Keep Growing Detroit, a nonprofit community gardening and urban agriculture support organization, has a mission to achieve nothing short of sovereignty for Detroiters.
Food sovereignty, that is.
The organization’s vision is one of a Detroit where Detroiters grow the majority of fruits and vegetables they consume. The group also serves Hamtramck and Highland Parks, autonomous cities surrounded on all sides by the City of Detroit.
Nevada High Altitude Farm Stretches Bounds of Sustainable Ag Innovation, Educates Others in Effort to Expand MarketApril 18, 2013 | Pamela Ellgen
Thanks to its harsh climate and high altitude, Northern Nevada requires that farmers develop innovate agricultural methods and practice to sustainably grow produce. Seedstock recently spoke with Jacob O’Farrell, Special Projects Coordinator at Hungry Mother Organics about the challenges of farming in the Sierra Nevada foothills and how the state can improve its movement toward sustainable agriculture.
How did Hungry Mother Organics begin?
We started out as a family farm over 20 years ago in Virginia and relocated to Nevada ten years ago. Thereafter we worked with an inmate rehabilitation program and used prison labor to set up hoop houses at the Northern Nevada Correctional Facility. We continued expanding and eventually launched a retail location where we offer organic produce, heirloom seeds,
Few look at a weed-choked city lot fowled by disemboweled cars and see a future of health enhancing vegetables by the bushel full. But this is what the founders of the Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) saw 30 years ago in a down and out neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island. That ¾ acre lot, now called City Farm, represented the start of something now a whole lot of lots bigger. In following its mission to provide access to land, education and other resources to enable people in Greater Providence to grow food in environmentally sustainable ways, SCLT has grown the number of community gardens it oversees to 16.
Since 2005, Cultivate Kansas City (Kansas City, Kan.), formally known as the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, has helped farmers manage urban farms. The organization started small and has steadily grown over the past eight years. Cultivate KC now manages two farms, and helps support multiple urban farmers and gardeners.
I recently spoke with Ami Freeberg, community outreach coordinator at Cultivate Kansas City, about the organization. Freeberg discussed how Cultivate KC has evolved and how the organization continues to help urban farmers thrive.
Though students are expected to learn about sustainable farming when volunteering at the University of Washington Farm, for some, their volunteer experience cultivates confidence, leadership skills, and friendships within a close-knit community of students who just enjoy gardening and sharing wholesome food.
The UW Farm owes its beginnings to a group of graduate students who wanted to garden, says Rachel Stubbs, farm coordinator for the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH). With that humble start in 2004, the farm has grown to become the campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and sustainability. Though it is only a third of an acre on the main campus and half an acre at CUH, “people think it’s this huge thing,” Rachel says.
When Gina Cavaliero and Tonya Penick watched their contracting firm collapse, they had a personal and professional epiphany that would change the course of their lives and work. “It was just awful. We were laying off a lot of people. I was spending sleepless nights trying to find a recession-proof business,” says Cavaliero. In 2008, as their business was failing, the two business partners were introduced to aquaponics by Morning Star Fisherman, a non-profit organization with a mission to use aquaponics as a means to relieve world hunger. “We were amazed and enthralled by it,” she says.
At the same time, the healthy food movement was gaining more momentum, and the business partners were eager to jump on board. “It all culminated at the same time,” she explains.
What began as an environmental studies project in 1999 at Dickinson College has evolved into a flourishing organic farm. From a handful of eager student gardeners, who began with a small garden plot on campus that grew into a half-acre plot, gradually the program grew as it attracted greater student interest, says Matt Steiman, assistant manager of production for the farm.
Today, the farm sits on 50 acres of land, in Boiling Springs, Pa.—about six miles off campus—that was donated to the college in the 80s. When the students approached the college administration, they were met with a great reception, says Steiman, with the only stipulation being that the farm had to be educational.
How Do We Grow New Farmers? Burlington’s Intervale Center Hosts National Farm Incubator Field SchoolOctober 2, 2012 | Intervale Center
News Release - BURLINGTON, VT - On Friday, October 5, farm managers, garden managers, extension agents and agricultural program directors from across North America will arrive at the Intervale Center to learn how to grow new farmers in their communities. The Intervale Center is hosting a day-long farm incubation workshop, part of a new National Incubator Farm Training Initiative (NIFTI) in partnership with Boston-based nonprofit, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.
“It’s hard to believe, but the average age of an American farmer is 57. We need new farmers. But how are they going to get training, access to equipment, and business development support?
Sustainable Harvest, of Portland, OR, was born of the desire to make the coffee industry more sustainable. The for-profit specialty coffee importer formed as a response to the lack of transparency and the disconnect within the global coffee market.
“The problem is that most of the members within a supply chain approach a series of short term transactions,” says Ezra Spier, director of technology solutions for Sustainable Harvest. “Farmers are trying to sell the coffee they have today. Co-opers are scraping by today. And, importers like us are buying low and selling high. This can have serious implications for the world. It makes it really difficult for any organization to make long-term business investments.
In 1998, a group of Cambodian immigrants and former farmers living in the economically depressed city of Lowell, Massachussets reached out to Tufts University for help. Their objective: to learn the business side of farming. Out of this request emerged the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a partnership between Community Teamwork, Inc. – a community action action agency based in Lowell, MA – and the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition.
Immigrants have flocked to Lowell since the days of the mills. Once hailed as the cradle of the American industrial revolution, the city fell into a deep depression with the collapse of the New England textile industry nearly a century ago and has been trying recover ever since.
If beer is a reliable indicator, rosy times lie ahead for American agriculture and those who like fresh wholesome food. As the 70’s gave way to the 80’s, doomsayers predicted that if the going trend of consolidation continued only 5 beer-brewing companies would exist by the 1990’s. But something happened and that something was the rise of the craft brewer. Today this phenomenon is happening again, this time with peas and carrots. At agricultural training programs cropping up at such places as the University of California, Santa Cruz, New York’s Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, Michigan State University, and now at the University of Vermont’s Farmer Training Program, one diverse student group after another is endeavoring to reinvent and reinvigorate farming.
In just six years, Justin Dansby and Paige Witherington have transformed Serenbe Farms in the sustainable Serenbe community 30 miles Southwest of Atlanta, Georgia into a thriving and economically viable certified organic farming enterprise. They have also launched a successful on farm apprenticeship program that has seen 85% of its graduates go on to become farmers.
I recently spoke with Justin Dansby to learn more about Serenbe Farms, why the farm values organic certification and sustainable practices so highly, the challenges that it faces and more.
With Mobile Greenhouse as Pulpit, Two Friends Criss Cross Nation Preaching Gospel of Sustainable AgricultureMay 30, 2012 | Hana Lurie
A thriving organic and sustainable greenhouse on wheels, you say? It sounds whimsical and impractical, but longtime friends Justin Cutter, age 27, and Nick Runkle, Age 26, have brought the concept to life with the hope of positively influencing the growth trajectory of sustainable agriculture across the country.
A waste vegetable-powered converted box truck outfitted with growing beds containing herbs and vegetables ranging from bok choy and swiss chard to broccoli and quinoa is the centerpiece of Compass Green, a mobile greenhouse project that the two partners founded to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable agriculture and teach Bio-intensive methods.