Despite being the most agriculturally productive region of the United States, the Central Valley of California been subject to agricultural, environmental, and land-use policy that has burdened communities with some of the worst health and social outcomes in the nation, and an ecology that is out of balance.
The San Joaquin Valley, spanning from Stanislaus to Kern counties, has historically been the primary site of commercial agricultural production in California. Farming here has relied on waves of immigrant labor since the 19th century as well as developments in fertilizer and chemical technology to lead the nation in the commodity production of nuts, tree fruit, grapes, and other field crops, as well as dairy production, supplying national and global markets. Today corporate consolidation of land-holding combined with a lack of representation for rural constituents have together led to grave environmental outcomes in the California heartland, and an ecological burden that places the longevity of the state's natural resources into question. The Community Alliance for Agroecology uses organizing and advocacy at the intersection of five main areas of environmental impact to advance agricultural and natural resource policy that heals our ecological system and builds political power in rural communities.
CalEnviroScreen is a tool developed by the California Environmental Protection Agency to map areas of cumulative environmental burden, such as groundwater and air pollution, and socioeconomic burden such as asthma rates and low child birthweight. The tool combines these data showing a concentration of impacts in the agricultural regions of California.
Agroecology can be defined as the balance and respect of all participants in the design of agricultural production systems.
Agroecological farming systems are built from traditional knowledge that links environmental, economic, and human health, while protecting the natural resource base for future generations.
In spite of the vast amounts of food production, the San Joaquin Valley is home to a large number of USDA- designated food deserts, meaning that many rural communities of the San Joaquin Valley lack access to food, and to a greater degree, fresh and healthy options. While large-scale farming produces vast quantities of commodity crops for export, small-scale growers continue to sustain the local communities to whom the Valley owes its success. The Community Alliance for Agroecology identifies policy mechanisms that allow more of these farmers to steward the natural resources of the San Joaquin Valley, and advance the priorities of environmental quality that are shared among growers and farmworker communities.