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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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local and regional distribution

6 Simple Ways To Support Local Food And Farmers

March 7, 2016 |
Kevin Prather, Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farmer, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Kevin Prather of Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farm, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Whether you are new to the local food scene, or you’ve been buying from your neighborhood farmers market for years, you’re making a big difference in the lives of small farmers and food distributors. But the food system is complicated. It’s not always clear how to spend your resources—whether to invest time or money—to best support your local food system.

So we’ve compiled six tips to make it even easier for you to support local food producers. Read More

Agriculture Key to California Economic Summit’s ‘One Million Challenge’ for Workers, Water and Homes

February 18, 2016 |
Trees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photoTrees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Trees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

In November 2015, the fourth California Economic Summit took place in Ontario, located in Southern California’s Inland Empire. Agriculture was a key component of the vision outlined at the event, which is designed to spur economic growth in the Golden State.

The event is put on by the California Stewardship Network, a group promoting economic vitality and California Forward, a bipartisan government reform initiative.

“The first economic summit did not include agriculture, which was a large frustration,” says Glenda Humiston, Working Landscapes Action Team co-lead and vice president of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (along with co-lead A.G. Kawamura, an urban farmer from Orange County). “The following year, we advocated for a Working Landscapes action team.” Read More

New Alliance Strives to Preserve Rich Local Food Culture of Louisiana’s Acadiana Region

November 24, 2015 |
Okra, used in gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun/Creole foods, is one of several locally-grown crops in southern Louisiana’s Acadiana region. (photo courtesy Chris Adams/Acadiana Food Alliance)

Okra, used in gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun/Creole foods, is one of several locally-grown crops in southern Louisiana’s Acadiana region. (Photo courtesy Chris Adams/Acadiana Food Alliance)

The rich Cajun and Creole food tradition of southern Louisiana’s French-speaking region of Acadiana is the target of preservation efforts by a new local food alliance.

Until recently, efforts to bolster local foods in the Acadiana region were disparate and disjointed, according to Christopher Adams, executive director of the Cultural Research Institute of Acadiana. The Acadiana Food Alliance is trying to change that.

“There’s been a fair amount of movement in the area for local food, including an upsurge in farmers’ markets and lots of restaurants featuring local food on menus,” says Adams. “These have been independent and scattered efforts, with lots of individual potentials. Our hope is to bring together an effective collaboration.”

The journey toward the new food alliance began in February 2014 when about 30 interested people began meeting regularly. The group applied for technical assistance from the U.S. EPA’s Local Foods, Local Places program, and were one of 26 recipients (out of 300 applicants) nationwide. The Local Foods, Local Places program seeks to enhance economic opportunities for locally based farmers and businesses by improving access to healthy local food and supporting food hubs, farmers’ markets, and community gardens and kitchens. Read More

Website Fights ‘Local-wash’, Reveals Which Food Retailers Truly Serve Up Local

October 26, 2015 |
A screenshot of the Local Local website features three of its key features: searching for, discovering, and connecting with food businesses that provide local fare. (image courtesy Reed Shelger/Local Local)

A screenshot of the Local Local website features three of its key features: searching for, discovering, and connecting with food businesses that provide local fare. (image courtesy Reed Shelger/Local Local)

A popular new restaurant proclaims that it serves only local food and drink. But how do its customers know if the restaurant’s food is truly local? A new website looks to answer this question.

Local Local, founded by Reed Shelger in 2014, provides an online directory of restaurants and other food retailers that procure and sell local foods.

Shelger, who worked as a consultant in the commercial food industry after earning an undergraduate degree in managerial economics from the University of California, Davis and a master’s in business administration from Rice University, saw firsthand how grocery stores and restaurants “local-wash.” “Local-washing” is defined as exaggerating or fabricating the extent to which food comes from local sources.   Read More

Activist Coalition Pushes University of Maine System to Source More Local Foods

September 1, 2015 |
The University of Southern Maine in Portland is one of six campuses in the UMaine system, whose food vendor contract ends next year. The UMaine system recently released a request for proposal to source more of its food locally. (Wikimedia Commons phot

The University of Southern Maine in Portland is one of six campuses in the UMaine system whose food vendor contract ends next year. The UMaine system recently released a request for proposal to source more of its food locally. (Wikimedia Commons phot

On August 31, the University of Maine (UMaine) System released a formal request for proposals (RFP) designed to significantly increase sourcing of locally grown foods across its six campuses.

A contract between UMaine and corporate food vendor Aramark will conclude on June 30, 2016, ending a 10-year relationship. The move comes after a coalition of activist groups had lobbied the UMaine system to source more of its food locally. 

The Maine Food for the UMaine System project is a coalition of 20 organizations, 170 farmers and more than 1,500 students, faculty and staff within the UMaine system. It’s spearheaded by Farm to Institution New EnglandMaine Farmland TrustReal Food Challenge and Environment Maine. Read More

California Food Hub Innovates by Decentralizing Distribution

July 7, 2015 |
Image courtesy of MendoLake Food Hub

Image courtesy of MendoLake Food Hub

Just north of San Francisco, Mendocino and Lake counties in California are full of small to medium-sized farmers. Many of them sell at local farmers’ markets.

But John Bailey noticed that the time and money many farmers spend just getting their crops to market can make a substantial dent in profits.

“They spend lots of money going to farmers’ markets, but do not earn a profit from farmers’ markets,” says Bailey. “Lots of farmers have no idea how to sell wholesale.” Read More

Alaska Marine Conservation Council Sustains Local Food in Coastal Communities

June 17, 2015 |
Courtesy of the AMCC

Courtesy of the AMCC

The Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) addresses infrastructure and population challenges in the nation’s last frontier in an effort to localize Alaska’s food system.

Founded in 1994, the AMCC works hard to ensure the economics of Alaska’s most bountiful natural resources, its marine life and coastal communities. Read More

CSAs, Food Hubs, and Farm-to-School Programs Earn Maine No. 2 Spot in Locavore Index

June 8, 2015 |
Maine, which ranks No. 4 on the Locavore Index, has over 125 farmers’ markets serving delicious and colorful produce. (photo courtesy of John Bott/Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry)

Maine, which ranks No. 2 on the Locavore Index, has over 125 farmers’ markets serving delicious and colorful produce. (photo courtesy of John Bott/Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry)

Maine is a great destination for locally-sourced food, as evidenced by its strong showing in the latest Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index. In 2015, the state ranked No. 2, a spot it has held since 2013.

“The purpose of the Index is to stimulate efforts across the country to use more local food in homes, restaurants, schools and institutions,” says Orly Munzing, founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers. Read More