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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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food access

Nonprofit Org Creates Urban Oasis in Miami Where All Have Access to Locally Grown Food

October 31, 2016 |

Photo courtesy of Urban Oasis Project.

Whether it’s an affluent person who can afford to spend money on gourmet produce, or a person of limited means who wants to eat better, both are united in their quest for healthier food. That’s part of the driving force behind the Urban Oasis Project, which Art Friedrich founded in 2009 to make healthy, local food more accessible in Miami, FL.

Although Miami is a big city located in the agriculture-rich state of Florida, Friedrich found when he moved there that the sustainable food scene—one that would also help those who are lower income—was small. “It’s more based on image here, not reality and a nitty-gritty work ethic,” he says. This contrasted with Friedrich’s experience of living in New England and St. Louis, where sustainable farming is more common. Read More

Born of Triumph and Tragedy, Social Justice Org Fosters Health Equity and Well-being of Communities of Color

October 19, 2016 |
Dr. D'Artagnan Scorza speaking to volunteers at one of the Social Justic LI's gardens

Dr. D’Artagnan Scorza speaking to volunteers at one of the Social Justic Learning Institute’s gardens. Photo courtesy of Social Justice Learning Institute.

Though D’Artagnan Scorza grew up economically disadvantaged amidst a food desert in South Los Angeles, his family created an oasis of fresh fruits and vegetables that left him wanting for nothing at home.

“My grandmother grew corn and bell peppers, and grafted trees, though I didn’t know what that was until I got older and began to understand the relationship between food and the land.”

Scorza’s family not only grew their own food, but also cooked it.

“The history in my family is connected to food. My grandmother held food culture high in our family and it has always had a strong place,” he says. “My aunts, uncles, nieces all cook. I cook.” Read More

In Fight Against Waste and Food Insecurity, SoCal Gleaning Org Recovers Millions of Pounds of Fresh Produce

September 22, 2016 |
Food Forward's Wholesale Recovery Program Manager, Luis Yepiz, insp

Food Forward’s Wholesale Recovery Program Manager, Luis Yepiz, inspects grapes recovered from a wholesale donor. The program works to reduce waste by collecting unwanted produce from wholesale donors in and around the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. Photo courtesy of Food Forward.

The number of food insecure residents in Southern California is staggering. According to Rick Nahmias, founder and executive director of Food Forward, there are nearly 2.4 million people in Los Angeles and surrounding counties who lack access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. If that number were a state “its population would rest somewhere in between Nevada and New Mexico in size,” says Nahmias.

That is the challenge that Food Forward tackles each and every day by recovering excess fruits and vegetables and donating them to local agencies that feed the hungry. Read More

Two Urban Farms in Ohio Offer Hope and Food Access to Community in Need

September 21, 2016 |
A volunteer mans a pay-what-you-can produce stand at Wheatland Farms, one of two urban farms in Grove City, Ohio that are part of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank's Urban Farms of Central Ohio initiative. Photo courtesy of Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

A volunteer mans a pay-what-you-can produce stand at Wheatland Farms, one of two urban farms in Grove City, Ohio that are part of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s Urban Farms of Central Ohio initiative. Photo courtesy of Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Two five-acre urban farms in Columbus, Ohio are offering a hardy mixture of hope, employment and improved food access to underserved community members. The farms, collectively known as the Urban Farms of Central Ohio, are part of a nonprofit, sustainability initiative created by the Mid-Ohio Food Bank to revitalize the neighborhood of Grove City.

Sarah Lenkay, Strategic Projects Manager at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, says that the Urban Farms of Central Ohio initiative is centered on the idea of fostering hope for the community and lasting, valuable education.

“We impact the community by giving new life to another life,” says Lenkay. “We want to serve as an anchor providing for the community.”

The two sites that the urban farms occupy were part of a land access grant given to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank by the Columbus Land Bank to repurpose underutilized properties. Read More

California Amends Law to Allow Seed Libraries to Freely Share Noncommercial Seeds

September 20, 2016 |

Marking the most recent victory in a growing nationwide movement to promote the legality of seed libraries, The Seed Exchange Democracy Act (Assembly Bill 1810) was signed into law in California on September 9, 2016. The bill amends the “seed law” chapter of the state’s Food and Agricultural Code to expressly exempt seed libraries from onerous seed testing and labeling requirements. While necessary to protect buyers and consumers of commercial seeds, the impracticality of these requirements for community seed libraries would effectively cause them to shutter. California follows Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois as the fourth state in the last 18 months to adopt laws favorable to seed sharing libraries.

Neil Thapar, a food and farm attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) in Oakland, California who helped launch and draft the bill, explained how seed libraries work. “Seed libraries are essentially community-based initiatives where people can borrow seeds, plant them, and at the end of the season take back some seeds to replenish the seed stock at the library for other people to borrow.” He continues, “There really isn’t any ownership over those seeds. They’re held and stewarded by the library, but they’re shared freely throughout the community.” Read More