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In Our Spotlight

New name for the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Why the New Name?

Why Have We Added “Food and the Environment” To Our Name?

The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE)… It is a long name that implies significant goals and lots of impressive work...and it certainly is a lot of words to get your arms around. We have not changed what we are doing but the new name more accurately reflects the scope of our work: the name may be new, and there may a new look and a new website, but the commitment remains the same. We connect university resources, information and people with real-world needs.

Work at this busy Center includes research, outreach education from UMass Extension, and integrated research and outreach. The Center is also the home of 4-H and the Mass. Water Resources Research Center. CAFE is the place where the topics of agriculture, food and the environment meet at UMass Amherst, the state’s flagship public university.  And it is much more that its component parts.

CAFE has a unique role in combining and supporting the work of three academic functions: extension, research and outreach.  When one considers the significant research undertaken by faculty associated with CAFE, and begins to understand the strong connections back to the wider community, an appreciation for the breadth of this work becomes even clearer.

The spectrum of work within the Center is focused on issues as timely as climate change research, as multi-layered as learning how to prevent colon cancer by combinations of dietary components and as wide-ranging as topics concerning agriculture, commercial horticulture, forestry management and food science. The work that is accomplished is nearly all-embracing about issues that affect our daily lives.

The recent CAFE faculty and staff photograph taken on the iconic steps of the University’s Stockbridge Hall features over 50 employees out of 300 that work with and for the Center.  These people represent the following areas of commitment: Click on the links below to open a photo of each group to get a sense of how varied, yet integrated, our work has become.

The UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment has proud traditions of research, of extension education and now of integrated-research-and-outreach.  It was founded in 2001 (with the name “Center for Agriculture”). However, its component units are far older, notably the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station (1882), UMass Extension (founded 1914) and the Water Resources Research Center (founded 1965). 132 years after the founding of its first unit, the Center continues to evolve and grow, and the introduction of this new name, new look, and new website continues to reflect this proud history.

Dean Steve Goodwin of the College of Natural Sciences, the Center’s home base at UMass Amherst, remarked, “We’ve changed the Center’s name so that it better represents what we actually do and represents the web of linked areas that we work in. We focus on subjects from farming to environmental stewardship, human health, climate change, food science, water resources, green industry and youth development. It’s a significant list and this new name and logo help tell the story.”

Pat Vittum, Interim Director of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, observed that, “the Center is a comprehensive research and outreach center around issues important to our communities, farms, families and businesses. We want all who interact with us to understand the depth of our work and the breadth of our ability to be responsive to emerging issues in Massachusetts in service to our public good. We hope that our new name helps to accomplish that goal.”

Description of featured image at top:
2014: Faculty and staff of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) gather on the iconic steps of Stockbridge Hall. This group represents about one-sixth of those who work with and for CAFE.