By Hannah Long
Berkeley-based natural food company Annie’s Homegrown has awarded scholarships to two UC Berkeley students to support innovative new projects in the field of sustainable agriculture.
The scholarship program grew out of Annie’s mission of “providing a healthier, natural, organic alternative to traditional comfort food,” according to Staci Lucash, the company’s marketing coordinator.
Lucash says that the Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship program was started “to help the next generation of leaders and farmers to advance sustainable agriculture.”
This year, Annie’s awarded a total of $100,000 to 16 college students studying sustainable agriculture across the United States. Winners of the scholarship are chosen with the help of Annie’s co-founder Annie Withey, who now runs an organic farm in Connecticut, based on their academic pursuits, extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and future plans to encourage sustainable agriculture.
Kate Clyatt and Hillary Sardinas, two UC Berkeley students, were two of the winners. Clyatt, who is majoring in conservation and resource studies, won $10,000.
“To me, sustainability is a relationship with the Earth,” said Clyatt. “I think that humans can be a part of a natural-based ecosystem, working for the benefit of both food and earth.”
This perspective fueled Clyatt’s project, the Berkeley Student Food Collective, which provides UC Berkeley students and neighboring residents with sustainable, organic food. Their storefront, located on Bancroft Way, sells fresh produce as well as packaged foods and natural cleaning and beauty products. Through the collective, Clyatt has also had the opportunity to educate others about the virtues of sustainable agriculture.
Hillary Sardinas, a PhD candidate in environmental science, policy, and management at UC Berkeley, received a $2,500 scholarship for her research about native bee communities. She focuses on how to diversity conventional farms to create habitats for a wider range of insects.
This diversification is important because “pollinators are so critical to agriculture because they create fruit,” said Sardinas.
Although specific in focus, Sardinas hopes that her research will help create resilient and sustainable habitat, thus encouraging sustainable agriculture.
Both Clyatt and Sardinas were excellent candidates for the scholarships because of their respect for nature and dedication to sustainability, principles upon which Annie’s Homegrown was founded, said Lucash. The company, which was founded in 1989 and relocated to Berkeley last year, sells a variety of organic snack foods, condiments, and pasta products across the country.
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