Posts By Trish Popovitch
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.”
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.
As the sustainable agriculture movement has flourished in the United States, so has the need to support the local food movement in concrete and productive ways. Hopeful Harvest Foods, an offshoot of the influential Forgotten Harvest of metro Detroit, is coming up with practical solutions to do just that.
Chris Nemeth, senior director of social enterprise for Forgotten Harvest and his partner Michael Szymanski, have developed several strategies to solidify the small food business infrastructure in Detroit while creating a template the rest of the country can follow.
Founded in 1984, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit advocacy organizations for sustainable agriculture. Teaching children sustainable farming, public programming and lobbying for sustainable agriculture policy at the state and federal level are the daily work of the MFAI. Funded by federal grants and donations, the MFAI also assists retiring farmers in how best to manage their farmland and aids growers in the organic certification process.
What we as a nation define as “agriculture” is morphing and expanding to reflect the changing landscape of American industry. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics referred to organic food production as a “growth industry,” denoting a turning point between the farming of the past and the forward-looking, sustainable farming and food economy of the future.
Here are 10 new agriculture and food-sector jobs that didn’t exist 25 years ago.
An aquaponics farmer raises fish in tanks and uses the fish waste water to grow plants and vegetables. Operations can be as small as a backyard tank to a full scale commercial operation. The recently released 2013 Aquaculture Census states there are now 71 aquaponic farms in the United States with 650 commercial tanks in operation. In the 2005 data, updated in 2007, aquaponics isn’t even mentioned. Aquaponics farming as a measurable commercial American industry is still in its infancy, but looks looks like a growth industry.
“Conventional-farmers call us bioterrorists,” says Joel Salatin of the much heralded Polyface Farm.
“They are literally scared to death that one of our unvaccinated animals is going to get sick and then bring a disease to the area and shut down everybody’s farming and destroy the planet’s food supply. They would like us to pack up and leave. I could either respond with viciousness, depression, frustration and you know, ulcers or whatever, or I can just have fun with it. I decided to have fun with it.”
Joel Salatin is a holistic farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and an iconic figure in the sustainable food movement. Salatin practices a healing-the-land approach to farming in the face of much criticism from both traditional and sustainable agriculture advocates. Salatin self-deprecatingly refers to himself as a “lunatic” and is rather proud of it. A wordsmith and wise meat producer, Salatin offers perspective on all things farmer related.
From sourcing to licensing to food safety, the learning curve for making and marketing local food can be steep. According to NPR, there are now over 200 incubators across the country now working to help new local food startups succeed.
Here are ten you should know.
With 3,600 square feet of commercial kitchen, Capital Kitchens, founded in 2012, offers not only prepping, cooking and storage space but also event space giving startups a place to share their new product. They offer commissary accommodation for food truck businesses as well as a business center that allows each company internet access and a place to work on the administrative side of things.
Local Food Marketplace provides a software platform for food hubs that allows them to reach customers, aggregate production and compete with traditional distribution.
“We help food hubs all the way from the planning process and working with their producers to figuring out what their availability will be on a weekly basis,” says Amy McCann, who co-founded the business in 2009. “We also help with writing sales sheets, creating invoices for customers and managing the distribution to the food hub’s customers.“
McCann says her personal experience working in the food hub environment helps her offer more than just tech support to her customers.