California Institute for Rural Studies

Cal Ag Roots Podcast

Cal Ag Roots

Lola — Harvesting Table Grapes in Arvin, CA

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. Shifting California Agriculture 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.

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

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We Are not strangers here
Cal Ag roots story series


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Caroline Collins, PhD
Cal Ag Roots Producer

Caroline first joined the CIRS Team as an Archival Researcher and Podcast Producer of our “We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California” project. She is also a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine and an Affiliated Researcher with the Democracy Lab and the Indigenous Futures Institute at UC San Diego where she earned her PhD. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside and a B.A. in American Literature and Culture from UCLA. Her work examines how the history of the American West is made and remade, particularly in California and especially in popular culture. Her public scholarship includes exhibits and media produced in collaboration with nonprofit organizations, museums, academic partners, and communities.

Li Schmidt

Li is the newest member of the Storytelling team at CIRS. As researcher, activist, artist, and farmer that comes from the Asian diaspora, Li also runs a plant nursery that grows East and South Asian heritage foods for the Asian American community that is called Cultural Roots Nursery. She is also actively involved with the California Farmer Justice Collaborative and the Asian American Farmers Alliance, which both work to bring equity to farmers of color.

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation and California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.