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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By Nina Ignaczak

Sneak Peek: Seedstock Conference Panel on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investment in Local Food

October 29, 2014 |
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The movement to grow the proportion of local food on our plates is gaining momentum across the nation.

But progress is uneven. While 89 percent of Vermont schools engage in some type of local food program, only 44 percent do so nationally, according to USDA. Large food service providers and institutions are, for the most part, still getting their food from the big guys. The military, one of the largest food markets in the country, gets most of its food from large agribusiness, according to the New York Times.

The demand is there. As compared with the 2007 USDA Agricultural Census, the current 2012 Census shows an increase of 8 percent for the number of farms selling directly to consumers and 5 percent for the sales in dollars of directly marketed agricultural products.

The challenge for innovators, entrepreneurs and growers is securing the investment necessary to start and grow their companies in order to meet this market demand.

Seedstock’s upcoming “Reintegrating Agriculture: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities” Conference on November 12, 2014 at UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles, CA will look at the innovations and business models that have the potential to help expand local and regional food systems as well as the funding routes that entrepreneurs and new growers can take to start and grow their operations.

The discussion will be led by moderator Wilton Risenhoover of the UCLA Venture Fund and feature expert panelists Nicola Kerslake of New Bean Capital, Rob Trice of Better Food Ventures and The Mixing Bowl, and Robert TSE of USDA Rural Development. Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

October 24, 2014 |

seedstockUSDA Creates New Website for Climate Hubs

Excerpt: On Wednesday, October 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new website dedicated to its regional climate change “hubs,” which the Department created in 2013.  USDA maintains seven hubs–Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast–and three sub-hubs–Caribbean, Northern Forests, and California.  USDA created the three sub-hubs where “special aspects of biogeography, production systems, sector needs, or demographics suggested the need for focused work at a sub-regional scale.”

Source: Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

October 17, 2014 |

seedstock‘Young Farmers NY’ provides financial help for St. Lawrence County’s future farmers

Excerpt: New ‘Young Farmers NY’ providing incentives for farmers starting out or hanging on in St. Lawrence County and around the state.

Parts of the program launched include more than $600,000 in grants and a loan forgiveness program, both aimed at helping young farmers overcome obstacles to give them a greater chance of a successful career in agriculture.

Source: North Country Now Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

October 11, 2014 |

seedstockL.A. City Council introduces plan to encourage urban farming

Two Los Angeles City Council members want to transform empty, blighted lots into flourishing urban farms. A motion introduced Wednesday by Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Curren Price calls for landowners to receive tax breaks for leasing vacant property for agriculture.

Source: LA Times Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

October 3, 2014 |

seedstockU.S.D.A. to Start Program to Support Local and Organic Farming

Excerpt: The United States Department of Agriculture plans to announce Monday that it will spend $52 million to support local and regional food systems like farmers’ markets and food hubs and to spur research on organic farming.

Source: New York Times Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

September 26, 2014 |

seedstockFood hub could bring fresh produce, jobs to west Louisville

A new partnership is shedding light on the dire need for local food in three west Louisville communities and a vacant 24-acre site could be the key to linking supply and demand.

Source: WLKY

Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

September 19, 2014 |

seedstockIndia’s ‘Climate Smart’ Villages Target Sustainable Agriculture

Excerpt: “A prosperous farming region known as India’s bread basket, Haryana state is now home to 26 “climate smart villages,” all of which are part of an initiative led by the research consortium, Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in India.”

Source: Voice of America

Study shows differences in understanding sustainable agriculture

Excerpt: Across the globe, consumers (81%) and farmers (78%) say they care a lot about sustainability in agriculture. However, the two groups have a very different understanding of what sustainability means. While farmers see it as a detailed, multi-dimensional issue, consumers tend to define it mainly in the context of environmental aspects. This is one of the main findings revealed in the latest BASF Farm Perspectives Study.

Source: Cattle Network Read More

A Lexicon of Sustainability: Q & A with Food Information Artist Douglas Gayeton

September 17, 2014 |
Image Courtesy of Rumple Farm

Image Courtesy of Douglas Gayeton

Douglas Gayeton is an award-winning multimedia artist, author and filmmaker. His most recent book, Lexicon of Sustainability, can also be viewed in short video segments on PBS.

Seedstock spoke with Gayeton about why we need a lexicon for sustainability, who should read this book, defining sustainability, and why Gayeton believes should you give this book away.

Seedstock: Why did you decide to do a book when you have all of this great multimedia content? Why did the medium of actually having a physical book seem important?

Gayeton: Well, that’s a funny question. The challenge is that people always say, “Who reads books anymore?” Reality is that people do read books. I have a bookshelf of books, as I’m sure you do, that you’ve probably bought in the last year. So it’s not like books are not relevant. The problem with a book, though, is that it fixes like a fly in amber ideas. Sustainability is really a dynamic conversation. So these words and ideas are evolving, and even being defined as we speak. On one level, it doesn’t make sense to make a book. But from another standpoint, I think that the core ideas and principles that define sustainable food systems and how to build local food systems, those core ideas have never really been gathered in a book in such a comprehensive way, looking at every aspect of our food system. We really felt that this could be a valuable tool.  Read More