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LA Green Grounds Digs in to Build Urban Farms and Strengthen Community

November 22, 2018 |
L.A. Green Grounds "Dig-in". Photo courtesy of L.A. Green Grounds.

LA Green Grounds “Dig-in” in South Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of LA Green Grounds.

In Los Angeles, CA, community members involved in the urban farming and food justice movements are keenly aware of the food insecurity that is so prevalent in its South Los Angeles neighborhoods. It was this insufficient access to healthy, nutritious food that spurred Florence Nishida to co-found LA Green Grounds, a volunteer organization that works with residents of South L.A. to convert their front lawns and parkways into edible landscapes and urban farms.

“If you have a garden in the front yard it leads to conversation, and that’s the most important thing,” says Nishida. “The minute you start growing squash, tomatoes, or something people have never seen before, they start asking questions, and that starts the conversation. Those conversations lead to a sense of community.”

Making vegetables a visible part of the community is what has guided LA Green Grounds ever since its founding in 2010. Read More

In Urban Gardens Without Borders, Project Sweetie Pie Plants Seeds for Food Justice and Freedom

November 16, 2018 |
Micheal Chaney founder of Project Sweetie Pie Filling compost bin

Michael Chaney, founder of Project Sweetie Pie, an urban farming movement based in Northern Minnesota to seed healthy changes in the community. Photo Credit: Karl Hakanson.

“North Minneapolis is going green
Give us a call and learn what we mean
Where once lay urban blight
Now sits luscious garden sites
Gardens without borders
Classrooms without walls
Architects of our own destinies
Access to food justice for all.” 

    – Michael Chaney, Project Sweetie Pie

In a collaborative effort to revitalize the economy and the community of North Minneapolis, Project Sweetie Pie, an urban farming movement working to seed healthy changes in the community, has as one of its principal goals the mentorship of 500 local youth in growing food, obtaining practical sales and marketing skills, and becoming leaders. Launched in 2010 Project Sweetie Pie has made great strides towards this goal by aligning dozens of community partners with hundreds of urban youth to implement community garden and farm stand initiatives, which together have resulted in a framework for a more self-sufficient and self-aware urban community. Read More

Houston Urban Ag Organization Helps Make Living Wage a Reality for Refugee Farmers

September 25, 2018 |
plant-it-forward-urban-farms-houston

Plant It Forward Farms is a Houston nonprofit founded in 2012 that helps refugees build sustainable urban farms. Photo courtesy of Plant It Forward Farms.

Teresa O’Donnell built her 2015 TEDx talk around a simple question, “Can an urban farmer earn a living wage?” O’Donnell is executive director of Plant It Forward Farms, a Houston nonprofit founded in 2012 that helps refugees build sustainable urban farms.

“What we mostly do at this point is try to establish markets so they can make a living,” O’Donnell said. “There’s a lot of vacant land in Houston. We partner with schools, civic organizations and churches. Churches and schools ask us [to partner] all the time.”

The idea for Plant It Forward came while O’Donnell was looking for ways for her software company to give back to the community. She became interested in the plight of refugees and helping them build businesses after reading about how actress Tippi Hedren had helped Vietnamese refugees gain the business skills necessary to open nail shops in Southern California. Read More

Farming Formerly Vacant Lots, Urban Ag Program Grows New Farmers and Fresh Produce for Food Deserts

September 6, 2018 |
The West Sacramento Urban Farming Program aims

The West Sacramento Urban Farm Program leases city, school district, private and commercially-owned land for five years in the area’s food desert. Photo courtesy of West Sacramento Urban Farming Program.

An urban farming project in West Sacramento, California, aims to fill the area’s food deserts with fresh produce and create new farmers in the process.

Founded in 2014, the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program is an initiative of the agricultural education nonprofit Center for Land-Based Learning, headquartered in Winters, California. The program converts vacant lots in urban West Sacramento neighborhoods to increase food access, and support production of fresh fruits and vegetables.

“We’re growing about 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of produce a month, so it’s definitely a significant amount of produce that all stays within West Sacramento for the most part,” program founder Sara Bernal says. Read More

Rising Land Prices Push Urban Farmer to Develop Creative Solutions to Increase Food and Land Access

September 4, 2018 |

Against a backdrop of rising land prices, traditional farmers in Utah struggle to survive. However, a mix of resourcefulness and necessity is driving farmers to develop creative solutions in urban environs. Salt Lake City-based Green Urban Lunch Box (GULB) is one such endeavor that is utilizing innovative growing models to ensure urban farming fills the gap traditional farming cannot afford to maintain.

“We don’t want to do what other people are doing. If we cannot do it significantly better and significantly cheaper than another nonprofit is doing it then we shouldn’t do it, because we are just going to be competing with them for funds,” says founder Shawn Peterson.

A fifth generation Utah farmer and an experienced business entrepreneur, Peterson founded the Green Urban Lunch Box six years ago in the heart of Salt Lake City after watching the movie, Truck Farm (from the maker of King Corn) on using farm trucks in the urban setting. Read More