WHAT WE DO
“Designing and building a sustainable and just civilization…through pragmatic, well-designed, replicable, and scalable implementation of sustainable systems policy, education, research, and infrastructure”
SSRF and its collaborators work together to develop sustainable and regenerative agriculture education and training programs for operators of small farms in the Monterey Bay Region. We support urban agriculture and community farming, both of which are increasingly recognized as sustainable long-term alternative to the large-scale, corporate enterprises that provide most of the nation’s food. Click on the links below to read about our ongoing projects, proposals we have submitted to funders in support of these projects, and resources for additional reading. It also includes links to specific curricular materials from workshop training and data collected from agricultural research.
- Regenerative Agriculture for Local Food and Farms
- Regenerative Agriculture for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers in the Monterey Bay Region
- Regenerative Agriculture and Closed Loop Farming at Whiskey Hill Farms
- Agricultural Workshop Curriculum and Resources (under construction)
- SproutLabs Sensors Experimental Dashboard
- Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sequestering Carbon from Organic Wastes through Regenerative Agriculture and Climate Smart Ethanol, Compost and Foods
- Resources for further reading on Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture
Over the past decade, the cost of renewable electricity from wind and solar has declined radically. Solar photovoltaic microgrids with battery storage, load reduction and ancillary services offer a viable local and more near-term strategy for addressing the problems posed in California by the existing, privately-owned and operated power transmission and distribution system. With such systems, communities and customers will no longer need to rely on large, far away, mostly carbon-powered utilities and generating plants. In place of a monolithic, top-down utilities, renewable microgrids offer a bottom-up solution that is far more stable, resilient, and compatible with widespread development of renewable energy resources and the necessary transition away from fossil fuels. The well-being of tens of millions of people will no longer be in the hands of a distant, profit-oriented utility but, rather, up to local owners, operators and decision-makers committed to their communities’ well-being.
SSRF is collaborating with a number of partners to launch community-based renewable electricity projects that will help California meet its climate and electrification goals and contribute to the ending of poverty in California. You can learn more about our work by clicking on the links below.
- A Community Energy Strategy for Santa Cruz
- End Poverty in California with Solar (EPICS)
- Video: Meet the Pippin Orchards Solar Project
- EPICS in Watsonville: The Pippin Orchard Solar Project
- A Political Analysis of Microgrids & California’s Over-the-Fence Rule
- Community choice aggregators to lead microgrid revolution: Why Private Electric Utilities are Doomed
- W(h)ither Pacific Gas & Electric? The Future of Electricity in California
- Additional Readings and Resources on Electricity and Solar
The world’s economic system is currently based on an open-ended system of production, consumption and disposal, whereby valuable raw materials end up in landfills or polluting the environment. In a world of limited resources and pollution space, it is essential that we begin to reduce inputs and throughputs and recycle waste outputs back into the production cycle. SSRF is focusing on the procurement end of the materials flow cycle, since this is where careful product choices can have a significant impact on waste streams. If, for example, all containers and utensils flowing through a restaurant are reusable or readily compostable, customers don’t have to decide in which bin to put their wastes. And if businesses can provide reusable containers for bulk products, needless wrapping and bags will not be necessary. To learn more about this effort, please click on the links below.
SSRF and its partners are working to increase affordable housing options in Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County by making backyard Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units as common and as acceptable as sliced bread. ADUs and JADUs offer numerous advantages over more conventional projects to build new housing in the region (and across California). They do not require costly new land acquisition or significant infrastructural additions, because the homeowner already owns the construction site and utilities are accessible through the main house on the property. The construction footprint is small, a number of affordable financing options are available, the unit can provide a respectable return on investment, and it can house tenants, family and even homeowners seeking to downsize. You can learn more about affordable and sustainable housing by clicking on the links below.
- Imagine Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz
- Accessory Dwelling Units in our Backyards: Building Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz
- ADUs In Our Backyards: A Slide Presentation
- Jacob Pierce, “What’s In Door? New nonprofit touts benefits of building more ADUs and backyard units for environment and housing affordability,” Good Times, May 19-25, 2021.
- Regional ADU Planning Meeting, May 13, 2021
- ADU Resources
SSRF’s education programs seek to offer high school and university students and post-graduates the knowledge and know-how to hone skills needed for success through hands-on training in sustainability-related systems design and development in areas such as energy, food, water, transportation, waste, and housing, among others.
- Develop and provide high-quality, compelling instructors and educational resources for schools and universities.
- Assist schools and universities with the design and implementation of sustainable systems classes and programs.
- Provide technical and logistical support for building hands-on academic and longitudinal research projects that advance a sustainable systems agenda.
- Provide staff, technical, and logistical support for school, local government, and non-profit institutions that are implementing sustainable systems education and outreach initiatives.
- Build alliances across local and regional education institutions for cooperative education and leading edge applied research focused on implementing scalable and replicable sustainable infrastructure and policy.
Please click on the topics below to learn more.
- Educational Resources for the Green Economy
- Professionalization tutorials for students
- SSRF Youtube Channel
The Scorecard is a new SSRF project. It is a resource for consumers, institutional purchasers, investors, installers, and anyone who wants to purchase PV modules from responsible product stewards. The Scorecard reveals how companies perform on SVTC’s sustainability and social justice benchmarks to ensure that the PV manufacturers protect workers, communities, and the environment. The PV industry’s continued growth makes it critical to take action now to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, develop responsible recycling systems, and protect workers throughout global PV supply chains. Many PV companies want to produce truly clean and green energy systems and are taking steps to implement more sustainable practices. SVTC is committed to helping these companies achieve that goal. At the same time, we need to create and enforce policies that ensure the safety and improve environmental performance of the entire sector.
Sustainability Now! is a biweekly radio program and podcast on KSQD, 90.7 FM in Santa Cruz and KSQD.org streaming on the internet. The show is hosted by SSRF co-founder Ronnie Lipschutz and presents a range of interviews with environmental activists, academics, authors, philosophers and business people, all of whom are working to protect and sustain nature in the Monterey Bay Region, California and the World. You can find links to previous shows at KSQD.org and on our “Sustainability Now!” page.