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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Farm to School Success in Hawaii

November 16, 2017 |

News Release – It takes the right amount of water and sunlight for seeds to grow into a thriving garden. So too, it takes the right mix of factors to integrate local foods into communities. Some of these factors include committed stakeholders, planning, collaboration, and financial resources.

Hawaii offers two successful examples of how federal funds can seed local agencies in the cultivation of their community food system goals. Kona Pacific Public Charter School & Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School (Kona Pacific) and The Kohala Center, Inc. (TKC) collaborate to advance their shared goals of improving student and community health, the regional agricultural economy, ecological understanding and a connection to native Hawaiian culture. Read More

USDA Aims to Improve Food and Nutrition Education for Low-Income Communities

November 8, 2017 |

News Release – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced support to develop local and self-reliant food systems, such as farm to table enterprises that bring nutritious food to low-income communities. This funding is available through NIFA’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“This program reaches into neighborhoods across America to improve access to food and nutrition education, assist community outreach, and empower local farms,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These NIFA investments help communities develop field to fork food systems that provide long-term community solutions.” Read More

Could This One Simple Idea be the Key to Solving Farmer-Environmentalist Conflicts

October 23, 2017 |

This article was originally published on Ensia.com

A rural community finds that for groundwater pollution, understanding each other’s constraints can make all the difference.

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Imagine waking up one day and learning that your community’s water supply is contaminated by a pollutant in concentrations deemed unsafe by officials. That’s what happened to the citizens of Perham, Minnesota, in the 1990s, when workers discovered that the level of nitrates — a pollutant that can cause serious illness or death in infants — in city well water was so high that they needed to dilute it with water sourced from uncontaminated wells to meet public health standards. The likely culprit was the use by local farmers of nitrogen fertilizer, which, if applied in quantities greater than what crops use, can end up contaminating groundwater. The finding set the stage for a potential standoff between farmers focused on growing crops and environmentalists focused on keeping water clean. Read More

A Masterplan Community in Gilbert, AZ Embraces Its Farmland Roots

October 13, 2017 |

In 1960, Jim and Virginia Johnston bought an alfalfa hay farm in Gilbert, Arizona and built a home on it to raise their three sons. As Jim approached retirement in the 1990s, he and his family realized that the farmland on which their house sat would likely be sold to developers.

A visionary solution from one of their sons led to an agreement to preserve a portion of the agricultural land while at the same time creating a partnership with a developer to build new homes on the property. The result was the creation of Agritopia, a 160 acre masterplan community of 452 single-family homes that surround an 11-acre USDA certified organic farm. In 2015, the family formed the Johnston Family Foundation for Urban Agriculture, to oversee the 11 acre organic farm in perpetuity. Read More