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Whittier College
Private Higher Education
Date Approved

Whittier College’s interdisciplinary project will weave complex multi-layered narratives—environmental, ecological, cultural, historical, economical—that have collided in what may be California’s next agricultural gold rush: sustainable coffee growing. Coffee is a new addition to Southern California’s agricultural landscape and already a successful enterprise. These novel endeavors occur on landscapes experiencing various forms of agricultural and urban/suburban development, representative of the dynamic competition for land and resources at the peri-urban fringe. Therefore, coffee production systems are an ideal laboratory for researchers interested in understanding the potential for agriculture to improve soil health (nutrient exchange, carbon sequestration, etc.) while overcoming rising demand for high cash crops. A decline in soil quality is a critical environmental issue facing society today and one that young generations need to address. This program will include detailed soil and microclimate characterization of production systems and relate them to coffee yield and quality while offering hands-on experiences to our students in a geographical and social context they can relate to. Student-led reports and presentations will inform growers and the public on best practices.