Poly Names Director for Organic Role

Written by Estero Bay News

February 10, 2022

Matthew Grieshop, associate professor of organic pest management and director of the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems academic program at Michigan State University, has been named director of Cal Poly’s new Center for Organic Production and Research. Grieshop will begin in January 2022.

“I am thrilled to welcome Matthew Grieshop to the team as we prepare to launch a unique learning model that will enable research and innovation across disciplines, focusing on real-world issues that directly impact the state’s multibillion dollar organic industry,” said Andrew Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. 

The Center for Organic Production and Research will integrate some of the greatest talents in academia, private industry, government and a wide range of disciplines to benefit the organic industry, Poly officials said.

While at Michigan State University, Grieshop also served as its organic pest management specialist, leading a multitude of research activities, and teaching classes focused on providing economically viable pest management knowledge, training and tactics for organic farming systems designed through a better understanding of agroecosystem dynamics, pest natural history, and behavior. 

In November 2020 the Grimm Family, former owners of Grimmway Farms, the global leader in organic produce and the world’s largest producer of carrots, donated $5 million to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences — paving the way for the launch of the Center for Organic Production and Research on campus. 

The organic industry is one of the fastest growing agricultural segments in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This emphasis on organic production and research is of particular importance in California, which accounts for 40% of all organic production in the nation.

The center represents a unique partnership between Cal Poly and private industry designed to expand Cal Poly’s emphasis on applied research in organic production and soil health by providing a unique, collaborative platform for academia, industry and government from across California and beyond to join forces in advancing the organic agriculture industry.

Grieshop will oversee the development and leadership of this new interdisciplinary, public-private partnership, focusing on applied research to solve major issues in organic agricultural production, particularly regarding soil health and plant nutrition, weed management and pest management. He will ensure that the center leads in collaborative and transdisciplinary research to enhance the sustainability and competitiveness of organic agriculture in California, and he will manage an internship program to provide students with direct experience in organic agriculture practices. 

The Center for Organic Production and Research will serve as a hub for students to work with experts from across the industry to develop solutions to the most pressing issues related to organic production and agriculture. Research of soil structure and biodiversity, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, water quality, composting and organic matter and technology innovation will be at the forefront of the Center for Organic Production and Research.

Grieshop earned a doctorate in entomology from Kansas State University, a master’s degree in entomology from Montana State University, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz.

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