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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Jocelyn Kerr

‘Resources are the Real Money’ at Last Organic Outpost Urban Farm

June 25, 2018 |
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The Last Organic Outpost is a nonprofit farm and social entrepreneurship incubator, based in Houston’s 5th Ward. Photo courtesy of Last Organic Outpost.

Joe Icet has a message for humanity: the world is in sad shape, and we’re here to lift it up through sustainable agriculture. His friends have even dubbed him a “land evangelist” because of his passion in talking to students and community members about the power of positive land stewardship.

“This is the ‘Disneyland of Sustainability’, haven’t you heard?” he asks as he guides visitors around a slightly hidden farming campus in Houston’s Fifth Ward residential neighborhood.

This retired union pipe fitter has made sustainable and organic farming his life’s mission. He founded The Last Organic Outpost, a nonprofit farm and social entrepreneurship incubator, in 2004. Since then, he has built up a thriving community education program and urban farm on less than two acres of land. Read More

Building Soil from Scratch, Two Brothers Embark on Urban Farming Odyssey

June 19, 2018 |
Finca Tres Roble / Small Places urban farm in Houston is situated on a 1.25 acre lot on the city’s East Side. The for profit urban farming venture grows organic herbs, fruits and vegetables to be sold to individuals and restaurants directly from the farm and area farmers markets. Photo courtesy of Small Places LLC.

Finca Tres Roble / Small Places urban farm in Houston is situated on a 1.25 acre lot on the city’s East Side. The for profit urban farming venture grows organic herbs, fruits and vegetables to be sold to individuals and restaurants directly from the farm and area farmers markets. Photo courtesy of Small Places LLC.

The 2008 Farm Bill opened the door for new farmers and ranchers by allocating $75 million annually to launch the USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. New farmers jumped into the program to start small, limited resource farms and ranches, and Congress increased funding to $100 million annually in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The 2014 bill also established a USDA microloan program to lend up to $50,000 to small farmers who may not qualify for traditional commercial loans.

Brothers Thomas and Daniel Garcia-Prats know a little something about starting a new farm from scratch. They founded Finca Tres Robles/Small Places, LLC, a small urban farm in east Houston, in 2014. The farm sits on an acre of land surrounded by industrial buildings and low income residential housing. Read More

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

May 30, 2018 |
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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

South Carolina Teen Grows National Garden Organization to Feed Families in Need

October 13, 2016 |
Katie Stagliano is the founder of Katie's Krops, a nonprofit that . Photo courtesy of Katie's Krops.

Katie Stagliano is the founder of Katie’s Krops, a nonprofit that has helped kids across the country jumpstart 100 gardens in 33 states to help feed families in need. Photo courtesy of Katie’s Krops.

Katie Stagliano’s first cabbage fed more than 275 people. As an ambitious third grader in 2008, she nurtured a cabbage seedling in her backyard until it weighed about 40 pounds. Unsure what to do with her harvest, she approached the soup kitchen at Tri County Family Ministries in North Charleston, South Carolina. They turned her cabbage into soup, and Stagliano saw an opportunity to help feed families in need through gardening.

To grow food for those in need, Katie and her family started Katie’s Krops, a nonprofit that helps kids across the country start their own gardens. Since its founding, Katie’s Krops has helped jumpstart 100 gardens in 33 states.

Now, at 17 years old and getting ready for college, Stagliano is the youngest member of the Clinton Global Initiative and this June was recognized as a University of California Global Food Initiative “30 Under 30” recipient, an award given to young people who are addressing problems in the food system in creative ways. Read More

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

October 5, 2016 |
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