Posts By Trish Popovitch
Every small grower likes to find ways to reduce costs and cut out the middle man but Adam Navidi of Future Foods Farms and Green to Go has turned organic growing and serving his clientele into a planet friendly fine art. He grows a wide range of organic produce through the aquaponic systems on his farm. The produce is then sold at his restaurant. The restaurant scraps in turn are used to feed the fish on his farm. This sustainable circuit of good is developed from a combination of creative thinking, hard work and a passion for good food.
“As a chef that owns a catering company and a restaurant, I wanted to be able to provide my clients with the best produce possible. For a chef there is no better way for being in tune with your food than to grow it yourself,” explains Navidi. Future Foods Farms, the largest aquaponic farm in Southern California, sits on 25 acres of open country and began in earnest back in 2008. Comprised of ten large greenhouses, Future Foods Farms is home to a varied assortment of fruit and vegetables not to mention hundreds of tilapia fish. Vegetarian fish fed on California organic brown rice no less.
“This bill supports research, marketing, creating infrastructure, access to healthy food, and education – all necessary for the success of agriculture…. Local and regional agriculture will be the major driver for the farm economy of the future. This bill is important to the future of farming in our country and the health and well-being of America.” – David Bauermeister, Northwest Agriculture Business Center
One of the main issues small growers face is a lack of established infrastructure that promotes sustainable food choices. As the number of farmer’s markets in the nation climbs past the 8,000 mark and as the USDA reports almost $5 billion in annual revenue from local farmers, the federal government is entertaining an addition to the Farm Bill to help alleviate some of the problems facing independent producers. HR 1414 aka the Local farms, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 hopes to improve opportunities through assistance grants, training, marketing assistance and technology allowing small growers to keep up with increasing demand.
A nationwide initiative to encourage hospitals to provide patients and employees with healthier food choices may benefit independent growers. The Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) program encourages hospitals across the country to pledge to a more sustainable food program in their facilities with a focus on buying local and encouraging preventative healthcare.
The Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) program is the brainchild of the folks at Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and is just one of their many initiatives to encourage hospitals to use their purchasing power to promote preventative healthcare through healthy food. HCWH began in 1996 in response to the discovery that the burning of medical waste was one of the largest sources of the carcinogen dioxin on the planet. HCWH is comprised of 28 separate organizations in 52 countries. The group is a privately funded 501 c3 with several green program successes already under their belt.
“The year is heavy with produce. And men are proud, for of their knowledge they can make the year heavy. They have transformed the world with their knowledge.” – John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
Like all of us, writer and grower David Mas Masumoto is a product of his culture and his regional circumstances not to mention the owner of the famous Masumoto Family Farm peach orchards in the arid Central Valley of California. His love of the land punctuates his narrative as he shares his wisdom of organic farming, family ties and the story that is sustainable agriculture.
The Masumoto family has farmed peaches, on an 80-acre patch of land south of Fresno, since 1948. After finishing college, Mas Masumoto returned to his family farm and a few years later bought 40 acres of land from his father. In the mid-1980s he made the decision to farm organically.
The demand for local food continues to grow, often faster than small growers and infrastructure can keep up. That’s why the work of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) is vital in connecting small farmers to big business in Northwest Washington State.
Founded in 2006, NABC is the brainchild of a group of farmers and politicians who noticed a gap in the small business assistance market. Independent growers running small farms are first and foremost farmers. Brand development, marketing, establishing a customer base and utilizing accounting technology are often unfamiliar and time consuming aspects of the small farm business. NABC provides assistance in these and other areas helping to keep small farms viable.