Written by Aaron McAfee, CCOF Fresno/Tulare Chapter President
I have excellent news to deliver, straight from the local organic legend himself, the great Tom Willey.
Tom shared with us that Fresno State has officially announced the hire of Dr. Sangeeta Bansal for the position of Professor of Soil Health at California State University, Fresno.
The goal of bringing organic agriculture into Fresno State has been ongoing for the CCOF Fresno/Tulare Chapter since the chapter leadership under Dwayne Cardoza and Vernon Peterson recognized that this would be a huge step forward for our local university and our future farmers.
After many meetings with the Ag One leadership at Fresno State (Alcidia Freitas Gomes, Shannon Fast, and others), former Dean Dennis Nef (now retired), and other administrators of the Jordan College of Ag, Fresno/Tulare chapter leaders Vernon Peterson, Dwayne Cardoza, Steven Cardoza, and our leadership team got the ball rolling with the hire.
The first step was to make sure we had a pro-organic farmer and advocate amongst the review committee. There was no better candidate from our local organic community to advise on the hiring committee than Tom Willey. If you are new to organic farming, you might not know him, but Tom Willey is a local legend in organic agriculture and farm-to-fork food delivery systems through his former CSA at T & D Willey Farms. Though now retired from farming, Tom is active as an organic thought leader and promotes organic agriculture and CCOF on his radio show/podcast “Down on the Farm with Tom Willey.”
Tom gladly gave his time and expertise to the project and says the new hire comes from a “cutting-edge soil research lab” at UC Davis. I have full confidence that Tom Willey added a ton of value to this process, and it was a wise move for Fresno State to include organic industry leadership in their advisory process.
I think we can all agree that Fresno State establishing a minor in organic agriculture, hiring an organic soils expert Ph.D., and taking these progressive steps forward is a huge accomplishment for our valley and the future farmers of this productive region.
Visit Fresno State's website for more information on the organic minor program. The hiring Dr. Bansal was the first major step forward, but courses and curriculum have already been established. We hope you consider sending your future farmers to Fresno State to earn a degree in agriculture with a minor in organic production systems!
You can read a brief bio of Dr. Sangeeta Bansal, who comes to Fresno State from the UC Davis Soil Biodiversity and Health Lab.