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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Food Security

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

LA Green Grounds Digs in to Build Urban Farms and Strengthen Community

October 12, 2016 |
L.A. Green Grounds "Dig-in". Photo courtesy of L.A. Green Grounds.

LA Green Grounds “Dig-in” in South Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of LA Green Grounds.

In Los Angeles, CA, community members involved in the urban farming and food justice movements are keenly aware of the food insecurity that is so prevalent in its South Los Angeles neighborhoods. It was this insufficient access to healthy, nutritious food that spurred Florence Nishida to co-found LA Green Grounds, a volunteer organization that works with residents of South L.A. to convert their front lawns and parkways into edible landscapes and urban farms.

“If you have a garden in the front yard it leads to conversation, and that’s the most important thing,” says Nishida. “The minute you start growing squash, tomatoes, or something people have never seen before, they start asking questions, and that starts the conversation. Those conversations lead to a sense of community.”

Making vegetables a visible part of the community is what has guided LA Green Grounds ever since its founding in 2010. Read More

Impact Investment Firm Takes on Local Food Production to Increase Food Security in Hawaiian Islands

October 11, 2016 |

The Hawaiian Islands possess ideal climatic conditions to support year-round agriculture from consistently temperate weather to ample rainfall and abundant sunlight. Despite these favorable conditions, the islands rely on imports from the mainland and elsewhere for nearly 90 percent of the food that residents consume.

Last month, at the ICUN World Conservation Conference in Honolulu, Governor David Ige announced his pledge to double local food production by the year 2030. To help insure the success of this pledge, the Ulupono Initiative, a Hawaii-focused impact investing firm, has stepped into the fray to provide financial and advisory support to for-profit, non-profit and social ventures seeking to increase food security and production on the islands.

“We are pleased to hear about the governor’s announcement, and want to make it happen through investment means,” says Murray Clay, Managing Partner at Ulupono Initiative. “We are an impact investing firm, with one of the key areas of focus being local food production.” Read More

To Sure Up Island Food Security, Hawaii’s ‘Mahiai Match-Up’ Competition Offers Farmers Land and Seed Money

September 29, 2016 |
This year's Mahiai Match-Up first place winners, Kaivao Farms, in Hamakua (Pahoehoe), on their awarded parcel. Photo courtesy of Kamehameha Schools communications office.

This year’s Mahiai Match-Up first place winners, Kaivao Farms, in Hamakua (Pahoehoe), on their awarded parcel. Photo courtesy of Kamehameha Schools communications office.

Before Western contact, Hawaii was able to grow enough food locally to sustain its population. In marked contrast to the past, Hawaii imports approximately 85-90 percent of its food, aspiring local farmers face high barriers to entry due to exorbitant land prices, equipment that must be imported from the mainland or elsewhere, and a lack of sufficient farmer training. Additionally, Hawaii hosts an aging population of farmers, most of whom are a few years older than the national average. This volatile mix of agricultural challenges leaves the state particularly vulnerable if a sudden disruption in food imports occurs.

To help insure the state’s food security, Kamehameha Schools (KS) and Pauahi Foundation joined forces in 2009 to create the annual “Mahiai Match-Up” competition. Its primary goal is to find farmers and help them overcome barriers to entry so that they can tackle food security issues in the state.  Read More