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nnrnnnnn nnnnnnnn n n Carlye Gates, Featured Scholar Journal of Undergraduate Research “Everyone deserves affordable access to good, fresh food,” says Carlye Gates, who is currently working at Green Fire Farms, an eight-acre organic, market far m in Hoopa, CA. There, she spends her days tending to se eds in the greenhouse; transplanting seedlings to the grou nd; and, once they’re mature, harvesting the crops: a medley of fresh produce, including onions, kale, beets, black berries, and parsley. In exchange, she receives room and boa rd— hearty, wholesome meals made of the crops they’ve grown—and, more importantly, the opportunity to “cr eat[e] a more just, sustainable local food system” that ma kes fresh food “accessible and available to the communi ty.” Involved in community service work even before college, at UF Gates choose sociology as her major to better understand how social phenomena impact individuals as well as how to create positive socia l change. Outside of class, she searched for opportunities to make a significant contribution to a cause she felt passio nate about. She volunteered with Campus Kitchens, a student organization that collects and distributes donated food to those in need, and travelled to Washington, DC to r aise awareness about immigration issues as part of Flori da Alternative Breaks. Sometimes she also volunteered with Edible Plant Project and Friends of the Organic Blu eberry Farm, planting fruits and vegetables and pruning bl ueberry bushes during their monthly volunteer workdays. In spite of her community service, Gates felt is olated: “I lacked confidence to go out into the community and feel as though I could truly contribute and connect with pe ople. Without that I felt alone on such a large campus.” Gates decided to join UF’s study abroad program, spending a semester in Prague during her sophomore year. Her t ime overseas was empowering: “I went not knowing anyone and was able to meet people and reach out, gaining confidence in myself and my ability to trust my own choices and follow what it is I wanted to do.” When she returned to Gainesville, she felt ready “to connect with people and become immersed in the community.” In a second stint with Florida Alternative Breaks, she s erved as a site leader in Belize. There, she led a team of s tudents on water conservation projects, installing solar water heating and constructing greywater systems, which allow wat er from the kitchen to be reused in the garden. When s he wanted to learn more about sustainable agriculture, she spent the summer working on Green Fire Farm, which she located through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic

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nnrnnnnn nnnnnnnn n nFarms, an organization that matches volunteers with farms and gardens all over the world. Gates knew that she wanted to attend graduate schoo l, so she applied to the University Scholars Program to l earn how to conduct rigorous research. Inspired by her experiences with agriculture and courses she had ta ken on international trade and global economies, Gates hop ed to study “agricultural trade policy on an internationa l scale … specifically the coffee trade and its impact on cof fee growers in South America” and connected with Eric K eys, an assistant professor in the Geography Department. Keys told her that her topic was too big to tackle: she had only a year and limited funding to carry out the research. Performing “rigorous qualitative research meant I w ould have to be in that [foreign] location,” Gates remem bers. Summer was approaching, and Gates didn’t have time to perform the initial research and organize a trip. S he was disappointed, but undaunted. Taking Keys’ advice to heart, Gates began speaking to area organizations about issues of food access and security. When she met with Melissa DeSa from Florida Organic Growers (FOG), a local not-for-profit organization that promotes organic and sustainable agriculture, she h eard about a “USDA-funded project that investigated opportunities for improving the local food system, with a focus on ensuring food security for low-income resi dents.” She began working as a FOG intern a few days later. Working with FOG helped her clarify her research fo cus and taught her valuable interpersonal skills that complemented her growing research abilities. By “conducting focus group discussions and facilitatin g public meetings,” she learned how to “make people feel wel come, encourage and stimulate conversation, and build rap port and trust, especially when there’s a racial, social or economic divide.” Even before Gates began her research, she knew that East Gainesville had few healthy food options. “Onc e you cross Main Street,” she says, “you enter a food des ert—an abundance of convenience stores and shortage of not just grocery retailers but any outlet that sells afforda ble, fresh food.” The food that was available often cost more than food at grocery stores on the other side of town, h er research also revealed. An item like bananas, she o bserved, saw a mark-up of almost 300%. Gates concluded that East Gainesville is characterized by “food injustice”—inequitable access, both in terms of cost and avail ability, to fresh food. Through FOG, Gates was able to assist w ith the development of community-based recommendations for remedying this food inequality. Some of the suggest ions— for example, allowing Electronic Benefit Transfers (food stamps) to be used at farmer’s markets—have already been implemented. After graduating in May 2010, Gates began a graduat e program in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University. She enjoyed her classes but was disappo inted when she discovered that community development and resource allocation, and especially food access, wa s only a small part of urban planning. Further, she worried that she would have few opportunities to work with the publi c. Her research experience as an undergrad had prepared he r well for the challenges of graduate school, but it had a lso showed her that she thrived on social research and was “commit[ted] to remaining immersed in issues of foo d policy and urban agriculture.” Though she left the program, she doesn’t regret her time there: “I had to commit myself to the program to learn that I didn’t want to be a part of it. I need to go and experience something before… I can k now that it’s right.” She returned to Green Fire Farm t o figure out her next step. Gates anticipates that she will return to graduate school to continue performing research that will “create community-based, social change.” In the meantime, s he hopes to join a project that provides farming or ga rdening opportunities to at-risk populations: urban youth “ growing food as a means of self-empowerment and entrepreneurship” or prisoners engaging in horticul tural therapy as a way to “prepare them for the world bey ond the prison cell.” Gates continues to be committed to pr omoting food justice as a way to improve people’s lives and health, a topic she discovered as a University Scholar, tha t continues, she says, “to be close to [her] heart.” —Ariel Gunn Photo of farm by bee721, flickr


Featured Scholar: Carlye Gates
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Title: Featured Scholar: Carlye Gates
Series Title: Journal of Undergraduate Research
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Gunn, Ariel
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011
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Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UF00091523:00593

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Carlye Gates, Featured Scholar

Journal of Undergraduate Research


"Everyone deserves affordable access to good, fresh
food," says Carlye Gates, who is currently working at
Green Fire Farms, an eight-acre organic, market farm in
Hoopa, CA. There, she spends her days tending to seeds in
the greenhouse; transplanting seedlings to the ground; and,
once they're mature, harvesting the crops: a medley of
fresh produce, including onions, kale, beets, blackberries,
and parsley. In exchange, she receives room and board-
hearty, wholesome meals made of the crops they've
grown-and, more importantly, the opportunity to create[]
a more just, sustainable local food system" that makes
fresh food "accessible and available to the community."
Involved in community service work even before
college, at UF Gates choose sociology as her major to
better understand how social phenomena impact
individuals as well as how to create positive social change.
Outside of class, she searched for opportunities to make a
significant contribution to a cause she felt passionate about.
She volunteered with Campus Kitchens, a student
organization that collects and distributes donated food to
those in need, and travelled to Washington, DC to raise
awareness about immigration issues as part of Florida
Alternative Breaks. Sometimes she also volunteered with


Edible Plant Project and Friends of the Organic Blueberry
Farm, planting fruits and vegetables and pruning blueberry
bushes during their monthly volunteer workdays.
In spite of her community service, Gates felt isolated: "I
lacked confidence to go out into the community and feel as
though I could truly contribute and connect with people.
Without that I felt alone on such a large campus." Gates
decided to join UF's study abroad program, spending a
semester in Prague during her sophomore year. Her time
overseas was empowering: "I went not knowing anyone
and was able to meet people and reach out, gaining
confidence in myself and my ability to trust my own
choices and follow what it is I wanted to do." When she
returned to Gainesville, she felt ready "to connect with
people and become immersed in the community." In a
second stint with Florida Alternative Breaks, she served as
a site leader in Belize. There, she led a team of students on
water conservation projects, installing solar water heating
and constructing greywater systems, which allow water
from the kitchen to be reused in the garden. When she
wanted to learn more about sustainable agriculture, she
spent the summer working on Green Fire Farm, which she
located through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 12, Issue 2 1 Spring 2011
1






Farms, an organization that matches volunteers with farms
and gardens all over the world.
Gates knew that she wanted to attend graduate school, so
she applied to the University Scholars Program to learn
how to conduct rigorous research. Inspired by her
experiences with agriculture and courses she had taken on
international trade and global economies, Gates hoped to
study "agricultural trade policy on an international scale ...
specifically the coffee trade and its impact on coffee
growers in South America" and connected with Eric Keys,
an assistant professor in the Geography Department. Keys
told her that her topic was too big to tackle: she had only a
year and limited funding to carry out the research.
Performing "rigorous qualitative research meant I would
have to be in that [foreign] location," Gates remembers.
Summer was approaching, and Gates didn't have time to
perform the initial research and organize a trip. She was
disappointed, but undaunted.
Taking Keys' advice to heart, Gates began speaking to
area organizations about issues of food access and security.
When she met with Melissa DeSa from Florida Organic
Growers (FOG), a local not-for-profit organization that
promotes organic and sustainable agriculture, she heard
about a "USDA-funded project that investigated
opportunities for improving the local food system, with a
focus on ensuring food security for low-income residents."
She began working as a FOG intern a few days later.
Working with FOG helped her clarify her research focus
and taught her valuable interpersonal skills that
complemented her growing research abilities. By
"conducting focus group discussions and facilitating public
meetings," she learned how to "make people feel welcome,
encourage and stimulate conversation, and build rapport
and trust, especially when there's a racial, social, or
economic divide."
Even before Gates began her research, she knew that
East Gainesville had few healthy food options. "Once you
cross Main Street," she says, "you enter a food desert-an
abundance of convenience stores and shortage of not just
grocery retailers but any outlet that sells affordable, fresh
food." The food that was available often cost more than
food at grocery stores on the other side of town, her
research also revealed. An item like bananas, she observed,
saw a mark-up of almost 300%. Gates concluded that East


Gainesville is characterized by "food injustice"-
inequitable access, both in terms of cost and availability, to
fresh food. Through FOG, Gates was able to assist with the
development of community-based recommendations for
remedying this food inequality. Some of the suggestions-
for example, allowing Electronic Benefit Transfers (food
stamps) to be used at farmer's markets-have already been
implemented.
After graduating in May 2010, Gates began a graduate
program in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State
University. She enjoyed her classes but was disappointed
when she discovered that community development and
resource allocation, and especially food access, was only a
small part of urban planning. Further, she worried that she
would have few opportunities to work with the public. Her
research experience as an undergrad had prepared her well
for the challenges of graduate school, but it had also
showed her that she thrived on social research and was
committede] to remaining immersed in issues of food
policy and urban agriculture." Though she left the program,
she doesn't regret her time there: "I had to commit myself
to the program to learn that I didn't want to be a part of it. I
need to go and experience something before... I can know
that it's right." She returned to Green Fire Farm to figure
out her next step.
Gates anticipates that she will return to graduate school
to continue performing research that will "create
community-based, social change." In the meantime, she
hopes to join a project that provides farming or gardening
opportunities to at-risk populations: urban youth "growing
food as a means of self-empowerment and
entrepreneurship" or prisoners engaging in horticultural
therapy as a way to "prepare them for the world beyond the
prison cell." Gates continues to be committed to promoting
food justice as a way to improve people's lives and health,
a topic she discovered as a University Scholar, that
continues, she says, "to be close to [her] heart."

-Ariel Gunn

Photo of farm by bee721, flickr


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 12, Issue 2 I Spring 2011
2




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