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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Marissa Gawel

Ag Startup Offers ‘IKEA-style’ Line of Smart Urban Farming Kits

March 22, 2016 |
Growall. Courtesy AKER

Growall. Courtesy AKER

It all began with a beehive. Or rather, many beehives.

Aaron Makaruk, co-founder of urban farm kit manufacturer AKER, was part of a team working on an initiative called the Open Source Beehives Project, consisting of  a few ecologists, makers, engineers, and beekeepers who came together in 2014 to help tackle the issue of colony collapse in bees. Read More

Fermentation Bus Preaches Benefits of Preserving Local Food

February 8, 2016 |
Courtesy Fermentation on Wheels.

Courtesy Fermentation on Wheels.

Sourdough starters. Vinegar. Cider, kimchi, kefir, and a variety of misos. 

Up until this past October, these aging wonders, along with Oregonian Tara Whitsitt, were traveling around the United States in a school bus-turned-fermentation lab. Whitsitt and her crew were visiting cities and communities across the country to spread knowledge about fermentation.

Why?

It promotes the importance of staying connected to your local food source,” explains Whitsitt, “Fermentation on Wheels encourages sustainable food practices and values in addition to teaching empowerment and preservation through fermentation.” Read More

To Stem Rising Tide of Obesity in SoCal Neighborhood, HEAL Program Tackles Local Food Access and Nutrition

February 8, 2016 |
Courtesy Heal Zone

The Eastside Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Zone program seeks to improve the overall wellness of Riverside, CA’s Eastside community through education and increased access to healthy local food.

As of 2012, in Riverside, California’s Eastside neighborhood, more than half of the adults and almost a quarter of the teenagers, were considered overweight. To stem this rising tide of obesity, Kaiser Permanente awarded a $1 million grant to establish a Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Zone program to improve the Eastside community’s overall wellness through education and increased access to healthy local food.

Kaiser sees the HEAL Zone program as a community benefit, according to health manager Cecilia Arias.

“Wellness isn’t just about the absence of illness. It’s about how you live,” she says. “Is your community supportive of you having a healthy lifestyle? Is it safe for you to go out to exercise and walk or do something the park?” Read More

Mapping Study Pins Wild Bee Decline on Intensive Farming Practices

January 27, 2016 |
Map of counties facing an imbalance between wild bee abundance and pollinator-dependent crops. Courtesy: University of Vermont.

Map of counties facing an imbalance between wild bee abundance and pollinator-dependent crops. Courtesy: University of Vermont.

A national study suggests that intensive farming is perhaps the greatest danger to wild bee survival.

Led by University of Vermont scientist Dr. Insu Koh, the research team is the first to compare the species’ population over time with the location of pollinator-dependent crops. The researchers found that between 2008 and 2013, the abundance of wild bees dropped in almost a quarter of the contiguous United States.

The study suggests that conversion of grassland and pasture to row crops is the driving force behind the disappearance of bees–not pesticides, climate change, or disease. Read More

12 Sustainable Food Podcasts for Your Holiday Travel

December 22, 2015 |
Courtesy Gravy Audio

Courtesy Gravy Audio

For those with daily commutes, or perhaps just a lot of holiday travel coming up, there’s more to the listening experience than simply the latest episode of Serial.

If you’re in search of something a bit more food-conscious to listen to, try out one (or all) of these podcasts–a collection of audio stories, interviews, histories, and information about food and agriculture.

Episodes of each can be found on iTunes, or on their respective websites. Read More