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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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local food systems

Southern California’s Temecula Valley Becoming an Epicenter of Local Food and Agriculture

August 26, 2015 |
Carrots are harvested in the Temecula Valley. (photo courtesy of Don Webber/Cultivating Good)

Carrots are harvested in the Temecula Valley. (Photo courtesy of Don Webber/Cultivating Good)

Grass-fed beef, yams, ostrich eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, wild game—all of these and more can be found in or near Temecula, California.

Located in southwestern Riverside County and at the southwest point of the Inland Empire region, Temecula is located in the Temecula Valley, home to many vineyards and wineries.

While Temecula is now a thriving epicenter of the local foods movement, this was not always the case.

When local food artisan and chef Leah Di Bernardo decided to move back to Southern California from New York City (she grew up on both coasts), Riverside County was the last place she thought she would end up. But she landed in Temecula. Read More

Why Does Hawaii Import Most of Its Food Yet Rank High on Locavore Index?

August 17, 2015 |
Hawaii is known for its many varieties of delicious fruits and vegetables. (photo courtesy of Nancy Redfeather/The Kohala Center)

Hawaii is known for its many varieties of delicious fruits and vegetables. (photo courtesy of Nancy Redfeather/The Kohala Center)

Hawaii,  known for its beaches and lavish resorts, has become a hotspot for local food and agriculture in recent years.

Hawaii was No. 8 on the 2015 Locavore Index, a list that ranks every state in its commitment to local foods. The list is compiled by Vermont-based local food advocacy organization Strolling of the Heifers.

“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.

The index takes into account the number of food hubs, farmers’ markets and CSAs, as well as farm-to-school efforts and per capita direct food sales. Read More

Grassroots Efforts Target Food Insecurity in San Bernardino County, CA

August 11, 2015 |
A feast is enjoyed at Huerta Del Valle Community Garden in San Bernardino County. (photo courtesy of Arthur Levine/Huerta Del Valle)

A feast is enjoyed at Huerta Del Valle Community Garden in San Bernardino County. (photo courtesy of Arthur Levine/Huerta Del Valle)

San Bernardino County, the largest county in the United States, stretches all the way from Southern California’s Inland Empire to the California-Nevada state line. 

In addition to numerous farms and other agricultural businesses, the county is home to Amy’s Farm, a polyculture-oriented farm in Ontario with a focus on education; Huerta del Valle, a robust community garden in Ontario; and the Upland-based Incredible Edible Community Garden.

Thanks to people like Arthur Levine, local and urban agriculture in San Bernardino County is experiencing a burgeoning grassroots movement. 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

Inside the Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index: Oregon

July 5, 2015 |
Minto Island Growers. Image courtesy of Oregon Tilth

Minto Island Growers.
Image courtesy of Oregon Tilth

by Traci Knight

This piece is part of a series exploring the top 10 states in the Strolling of the Heifers 2015 Locavore Index.

Oregon keeps climbing the locavore index according to data compiled in Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based local food advocacy group. Moving from number 14 in 2012 to number 4 in 2015, Oregon is showing a clear commitment to strengthening its regional food system. Chris Schreiner, Executive Director of Oregon Tilth, an organic certification and advocacy agency, helps identify some of the ways that the state has worked to build it’s sustainable, organic and local food network. 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

Kansas Task Force Seeks to Strengthen Local Food in a Big Ag State

June 3, 2015 |

 

Vendors at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market make a sale. Like other states, Kansas has seen a boom in the number and popularity of farmers’ markets in recent years. Image courtesy of Overland Park Farmers' Market/ Jason Ebberts with TBL Photography.

Vendors at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market make a sale. Like other states, Kansas has seen a boom in the number and popularity of farmers’ markets in recent years. Image courtesy of Overland Park Farmers’ Market/ Jason Ebberts with TBL Photography.

A group of farmers, horticultural experts and politicians from both sides of the aisle have come together to learn about local food in Kansas.

The seven-member Local Food and Farm Task Force, established by Kansas Senate Bill 286, will prepare a report of their findings along with policy and funding recommendations for January 2016 session of the Kansas legislature. Monthly meetings started this past November and will continue through December 2015.

The task force includes a horticultural expert from Kansas State University’s extension system, a Republican and a Democrat selected by their respective party’s legislative leadership, a member from the Kansas Department of Agriculture and three member appointed by the governor—including the chairman, Ron Brown, who is a family farmer and executive board member of the National Association of Conservation Districts.

Kerry Wefald, Agriculture Marketing Director at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, attends task force meetings as a member of the administrative support team. According to Wefald, the current focus of the task force is to get an idea of what gaps exist in the state food system. Read More