks to Audio Producer Aubrey White, storytellers Tom Willey, Mary Louise Frampton, Maia Ballis, Berge Bulbulian, Marc Lasher, John Heywood and to the Cal Ag Roots Advisory Council including Lisa Morehouse, Janaki Jagganath and Mario Sifuentez who provided crucial editorial advice for this project. Thanks also to historian Clifford Welch, who provided critical background information about this story as well as connection to NLP members.

 

“That land is so rich you could eat it with a spoon!” exclaimed Tom Willey, small-scale organic farmer in California’s Central Valley, referring to the swath of land on the west side of the Valley that makes up the Westlands Water District

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Interview with Ildi

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This interview with Project Director Ildi Carlisle-Cummins was done for the California Humanities blog and first appeared there. Click on the map for Docks to Delta Full Route Map. 

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Cal Ag Roots Launches with Docks to Delta, Live!

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