From Supermarket Rooftops to a Storied Ball Park, an Urban Farming Co. Increases Access to Local FoodSeptember 12, 2017 | Charli Engelhorn
Since its inception in 2008, Green City Growers (GCG), a Certified B Corporation that installs and maintains vegetable gardens and farms within the greater Boston area, has assisted in the production of more than 175,000 pounds of organic produce, donated more than 12,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables, and engaged more than 7,500 people through their efforts.
“The mission is to grow food in unused spaces and provide people access to fresh produce,” says Jessie Banhazl, CEO and co-founder of GCG. “Having that mission as the core of our trajectory has led us into so many different spaces, which has been really fun and interesting and made us realize that there are so many possibilities for this kind of work.”
For Profit Hydroponic Farm in Chicago Seeks to Increase Employment Opportunities in Underserved CommunitySeptember 7, 2017 | Charli Engelhorn
“Education is the most important thing,” says Darius Jones, general manager, vice president, and part of owner of Garfield Produce, an urban hydroponic farm located in Garfield Park, a west-side community in Chicago. “We’re trying to create an environment that inspires people to grow and feel valued.”
Since its inception in 2013, Garfield Produce has been working to improve economic growth and employment opportunities for Garfield Park community members. The for-profit business was born from a collaboration between a successful retired couple, Mark and Judy Thomas, and an engineering major from DePaul University, Steve Lu.
Through missionary work with the Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Mark and Judy saw that their misconceptions about poverty—that it is the result of laziness and not taking advantage of the same opportunities afforded to others—were inaccurate, according to Jones. What the Thomas’ discovered was that people did want to work, but there were no opportunities available and a number of systemic obstacles in place that hindered people’s ability to work.
The collision of technology and agriculture might be just what the world needs to respond to an impending food crisis if global food production does not double by 2050, according to Robert Tse, State Broadband Coordinator and Chief Strategy Officer for Agriculture Technology and Innovation for USDA CA Rural Development.
According to Tse, the world’s population will grow by approximately 2 billion people by the half-century mark, and the current rate of increase in food production globally is less than half of what is needed every year to account for it.
“The application or development of technology applied to agriculture is critical,” says Tse. “There are only two ways to increase food production: increase acreage or increase yield. There is no more exploitable land for farming around the world, so one of the ways we’re going to reach the percentage increase we need is through ag technology that enables us to increase production across the board and reduce waste.”
The Growing Club / Sarvodaya Farms and Seedstock are offering an intimate 3-day Regenerative Urban Farming Intensive workshop in Southern California for professionals on October 20, 21, 22 (Fri-Sun). Only 10 spots are available for the workshop, which is aimed at urban farming professionals who are working towards starting a commercial urban farm as a private for-profit or non-profit business.
The goal of the workshop will be to provide a base of relevant knowledge, basic skills, and local resources to start and operate a regenerative soil-based small-scale or urban farm. Workshop will include both hands-on and lecture portions on the Sarvodaya Farms property where attendees will be able to see, experience, and participate in a working regenerative urban farm.