Since its inception in 2002, the New Orleans Food and Farm Network (NOFFN) has been sponsoring growing projects and providing technical and financial support to local agriculture.
But their latest project, Food & Farm Works @ Edible Enterprises — a collaboration between them and St. Charles Parish — takes the New Orleans local food movement a step further by incubating small food producers through a commercial kitchen and business education program.
“This is the time to think about food security in a very practical way; how do you incubate projects that are self sustaining? How do we help people make a living doing it?” asks Sanjay Kharod, Executive Director of NOFFN. Kharod took over the nonprofit four years ago, bringing with him a strong background in food justice. In his previous position, he worked as a partnership developer in New York’s highly successful Just Food organization.
Pablo Alvarez and Craig Petten are Toronto natives with a combined 40 years of experience in the food industry. By starting a new aquaponic farm in their home city, the co-founders hope to both increase Toronto’s food stability and increase people’s connection with their food.
Alvarez and Petten first discovered aquaponics during their time at Humber College, where they majored in Sustainable Energy and Building Technology. After 20 years working in the hospitality industry in Toronto, the pair founded Aqua Greens. As Petten explains, their work in hospitality allowed them to see first hand the lack of connection between food and its source.
Jo Ann Baumgartner’s interest in wild farming—the practice of integrating agriculture with local ecosystems to support both high crop yields and a healthy, biodiverse environment— started when she and her husband worked their own organic farm.
Baumgartner “came from an understanding and love of wild nature,” and had always relished a chance vacation or outing that let her be in the outdoors. While farming, she began to see connections between the land she cultivated and the wild places she loved. While working on a book about California’s endangered species, she noticed that many creatures were rare precisely because of agriculture, which has replaced the natural habitat of many species with crops grown in monoculture.
Excerpt: Andrew Fansler who farms 4,500 acres of no till corn and soybeans in Shelby County was presented with the national Young Farmers Sustainability award Wednesday in Phoenix, AZ.
Growing food is a universal need. One nonprofit is leveraging that fact to create a path for immigrants and refugees to transition into a new life in America.
At Fresh Start Farms, a project of the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS), immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs participate in the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project (NASAP). The program has been in operation since 2008, and helps new arrivals to not only establish a food source for their family, but to begin a sustainable small business in their adopted community.
The Hilltop Alliance, a Pennsylvania nonprofit, is working on a project that could drastically advance urban agriculture in the state. The organization wants to turn a vacant 107-acre lot into Hilltop Village Farm, a multi-use development that would include 120 townhomes, a 20-acre urban farm incubator, a youth farm and CSA. If the plan is successful, the farm could be one of the largest urban farms in the country.
The Hilltop Alliance was formed in 2009 as a multi-neighborhood community development organization.
Riverside restaurateur Ronaldo Fierro believes in locally-produced food—it tastes good, it’s good for the economy, and it’s important for the health and vitality of Riverside, California, and its residents.
“Since the beginning, our goal was to use local produce,” he says. Fierro defines local as within a 30-mile radius of downtown Riverside.
Panther Ridge Farm is a four-year-old, first-generation family farm in the foothills of Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. Founded by farmer and community organizer Hop Hopkins and his wife, Adalila Zelada-Garcia, the farm is focused on sustainable organic (non-certified) agriculture.
A variety of items are grown and raised at Panther Ridge Farm, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, flowers, mushrooms, heritage fowl and bees. A prime aim at the farm is to help increase food sovereignty, especially for poor people and those impacted by degradation of the land.
A second objective is education, which is fulfilled through the farm’s Outdoor School, where children and families learn about agriculture and the wilderness through hands-on, experiential programs. Participants learn how the natural world connects and sustains all living things, and the link between nature and agriculture is emphasized.
Excerpt: How a former CIA executive and a new breed of lettuce are transforming the poorest parts of the Rust Belt city.
Excerpt: Selling unpasteurized milk across state lines is illegal because it poses a threat to public health. But raw milk sales are growing nonetheless. Legalization would let states regulate a risky market.
Wetailer, a startup founded last year by Amsterdam resident Chiel Muurling, introduced a pilot program in January that brings the sharing economy to local food production and consumption.
“For every new microbrewery opening up in your city, there are thousands of home brewers with dreams of selling their beers to you as well, whose dreams go unfulfilled,” says Muurling. “The same goes for home bakers, chutney makers or urban foragers. Food is hot, and people want to experience real foods, made by real people, near them.”