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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Noelle Swan

Sweet Water Foundation Focuses on Getting Aquaponics Systems into Schools

May 2, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of the Sweet Water Foundation

Photo courtesy of the Sweet Water Foundation

Jesse Blom, James Godsil, and Emmanuel Pratt have some lofty goals. Together with the Sweet Water Foundation, the trio hopes to convert urban blight into fertile 21st century neighborhoods, inspire disengaged teenagers that have tuned out at school, and bridge communities together—and they’re doing it all through aquaponics.

The Sweet Water Foundation grew out of Will Allen’s Growing Power Project. The former professional basketball player-turned-urban farmer is considered a pioneer in urban agriculture. For 20 years, Allen has helped to turn food deserts into farms in Milwaukee and Chicago. James Godsil had served on the Growing Power board for 5 years, used Milwaukee Renaissance wiki power to promote Allen and Growing Power across the nation and beyond when along came Emmanuel Pratt and Jesse Blom with an idea for a nonprofit foundation that would bring aquaponics into communities and schools. Read More

Detroit Public Schools to Convert 27-acre Shuttered High School Campus into Urban Farm

April 24, 2014 |
Urban Detroit's former Kettering High School. Image courtesy of Betti Wiggins

School gardens at Detroit public schools provide nutrition for students. Image courtesy of Betti Wiggins

The tale of the crash of the Detroit auto industry and subsequent decimation of the local job market, mass exodus of residents, eventual city bankruptcy has become a great American tragedy. But amongst the ruins of a once thriving metropolis, residents are sowing seeds of hope in the schools and the community.

Since 2010, Detroit Public School officials have been forced to shutter more than 70 schools due to budget cuts and dwindling enrollment. Some have been sold in the struggle to balance the collapsing city budget. But one former school is getting a new life as an urban farm with the help of the Michigan State University Extension and one very dedicated “lunch lady.” Read More

Chicago Startup Offers Healthy, Organic Foods in Vending Machines

April 4, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Farmer's Fridge

Photo courtesy of Farmer’s Fridge

As a traveling salesman, Luke Saunders knew first hand just how hard it can be to find fresh food on the go.

“I was the person who would pick up prepared food for the road because I knew that when I got there, there wouldn’t be good options,” he says. “If I ever got to a place and I had forgotten to plan ahead, the options were limited for healthy food.”

His solution? Farmer’s Fridge: vending machines stocked with fresh, healthy salads and snacks. Read More

Restructured Policies and Community Partnerships Support Urban Agriculture Within Austin City Limits

March 24, 2014 |

Austinites build an artist-designed community garden. Photo courtesy of Austin Art in Public Places

With a ten-month growing season and a sizeable locavore-hipster population, Austin, Texas seems like the perfect location for a thriving urban agriculture scene. But like many major cities, Austin’s zoning laws and city ordinances posed numerous barriers to those wishing to grow their own food within city limits. Over the past five years, the city has taken apart those laws and restructured them to support a new food movement.

Read More

Charleston Food Hub Helps Farmers Make Local Connections

March 21, 2014 |

downloadFifteen years ago, many of South Carolina’s rural lands were turning over to developed land a rapid rate. So in 2008, the South Carolina Conservation League, a 25-year-old advocacy organization, began to look into finding ways to help farmers become successful as a means of slowing that land development.

Around that time, a donor bought an old warehouse in Charleston that had been abandoned for two years and donated it to the League. After a lengthy planning phase and some extensive renovations, the League launched a new program, Grow Food Carolina. The program moved into the warehouse and began helping farmers expand their markets in 2011. Read More