Laurie Wayne. Photo submitted

Food systems advisor joins UC Cooperative Extension in Modoc County

Laurie Wayne recently joined the UC Cooperative Extension office in Modoc County. In this new position as nutrition and food systems advisor for Lassen, Modoc and Siskiyou counties, Wayne will work with community members to conduct research on healthy lifestyles, nutrition, food access and security, local food production, preservation and availability.

Wayne brings years of high-desert food systems experience to her role: she owned and operated Locavore Farms in Fort Bidwell, helped found the Surprise Valley Saturday Market and Modoc Harvest and was on the team that started the Modoc Harvest Food Hub. She also has worked supporting healthy communities for Oregon State University Extension in Klamath Falls and at the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance in Bend, Oregon.

Wayne attended UC Santa Cruz where she received her bachelor’s degree and earned her master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages at Portland State University in Oregon.  Part of the work to earn her graduate degree involved building school and community gardens with multigenerational immigrant and refugee families who were learning English as a second language.

This job feels like the culmination of the farming, studying, supporting farmers and working in food systems she has done in the past 15 years, Wayne said.

“I’m especially interested in working on expanding access to affordable, healthy, local food year-round, including extending and preserving the harvest,” Wayne said.

Her goal is to help everyone feel empowered to make healthy food choices, and she’s learning what resources producers need to improve processing, transportation and production strategies, and overcome barriers that our unique to the region.

To better understand both the food systems needs and the abundant food assets of northeastern California, she’ll be meeting with community members; state, local and regional nonprofits; schools and other organizations in the next few months. They will discuss ways to create more community food system resilience.

“It’s all about healthy community members who can eat good local food without breaking the bank, and producers who can make a living feeding them,” Wayne said.

Based in in Alturas, Wayne can be reached at lwayne@ucanr.edu and (530) 233-6400.