Welcome to Cal Ag Roots!

The California Institute for Rural Studies has launched Cal Ag Roots to unearth stories about a vitally important segment of California’s culture and economy: Food Production.



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Cal Ag Roots puts historical roots under current California food and farming change movements by telling the story of California agricultural development in innovative, useful and relevant ways.

There is deep knowledge about the structures, driving forces and key moments that have shaped California’s food system among recognized “experts” and those who have participated in the creation of CA farming, but this knowledge doesn’t always inform food movement work.

Cal Ag Roots shares stories from this wide range of people, opening new lines of communication among them. 



Three key project elements:

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The Cal Ag Roots Digital Story Hub features accessible written pieces, images and audio stories about pivotal moments in CA farming history.

Dialogues on Development (Cal Ag Roots Story Listening Parties), that bring people together to discuss how Cal Ag Roots stories affect their work and lives.

Alternatives in Agriculture Field Courses, that will bring food movement leaders into the field to deepen their knowledge about California farming history and connect leaders across geographies and sectors. (coming soon)







California Institute for Rural Studies 

Shifting California Ag towards social, economic and environmental justice requires a clear-eyed understanding of how and why the current agricultural system developed. Without this knowledge of where we’ve been and what structures we are surrounded by, it is too easy to reinvent past failed solutions, unintentionally replicate injustices and misplace energy fighting the wrong battles.

Look out for stories published here and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

Please visit the CIRS web page for more information about our organization and programs.

advisorycouncil.jpgAdvisory Council

     The Cal Ag Roots Project is supported by an active and   engaged Advisory Council. We're grateful to have the support of the following stellar Advisors on this project!




      Janaki Jagganath   Dan O’Connell  

      David Runsten     Richard Walker  

     Susan Ellsworth   Nina Ichikawa  

     Mario Sifuentez    Lisa Morehouse 

 The Cal Ag Roots Advisory Council meets every other month-- always over a meal-- in rotating locations around the state. The advisors listed here are core members, but we welcome other voices and perspectives into our conversations.

Interested in attending a meeting?

Contact Project Director Ildi Carlisle-Cummins at [email protected]. (Photo above of a Bracero labor camp dining hall, 1950's, from the Bracero Archive at www.braceroarchive.org)   


Cal Ag Roots is a project of:


Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.