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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By Trish Popovitch

Students Sow Sustainability at UC Riverside Community Garden

April 23, 2014 |
An acre of the community garden is dedicated to fruit trees, the harvest of which is donated to area food banks, soup kitchens and non profits. Image courtesy of Fortino Morales

An acre of the community garden is dedicated to fruit trees, the harvest of which is donated to area food banks, soup kitchens and non profits. Image courtesy of Fortino Morales

Riverside, California, once known for a thriving real estate industry, was hit hard by the economic crisis of 2008. As more residents became dependent on soup kitchens and food bank use increased, lack of access to fresh local produce in the community became starkly apparent, despite the fact that the city is surrounded by thousands of acres of agricultural land.

That’s when UC Riverside graduate Fortino Morales convened fellow students to find space on the campus of University of California at Riverside for a community garden. Through the persistence of student volunteers, UC Riverside is now home to a three-acre community garden that isn’t only growing fresh food, it is growing converts to a Riverside local food movement. Read More

With Decades of Experience, Seattle Models Urban Agriculture for Cities

April 21, 2014 |
Ballard Garden was found in 1979 and is the oldest working P-Patch garden Courtesy of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

Ballard Garden was found in 1979 and is the oldest working P-Patch garden
Courtesy of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

With a community garden program established in 1973 and sustainability planning devised in 1994, Seattle has a long history of sustainable urban agriculture. Today, Seattle paints a realistic picture for how cities can approach sustainable urban agriculture, illustrating both the limits and possibilities of a local food economy in the nation’s urban centers.

Several city departments help drive Seattle’s sustainable success including the Office of Sustainability and the Environment and the Department of Neighborhoods. Numerous city and private programs encourage urban agriculture, gardening, shared space, environmental preservation and community involvement. Access to local healthy food plays a big role in the city’s planning. By supporting community gardening and backyard farms, Seattle allows its residents to become not only more self-sufficient, but more educated, more aware and more community-minded. Read More

Minneapolis Landscape Business Works to Make City Ordinances Compost-friendly

April 16, 2014 |
Images courtesy of Giving Tree Gardens

Images courtesy of Giving Tree Gardens

With a penchant for all things rotting, Russ Henry has built a sustainable business, literally from the ground up.

Giving Tree Gardens is an organic landscaping service in Minneapolis well known for its high quality compost. Specializing in native species planting, pollinator-friendly designs and organic gardening education, Giving Tree Gardens has been building a sustainable business and a positive influence in the Twin Cities since 2005.

Russ Henry, owner of Giving Tree Gardens, spent many years in the landscaping world before starting his own company. Read More

Seattle Urban Farm Aims to Reconnect Neighbors With Local Food and One Another

April 11, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Alleycat Acres

Photo courtesy of Alleycat Acres

Founded in 2010, Seattle’s Alleycat Acres currently consists of three small farms that serve their surrounding communities not only with a place to reconnect with their food source, but also a shared space to regain the meaning of community in the urban setting.

Scott MacGowan is one of Alleycat Acre’s original founders, focusing on educational programming and logistics for the current and future farm plots.

“There is a cultural shift that has to happen,” says MacGowan. “People need to start growing more food, have more community get-togethers and share resources; more of those traditional farming practices. We’ve got to figure out ways to bring it back. And by negotiating with private landowners for abandoned residential lot use, Alleycat Acres is doing just that. Read More

City of Portland Continues Long History of Sustainable Urban Farming

April 10, 2014 |
 Photograph courtesy of the City of Portland Department of Parks & Recreation


Photograph courtesy of the City of Portland Department of Parks & Recreation

With just over half a million residents, Portland is a small northwestern city with long roots in sustainability and urban agriculture. In 1981, an urban growth boundary was approved for the city forcing a dense population into a restricted space and transitioning the city into a space savvy social economy.  Popular Science name Portland the most sustainable city back in 2008. Today, Portland remains a 400-square mile haven for sustainability enthusiasts and avid gardeners.

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Detroit Food Policy Council Focuses on Protecting City’s Existing Farms

March 31, 2014 |

dfpcBy working through the challenges of its industrial past and embracing new ideas for a way forward, the Detroit Food Policy Council is working to rebuild a historic American city fallen on hard times into a shining center of urban agriculture.

The Detroit Food Policy Council, which launched in 2009, is a 21-member organization that brings members from across the food and public service world work together to help build Detroit’s urban agriculture and local food systems through policy recommendations with an emphasis on food security, food access and food sovereignty.

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Minnesota Entrepreneur Combines Hydroponic Growing and Native Fish Farming

March 19, 2014 |
Romaine lettuce is Thoele’s most productive green. Photo courtesy of Barry Thoele.

Romaine lettuce is Thoele’s most productive green. Photo courtesy of Barry Thoele.

As a hydroponic grower, fishing guide, aquaponics teacher, wetland restoration expert and breeder of native bait, Barry Thoele is a man of all sustainable trades.

“The industrial model that we have right now, I understand it, I don’t like it and I don’t condone it,” says Thoele. “If I’m going to speak out against it, I need to offer something else.”

By combining a penchant for invention with a self-taught approach, Thoele has worked through trial-and-error to determine what works best for his land. Read More

California Startup Leverages RFID Technology to Keep Food Fresh

March 7, 2014 |

infratab_logoIn a world filled with contaminated food outbreaks, low-quality fresh produce at the grocery stores and an emerging class of sustainable producers, the time to improve fresh food logistics is now upon us.

That’s why innovative and award-winning minds at Infratab Inc., incorporated in 2002 and headquartered in Oxnard, California, have spent years researching how to keep food fresh from field to consumer. The company offers small farmers, produce truck fleet owners and farmers’ markets Freshtime, a perishable food monitoring system at an affordable price. Read More