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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Davina van Buren

Why Fixing Food Deserts is About More Than Building Grocery Stores

March 8, 2016 |
Corner store at The Growhaus in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. Image courtesy of The Growhaus

Corner store at The Growhaus in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood.
Image courtesy of The Growhaus

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has defined food deserts as parts of the country where it ‘s hard to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and other whole foods. To be considered a food desert, at least 500 people or 33 percent of an area’s population must live further than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store. That distance increases to 10 miles when defining a rural food desert. Food deserts are often located in impoverished and in areas with higher concentrations of minorities; though this is not always true.

That’s the textbook definition—but to fully understand where food deserts come from, it’s imperative to examine some of America’s not-so-shining moments. Among them: redlining, a practice used throughout the 20th century (that still occurs today) to limit or deny financial services to residents of minority and poor white neighborhoods; and “white flight,” the term used to describe the departure of whites from urban areas with increasing numbers of minorities. Read More

6 Simple Ways To Support Local Food And Farmers

March 7, 2016 |
Kevin Prather, Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farmer, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Kevin Prather of Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farm, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Whether you are new to the local food scene, or you’ve been buying from your neighborhood farmers market for years, you’re making a big difference in the lives of small farmers and food distributors. But the food system is complicated. It’s not always clear how to spend your resources—whether to invest time or money—to best support your local food system.

So we’ve compiled six tips to make it even easier for you to support local food producers. Read More

Organic Farming Research Foundation Releases Grantmaking Review

February 29, 2016 |

organicfarmlogoIn November, the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) released a review of research and education projects it funded between 2006 and 2014. An update to their 2006 report, “Investing in Organic Knowledge,” the report offers detailed insights into the most recent period of the organization’s grantmaking.

OFRF has four main areas of focus: policy, education, grantmaking and community. During the 2006-2014 period, OFRF issued a total of $1,452,517 in grants, each averaging around $14,000. Read More

Former Pro Golfer Leaves Links to Pursue Promise of Greener Urban Farming Pastures

February 25, 2016 |

mike-lott-urban-food-works-green-wall-urban-farmMike Lott is not your run of the mill farmer. Not long ago, before making the decision to embark on a career in farming and launch his aquaponic and urban agriculture venture, Urban Food Works in Murrieta, CA, Lott was a professional golfer.

He grew up not on a farm, but in a typical southern California home. As a kid, he didn’t awake early in the morning to milk and feed cows, harvest crops, or turn the soil. Instead, he honed his golf game in anticipation of one day playing professionally. After high school Lott headed to the College of the Desert in Palm Desert not only because of its well-known golf program, but also to study Environmental Science. It was there that the seeds of Lott’s interest in and current passion for urban farming and the environment were sown. Read More

Can Cities Feed Themselves? A Look at Urban Farming in 5 Major American Urban Centers

February 24, 2016 |
Food Field is a for profit 4-acre urban farm based in Detroit that was founded in 2010 by Noah Link and Alex Bryan. Photo Credit: Food Field.

Food Field is a for profit 4-acre urban farm based in Detroit that was founded in 2010 by Noah Link and Alex Bryan. Photo Credit: Food Field.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that urban agriculture—the practice of cultivating and distributing food in population-dense areas—is all the rage. 

As Americans learn more about our food system and how it affects our health and the environment, many city-dwellers are looking for alternatives to pesticide-laden fruit and vegetables, GMOs and CAFOs.

In response, many farmers have turned to cultivating in cities to meet the demand for locally grown crops. And ordinary citizens are taking it upon themselves to learn how to grow their own food. Read More