Written by Melissa De Witte Photo Credit: Martha Brown

Alice Waters, visionary, pioneer and ally to the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Farm Systems (CASFS) toured the organic farm and garden at University of California, Santa Cruz on September 26, 2015.

Her visit to the campus was part of the 50th Anniversary Founders Celebration where Waters was honored with a UCSC Foundation Medal.

Driven by the same mission of producing food that is organically cultivated, sustainably grown, and ecologically nurtured, Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse and CASFS were instrumental in pioneering an alternative food system. As bold experiments, they challenged the norm. Five decades later, they are now changing it.

Here are photos from Waters intimate tour of the farm, where she conversed with educators on teaching sustainability, met with farm managers about introducing the agricultural experience to urban campuses, and chatted with apprentices about how to inspire the next generation.

Photos by: Melissa De Witte & Martha Brown, with permission from University of California, Santa Cruz, Social Sciences Division

Waters visit provided a moment of reflection on how the organic movement revolutionized food systems over the last half century. In 1971, the same year that UCSC established its 30-acre organic farm, Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA.

Both Chez Panisse and CASFS were born from the same era of civil rights, free speech and environmental activism.

Waters and CASFS influenced a new generation of foodies and farmers committed to the idea that healthy and local food make for a healthy environment and community.

CASFS and Chez Panisse inspired each other.

Many CASFS alums went on to work in the Chez Panisse kitchen and also with their suppliers, including Green Gulch Farm. 1998 apprentice Amanda Rieux was one of the early garden teachers at the Edible Schoolyard, a project the Chez Panisse Foundation established to actively involve elementary students into the farming and food production cycle.

Additionally, in the early 2000s, the Chez Panisse Foundation sponsored a series of cooking classes so farm apprentices could learn how to cook the food they grow. In 2004, they also funded the outdoor kitchen at Life Lab, the nonprofit garden-based learning program located on the UCSC farm.

Melissa De Witte is a media marketing consultant with an Master's degree in Media, Culture & Communication from New York University & a BSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics. Her work experience includes working in advertising at the Financial Times, handling social media for the global fashion retailer Monsoon Accessorize, freelancing for a boutique branding agency and managing online editorial for a community website. Melissa was also a teaching assistant in the media department at NYU & worked with its Senior Vice Provost on an award-winning documentary film. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, CA where she handles digital media for the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.