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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Neighborhood Alliance Plans to Convert Vacant Lot into Urban Farm, Housing Complex

February 24, 2015 |
Image courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh

Image courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh

The Hilltop Alliance, a Pennsylvania nonprofit, is working on a project that could drastically advance urban agriculture in the state. The organization wants to turn a vacant 107-acre lot into Hilltop Village Farm, a multi-use development that would include 120 townhomes, a 20-acre urban farm incubator, a youth farm and CSA. If the plan is successful, the farm could be one of the largest urban farms in the country.

The Hilltop Alliance was formed in 2009 as a multi-neighborhood community development organization. Read More

Ann Arbor CSA Solves ‘Locavore’s Dilemma’ with Wintertime Produce

May 20, 2014 |
Rena Basch of Locavorious wintertime CSA holds a tray of peaches from Kapnick Orchards inside its processing kitchen. (photo by Andrea Starbird)

Rena Basch of Locavorious wintertime CSA holds a tray of peaches from Kapnick Orchards inside its processing kitchen. (photo by Andrea Starbird)

In his groundbreaking book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” food writer Michael Pollan addresses the problem of choosing what to eat.

Now, Locavorious, a CSA in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has solved “the locavore’s dilemma” of how to eat locally during the cold months of winter.

Founded and owned by Rena Basch, Locavorious is a wintertime CSA. Instead of offering fresh produce, they prepare and package local produce when it is ripe and fresh, and store it in a freezer. Then CSA members pick up their harvest shares throughout the winter.

Basch started Locavorious in 2008 with 90 CSA subscribers receiving 2,000 pounds of food. Six years later, she provides 15,000 pounds of produce for 250 subscribers. Locavorious offers 20 different fruits and vegetables. With the exception of edamame, which is sourced from Ohio and Ontario, all are grown within the state and the vast majority is grown within a 100-mile radius of Ann Arbor. Locavorious has formed partnerships with numerous area farms to supply the produce. Last year 22 farms partnered with the CSA. Read More

Boston Nonprofit Farm Grows Fresh Food for Homeless Families

March 18, 2014 |
Photo credit: ReVision Urban Farm

Photo credit:
ReVision Urban Farm

In the early 1990s, ReVision Family Home, a shelter for pregnant and parenting women in Boston, Massachusetts, began a community garden with the intention of providing fresh, nutritious food to the families at the shelter.

As it expanded, the community garden grew into ReVision Urban Farm, a half-acre urban farm that provides fresh, nutritious food not only to shelter residents, but to the entire Boston community.

In 2005, ReVision Family Home and ReVision Urban Farm merged with Victory Programs, a nonprofit agency dedicated to serving those who are homeless, have substance abuse issues, and/or other related illnesses and disorders. As a result, both the farm and the family home became programs among a diverse network of social services. Read More

Northern Michigan Couple Builds Profitable Farm-to-school Enterprise

December 27, 2013 |

post9beansrowNic and Jen Welty wanted to see more locally grown, nutritious foods offered to the students at their daughter’s school in Leelanau County, Michigan. Having previously worked as Farm Manager at Black Star Farms in nearby Suttons Bay, Nic Welty was poised to start his own venture. So, in 2008, the couple started their own company, 9 Bean Rows, and built a Community Supported Agriculture program with a focus on supplying local food to area schools. Soon, the couple snared a contract to supply the Leelanau County Public School System year-round with fresh salad greens. Read More

Attendees of Two-day Seedstock Conference at UCLA Affirm Promise of Sustainable Agriculture Future

November 7, 2013 |
Attendees touring Houweling's Tomatoes on day one of the Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference.

Attendees touring Houweling’s Tomatoes on day one of the Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference.

From new farmers, aquaponicists and sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs to urban farming pioneers, microloan providers and crowdfunding evangelists, yesterday’s 2nd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation conference at UCLA Anderson School of Management provided clear evidence pointing to the desire, will and motivation to develop economically viable and sustainable farming solutions to insure that the food system of the future not only survives, but thrives.

The two-day event, which drew an audience of nearly 250 from as far afield as New Zealand, Mexico and Korea, kicked off on November 5 with a sustainable farm field trip to Houweling’s Tomatoes in Camarillo where attendees were treated to an in-depth tour of the company’s sustainable 125-acre hydroponic greenhouse. Following the tour of Houweling’s, attendees headed over to McGrath Family Farms for a farm-to-table lunch provided by Chef/farmer Adam Navidi of Green2GO Restaurant Market. Following the lunch, farmer Phil McGrath gave the attendees a tour of his 5th generation organic farm and explained how he has used sustainable growing practices and direct marketing to remain economically viable. One of McGrath’s keys to farming successfully: “Grow a huge diversity of things and grow in season.” Read More

Back to the Land: Mott Family Farm, Middlebourne, Ohio.

October 17, 2013 |
Swiss Chard from Mott Family. Photo Credit: Mott Family Farm.

Swiss Chard from Mott Family. Photo Credit: Mott Family Farm.

An Ohio native who moved to the bright sunny state of Southern California, Jeff Mott decided his life had a different purpose. That purpose meant leaving behind the SoCal lifestyle, buying an Amish homestead on the Virginia/Ohio border and initiating a lifestyle change that has not only proven to be profitable, but has also changed his entire perspective.

35 miles outside of Wheeling, West Virginia lies the Mott Family Farm, the Ohio-based haven of two former California residents, Jeff and Shelley Mott, who craved a back to basics approach to life, a slowing down of pace and an opportunity to share a love of growing that began in California. Land prices and moving closer to Jeff’s father were only part of the equation. Mott felt his California lifestyle was missing a sense of community. Read More

Austin, TX-based Green Gate Farms Offers Organic Food and Educational Opportunities

September 6, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Green Gate Farms

Photo Credit: Green Gate Farms

Skip Connett, 57, is co-owner of Austin’s approximately 40-acre certified organic Green Gate Farms. The operation is a realization of a vision he had to cultivate a healthy farm that feeds mind, body and soul. He and his co-owner wife, Erin Flynn, 51, established Green Gate Farms in May 2006, five acres of which are in what was once a blighted neighborhood, eight miles east of downtown Austin, Texas. Another four to six acres of a 35-acre plot located 23 miles from downtown Austin are presently being developed with cover cropping, fruit trees and vegetables.

Skip, formerly a writer for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, saw firsthand the dilemmas of poor health and that, combined with a passion for organic farming, drove him to cultivating the soil.  Read More

Urban Farming Org Collapses Caste System and Offers Second Chances: Garden City Harvest, Missoula, MT

September 4, 2013 |
Photo credit: Garden City Harvest

Photo credit: Garden City Harvest

“People can look down the mountain onto the farm, see the pumpkins are turning orange and they really have an understanding of where we are in the season. I think all that helps people become attached to their place. That sense of attachment is a prerequisite for all other sorts of civic behavior.” -Josh Slotnick, PEAS Farm

The food desserts that are America’s inner cities are also the site of some of America’s poorest communities and most at-risk youth. By creating urban-based agriculture programs that focus on strengthening community ties and encouraging self-sufficiency, Garden City Harvest and its four urban farms: River Road Farm, Orchard Gardens Farm, Youth Farm and PEAS Farm, are doing their part to create a level playing field in the world of food security and second chances. Read More