Gift to UC Santa Cruz funds new chair in water resources and food sustainability – UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz

Gift to UC Santa Cruz funds new chair in water resources and food sustainability
UC Santa Cruz
The Gliessman chair, one of the most recently endowed chairs on campus, was announced Friday at a celebration of the first endowed chair, the Ruth and Alfred E. Heller Chair in Agroecology founded in 1982. Environmental studies professor Stephen R.

Gift to UC Santa Cruz funds chair in water resources and food sustainability … – UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz

Gift to UC Santa Cruz funds chair in water resources and food sustainability
UC Santa Cruz
The Gliessman chair, the most recently endowed chair on campus, was announced Friday at a celebration of the first endowed chair, the Ruth and Alfred E. Heller Chair in Agroecology founded in 1982. Environmental studies professor Stephen R. Gliessman …

Gift to UC Santa Cruz funds new chair in water resources and food … – UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz

Gift to UC Santa Cruz funds new chair in water resources and food
UC Santa Cruz
The Gliessman chair, one of the most recently endowed chairs on campus, was announced Friday at a celebration of the first endowed chair, the Ruth and Alfred E. Heller Chair in Agroecology founded in 1982. Environmental studies professor Stephen R.

Ensia Magazine Essay | Agroecology can help fix our broken food system

Maywa Montenegro’s essay, co-published by Ensia Magazine and Food Tank, looks at  “agroeocology as a cross-pollination of knowledge, grounded in science, practice, and social movement.”

Maywa Montenegro
Food Systems Researcher
University of California – Berkeley

Read the essay: Agroecology can help fix our broken food system. Here’s how

Learn more about: Ensia Magazine

Learn more about: Food Tank

Watch Steve Gliessman’s Edible 101 exchange with Mark Bittman

Steve Gliessman’s Lecture | Edible Education 101

On Monday, March 30, CAN’s Board President and co-founder Steve Gliessman gave a lecture as part of this year’s Edible Education 101. Steve gave an overview of agroecology, using  CAN’s work as an example. There were more than 200 people in attendance. After the lecture, Steve and Mark Bittman, co-host of Edible Education 101, continued the conversation about sustainable farming through agroecology. Steve’s lecture was streamed live. The video is available here.


Edible Education 101 at UC Berkeley | Stephen Gliessman

“Sustainable Farming through Agroecology” with Stephen Gliessman and Mark Bittman 

CAN Board President and co-founder Stephen Gliessman is giving a lecture on March 30 for the online course, Edible Education 101. This course was “created in conjunction with the 40th anniversary celebration of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café in Berkeley, California. Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard Project, launched the course in partnership with University of California, Berkeley to bring edible education to the university level. The course, a unique hybrid public lecture series and for-credit class, has been offered to undergraduate students and members of the general public for four semesters since 2011.” The 2015 course is co-hosted by Mark Bittman and Robert Haas.

The course has three parts:

Part I: The Trouble with the Food System

Part II: Getting Back to the Right Food System

Part III: Building the Food Movement

To learn more about the course, visit the website.

International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition Final Report

FAO held the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition at its headquarters in Rome on September 18 and 19, 2014. Approximately 400 people from 61 different countries (including Permanent Representatives and staff members of representations, FAO / IFAD / WFP staff members, their guests and external participants) attended the event and an additional 186 people followed the Symposium through live streaming.

Steve Gliessman, Chair of CAN’s Board of Directors, chaired the opening plenary. He noted that the focus of Agroecology was originally at the local systems level, but has gradually increased to entire food systems and is now understood as a participatory action research process that leads to sustainability and resilience, as a movement of change and justice.

Steve and Pablo Tittonell reported the key findings and emerging themes of the first one and half days to the plenary. The main findings were: “By the final wrap up session, it was clear that the ecological foundation and food system focus of Agroecology provides an action-oriented approach for simultaneously developing alternative food systems, while transforming the current industrial model. FAO is in a unique position to help build a global agroecological network. The Symposium emphatically demonstrated that the stakeholders represented have everything necessary to make this transformation happen. It only requires action, vision, responsibility towards future generations and above
all courage.”

Key Outcomes

The Symposium generated the following key outcomes:

  • a proposal to continue the dialogue initiated through three regional meetings to be held in 2015;
  • a large amount of scientific evidence and examples of best practices already adopted in many different ecologies and the commitment to finalize proceedings;
  • the recommendation to accompany countries requesting FAO’s assistance to promote national policy dialogue and research on Agroecology and expand partnership towards a local level;
  • recommendation to operationalize Agroecology into FAO’s operational Work Plan for SO2 and other SOs, and to mainstream some ongoing planned national activities and projects towards Agroecology.

Next Steps

Based on the success of the Symposium and FAO’s commitment to facilitate three regional meetings in 2015 in Latin America, Africa and Asia, FAO is looking forward to collaborate with the relevant interested actors on this action plan. More precisely, the Director-General outlined the following points as next steps for FAO:

  • FAO will organize three regional meetings in 2015 in Latin America, Africa and Asia, under the leadership of the Regional Offices (Brazilian government offered to host the Latin America meeting in collaboration with FAO-RLC);
  • The Director-General mentioned during the United Nations Climate Change Summit that participants of the International Symposium on Agroecology called for a United Nations wide initiative on Agroecology in order to help sustainably promote food security, address climate change and build resilience;
  • The Director-General appointed Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, DDG-N as the person responsible for this way forward.

To download the complete report, check here.

Steve Gliessman Keynote Speaker | Rose Cohen Speaker | USAID Symposium

CAN Board president Steve Gliessman (Professor Emeritus of Agroecology, UCSC) and CAN Executive Director Roseann Cohen head to Washington, D.C. to attend “Design for Resilience in Smallholder Farming Systems: Symposium and Consultation on Agroecological Principles, Design and Practice.” As keynote speaker, Steve will lay the foundation for agroecological principles and design, providing the foundation for the two days of discussion.

Rose will present a case study of the obstacles to adoption of agroecological principles, using CAN’s experiences in overcoming most of the obstacles faced by changing hunger and poverty through agroecology. Focusing on CAN’s work in rural communities in Central America and Mexico, Rose will present examples of how to work with communities to engage them successfully in agroecological transformation.

Rose is speaking in the session, “Effective Adoption of Agroecological Principles.” The purpose of this session is to offer the opportunity to discuss constraints to wider adoption and diffusion of agroecological practices, especially among smallholders living in marginal areas, and the technical and institutional solutions to overcome them.

The audience for this symposium is staff members from USAID and Private Voluntary Organizations, such as Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, World Vision, ACDI/VOCA, and others who are part of USAID’s Food for Peace Program.

Opening a Window in the Cathedral of the Green Revolution | Steve Gliessman and Pablo Tittonell

Posted in: News   Topics: Agroecology and Food Systems,

“Agroecology is opening a window in the ‘Cathedral of the Green Revolution.” With these words, the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Dr. José Graziano da Silva, began his closing remarks at the end of the two-day symposium titled “Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition,” held at FAO’s headquarters in Rome, Italy, September 18-19, 2014. He was referring to the impressive results of two days of presentations, discussions, and debate about how agroecology must be considered as a key focus for developing global alternatives for solving the complex issues of hunger, poverty, food production, climate change, and agricultural sustainability.

More than 400 participants from over 30 countries gathered to take part in what was a ground-breaking symposium. For the first time the FAO considered the importance of agroecology as an organizing principle for future programs in food security and nutrition. The focus was not just on increasing production. It was on understanding food systems as cultural systems, with people at the center of the system, rather than the current industrial model focused on yield maximization at all costs, the use of non-renewable resources, and using all available production technologies. Ecological and social diversity and complexity, rather than simplicity and homogeneity, were called for as alternatives to the extractive and degrading monoculture approach that dominates the world’s food systems today.

Download the complete editorial by Steve Gliessman and Pablo Tittonell. [Reprinted with permission: Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Volume 39, issue 2 (In Press)]

Agroecology and Social Transformation

Reprinted from: Gliessman, S.R. 2014. “Agroecology and Social Transformation. Editorial.” Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Volume 38, issue 1.

Agroecology and Social Transformation

With its foundation in the three interconnected areas of science, practice, and social change movements, agroecology must position itself to guarantee food sovereignty, food security, and food justice for all people, in rural as well as urban communities.  This will require the transformation of the current agro-food system that has created an extensive environmental, political, economic, financial, and food system crisis. This crisis faces all of modern civilization, by the expanding inequality, increasing poverty, and environmental degradation caused by the multi-national corporations that monopolize the modern food chain.   Add to this climate change and the disastrous impact of the current coffee rust epidemic in Central America, and the urgency for food system transformation is paramount. We look to agroecology for ways to ensure this transformation happens as soon as possible.

The above paragraph is a summary of the declaration drawn up by the 45 participants from 11 countries in the 15th International Agroecology Shortcourse that took place at the Estelimar Center in Estelí, Nicaragua July 6-18, 2014. Co-sponsored by the non-profit Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and The Association for Social Development of Nicaragua (ASDENIC), the course was titled “Agroecology and Social Transformation: transdisciplinarity, health, and human development.” Through a combination of lectures, community forums, posters, panel discussions, site visits, and participatory interactions in communities where agroecological transformation is in progress, participants received a broad introduction to agroecology as an action-oriented endeavor. Everyone came away with the full realization that agroecology offers important tools for transforming food systems by working at the local level and with local knowledge as a foundation. From there, science and practice can be linked to establish alternative food systems for all people, and can provide models for the transformation of our food systems to sustainability.

At the same time, course participants voiced strongly that agroecology must not be captured by or try to conform its goals and objectives to the current food system. By linking ways of knowing and different knowledge systems from which can emerge new ways of action, the transdisciplinary power of agroecology can emerge and truly transformative change will occur. To learn more about the course, visit the CAN website in English at, or the ASDENIC website in Spanish at

This important theme is highlighted in the article by Levidow et al. (2014) in this issue of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.  If agroecology is going to contribute to real change, especially away from the monocultural, large-scale, external input-intensive, socially unjust, and corporate concentration of the current industrial model of food systems, the commitment to transformational change and alignment with social movements working for food system change is paramount. The attempt to consider the approach of “sustainable intensification” as agroecology is an example of conforming with the current paradigm.  Intensification focused primarily on increasing yields and efficiency, without changing the dominant paradigm, is not sustainable nor is it agroecology in its complete definition. 

Our journal looks forward to promoting and publishing examples of “transformational” agroecology, where science, productive practice, and social change are combined. This is why we are the journal of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

Steve Gliessman

Editor, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Reference: Levidow, L., M. Pimbert, and G. Vanloqueren.  2014. “Agroecological research: Conforming – or transforming the dominant agro-food regime?” Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. 38(10): In press.



Se publica edición especial sobre agroecología

Posted in: News   Topics: Agroecology and Food Systems,

Se acaba de publicar la traducción completa de la edición especial que editaron investigadores afiliados de CAN, Ernesto Méndez (Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Group, Universidad de Vermont) y Chris Bacon (Universidad de Santa Clara), la Directora de CAN, Rose Cohen, el fundador y presidente de la junta directiva de CAN, Steve Gliessman y Manolo Gonzalez de Molina (Universidad Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla), el año pasado para la revista Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Sale como un monográfico especial de la revista Española Agroecología.

Disponible aqui.






XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse | La Pita Community Visit Wrap-Up

La Pita Community Visit Wrap-Up

Our two-day visit to Denis Guiterrez Cooperative in the community of La Pita felt as though we had traveled to another world where campesino families opened their homes and their lives to us. Steve (Gliessman) and I had been here 18 months ago with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour and we were so impressed with the multitude of changes that have taken place since then. The crisis of “la roya” killing the coffee plants has deepened, but the community is responding with resilience. Not only are they replanting their coffee parcels, but the women’s group is making their own fertilizer to rebuild the soil. As part of CAN’s Food Security Project, youth leaders are working with the women’s group to plant home gardens to feed the families and to sell extra produce in a monthly Farmers Market.

There is a feeling of hope growing in La Pita as the families are improving their land and diversifying their crops and their income sources.

See photos.


XV International Agroecology Shortcourse | Trip to La Pita

The La Pita Landscape

From a hill in the center of the community, one sees the landscape management. The top of the mountain is maintained as a reserve. In La Pita you can hear howler monkeys and many birds. Below the reserve the community grows corn and beans in family parcels. Coffee is grown below the trees surrounding the community. There is a two-room primary school that all of the children from pre-school through grade 6 attend. See photos.

The Heart of the Story — and a Hope as Well

La roya,” coffee rust, began showing up in the coffee parcels in significant amounts in 2012. It is throughout Nicaragua and much of Central America. When Steve (Gliessman) and I were in La Pita in February 2013 (with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour) we saw many plants infected and losing their leaves. There was still coffee harvest that year, but it was less than the normal amount. Farmers were hoping it would be contained and were not sure what to do. Now almost all the coffee plants we saw were dead. Coffee is the main source of income for the families of La Pita.

Without the coffee what are the impacts for the family, for the community, for the UCA, for the region ….? The women’s group has learned how to make home-made fertilizer with several goals: using them to renovate the coffee parcels as they prepare to plant them again; using them in their home gardens; and potentially selling them. The fertilizer is a mixture of minerals, forest fungus, forest soil, flour, and molasses. During our group’s visit, we joined the women’s group, along with Don Pedro and Juan Pablo, in making the fertilizer. It will be used in both the gardens and the coffee parcels. The farmers are very inspired by this process — both improving the soil with their own hands and saving a lot of money by making the fertilizers themselves. Don Pedro said, “When CAN first came to us, they told us we had everything in our own hands to move ahead. We’ve found out that we really do.”

See photos.

Womens’ Gardens

When we were here in February 2013 with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour, there were no home gardens in La Pita. Farmers had their coffee parcels, many with fruit trees integrated to provide shade for the coffee and bananas, citrus, avocados, etc to eat. As part of CAN’s collaboration with the UCA and the families of La Pita there are now seven home gardens in La Pita plus a garden at the school. (This is part of a larger project with participants in other cooperatives in Nicaragua and coffee farmers in Mexico funded by Kuerig-Green Mountain Beverage Co.) As part of the project, Bismarck was selected as the youth leader to work on the developing of the gardens in La Pita. He receives training and participates in CAN’s annual international intecambio (exchange) among the youth leaders. The effort to establish the gardens comes at a critical time. Food from the garden is feeding families at a time when they have hardly any money to purchase essentials. See photos.

Report from XV Agroecology Shortcourse

Shortcourse 2014 Update #1
Estelí, Nicaragua
8 July 2014

The 15th Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse, hosted by Community Agroecology Network’s (CAN) partner organization, CII-ASDENIC, kicked off on July 6 in Estelí, Nicaragua. Forty-five participants from 11 countries joined together to learn and share their experiences in agroecology. Over a two-week period, CAN affiliated researchers and representatives of local organizations will share their experiences and knowledge related to agroecology and discuss how this is a key component of social change in the local and global food system.

The course opened with Steve Gliessman, president of CAN’s Board of Directors and course leader, posing the question What is Agroecology? The group wove together their understanding of agroecology: from the farm to the people, to the connection of food to the environment to sustainability, to how to build the soil and develop a cyclical nutrient system. Throughout the course, the group will explore: “How do we know if a farm system and the whole food system is sustainable?”

Midway through the course, participants will divide into four groups. Each group will spend two days in different rural communities looking at indicators of agroecology and sustainability. In the field, groups will be able to observe the farms and talk to the farmers, their families, and the organizations CAN partners with to learn about CAN’s action research initiatives in Nicaragua that are using principles of agroecology to alleviate the “thin months” (months when farm families do not have enough food to feed themselves.)

Each Agroecology Shortcourse is developed around the host region. This year, in Estelí, which is located in the Las Segovias region of northern Nicaragua, we are in the middle of small landholders’ coffee farms. These farmers, who work the land to provide coffee world-wide, often don’t have enough food to feed their own families year round. To address this problem, CAN has been working with our partners, the coffee cooperative PRODECOOP and the non-governmental organization CII-ASDENIC, on projects to eliminate the thin months. Specifically, our projects bring ways to store grains and increase crop diversity on the farms.

In addition to the challenge of thin months, over the past few years, the coffee in Nicaragua and throughout Central America has been hit by a devastating disease, “la roya,” or coffee rust, which is killing the coffee plants and drastically limiting production.

How is la roya connected to climate change? What is the best approach to recover from this disease? How does the food system need to change so that farmers are not highly vulnerable to stresses, such as la roya? How will farmers feed their families in the meantime? Within these questions in mind, participants consider this shortcourse’s theme: Agroecology and Social Change.

We will explore the theme conceptually in the classroom and experience it in the field as participants connect with each other to develop their understanding of agroecology and how they can take it home with them to their own regions around the world. Over the next two weeks I hope to share experiences and learnings of the shortcourse with you. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Learn More:



Steve Gliessman Named to Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food)

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN,

CAN’s co-founder and chair of the Board of Directors, Dr. Stephen Gliessman, (Professor Emeritus of Agroecology, University of California, Santa Cruz) has been appointed to an international panel of experts on sustainable food systems. The panel is co-chaired by Dr. Olivia Yambi, nutritionist and former UNICEF representative to Kenya, and Prof. Olivier De Schutter, who recently completed his term as U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. 

The Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation established the IPES-Food initiative, which addresses one of the three areas of action targeted by the International Scientific Committee of the Foundation: evidence-based advocacy on sustainable food systems and diets. The aim is to provide “…policy makers, the private sector and the public at large with the evidence to guide a transition towards sustainable food systems and diets.”
Steve tells us that the plan is for the Panel to be affiliated with the United Nations, probably the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Over a period of three years, the Panel will prepare a vision for the future of food, as well as an agenda for change that will be backed by the latest research, similar to the recent report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Steve is one of the first 10 experts invited to join the Panel, which will eventually include 20–30 interdisciplinary international experts in all food-system components. Discussing the work of the panel, Oliver De Schutter stated: “Producing more food will not do. Food systems must be reshaped with a view to ensuring social equity and the reduction of rural poverty, protecting our resource base and delivering better health outcomes.  Multidisciplinary research is urgently needed to promote adequate solutions at policy and global levels. And it must include an analysis of consumer behaviour, to encourage sustainable consumption as an integral part of food systems reform.”

In mid-September 2014, Steve will be traveling to Rome, Italy, to participate in a FAO-sponsored International Agroecology Conference for Food Security and Nutrition. Steve is chairing the first day of the event, where a large group of international researchers will be presenting their projects and results. In addition to his work on the Panel, Steve has also been invited by the Smith Foundation to present his agroecological vision at a meeting of their board of directors in November, as well as help guide some of their future grant giving.

At the upcoming XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse (July 6-18, 2014) in Estelí, Nicaragua, Steve and CAN-affiliated researchers will be developing ideas for research projects that will involve all of the CAN network and demonstrate how to do Agroecology. Check back for updates later this summer.

Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems
Steve Gliessman, author]

Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
[Steve Gliessman, editor: This journal is devoted to the rapidly emerging fields of agroecology and sustainable agriculture. The journal focuses on the changes that need to occur in the design and management of our food systems in order to balance natural resource use and environmental protection with the needs of production, economic viability, and social well-being.]



The Challenges of Measuring Food Security and Sovereignty in the Yucatán Peninsula | New Article Published

Development in Practice
Volume 24, Issue 2, 2014

Hector Calix de Dios, Heather Putnam, Santos Alvarado Dzul, Wendy Godek, Susanne Kissmann, Jean Luckson Pierre & Steve Gliessman (2014) The challenges of measuring food security and sovereignty in the Yucatán Peninsula.


In a study of food security and sovereignty (FSS) in 22 indigenous Mayan communities in Yucatán State, Mexico, a participatory action research (PAR) methodology was combined with an analytical framework comprised of 10 FSS indicators to measure food security in the study area and identify strengths and weaknesses of the analytical framework. While some of the FSS indicators were approaching satisfactory, the majority were only partially satisfied, and food self-sufficiency was for the most part unsatisfactory. It was also found that food security indicators are relatively easier to measure, while sovereignty indicators present challenges in terms of defining progress.

Read the article.


Estelí, Nicaragua | XV Curso Internacional Annual de Agroecología | Inscribase ahora!/Apply now!

Inscribase ahora en:
el XV Curso Internacional Annual de Agroecología
Agroecología y transformación social:
transdisciplinaridad, salud, y desarrollo humano
Estelí, Nicaragua
6-18 de julio de 2014

La Red de Agroecología Comunitaria (CAN) y La Asociación de Desarrollo Social de Nicaragua (ASDENIC), juntos con un comité transdisciplinaria de coordinación, anuncia el XV Curso Internacional de Agroecología, que se llevará acabo en el sitio del Parque de las Ciencias Estelimar, ubicado cerca a la ciudad de Estelí, en el norte de Nicaragua, del 6 a 18 de julio de 2014. El tema principal del curso es Agroecología y transformación social transdisciplinaridad, salud, y desarrollo humano.

Nicaragua es un lugar donde la sociedad se enfrenta con retos fuertes de crear y promover un sistema alimentaria que realmente no perjudica la salud y desarrollo humano ni el medioambiente.  Entre los productores rurales y los consumidores nacionales hay problemas y oportunidades para enfrentar dentro del contexto de la dependencia en la producción para exportación (especialmente en el rubro del café), los cambios culturales, el cambio climático, y las estructuras sociales y políticas.Nicaragua también es un lugar donde la agroecología se presenta como una estrategia viable para abordar estos problemas por parte de varios movimientos sociales que incluyen los sectores agrícolas, gremiales, académicos, políticos, y no-gubernamentales.El objetivo de este curso es lograr que los participantes desarrollarán sus capacidades conceptuales y metodológicas para incorporar los fundamentos de la Agroecología en el proceso de una transformación social enfocado sobre la salud y la capacidad humana para lograr un desarrollo sostenible, saludable y justo.

Profesores confirmados:

Dr. Stephen Gliessman, Emérito, Universidad de California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
Dr. Ernesto Méndez, Universidad de Vermont (USA), y CAN
Dr. Christopher Bacon, Universidad de Santa Clara (USA), y CAN
Dra. Roseann Cohen, CAN
Dr. Eduardo López, UNAN – Esteli, Presidente de ASDENIC
Dr. Francisco Salmerón, Universidad Nacional Agraria (UNA), Nicaragua
Dr. Jairo Rojas Meza, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) – Matagalpa
Dra. Alejandrina Herrera, UNAN – Managua
Roberta Jaffe, MA, CAN
Dr. Francisco Rosado May, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo), México
Dr. Carlos Guadarrama, Universidad de Chapingo, Centro Regional Huatusco, México
Dra. Laura Trujillo, Universidad de Chapingo, Centro Regional Huatusco, México
Ramón Olivas, Cooperativa PRODECOOP, Nicaragua
Yadira Montenegro, Directora de Desarrollo, Unión de Cooperativas Augusto César Sandino, San Ramón (UCA San Ramón), Nicaragua

Representantes del Movimiento de Productores y Productoras Agroecológicos de Nicaragua (MAONIC)

**El programa está en desarrollo y esta lista no está completa.

Para asegurar el precio especial, mandar su inscripción antes del 15 de abril!

Para inscribirse:


Apply now for the XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse!

XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse
Agroecology and Social Transformation:
transdisciplinarity, health, and human development
July 6 – 18, 2014 
Estelí, Nicaragua

The Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and the Social Development Organization of Nicaragua (ASDENIC), along with an interdisciplinary coordinating committee, announce the XV International Agroecology Shortcourse which will be held in the Parque de las Ciencias Estelimar, located near the city of Estelí in the north of Nicaragua from July 6-18, 2014. The main topic of the course is Agroecology and Social Transformation: transdisciplinarity, health, and human development.

Nicaragua is a nation that faces difficult challenges in terms of creating and promoting a food system that does not compromise health, human development, and the environment. Among rural producers and consumers nationwide, there are challenges and opportunities within the context of dependence on export production (especially coffee), cultural changes, climate change, and social and political structures. Nicaragua is also a place where agroecology exists as a viable strategy for addressing these problems and is supported by different social movements that include the agricultural sector, unions, academics, politicians, and nongovernment organizations. The objective of this shortcourse is for participants to develop conceptual and methodological skills to be able to incorporate the basic principles of agroecology into a process of social transformation that is focused on health and human capacity to achieve sustainable, healthy, and just development.

See attached Announcement and Event Poster for full information and application instructions. 

To ensure you receive the Early Bird price, register before April 15!

To apply: 

REGISTER for the 2014 AgroEco® Coffee Tour!

Posted in: News   Topics: Coffee, Events,

Join CAN founders Steve Gliessman and Robbie Jaffe in the tropical highlands of Nicaragua this January to better understand the story behind your cup of coffee. Engage directly with farmers and community organizers in the region about the culture, eco-systems and challenges facing coffee growing communities. Meet Youth Leaders who are inspiring local food security and sovereignty projects. You will experience the beauty and significance of tropical biodiversity on guided tours by experts in ecology and agroecology.

Learn more about the tour and REGISTER today!


New Article by CAN/UIMQRoo Team Published

The CAN/UIMQRoo team (Heather Putnam, Wendy Godek, Susanne Kissman, Jean Luckson Pierre, Santos Humberto Alvarado Dzul, Hector Calix De Dios & Stephen Gliessman) have a new article published in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems:

Coupling Agroecology and PAR to Identify Appropriate Food Security and Sovereignty Strategies in Indigenous Communities

Abstract: This paper discusses the potential of coupling participatory action research (PAR) with agroecological principles to address food insecurity in indigenous communities. It argues that combining these two approaches can lead to culturally and environmentally appropriate, context-oriented strategies to empower community members and strengthen community food sovereignty and food security. The paper draws on a recent study of Mayan communities in the Yucatán State, Mexico, and demonstrates the strengths of an agroecologically-focused PAR approach in addressing local challenges faced by rural communities in their struggle to become food sovereign and secure, but its weakness when it comes to influencing policy overarching structures threatening community food sovereignty.



Report from the 14th International Agroecology Shortcourse

Burlington, Vermont

In July, I was in Vermont, participating in The 14th International Agroecology Shortcourse*, Agroecological Approaches for Climate Change and Food Systems Resilience. As I stood with a Vermont farmer, surveying his fields, it was as though we had been prescient in choosing the title, for the farmer was describing recent extreme weather events and noted that climate patterns are just not the same. He went on to describe how he was changing his system in order to stay resilient and keep farming.


The Shortcourse attracted participants from across the U.S. and from several countries. All had come together to learn about agroecology and its role in transforming global food systems to sustainability. Five farms in the Burlington area were our “laboratories” for exploring the resilience of our food systems to multiple pressures and changes, especially climate change. Together with these farmers, we explored agroecology as a multidimensional endeavor characterized by participatory, transdisciplinary, and action-oriented approaches.

In this way, farmer observation and experience links with scientist inquiry and testing as practice and research are joined to set a common agenda for change. Rather than take the conventional top-down flow of information, we use a collaborative process of designing and implementing alternative farming practices. These practices go beyond the primary focus on higher yields and integrate the broader aspects of sustainability.

From agroecology’s foundations in ecological science, Shortcourse participants explored a wide range of approaches including ecological economics, environmental services, participatory methods, food security & sovereignty, gender & food systems, multifunctionality, labor & food systems, climate change & agriculture, and alternative markets.

Concepts such as resilience, sovereignty, and sustainability took on new meaning when they were linked across natural and social science knowledge systems. Tools such as networking, geographic information systems, and participatory action research could be seen as important ways of promoting food-system change. And actions such as climate mitigation, alternative market development, and social movements could all be seen as important means of food-system transformation. 

Participants came into the Shortcourse with many questions about agroecology and how to apply it. They went away motivated to be active food-system change agents.  From agroecological changes in farming practices to empowering food justice, they each could see how their involvement in food systems transformation could happen and why it was needed. But perhaps most importantly, they learned how important transdisciplinarity is in agroecology. 


The farmer whose field was being repeatedly flooded plans to continue his commitment to certified organic production, selling directly to consumers at local farmers’ markets, and providing fresh produce at reduced prices to low-income communities in Burlington. He was an excellent example for our course of how changing personal values and belief systems are as important as changing broader food-system paradigms.

* The 14th International Agroecology Shortcourse (July 7–20, 2013) was sponsored jointly by the University of Vermont’s Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group (ARLG) and Community Agroecology Network (CAN).

Adapted from Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Vol. 37(10) 2013.

Condor’s Hope Wines at Botanic Garden The Santa Barbara Independent – Santa Barbara Independent

Santa Barbara Independent

Condor's Hope Wines at Botanic Garden The Santa Barbara Independent
Santa Barbara Independent
A Santa Barbara native who recently retired after 30-plus years of teaching at UC Santa Cruz as a professor of agroecology (the study of how to make agriculture sustainably in tune with both the environment and economics), Gliessman will present

Santa Cruz group taking community members on AgroEco coffee tour in Nicaragua – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz group taking community members on AgroEco coffee tour in Nicaragua
Santa Cruz Sentinel
The trip has been arranged by Bronson Baker, owner of Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co., his daughter Sarah deSousa, and Roberta "Robbie" Jaffe and Steve Gliessman, who co-founded the Community Agroecology Network a decade ago after seeing coffee

From the Field | CAN’s 13th Annual International Shortcourse

January 14, 2013: Quintana Roo, Mexico: Today CAN’s 13th Annual International Shortcourse kicked off here at the Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo)! Normally the course is held in July, but given how hot the Yucatan Peninsula can be in July, we decided to do it here in January.  Alas, we did not escape the heat even with this clever planning – it is 90 degrees here in Jose Maria Morelos!

An amazing group of 36 participants and 10 facilitators and teachers — agroecology students, practitioners, and researchers from Argentina, Colombia, Spain, the United States, and many regions of Mexico — has come together to explore the intersections of interculturality and agroecology over the next two weeks. 

The course program includes presentations discussing experiences with traditional Maya milpa agriculture and other experiences with agroecology. Together we will explore what we can learn from these experiences and what we can apply to our own work to transform the dominant agricultural model to an agroecologically-based one — one where the environment and food systems are healthy and sustainable.

The Rector of the Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo) opened the Shortcourse by urging participants to recognize the advantages and limitations of our current efforts — and the efforts of the state — to promote food security and sovereignty, and to look for new examples and new ways of thinking about solutions as well. 

Next, Dr. Steve Gliessman of CAN, lead professor of the Shortcourse, encouraged students to remember that agroecology is a science, a practice, and a social change process. Rounding out the opening presentations was Victor Acerreca Sanchez, Director of the Quintana Roo Science and Technology Council. He made sure that all of the participants knew it was their responsibility to take what they will learn in the course and apply it in a positive way upon their return to their communities and countries.

Presentations and discussions throughout the rest of the day centered on a full and fascinating exploration of agroecology (what it is), how agricultural systems relate to biodiversity, and different ideas of how to measure the sustainability of food systems.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will continue to deepen our explorations of all the elements involved in creating and managing healthy food systems.


Article by CAN Board Member Steve Gliessman

Posted in: News   Topics: Agroecology and Food Systems,

<--break->The topic of a special issue of the journal Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems addresses “Agroecology and the Transformation of Agri-Food Systems.” Look for Steve’s article, “Agroecology: Growing the Roots of Resistance,” here.

Article abstract: 

Agroecology today has a strong focus on bringing sustainability to food, feed, and fiber production. But there is also a larger focus on the social, economic, and political “drivers” that move food systems beyond the conditions that have created un-sustainability in modern industrial agriculture. With its ecosystem foundation, the science of agroecology has become a powerful tool for food system change when coupled with an understanding of how change occurs in society. In this article, I trace the roots of agroecology to its emergence as Agroecología in Mexico in the 1970s as a form of resistance to the Green Revolution. Agroecology has become much more than a science for developing better, safer, and more environmentally sound food production technologies. Agroecology is more than a way to practice agriculture, such as organic or ecological production. Agroecology is also a social movement with a strong ecological grounding that fosters justice, relationship, access, resilience, resistance, and sustainability. Agroecology seeks to join together the ecological and social cultures that helped human society create agriculture in the first place.

Sunday November 18, 2012 — Learn about CAN’s AgroEco® Coffee Tour from Tour Leaders + Try Coffee Cupping

Posted in: News   Topics: Action Education, Coffee, Events,


When: Sunday November 18, 2012
Time: 10 am-12 noon
Hosted by: Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company
Where: New Leaf Community Market, 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, California
Cost: Free; sign up

Start your Sunday morning right and Explore Coffee. This unique, coffee-infused event will transport you to the misty, tropical mountains where coffee is grown. First, participate in an AgroEco® Coffee cupping to learn how the experts taste coffee, led by Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company. Next, prepare to travel to Nicaragua (February 17-25, 2013) as CAN co-founders Steve Gliessman and Robbie Jaffe introduce AgroEco® Coffee Tour, a remarkable opportunity to experience first-hand the story behind AgroEco® Coffee by visiting CAN’s partner coffee-growing communities in San Ramón, Nicaragua. Join us and come Explore Coffee! for more information

Early Bird Registration DEADLINE: Register by December 1, 2012 and SAVE!

AgroEco® Coffee Tour Updates! Early Bird Registration Extended — Info Session Added!

Posted in: News   Topics: Action Education, Coffee,

NEW DATE for Early Bird Registration. Register by December 1, 2012 and save  $200!

Just Added:
Information Session and Coffee Tasting

When: Sunday November 18, 201210 am-noon
Where: New Leaf Community Market
             1101 Fair Ave. (Westside)
             Santa Cruz, California

Join us to learn more about this exciting trip to San Ramón, Nicaragua. Meet tour  leaders and CAN co-founders Steve Gliessman and Robbie Jaffe. Learn more about the coffee-growing communities you will visit. Discover how you will get to know the people and landscape behind your cup of AgroEco® Coffee. Take part in a coffee cupping with Sarah de Sousa, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company

Tour Costs:

Early Bird: The cost is $1,900. A $500 deposit to reserve space is due, along with a completed registration form, by December 1, 2012.

Standard: After December 1, the cost is $2,100. A $500 deposit to reserve space is due, along with a completed registration from, by December 15, 2012.


  • All meals during trip dates
  • Homestay lodging
  • Upscale hotel accommodations (price based on shared double room; single rooms available for additional fee)
  • All scheduled program activities
  • CAN trip leaders and local guides
  • All in-country transportation

NOT INCLUDED: international airfare, travel insurance, personal expenses

Learn more about this exciting opportunity! Send in your deposit and register TODAY!

AgroEco® Coffee Tour | Early Bird Registration Ends November 15 | Save $200!

Posted in: News   Topics: Action Education, Coffee, Events,

Travel to San Ramón, Nicaragua with CAN co-founders Steve Gliessman and Robbie Jaffe. Visit coffee-growing communities. Get to know the people and landscape behind your cup of AgroEco® Coffee.

Early Bird: The cost is $1,900. A $500 deposit to reserve space is due, along with a completed registration form, by November 15, 2012.

Standard: After November 15, the cost is $2,100. A $500 deposit to reserve space is due, along with a completed registration from, by December 15, 2012.


  • All meals during trip dates
  • Homestay lodging
  • Upscale hotel accommodations (price based on shared double room; single rooms available for additional fee)
  • All scheduled program activities
  • CAN trip leaders and local guides
  • All in-country transportation

NOT INCLUDED: international airfare, travel insurance, personal expenses

Learn more about this exciting opportunity! Send in your deposit and register TODAY!

What is Agroecology? | Is It a Science, a Movement, or a Practice?

University of Vermont, October 3, 2012: Steve Gliessman, chair of the Board of Directors of Community Agroecology Network and an internationally recognized leader in the field of agroecology and Robbie Jaffe, Executive Director of Community Agroecology Network have been invited to participate in a panel discussion with V. Ernesto Méndez, Associate Professor of Agroecology at the University of Vermont. These three pioneers from the field of agroecology will examine the evolution of the field its potential to support the transformation of our current agro-food system. Steve, Robbie, and Ernesto will compare perspectives on agroecology and its connection to the University of Vermont and the wider world.

The panel will conclude with a discussion moderated by current Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group graduate students, focusing on the opportunities and limitations of this approach.

University of Vermont, Davis Center
October 3, 2012, 3-5 pm
Coffee, tea, hot cider and cider donuts will be served

UPDATED Info! AgroEco® Coffee Tour With Steve Gliessman and Robbie Jaffe | February 2013

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN, Coffee,



  • Meet the people behind your morning cup of coffee
  • Become part of a coffee community in Nicaragua
  • Meet the farmers and their families
  • Take in the gorgeous ecosystem
  • Go birding
  • Hike to waterfalls
  • and LOTS more!

More details to come SOON! Check back.

Early bird registration due November 15, 2012.

Cost (does not include international airfare): $1,900. (early bird) | $2,100. regular

For more information, contact Daniel Hermstad or call 831/459-3619

Journal of Sustainable Agriculture Editorial

Read the entire editorial in the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture.
July 24, 2012

We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People … and Still Can’t End

Eric Holt-Giménez a , Annie Shattuck b , Miguel Altieri b , Hans
Herren c & Steve Gliessman d

a Food First, Oakland, CA
b University of California, Berkeley, CA
c Millennium Institute, Washington, DC
d University of California, Santa Cruz, CA