Multicultural Urban Agroecology Research Exchange in Chiapas, Mexico

April 06, 2015

By , Associate Professor and Alfred & Ruth Heller Chair in Agroecology 

One of the eleven research sites - a roof top garden at La Casa del Pan that provides organic, locally-sourced food for the restaurant below. La Casa del Pan is one of the founding members of Jovel Kun Kun, the San Cristobal chapter of Slow Food.

During 2015 Spring Break, Associate Professor Stacy Philpott and Research Specialist Peter Bichier traveled to Chiapas, Mexico with two ENVS grad students (Hamutahl Cohen and Monika Egerer) and two ENVS undergraduate students (Montse Plascencia and Jen Schneiderman) for a short research trip to learn about urban agroecology. The project, funded by UC-Mexus and led by Philpott and Co-PI Helda Morales from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) aims to a) determine the importance of local management characteristics and landscape surroundings for enhancing conservation biological control of crop pests in urban gardens and b) to increase cross-cultural understanding between researchers in the US and Mexico.

In Mexico, UCSC students, faculty and staff worked alongside two professors, one postdoc, and three graduate students from ECOSUR as well as three undergraduate students from UNICH (Universidad Intercultural de Chiapas). Students and faculty worked in 11 urban gardens and collected data on abundance of natural enemies of pests (ladybeetles, parasitoids), garden vegetation, and removal of three pest species. In addition, participants listened to talks about rural sociology, food sovereignty and global agroecology movements. In July, the UCSC group will host the visitors from Mexico to visit urban gardens in the Monterey Bay and San Jose area. Research participants hail from Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, USA, Venezuela, and speak a total of seven languages providing a truly multicultural learning experience for all.