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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Report: Driven by Growth in Local Food Markets, Food Hubs Thrive

June 27, 2016 |
Food hubs are hubbubs of activity, with containers of produce arriving and departing constantly. Photo courtesy of Rich Pirog/MSU Center for Regional Food Systems)

Food hubs are hubbubs of activity, with containers of produce arriving and departing constantly.
Photo courtesy of Rich Pirog/MSU Center for Regional Food Systems)

Food hubs are financially viable forces for good in their communities providing locally grown to institutions, wholesale buyers, grocery stores, restaurants and other retail outlets. They also offer much needed infrastructure, aggregation, and marketing to enable small and mid-sized farms to achieve and maintain economic sustainability.

These conclusions were among the results of the 2015 National Food Hub Survey of more than 150 food hubs across the U.S. The report was released on May 12 by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. Seedstock recently spoke with the center’s director, Rich Pirog, to learn more about the report’s findings and the future of food hubs. Read More

Seedstock Announces CDFA Secretary Karen Ross as Keynote for November ‘Future of Urban Food Systems Conference’

June 23, 2016 |
California Dept. of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross will Keynote 'Future of Urban Food Systems Conference' on November 10-11, 2016 at Cal State Fullerton. Photo courtesy of CDFA.

California Dept. of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross will Keynote ‘Future of Urban Food Systems Conference’ on November 10-11, 2016 at Cal State Fullerton. Photo courtesy of CDFA.

News Release – Organizers of the email hidden; JavaScript is required today announced Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, as the opening keynote speaker for the two-day event.

Presented by Seedstock in partnership with the Orange County Food Access Coalition, the conference is scheduled for November 10-11 at California State University, Fullerton, and is designed to foster the growth of a sustainable local food and agriculture system that benefits the community, environment and economy within Orange County and serve as a template for communities across the country. Read More

Grow. Eat. Repeat. Startup Sees Cash in Compost

June 23, 2016 |
Grow.Eat.RepeatCompostCollectionBucket

A Grow.Eat.Repeat compost collection bucket demonstrates which materials customers should include and exclude. The Savannah, GA company processes up to 20 tons of food scraps per month. Photo courtesy of Grow.Eat.Repeat Instagram feed.

Growing up in the corn and soy fields of rural Indiana, Andy Schwartz has seen first-hand what large-scale farming can do to soil quality. But it wasn’t until he managed farms of his own and made his own compost that Schwartz realized the role large-scale composting could play in keeping the quality of soil high and protecting the environment.

“When I made enough compost for myself and the food waste kept coming in I realized that I had to come up with a plan,” he says. “The plan was and is to keep valuable organic materials out of the landfill and use them to create a healthy growing medium for plants. Heirloom tomatoes and peppers from my garden are a much better outcome for food waste than producing methane gases and harmful leachates in a landfill.”

Determined to “feed the food that feeds you,” Schwartz studied successful composting projects around the country and launched  Grow.Eat.Repeat,  a compost pick-up company in Savannah, Georgia. With more than 300 restaurants, 100 hotels, and 50-plus schools in the city, Schwartz had no trouble identifying his primary market. Read More

Southern California School District Takes Students Out of Classroom and Into ‘Farm Lab’

June 22, 2016 |
Organically grown lettuce heads being raised at Farm Lab for school lunch in the Encinitas Union School District

Organically grown lettuce heads being raised at Farm Lab for school lunch in the Encinitas Union School District. Photo courtesy of Farm Lab Director Mim Michelove

A public school district in Southern California is enhancing its curriculum with an interactive learning center known as “Farm Lab.”

The Encinitas Union School District is rolling out the mixed-use educational space on a donated 10-acre plot of land in the prominent horticultural hub of Encinitas, California. Central to the plan is a roughly five acre educational garden that will produce fresh organic produce for the district’s school lunch program. The lunch garden will eventually be complemented by a nutrition lab, a science lab, a maker’s lab for visiting students, an educational space for local organizations, a one acre community garden, and a one acre hands-on educational garden. The site is also bordered by a food forest that will be used to grow other organic produce for the community.

Farm Lab has been in the “pilot phase” since the end of the 2014-2015 school year and has so far leveraged its space as a tool for offering hands-on lessons and experiential learning to students at all nine elementary schools in EUSD. Farm Lab Director Mim Michelove says Farm Lab is using a “D.R.E.A.M.S.” approach to education that focuses lessons on Design, Research, Engineering, Arts, Math, and Science. The hope is that students can spend an entire day in a centralized location and experience a variety of educational activities that require more time than typical classroom lessons. Read More

Tufts University, Online Graduate Certificate Program in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

June 22, 2016 |
“The experiences that the students brought to the course was really wonderful," said Tim Griffin, Associate Professor. "They were all interested in a more sustainable food system, but had many perspectives on how that can happen.”

“The experiences that the students brought to the course was really wonderful,” said Tim Griffin, Associate Professor. “They were all interested in a more sustainable food system, but had many perspectives on how that can happen.”

Sponsored Story – The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is accepting applications to the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems online graduate certificate program.

Students in this 3-course program earn graduate credit while gaining a 360-degree perspective on the food system – from farms to supply chains to the consumer.  Courses include:

  • Sustainability on the Farm (fall semester)
  • Supply Chains and Food Markets (spring semester)
  • Sustainability and the Food Consumer (spring semester)

This program, in its third year, is ideal for professionals engaged in a variety of food-related businesses and organizations, as well as others interested in implementing sustainable practices for their organizations, partners, and communities. Read More

Women in Food: Forager Dina Falconi Talks Wildcrafting and Dancing with Land

June 21, 2016 |

Growing up in Manhattan, Dina Falconi foraged her food at the grocery store. But when she relocated to Marbletown, New York, in the foothills of the Catskills, she discovered a powerful fascination with food harvested from the earth, particularly from the wild.

“How amazing it was for me to discover that many of the ‘weeds’…surpass cultivated plants in nutrient content while also possessing additional therapeutic properties,” she writes in her book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook.

The crowdfunded book, illustrated by botanical artist Wendy Hollender, walks would-be wild cooks through the entire plant to plate process for 50 wild plant species. And yet, as delicious as these wild plants can be, Falconi maintains an approach that also emphasizes foraging’s less tangible rewards. Read More

To Bolster Local Food Market, Software Solution Streamlines Grower Seller Communications

June 20, 2016 |
Cole Jones, founder of Local Line. The company bills itself as "A commerce platform to build your brightest future in food." Photo courtesy of Local Line.

Cole Jones, founder of Local Line. The company bills itself as “A commerce platform to build your brightest future in food.” Photo courtesy of Local Line.

Growing produce isn’t a cakewalk—and selling greens? That’s not easy, either. That’s why Local Line wants to simplify communication between growers and sellers.

The idea for this streamlined company that bills itself as “a commerce platform to build your brightest future in food” was sparked in October 2013. That’s when Cole Jones met the company’s other co-founder, Cole McLay, at a pitch competition. McClay and Jones were both undergrads at the time—McLay was a fourth-year environmental studies student at the University of Waterloo, and Jones was a third year philosophy student at Wilfrid Laurier University. The original concept behind Local Line was to distribute local food from farmers to consumers, but the young, budding business partners soon changed their focus to supplying chefs.

In January 2014, Local Line was accepted to the Laurier Launchpad program. “The program taught us to talk to potential customers before trying to build or sell anything,” Jones says. Read More

Urban Ag Greening Offers Gateway to Stronger, Safer St. Louis

June 16, 2016 |
Gateway Greening St. Louis Urban Agriculture Organization

Gateway Greening’s mission is to educate and empower individuals to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture. Photo credit: Gateway Greening with permission from Jenna Davis.

Gateway Greening has been taking a holistic approach to urban agriculture, gardening, and education in St. Louis for more than three decades.

“Our mission is to educate and empower individuals to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture,” Gateway Greening’s Communications Manager Jenna Davis says.

While the group started out as a gardening club focused on ornamental, native, and perennial plants, Davis says it has since blossomed into a three-pronged catalyst for grassroots community building. Read More

New Orleans Chef Explores Heritage, Race Through “Blackness in America” Dinner Series

June 15, 2016 |
Chef Tunde Wey is using a traveling pop-up restaurant featuring cuisine from his native Nigeria to facilitate conversations on "Blackness in America."

Chef Tunde Wey is using a traveling pop-up restaurant featuring cuisine from his native Nigeria to facilitate conversations on “Blackness in America.”

Acclaimed Nigerian-born chef Tunde Wey is exploring issues of race and identity in America through a traveling dinner series called “Blackness in America” that features traditional Nigerian food and a rotating cast of featured guests. Following stops in New Orleans and Detroit, Seedstock caught up with Wey to discuss his background and what led him to create this unique culinary project that blurs the lines between food service, cultural study, and community forum.

Read More

Women in Food: Leanne Brown Pens Free Cookbook for 44 Million Food Stamp Recipients

June 14, 2016 |
Leanne Brown, author of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, a cookbook for the roughly 44 million Americans who receive SNAP benefits. Photo credit : Jordan Matter.

Leanne Brown, author of ‘Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day,’ a cookbook for the roughly 44 million Americans who receive SNAP benefits. Photo credit : Jordan Matter.

While it may have the eye-catching photography typical of most fancy cookbooks, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, is a cookbook for the roughly 44 million Americans, (according to current USDA data) who receive SNAP benefits.

The cookbook is the brainchild of Leanne Brown, who was working toward her master’s degree in Food Studies at New York University and decided that she didn’t want to write “[J]ust another paper that would just be of interest to academics, but something that could be more widely applied and that would be of use to a lot of the people that I was working with.” 

Having studied the issues faced by food stamp, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), recipients, Brown elected to write a cookbook for her master’s thesis intended for those whose food budget is dictated by their monthly $126 per person SNAP benefits. It features recipes that are healthy, flavorful and easier to prepare than the complicated and ingredient-heavy dishes usually found in books of this genre. Read More