Nearly 1 billion people around the world are hungry. Another billion people are obese. At the same time, one third of the food produced for human consumption spoils or goes to waste. These problems have become pervasive throughout the globe. They affect industrialized and developing nations alike. Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson of Chicago, Illinois saw these statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as symptoms of a failed global food system. In response, they launched Food Tank: The Food Think Tank as a platform for anyone with a stake in the global food system to contribute to a solution. According to the non-profit’s website, “Food Tank: The Food Think Tank is for the 7 billion people who have to eat every day.”
Larry Jacobs, a visionary from California, pioneered a new form of agriculture three decades ago that demonstrated to skeptics food could be cultivated profitably without the use of farming chemicals and pesticides. He went on to found the Del Cabo Cooperative in Mexico, which continues to assist indigenous farmers in growing and selling their produce at a price that creates a sustainable livelihood for their families.
In part one of a two-part interview with Seedstock.com, Larry Jacobs, NRDC’s 2013 Growing Green Award winner, explains why he chose in 1980 to make the switch to organic farming. This occurred at a time when U.S. farmers who experimented with organic farming methods were not even on the radar screen, and were often considered residents of “Kookville,” Jacobs says.
‘Next Urban Chef’ Program Stresses Importance of Local Food to Detroit Youth, Teams Students with ChefsApril 24, 2013 | Nina Ignaczak
“The food system is literally killing people in communities like Detroit,” says Alison Heeres, 27, coordinator of a program designed to educate and engage youth in the local food movement in the City of Detroit.
Heeres, who works with the University of Michigan Health System teaching nutrition and wellness in schools, has witnessed firsthand the impact of lack of access to and knowledge about fresh, local food in urban communities. So when she was asked to coordinate a program to engage Detroit youth in a high profile project designed to get them thinking about food and nutrition in a new way, she took the opportunity.
The program, Next Urban Chef, is modeled after the wildly popular Next Iron Chef television series, and focuses on youth education and leadership development around local food.
A Firm Believer in the Three P’s of Sustainable Growing, Craig McNamara Talks Walnuts, Water and WasteMarch 14, 2013 | Trish Popovitch
When it comes to sustainable agriculture, Craig McNamara, owner of Sierra Orchards, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and son of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, believes firmly in the three P’s of sustainable growing: planet, people and profit. Living in the organic walnut orchard that comprises the bulk of his farming business you could argue he’s living in and up to his principles.
McNamara began his career as a farmer in his late 20s. He began as a truck farmer, but soon found traditional produce was not right for him. “The marketing challenges of a truck farmer were very difficult. Being a small produce grower farming, harvesting, packaging and shipping my own product into the wholesale market was extremely challenging. I said ‘there’s got to be a better way.’ I’ve got to find a crop that has fewer harvests per year, is less perishable and a crop that I just have more control over and for me that was walnuts.” Sierra Orchards was founded in 1980.
Harvest Power is about dirt. It’s also about soil regeneration and managing the modern day intersection of waste, agriculture and energy, so that ongoing human consumption can be used as the engine to drive ongoing renewable energy.
In three and a half years, CEO Paul Sellew has created a company that diverts more than two million tons of organic waste material from landfills and turns it into some 29 million bags of soil, mulch and fertilizer products while producing 65,000 megawatt hours of heat and power-generating energy to run its facilities.
Harvest Power operates in 30 sites across the U.S. and Canada, using strategic partnerships with municipalities, haulers and state-of-the-art anaerobic digesters to create high value compost that is in turn used to create more high nutrition food that can be later be recycled into the system starting the whole process over again.
The hydroponics industry has the power to eradicate world hunger – if we’d only take it seriously, says agricultural expert Matthew Geschke. But that can be hard to do. Hydroponics trade shows cultivate a party atmosphere that caters to grow-your-own stoners. Decorated with kegs and half-naked women, there is very little talk of saving the world. For Geschke, a hydroponics designer who desperately wants to be accepted in mainstream agricultural circles, it’s an embarrassment that relegates a critical farming alternative to the shadows.
Geschke explains that, as is commonly accepted among agricultural circles, a well-designed hydroponic system is “capable of producing seven to 10 times more produce than traditional agriculture in the same given footprint, assuming all necessary demands are met.” These systems, which grow plants in water using mineral nutrient solutions without soil, are built to recreate the plants’ natural environment. This is what makes it such an efficient and sustainable operation.
Try to imagine how a normal, modern-day, high school science classroom looks. If your mind fills with images of beakers, microscopes and memories of dreaded, early-morning labs, then the classrooms of Kevin Savage, a high school environmental science teacher at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Cincinnati, OH, may surprise you. While teaching at the private school, Savage filled his classes with unique tools including aquariums, fish and plants that he uses to teach his students.
Savage, who originally worked in environmental consulting, began teaching chemistry at the school three years ago. Savage now teaches an environmental science AP class and a senior elective that focus on sustainable and urban agriculture, and aquaponics.
Video: Keynote Address on Importance of Embracing Sustainable Ag from Colin Archipley of Archi’s AcresJanuary 10, 2013 | Robert Puro
At the Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference at UCLA Anderson School of Management this past October, we had the pleasure of having Colin Archipley deliver the keynote address. In his presentation, Colin, a decorated marine sergeant and founder, along with his wife Karen, of Archi’s Acres and the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program, discusses the importance of embracing sustainable agriculture and its essential role in feeding a growing world population.
Org Seeks to Expand Urban Edge Agriculture by Setting Up AgParks and Training New Sustainable FarmersDecember 26, 2012 | Missy Smith
One of the things preventing new and established farmers from growing food is the difficulty accessing farmland. Land is pricey, and farmland in particular is dwindling. Another obstacle farmers face is the lack of inexpensive education and training.
Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) of Berkeley, Calif., is very much aware of these needs, and has implemented projects to help support new and seasoned farmers access land and education. SAGE, founded in 2001, also aims to improve food access for local communities, conserve natural resources and contribute to economic growth.
Big City Farms, of Baltimore, Maryland, has high ambitions for urban agriculture. About three years ago, Ted Rouse, Alex Persful, Brian LeGetter and Tom Handwerker formed the for-profit urban farming company to create more jobs and more accessible entry points into the sustainable agriculture industry by developing a network of local, sustainable farms that provides healthy food to Baltimore’s local community. All were in agreement that the two major factors preventing people from getting into agriculture are lack of available land and money to finance new operations. So, they started Big City Farms two years ago to remove these barriers for those interested in agriculture, healthy food and community building.
Overseeing a collection of hoop-house farms, Big City Farms grows healthy food for Baltimore’s inner city on urban land that is vacant or deteriorated, giving new life to underutilized spaces.
News Release – The Federal Government should launch a coordinated effort to boost American agricultural science by increasing public investments in that economically important domain and rebalancing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research portfolio, according to a new report by an independent, presidentially appointed advisory group. The report also calls for the creation of a network of public-private agricultural “innovation institutes,” to leverage the strengths of government scientists and commercial interests.
Embrace of Sustainable Ag Tech & Practices Enables 3rd Gen Farm in Orange County, CA to Survive UrbanizationDecember 12, 2012 | Melonie Magruder
When Matt and A.G. Kawamura’s grandparents first came to California from Japan at the beginning of the 20th century, they worked as seasonal fruit pickers and, eventually, sharecroppers in an Orange County that was mostly about orange trees and maybe a couple of other crops.
Within a few years, however, the founders of what became Orange County Produce had created a fertilizer and farm supply company. After World War II, during which they were relocated to an internment camp in Arizona, the Kawamuras launched a company that grew and shipped fresh produce like lettuce, cabbage and cantaloupes.
Research Finds Ag and Food Production Contribute Up to 29 Percent of Global Greenhouse Gas EmissionsNovember 2, 2012 | CGIAR
News Release – COPENHAGEN - Feeding the world releases up to 17,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, according to a new analysis released today by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). But while the emissions “footprint” of food production needs to be reduced, a companion policy brief by CCAFS lays out how climate change will require a complete recalibration of where specific crops are grown and livestock are raised.