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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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On Land Once Occupied by a Tomato Cannery an Agrihood Rises to Grow New Farmers and Feed a Community

January 16, 2017 |

The Cannery, a farm-to-table housing development in Davis, California, is the first agrihood of its kind in California. With its own urban farm and small orchard, the unique housing development can offer its residents fresh, hyperlocal produce as well as pastured chickens and eggs.

The land for The Cannery, aptly named because it was once the site of a tomato cannery, was sold to The New Home Company by ConAgra. The City of Davis has a rule that if developmental land borders agricultural land, then a 300-foot buffer is required. In this case, the buffer was about seven acres in total. Instead of opting for a plain green space, though, the developers were attracted to the idea of creating a working farm on the land. Once the City of Davis accepted its proposal, the company turned to the Center for Land-Based Learning to plan, develop, and run the farm. It has taken over six years to get to the point where the farm is now operational. Read More

SoCal Urban Farming Org Increases Supply of Fresh Produce to Homeless Shelter by Healing Soil and Residents

January 11, 2017 |
GrowGood Urban Farm Bell California employee Shelter resident

Velva, an employee of GrowGood, a CA-based nonprofit that has been working with the Salvation Army since 2011 to develop a garden-based program for the residents of the Bell Shelter that uses healthy food and gardening as a catalyst for healing. (Photo courtesy of GrowGood. Photo credit: Amy Gordon.)

Prior to the establishment of the GrowGood urban farm on a lot across the way from the Salvation Army Bell Shelter located in Bell, CA, the shelter, which serves nearly 6,000 meals per week, incorporated very little fresh produce into its menu.

“They were spending cents per meal on fresh produce. Food was donated, so no one was going hungry; but the nutritional quality was often low,” says Brad Pregerson, co-founder of GrowGood, a CA-based nonprofit that has been working with the shelter since 2011 to develop a garden-based program to not only increase the supply of fresh produce to the shelter, but also to provide its residents with meaningful work and act as catalyst for healing.

The Salvation Army Bell Shelter, which opened in 1988, was established with help from Pregerson’s grandfather, Harry, a federal judge and veteran, who perceived the dire need to provide housing for the growing Read More

Innovative Neighborhood Farm Adjacent to Housing Complex Increases Food Access and Grows Community

January 9, 2017 |

“Beyond growing vegetables, beyond growing soil, we’re building community through agriculture,” says Dave Victor of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden. “That’s a big part of the mission, a big part of the vision for the farm. It’s all about providing healthy fresh local food for low income people.”

Dave Victor, after five years honing his growing skills with Garden City Harvest, became the manager of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm just last year and he couldn’t be happier with his new position.

“Just like any sustainable agriculture farmer the focus is on building soil,” says Victor. “I tell people that I’m a vegetable farmer but first and foremost it’s all about growing soil and building that soil ecology.” Read More

Weekly Stories of Food Systems Innovation from Around the Country

January 5, 2017 |

To Grow Community and Jobs of the Future, Suburbanite Launches Vertical Farming Enterprise in Detroit

BY TRISH POPOVITCH

After spending time with street children in Brazil as part of a missionary trip, Jeff Adams, founder of Detroit, … Read More

Coalition Fights Food Waste to End Hunger in Orange County, CA

January 4, 2017 |

When Santa Ana, California pediatrician and Orange County Public Health Officer Eric Handler ran into Mark Lowry of the Orange County Food Bank some years ago, he had two questions for him:

  1. Do you have enough food in your food bank?
  2. If we captured all food waste, could we end hunger in Orange County?

Lowry’s answer to the first question was no, and his answer to the second question was yes. This interaction led to the formation of the Waste Not OC Coalition in 2012.

With an overarching goal to eradicate hunger in Orange County, the Waste Not OC Coalition recovers food by connecting restaurants and grocery stores with food recovery agencies. It distributes that food by connecting people in need with food pantries. It also educates donors, recipients and the general public about the importance of food donation and how to safely handle donated food. Read More

To Grow Community and Jobs of the Future, Suburbanite Launches Vertical Farming Enterprise in Detroit

January 3, 2017 |

Inside the 7,000 square foot warehouse that houses urban vertical farming operation Artesian Farms. Using artificial light and seven 20 foot high vertical towers and racked trays, the farm produces around 75 pounds of lettuce and kale a week, and approximately 40 pounds of basil per week. Photo courtesy of Artesian Farms.

After spending time with street children in Brazil as part of a missionary trip, Jeff Adams, founder of Detroit, Michigan-based urban vertical farming enterprise Artesian Farms, felt compelled to change his community. “If we can go 7,000 miles to work with young people we won’t see again, what can we do in our own backyard?”

13 years ago Adams moved from the suburbs of Detroit to the urban neighborhood of Brightmoor—roughly four square miles on the outskirts of Detroit full of abandoned homes and derelict industrial buildings.

“My wife and I sold our house in the suburbs and moved to the Brightmoor neighborhood in the city of Detroit. What I noticed was in our community there was a lack of jobs for people who are 18 to 30 years old that had some limited skills and limited availability to transportation to get to a job,” says Adams. “I started looking for opportunities to employ people. I set up a business incubator and started looking around to see what we could do.” Read More

Urban Farming Org Transforms 9 Empty Greenhouses to Tackle Food Insecurity and Grow Meaningful Jobs

January 2, 2017 |

When Lynchburg, Virginia resident Paul Lam’s beloved garden was destroyed inadvertently in 2003, residents rallied around him to find a new space. With the help of community members, Lam, who is disabled, eventually found a seven-acre site with nine empty greenhouses on it that had been the home of a large rose supplier.

The farm site needed a bit of rehab, so a call was put out for volunteers. Hundreds showed up from local area schools and universities to help clean it up. From this community outpouring for Lam, Lynchburg Grows, a nonprofit urban farming organization whose dual mission is to increase access to healthy food in the community and provide meaningful jobs to individuals with disabilities, was born. Read More

The Impact of Citrus Greening in Florida

December 28, 2016 |

Citrus greening has wreaked havoc on the citrus business in Florida, a state long associated with its prolific orange production.

Citrus greening—also called Huanglongbing or yellow dragon disease—first hit Florida in 2005, says Lukasz Stelinski, PhD, associate professor of entomology and nematology, University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. However, the disease had previously affected crops in Brazil and Asia.

The Asian citrus psyllid—a bug that can fit on your fingertip—is the vector that spreads the bacteria causing citrus greening, Stelinski says. The sugars in affected trees cannot be transported effectively, and that leads to a decline in the plant’s health. Read More

Small Farmers: Saviors of the Modern Food System

December 27, 2016 |

This advertorial is brought to you by Bright Agrotech, Inc

Our food system is broken and only the small farmer can save us.

The first green revolution lowered food costs by increasing production efficiency, but did so at the cost of quality, freshness, and the connection between those who grow the food and those who eat it.

Over time, loss of quality and connection has disintegrated the trust between consumers and producers. While consumers moved into cities, our farms morphed into industrial food factories that exchanged stewardship and sustainability for yields.

Now people are calling for change. Read More

Armed with Data, City of Louisville Builds Thriving Local Food Economy

December 26, 2016 |

At the root of Louisville, Kentucky’s ongoing and successful local food system implementation, which has generated considerable community and economic capital, is data.

A principal objective of Mayor Greg Fischer’s Six-Year Strategic Plan outlined in 2012-2013 to create new jobs and stimulate the economic development, is to develop ways to promote the city’s local food economy. Toward this end, three studies were conducted by the Local Food Economy Work Group, made up of elected officials from six counties and two cities, to gauge the needs of farmers and consumers pertaining to demand for local foods.

One of the studies showed that of Louisville’s $2 billion in food purchases a year, only $300,000 was going toward local food, and consumers and commercial buyers wanted to at least double that amount if opportunities were available. Another study highlighted the desire of local farmers to reach larger markets. Read More