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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By Trish Popovitch

Mahindra USA Boosts Michigan’s Urban Farm Space

July 17, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Mahindra.

Photo courtesy of Mahindra.

Mahindra USA, a Houston, Tx.-based farming equipment manufacturer, shifted its focus towards sustainable agriculture, in 2010. And now the firm is looking to boost small urban farms with a recent investment of $100,000 in Detroit’s urban farmers.

Through its Detroit-based North American Technical Center, Mahindra awarded money and equipment grants to five Detroit nonprofits. The recipients include two community gardening programs, the Neighbors Building Brightmoor’s Farmway group and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm. The city of Detroit received a Mahindra utility vehicle. The tractor company has made similar awards to other metropolitan areas and their urban farmers in the past.

“As part of the urban ag initiative program it’s a natural fit,” says Martin Cisneros, Marketing Communications Manager at Mahindra USA remarking on the Detroit investment.  “I think it’s a movement we’re generally seeing across the industry; a more sustainable agriculture. Seems like the ecotype farming initiatives, the co-ops, is what you see a lot more of.” Read More

Five Reasons Alaskans Are Winning the Sustainable Food Race

July 13, 2015 |
A high tunnel in Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Valley  USDA/Creative Commons

A high tunnel in Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Valley USDA/Creative Commons

The Lower 48 have come far in the battle for local food, but Alaska has much to share when it comes to creating sustainable economies. Despite dramatic seasonal changes, infrastructure gaps and transportation challenges, sustainability has always been a way of life in many of Alaska’s small communities.

Here are the top five ways Alaskans are role-modeling sustainable food economies.

Marine Life Conservation Programming. Abundant marine life has sustained Alaska’s native population for centuries. Increased commercial fishing in the Bering Sea and ocean acidification has created numerous issues for local Alaskans and their small fishing communities. With a growing fish to school program, community supported fisheries and the advocacy work of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), protecting the natural resources of America’s final frontier has never looked brighter. Actively engaged in reducing bycatch and advocating for a reduction in exports, the AMCC is the small fisherman’s champion ensuring Alaskan fish is always available for Alaskan natives.
Read More

Women in Food: Columnist, Coroner and Community Organizer Ashley Ponschok

July 9, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Ashley Ponschok

Photo courtesy of Ashley Ponschok

Ashley Ponschok grew up in Minneapolis-St. Paul and returned to her family’s home state of Wisconsin to attend college. After studying biology and chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, she decided the lab life wasn’t for her.

Switching to the field of public health changed everything. Today, Ponschok is the Senior Community Development Specialist for Live54218.org, a Green Bay initiative to promote a healthier community. Read More

Alaska Marine Conservation Council Sustains Local Food in Coastal Communities

June 17, 2015 |
Courtesy of the AMCC

Courtesy of the AMCC

The Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) addresses infrastructure and population challenges in the nation’s last frontier in an effort to localize Alaska’s food system.

Founded in 1994, the AMCC works hard to ensure the economics of Alaska’s most bountiful natural resources, its marine life and coastal communities. Read More

10 Reasons Vermont Deserves to Lead the Strolling of the Heifers’ 2015 Locavore Index

May 17, 2015 |
Burlington City Hall Farmer’s Market by Church Street Marketplace

Burlington City Hall Farmer’s Market by Church Street Marketplace

This piece is part of a series exploring the top 10 states in the Strolling of the Heifers’ 2015 Locavore Index.

It’s hardly surprising with all the great things going on there, that Vermont comes in first place in the 2015 Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index. When community gardens were still just a seed catalog and a dream for many around the nation, Vermont was building on firmly established sustainable ground. Read More

Pitt Students Plan Urban Ag Law Firm in the Iron City

May 17, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Trellis

Photo courtesy of Trellis

“I think it’s inspiring how much Pittsburgh has changed even in the last ten years,” says Jaclyn Clifford of Trellis, a Pittsburgh-based sustainable policy and ag business legal firm. “It’s incredible how the city’s not only growing in terms of population and jobs, but people are really starting to become more environmentally aware.”

Marlene van Es and Jaclyn Clifford are launching their sustainable law business before finishing law school. Along with their communications officer, Sarah Abboud,  they will  offer a monthly subscription fee system and focus on urban agriculture in the city. The bar exam is set for July, and Trellis will open its doors in August 2015. Read More

The Little Library That Could: Advocates Change Seed Exchange Laws in Minnesota

May 3, 2015 |

seed bannerMinnesota’s first public seed library, held at the Duluth Public Library, came to the attention of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture after the story was picked up by the Associated Press in late 2014. But not in a good way. Read More

Group Tracks Impact of Food Hubs and Social Networks in Iowa Food System

April 26, 2015 |
Health Harvest of North Iowa covers a nine county region and is focused on local food production. Image courtesy of Healthy Harvest.

Health Harvest of North Iowa covers a nine county region and is focused on local food production. Image courtesy of Healthy Harvest.

How do you measure the strength of a local food system?

Healthy Harvest of North Iowa is a network of community stakeholders, growers and consumers covering nine counties in northern Iowa with a focus on promoting sustainability in the food system.

The nonprofit recently contributed in a statewide impact survey conducted by the Regional Food Systems Working Group of Iowa. The survey measured the current state of local food in Iowa as well as possible solutions to improve its reach.

“It takes that personal relationship and that’s really what the whole report is based on. In terms of us trying to leverage more resources to help promote local food work this information is very important,” says Jan Libbey, administrator for Healthy Harvest of North Iowa. “So we have tools that we can go to our decision making bodies and our funders in our region and say get on board, this is important stuff. And it is making a difference to our area,” says Libbey. Read More