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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By Trish Popovitch

New Hampshire-based Nonprofit Helps Immigrants Find a Fresh Start in Farming

February 26, 2015 |
Refugee farmers produce and sell both American and ethnic produce for the New Hampshire farmers’ market scene. Photo courtesy of Fresh Start Farms.

Refugee farmers produce and sell both American and ethnic produce for the New Hampshire farmers’ market scene. Photo courtesy of Fresh Start Farms.

Growing food is a universal need. One nonprofit is leveraging that fact to create a path for immigrants and refugees to transition into a new life in America.

At Fresh Start Farms, a project of the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS), immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs participate in the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project (NASAP). The program has been in operation since 2008, and helps new arrivals to not only establish a food source for their family, but to begin a sustainable small business in their adopted community.

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The Life of a Local Forager: Dwight Detter on How Products Get onto Whole Foods’ Famous Shelves

February 16, 2015 |
Dwight Detter. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

Dwight Detter. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

Dwight Detter is a food forager.

But he’s not spending his days gathering nuts and berries from the forest. Instead, he’s sourcing local producers for Whole Foods Market in southern California.

Detter shares his region with two other Local Foragers; together they help select the products and the producers for 40 Whole Foods stores. He likens his role to a worker bee supporting the hive (in this case, the hive is a Fortune 500 company with $14.2 billion in revenue in 2014).

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Going a Step Beyond Farm-to-Table, SF Restaurant Slings Aquaponic Fare Along with a Hefty Helping of Sustainability

February 11, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of The Perennial From left to right: Anthony Myint, Karen Leibowitz, and Chef Chris Kiyuna.

Photo courtesy of The Perennial
From left to right: Anthony Myint, Karen Leibowitz, and Chef Chris Kiyuna.

Established restaurateurs Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint have a penchant for accountability in the food industry. Their latest offering, The Perennial, is set to open this spring. It will provide tech district office workers with a lesson in sustainability as well as a locally grown lunch.

“It’s really important to us that our restaurants are not purely business concerns but also work on building community,” says Leibowitz, who has opened several restaurants with her husband including ‘Mission Chinese Food’ and now ‘The Perennial.’

“In 2012, we had a daughter and that got us thinking more seriously about the future.  We started to think about ways the restaurant industry could positively engage with environmental issues,” says Leibowitz. “What would happen if we made a restaurant that brought together all of the best practices with regard to the environment and were really transparent with all our success and our failures and shared that with other restaurant owners and consumers?” Read More

USDA Farm to School Census Shows Schools’ Growing Interest in Serving Up Local

February 3, 2015 |
Image courtesy USDA

Image courtesy USDA

The USDA’s recent Farm to School census showed that over half of America’s schools plan on exploring local foods and over 40,000 schools already are. By offering planning, implementation and support grants across the country, the USDA Farm to School program is getting local food on school cafeteria plates while creating lifelong customers for local farmers.

“The vast majority of children who eat school meals are doing so on the free and reduced price meal program,” says Deborah Kane, National Director of the USDA’s Farm to School Program. Read More

Irvine, California’s “Great Park” Delivers on the Potential of Municipal Urban Agriculture

February 2, 2015 |
Image courtesy of the City of Irvine, California

Image courtesy of the City of Irvine, California

Known as the “First Great Metropolitan Park of the 21st Century,” the City of Irvine’s 1,300-acre “Great Park,” is living up to its ambitious goals.

Created on the grounds of the former El Toro Naval Base, the park’s focus on promoting a relationship between local residents, sustainable food systems and community green space provides an example of how far a city can go to foster sustainable agriculture. Read More

Local Food Startup Freezes Its Way Onto Grocers’ Shelves

January 20, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Husk

Photo courtesy of Husk

Nick Carter, Adam Moody and Chris Baggott came together a couple of years ago to invest in a processing facility in Greenfield, Indiana. Their goal: to launch a value-added sustainable company to place local foods in grocery stores.

Husk grows market share in the local frozen food market through a combination of entrepreneurial know-how and the power of social media. At the close of their second growing season, the company has established market share for local farmers in a grocery store world dominated by multinational wholesalers.

Nick Carter, president of Husk, has a family background in farming and discovered a niche market for meat rabbits in his native Indiana. His company Meat the Rabbit allowed him to use his farming background while learning the ins-and-out of the wholesale sustainable agriculture market. Co-founders Moody and Baggott, with successful technology startup and food processing backgrounds, were ideal bedfellows when Carter decided to branch out from game meats into the world of locally grown, flash-frozen foods. Read More

Land Trust Secures Vacant Lots for Urban Agriculture, Recreation in LA’s Underserved Neighborhoods

December 18, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of the LA Neighborhood Land Trust

Photo courtesy of the LA Neighborhood Land Trust

Founded in 2002, the LA Neighborhood Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that identifies underutilized space in a 475-square miles area in and around Los Angeles, and transforms it into green space for urban agriculture and community recreation projects.

Real estate costs are high in Los Angeles, so the work of the Trust moves forward one small lot at a time.

“Our little land trust is good with conserving half-acre properties and creating green space in a community that has never existed before,” says Mark Glassock, director of special projects for the Trust. “In terms of our acreage, we are quite small, but in terms of our impact and our reach in terms of population, I believe we’re actually very, very large.” Read More

Young People in Food: North Dakotans Hannah and Jonathan Moser Bring Local to Big Ag Country

December 15, 2014 |
Hannah and Jonathan Moser. Photo courtesy of Forager Farm.

Hannah and Jonathan Moser. Photo courtesy of Forager Farm.

After graduating college, Hannah and Jonathan Moser learned the mechanics of CSA management while working on a vegetable farm in Australia. Then the couple came home to North Dakota and decided to give it a try for themselves, launching Forager Farm.

The farm consists of approximately three acres of growing space on a large family cattle ranch. The Mosers completed their first growing season in October, using intensive growing, diverse crops and sustainable methods. Very quickly, Forager Farm has emerged as a leader in the local community’s sustainable local food scene.

In a state with very few CSA programs in place, the concept of a local food movement remains a fringe idea. In order to promote and gain support for consumer supported agriculture in the region, the Mosers had to first educate people as to what the need. Using her storytelling skills and a degree in PR and marketing, Hanna uses the web as a platform for growing awareness in her community. Read More