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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Marianne Peters

USDA Grant to Provide Access to Food and Agricultural Employment in Southeastern Ohio

May 7, 2014 |
Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County. Image courtesy of Tom Redfern.

Chesterhill Produce Auction in Morgan County. Image courtesy of Tom Redfern.

Rural Action  has been awarded a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to support the Southeast Ohio Food Hub Network, three food hubs that provide access to food, agricultural business training, and employment opportunities for people in Perry, Athens, and Morgan counties.

These counties, located roughly an hour from Columbus, Ohio, have all been classified by the Appalachian Regional Commission as “distressed,” according to Tom Redfern, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator with Rural Action. “Distressed” means many things, but in this part of Ohio, the classification means little access to healthy food, chronic illness and obesity, as well as few employment opportunities that provide a living wage. Read More

San Francisco Startup Reboots, Partners with Meat Producers to Bring Healthy Products Directly to Consumers

April 29, 2014 |
Image courtesy of AgLocal

Image courtesy of AgLocal

Naithan Jones started San Francisco-based AgLocal in 2011 with the idea to create a web application linking consumers directly to small-to-medium-sized farmers producing sustainably grown meat. After a brief detour selling meat mostly to chefs and distributors, Jones steered his company back to its original mission, direct-to-consumer sales, and re-launched the website last Wednesday, to achieve that end.

AgLocal “2.0” connects consumers with sustainably grown meats and educate them about the benefits of such products to their health, the animals, and the environment. The smartphone app will not be developed for a while, and the website launch is in a “first phase” for customers along the west coast and regions close by. Read More

Detroit Collaborative CSA Models Cooperation and Sustainability

April 14, 2014 |
Meg Marotte farm partner at Singing Tree Garden. Image courtesy of Singing Tree Garden.

Meg Marotte, farm partner at Singing Tree Garden. Image courtesy of Singing Tree Garden.

Local urban farmers in Detroit have recognized that the whole is often greater than its parts—and so they’ve combined forces to strengthen the local food scene and their own bottom lines.

Six Detroit farm businesses have combined to create City Commons, a cooperative in which members support the six farms with a purchase of seasonal shares of fresh produce and other farm products. Members receive a weekly box of fresh-from-the-farm, organically grown food that has been raised entirely within Detroit’s city limits. The coop model is advantageous for customers who like a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. It’s also advantageous for independent farmers who are trying to make a living exclusively by farming—especially those who share a passion for fresh, local food for an urban population.

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City of Denver Advances Local Food Policy With Public-Private Partnerships

April 3, 2014 |
Harvesting squash. Photo courtesy of Shannon Spurlock.

Harvesting squash. Photo courtesy of Shannon Spurlock.

Where does your food come from?

For years, residents of Denver, Colorado may have scratched their heads over that question, because most of the city’s food supply was sourced from elsewhere. Recently, however, stakeholders in the private and public sectors collaborated to help food growers prosper within the Denver metropolitan area.

Some stakeholders have their hands in the dirt, teaching urban agriculture methods and building community gardens. Others are working behind the scenes to change the laws governing land use in Denver. All are working toward a goal set by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2013 to acquire at least 25 percent of the city’s food from “sources produced (grown and processed) entirely within Colorado,” according to the Mayor’s 2020 Sustainability Goals. Read More

Hydroponic Farm Grows Summer Tomatoes and a Sustainable Work Force Through Long Maine Winters

March 11, 2014 |
Photo Credit: Backyard Farms

Photo Credit: Backyard Farms

One thing most people can agree on: pale supermarket tomatoes do not taste like the tomatoes grown in the backyard in summer. That’s why Backyard Farms strives to produce fruit so delicious that it tastes like it was just plucked from the backyard garden—even during a long Maine winter.

According to Tim Cunnis, Executive Director of Sales and Marketing at Backyard Farms, the company formed in 2006 to provide a more local alternative to mediocre tomatoes trucked in from thousands of miles away. Read More