Food Hub Coordinator and Aqua-Agriculture Propagation Technician
Plant Science of Sustainable Agricultural background
Logistics, data collection, field and plant surveys
Data entry, customer relations, physical agility
Statistical analysis and management of metadata
Openings: 1 of 1
Focus Area: Agri-food Systems
Food Systems; Regenerative Agriculture; Climate Mitigation & Adaptation; Education & Outreach; Volunteer Engagement
Education & Outreach
Goals & Needs
Pie Ranch is a working organic farm, an education center and an organization building partnerships for a healthy and just food system. We envision a world in which:
• All people have access to healthy food, and know and value where their food comes from;
• Mulitracial farmers, ranchers, and land stewards have access to knowledge, land and capital to build regenerative farms directly linked to local residents, businesses and schools;
• Lands are preserved and enhanced for generations to come.
Cascade Ranch is a 418-acre farm just north of Pie Ranch, and is home to the Cascade Regenerator Program (CRP), located on the ancestral homeland of the Quiroste Tribe. Here, we envision a regenerative landscape where multiracial groups of farmers, ranchers, and land stewards have access to the resources needed to feed the diverse communities of the Bay Area. The CRP helps early stage farmers (5 - 10 years of experience) take the next step in their careers, with an emphasis on providing equitable economic and wealth-building opportunities to under-resourced farmers and ranchers. CRP also provides participants with affordable land to start their own small farm businesses, along with mentorship and technical support, equipment access and water conservation training, sales and markets support, and financial and business planning with support from program partners.
This year's projects are focused on developing the capacity of our new initiative, Integrated Aquaculture-Agriculture, and enhancing our capacity with our Food Hub program. The Integrated Aquaculture-Agriculture initative will expand our understanding of aquaculture’s power to enhance coastal climate resilience by developing and implementing practical methods to integrate aquaculture and agriculture. California has hesitated to use aquaculture for coastal conservation and local food diversification, despite success of these techniques globally and on the West Coast. The explosive growth of extractive industrial aquaculture elsewhere has generated widespread controversy and regulatory reticence, which is eclipsing regenerative forms of aquaculture that have been shown to recover resource diversity and support local livelihoods. This project will address the urgent need to develop and implement practical aquaculture applications with native species in California at scales that will enhance the resilience of coastal systems. We will combine freshwater recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) that are water efficient with integrated aquaculture-agriculture to reduce the soil-agriculture system’s water use and supply some of its costly organic nutrient inputs. This will help us to model and amplify new opportunities to address climate resilience.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pie Ranch transitioned from providing educational programs to working to secure organic produce for families and folks experiencing food insecurity around the Bay Area. While serving communities who might not otherwise have access to fresh, organic produce, Food Hub sources directly from small, organic farms, prioritizing BIPOC-owned businesses thus weaving together a localized and healthier food system for all. We see the Food Hub as a critical piece of our food sovereignty efforts; connecting the farmers who grow nutritious food using methods that not only protect but enhance the soil and land, with local eaters who deserve quality, organic and culturally relevant produce.
Capacity Building Projects
One service project at Cascade Ranch will include collaborating with the UC Santa Cruz on an Integrated Aquaculture-Agriculture (IAA) project at Cascade Ranch. This project is intended to Enhancing Climate Resilience and increase Coastal Biodiversity and Food Diversity via Aquaculture. The Lead Principal Investigator Anne R. Kapuscinski, Director of Coastal Science and Policy Program & Professor of Environmental Studies, University of California, along with her Co-investigators, and Cascade Ranch staff will support the Grizzly Fellow to propagate and grow native plants species using the tank water from native aquatic species. The project goals are to: 1) establish models for wider adoption of the aquaculture of native species to benefit coastal food systems and ecological restoration, and 2) engage partners that are acutely affected by climate change impacts and positioned to build local workforce capacity to scale up these interventions.
Pie Ranch will be expanding its food hub, a project that was started during the pandemic, to provide "Food Boxes" to members of our local community. The Fellow will help coordinate the purchase of vegetables, fruit, and other products from local farmers. They will also work with local community groups to arrange for the drop-off sites. This work will include seasonal crop planning with the growers and weekly meal planning with community members.
The fellow will support our efforts towards applied science by using professional tools and methodology to measure, monitor and share the results of our conservation practices. Our fellow will have access to a number of professional development and training opportunities; they will collaborate with staff from local, state and federal agencies, and they will have some opportunities for leadership development.
Organizational & Community Highlights
Working at Pie Ranch means being part of a team that honors different perspectives and makes room for diverse voices, amplifies those who are traditionally marginalized, and relies on clear communication.
As a remote coastal community, we have particular challenges, such as spotty wifi/cell connectivity and inclement weather! Each day provides new challenges and opportunities to solve puzzles and improve efficiency. Being prepared for a variety of tasks throughout the day will serve you well at Cascade Ranch, there are always different projects to focus on. Must be flexible in planning and ready to pivot priorities on short notice!
Staff are friendly, supportive, and communicative. There is a long history of Spanish-speaking groups in this region, so if you are interested in or passionate about different cultures, that is ideal! Love education and outreach? This is a wonderful place to help develop and implement programmatic materials and messaging while building relationships and public speaking skills. Our office environment is small and cozy, but old, as many ranch buildings are. Standard amenities are provided but on occasion are unreliable due to the remote and rustic nature of our work. Being flexible and finding creative work-arounds is key to having a positive experience at Cascade Ranch.
Looking to build your technical skills? Opportunities abound! You will support staff in environmental assessments, project planning, assist researchers, collect and analyze data, and utilize software programs sales and crop management. You will be encouraged to connect with other Pie Ranch programs such as youth education and the farm stand, in order to expand your understanding of farming from a non-profit perspective and get involved with the community members that support our work.
Pie Ranch values include Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Solidarity, Commitment and Collaboration, Love and Respect, and Responsible Stewardship. Pie Ranch is committed to justice of all kinds and organizes its work around food justice specifically. As an organization we aim to change the deeper systemic problems that cause the current food system to fail in providing equitable access to healthy food, affordable land, and healthy ecosystems.