Posts By Melinda Clark
Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is a small start-up with big ideas. Begun just under a year ago, Arcadia has already dived into the sustainable agriculture world headfirst with a 4-acre demonstration farm, school fieldtrips and a mobile farmers’ market. And soon they’ll be tackling the issues of aging farmers and the disconnect between farmers and consumers. As Farm Director Maureen Moodie puts it, “It’s been a crazy first year.” We can’t wait to see what the next brings.
Arcadia was launched in November 2010 by restaurateur Michael Babin. Babin is president and co-owner of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG), a consortium of restaurants dedicated to using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients. Babin’s desire to be more involved in the local food system became the seed (and seed money) for Arcadia, a nonprofit in Alexandria, Va. whose mission is to “improve the health of our community, the viability of local farmers, and preserve our environment for future generations by combining education about healthy food and its sources with better logistical connections between local farmers and the urban and suburban core of the region.”
It can be difficult to break down a system and thoroughly examine its component parts without losing sight of the whole picture. Dorn Cox can do just that. As executive director of New Hampshire-based nonprofit GreenStart, he’s working to develop biologically based local food and energy systems designed to return carbon to the soil. To do this, he looks at where and when carbon is entering and leaving the soil – and how to keep it there with as few inputs as possible.
In 2006, food and agriculture journalist Michael Pollan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey engaged in a public correspondence about the future of small farmers in a large-scale-ag-driven world. In one of the letters, Pollan writes: “Today, I think the most important scale issue is not that ‘big is bad’ but, since big is here to stay, exactly how such entities can engage with small and local ones – indeed, I think this is one of the most momentous questions that confront us, both economically and socially.”
Greenling, the Austin, Texas-based organic and local food delivery service, is perhaps the perfect example of an answer to this question.
Creating something out of nothing. Isn’t that the magic of farming? Taking things that don’t seem to mean much by themselves – dirt and seeds and water – and creating sustenance. Lately, skyfarmers like those at Sky Vegetables are trying to do that with even less. They’re taking the soil and even some of the water out of the equation, and substituting in an underused resource – roofs. In doing so, they hope to create value, jobs and local produce where before there was nothing.
While organic is becoming more and more of a household term, it hasn’t always been that way. Back in 1985, when Guinda, CA-based Full Belly Farm started, very few people were even talking about organic. But times have changed, and with a combination of passion and innovation, Full Belly Farm has not only kept up with them, but continued to lead the way in organic agriculture.