Experience and Passion Signal Success for Sustainable Food Systems Advocate

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Alex Vaughn — the recipient of the 2014 Simply Organic Scholarship Award at the University of California at Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) Apprenticeship — arrived at the Center's 25-acre farm with four years of experience in agriculture and a goal to bring sustainable agriculture to those in need.

“Ideally, I’d like to see a sustainable farming operation where the food produced is used to feed low-income families for free through a combination CSA/food bank operation,” said Vaughn.

Alex Vaughn — the recipient of the 2014 Simply Organic Scholarship Award at the University of California at Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) Apprenticeship — arrived at the Center's 25-acre farm with four years of experience in agriculture and a goal to bring sustainable agriculture to those in need.

“After attending Green Mountain College in Vermont, I knew I wanted to explore organic farming as an activity — and possibly a career — that would engage both my mind and my body,” said Vaughn.

He soon got a chance to farm as an apprentice at Yellow Birch Farm in Deer Isle, Maine, where developed his skills in organic growing. He quickly followed that with a paying job at Red Fire Farm. But, the pace and demands of commercial farming left him little time to learn about growing on the deeper level he wanted to explore, so he looked around for a training opportunity. After looking at different programs, he decided on CASFS and, backed by the Simply Organic Scholarship, began an apprenticeship there this year.

“The program's emphasis on soil building through practices such as composting and cover cropping helped me understand just how key soil quality is to success,” Vaughn said. “Healthy soil increases the size and quality of harvests and makes pest control easier.”

In addition to gaining a solid technical background in organic farming techniques, Alex also learned about the importance of social justice in our food systems.

“Ideally, I’d like to see a sustainable farming operation where the food produced is used to feed low-income families for free through a combination CSA/food bank operation,” said Vaughn.

After he leaves CASFS, he plans to return to the Northeast. He would like to be part of a sustainable farming organization, like the Grange, where farmers socialize, share technical info, discuss marketing strategies and organize lobbying efforts to push for policies.

In 2009, Frontier Co-op and its brand Simply Organic made a combined contribution of $130,000 to establish the scholarship at CASFS. Since that time, more than 1,500 apprentices have been trained in CASFS's organic fields, orchards and greenhouses. They have learned how to raise food and flowers — and how to make our food system more sustainable. They are the next generation organic farmers, market gardeners, urban agriculturalists, school garden teachers and other leaders — all working to promote local, healthy food in communities around the country.

Simply Organic®
Simply Organic®, an all-organic brand from Frontier® Co-op, offers an extensive and growing selection of certified organic spices, seasonings, and baking flavors while supporting organic agriculture around the globe. By providing the best available organic seasonings and donating one percent of sales to organic agriculture and education, Simply Organic genuinely offers "Pure.Simple.Joy.” Find out more about Simply Organic at http://www.simplyorganic.com.

Frontier® Co-op
Founded in 1976 and based in Norway, Iowa, Frontier® Co-op offers a full line of natural and organic products under the Frontier, Simply Organic®, and Aura Cacia® brands. Products include culinary herbs, spices and baking flavors; bulk herbs and spices; and natural and organic aromatherapy products. Frontier's goal is to provide consumers with the highest-quality organic and natural products while supporting and promoting social and environmental responsibility. For more information, visit Frontier Co-op's website at http://www.frontiercoop.com.

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Anne Rierson
Frontier Co-op
+1 319-227-7996 Ext: 1163
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