A.G. Kawamura - Founder, Solutions for Urban Agriculture; Former Secretary of Agriculture (Keynote --> talk will be at the Fair)

A.G. Kawamura is a 3rd generation urban farmer from California and the founder of Solutions for Urban Agriculture – a non-profit focused on innovative and scalable agricultural systems.  He is also the former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (2003-2010). As co-chair of Solutions From the Land, he has worked to promote innovative strategies for sustainable agricultural systems, including the formation of the North American Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. Among other boards and committees that he serves on, he is a former chair and current board member of Western Growers Association. Through his company, Orange County Produce, LLC, he is engaged in building an exciting, interactive 21st century 100 acre agricultural showcase at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA.

Steve Cohen - Manager, Food Policy and Programs City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

In 2004, Portland, Oregon became the first U.S. city to hire a Food Policy and Program Manager and Steve Cohen was selected to create an innovative agenda. His work in the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability focuses on all aspects of a sustainable food system including land use planning, climate change, food security, economic development, purchasing, education, and waste reduction and prevention.  

Steve has worked with direct-market farmers for over 40 years and has extensive experience in purchasing, distribution, and marketing for major regional, national, and international food and beverage companies. He has played key roles in establishing festival markets, performing arts venues, and community spaces in Oregon. 

Nancy Alcala, Co-Coordinator Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities Food Justice Workgroup

A Santa Ana resident, Nancy Alcala became involved in the food justice movement after an internship at a community garden in a low income residence.  As an undergraduate at California State University Long Beach, she studied Sociology focusing on environmental sociology, criminology, group relations, and social policy. After coming back to her childhood community, Downtown Santa Ana, Nancy began volunteering with the Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities (SABHC) food justice workgroup in 2015. The SABHC food justice workgroup is working to establish Santa Ana’s first community managed Micro-Farm. Today, Nancy is a volunteer co-coordinator in the food justice workgroup.  In addition to food justice work, Nancy is a home gardener, art and ceramic instructor, and hopes to become a history teacher and farmer in her community. 

Rachel Surls - Sustainable Food Systems Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in LA County

Rachel Surls is the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, part of UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR).  From backyard gardens, to urban agriculture, Rachel is involved in a variety of projects related to urban food systems. Since 2013, she has worked with UCLA students to conduct the “Cultivate LA” survey of urban agriculture in Los Angeles. She recently led a UCANR team that carried out a state-wide needs assessment of urban farming. Rachel is a member of the leadership board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, and has been active in their urban agriculture working group which has successfully advocated for policies that support growing food in the city.  Rachel and a co-author recently published a book on the local history of urban agriculture, titled “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles.” 

Keith Pezzoli, PhD., Director, Urban Studies and Planning Program, Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning and Design at UCSD

Keith Pezzoli, PhD., Directs the Urban Studies and Planning Program; and the Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning and Design, at UC San Diego. He is a Professor of Teaching in the Department of Communication. Pezzoli earned his Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA, and a BA in Psychology/Environmental Design from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Pezzoli is currently writing a book titled "The Bioregional Transition" with a focus on the Food-Water-Energy Trilemma. He serves as an appointed member of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, an independent federal advisory board that advises the US President and Congress on US-Mexico border environmental issues (e.g., ecological restoration, water and food security, climate change).