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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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local food systems

Food Co-op Leads the Way To a More Sustainable Riverside

November 19, 2014 |
Riverside Food Co-op’s Crop Box is featured at this Co-op exhibit. The Crop Box, offered monthly to Co-op members, includes numerous in-season fruits, vegetables and greens. (photo courtesy of Diana Hyatt/Riverside Food Co-op)

Riverside Food Co-op’s Crop Box is featured at this Co-op exhibit. The Crop Box, offered monthly to Co-op members, includes numerous in-season fruits, vegetables and greens. (photo courtesy of Diana Hyatt/Riverside Food Co-op)

The Riverside Food Co-op is not only increasing access to locally-produced foods in Riverside, California, but the organization is also bringing other entities together toward this cause.

Riverside was hit hard by the Great Recession, and according to Nick Melquiades, a member of the Co-op’s CORE (Community of Outstanding and Resourceful Entrepreneurs) Team, the Riverside Food Co-op was borne from those difficult times.

“The Co-op formed in response to the recession in Riverside, including real estate foreclosures and a bad economic climate,” Melquiades says. “We needed something more independent.” Read More

9 Technology Tools for Localizing the Food System

October 28, 2014 |
The Farmigo team. Farmigo, based in Brooklyn, New York, uses technology to make locally-produced foods more accessible. (photo courtesy of Farmigo)

The Farmigo team. Farmigo, based in Brooklyn, New York, uses technology to make locally-produced foods more accessible. (photo courtesy of Farmigo)

It might seem that to purchase locally-produced foods, one must take a two-lane county road to the nearest farm stand or visit the local farmers’ market. Even though it may seem that the big-box grocery store is an embedded part of modern life, modern technology increasingly is empowering the buying and selling of local foods on an larger-than-ever scale. From radio frequency identification tags to online food hubs to mobile phone apps, technology is taking agriculture “back” to the future.

The following are nine cutting-edge examples. Read More

Women in Food: From Theatre to Tech, Erika Block Helps Build a New Food Economy

October 9, 2014 |
Ericka Block, founder of Local Orbit. Photo Credit: Local Orbit

Erika Block, founder of Local Orbit.
Photo Credit: Local Orbit

This piece is the part of a Seedstock series profiling women who are leading change in sustainable agriculture and local food. Read more profiles here.

You might call Erika Block something of a web weaver for the local foods economy.  As CEO of Local Orbit, a company dedicated to providing sales and business management software and services to entrepreneurs, farmers, food hubs and others involved with local foods, she’s intricately familiar with the logistics that make the movement possible.  With clients in 16 states and Canada, her 8-person team provides local food producers and aggregators with cloud-based tech tools and coaching so they can sell their products more efficiently to restaurants, grocers, and institutional buyers.

Read More

Seedstock 3rd Annual Sustainable Ag Innovation Conference Packs Punch with Stellar Slate of Expert Speakers

September 16, 2014 |
speakers seedstock conference

Top Row (left to right): Clare Fox, Los Angeles Food Policy Council; A.G. Kawamura, former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Nurit Katz, UCLA Sustainability. Bottom row (left to right): Michel Algazi, Freshology and Food Centricity; Sasha Kanno, Long Beach Local and Farm Lot 59; Rickey Smith, Urban Green.

Local food policy, urban agriculture strategy, and business model innovation are just a sample of the informative fare to be served up at the 3rd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference – “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities.”

The comprehensive, expert-rich program, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, November 11-12, at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, will focus on the economic, environmental and community benefits that result from the development of a robust local food infrastructure. Participants from local food policy experts and urban agriculture entrepreneurs to investors and thought leaders in the sustainable agriculture industry will explore new approaches to strengthen the marketplace for local food and foster the revitalization of urban areas by embracing innovation in sustainable agriculture. Read More

City of Lexington, Kentucky Hires Former Aid to First Lady as First Local Food Coordinator

September 15, 2014 |

Ashton Potter Wright

The City of Lexington, Kentucky has initiated a new local foods program as part of its economic development efforts.

Tapped to manage this new initiative is Lexington native Ashton Potter Wright, who has served as local food coordinator for Mayor Jim Gray’s office since the first week of June.

Wright previously served as operations manager of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Child Care campaign, where she was able to network with people from around the country. She holds a doctorate in public health from the University of Kentucky and worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She also serves as president of the board for Lexington-based Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition.

“The position was in the works for three years or so,” says Wright. “It’s modeled after a similar position in Louisville, Kentucky.”  Her territory includes not only Lexington, but also Lexington’s county, Fayette County.  Read More

Urban Farm Hopes to Serve as Catalyst for Creation of Local Food District

September 11, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Everitt Farms

Photo courtesy of Everitt Farms

Situated on the last few acres of a 140-year old family homestead, Everitt Farms hopes to serve as a platform for a local food district, returning a new Denver suburb to its old agricultural roots. 

Located in Lakewood, Colorado, the farm is an urban agricultural experiment initiated by husband-and-wife team Derek and Kamise Mullen.

“We both have really wanted to do something like this for honestly, a good portion of our lives,” says Kamise Mullen. “It really wasn’t until we got married about four years ago that we actually started really growing food and trying to farm at all.” Read More

Radicle Farm’s Aggregated Network of Hydroponic Greenhouses Offer Living Salads to Locavores

September 10, 2014 |
postradicleCU

Photo courtesy of Radicle Farm

Named after the first root to appear from a seed, Radicle Farm Company of New Jersey is rethinking the sustainable leafy greens concept. Through an aggregated network of local hydroponic farms, Radicle offers its living salad products to the wholesale and retail market.

“We want to be large,” says Christopher Washington, Managing Director of the company that started in 2013. “All the research that we’ve done has indicated that the consumer wants to support local product; it’s not really groundbreaking. What is groundbreaking is that companies that get the most traction are private brands in agriculture.”  Read More

Local Farmers Respond to NYT Piece on Local Farming Viability

August 28, 2014 |
Photo Credit: Green Acre Aquaponics

Photo Credit: Green Acre Aquaponics

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Bren Smith, a shellfish and seaweed farmer on the Long Island Sound, states that “the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn’t making a living.” 

Smith’s article is positioned as a call-to-action for sustainable farmers across the nation to come together and force national reform. Claiming that too-competitive farmers’ markets and CSA’s and the proliferation non-profit farming operations conspire to price the small grower out, Smith states that his “experience proves the trend.” 

But does it? 

Seedstock spoke with several of the small, local farmers we’ve covered over the last several years to get their take on Smith’s piece. Read More