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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Celebrates 30 Years of Sustainable Farming Advocacy

November 4, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Michael Fields Agriculture Institute

Photo courtesy of Michael Fields Agriculture Institute

Founded in 1984, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit advocacy organizations for sustainable agriculture. Teaching children sustainable farming, public programming and lobbying for sustainable agriculture policy at the state and federal level are the daily work of the MFAI. Funded by federal grants and donations, the MFAI also assists retiring farmers in how best to manage their farmland and aids growers in the organic certification process. 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

To Meet Needs of Green Economy, Triton College Offers New Online Sustainable Agriculture Courses

August 7, 2014 |

triton college 1Sponsored Post – The Sustainable Horticulture Department at Triton College in River Grove, IL is offering innovative new online courses to meet the evolving needs of the emerging green economy. Through two grants, a Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Pathways in Agriculture Technology Grant, Triton has developed two associate degree programs with two stackable certificates in Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT) and Sustainable Landscaping Practices, as well as a standalone certificate in Sustainable Landscaping. Read More

Organic CSA in Rochester, WA Finds Success in Sticking with What People Know

March 7, 2013 |

Rising River Farm CSA Basket. Photo Credit: Rising River Farm.

During this time of year, Rising River Farm’s namesake, the Chehalis River, flows fast and steady, and even though the rainy weather makes it seem that spring is months away, Jennifer Belknap is itching to get outside. Even after 15 years of co-running Rochester, WA-based Rising River Farm with her husband, Jim McGinn, she is still anxious to begin planting the seeds that usher in another season.

Rising River Farm began in 1994 when Jim and two friends started a three-acre community supported agriculture (CSA) farm on land leased from Betsie DeWreede of Independence Valley Farm, located just outside of Rochester, Washington. Read More

San Diego Org Offers Unique Urban Farming Training Program, Preps Students for Careers in Sustainable Ag

October 2, 2012 |

In downtown San Diego, on San Diego City College’s campus, Seeds@City Urban Farm is growing a variety of crops, as well as grooming students for careers in sustainable agriculture. Formed in 2008, the 1-acre urban farm—a cooperative of San Diego City College and San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project—gives students hands-on training in sustainable urban farming.

Seeds@City was created to fill a void in southern California for those who want to learn about organic farming in an urban setting,” explains Erin Rempala, associate professor of biology and Seeds@City program manager. Read More

Former Insurance Claims Supervisor’s Move to Country Spurs Foray into Sustainable Farming

May 29, 2012 |

Phil Noble of Sage Mountain Farm. Photo Credit: Sage Mountain Farm.

Phil Noble of Hemet, CA-based Sage Mountain Farm never imagined himself living the life of a farmer. Before moving 30 miles outside of the city, Phil was a supervisor for a claims department at an insurance company. His initial foray into agriculture was a small, simple garden. Today, along with his wife Juany, he sustainably farms over 150 acres of land on which he grows certified organic fruits and vegetables and raises grass-fed cattle.

I recently spoke with Phil to learn more about why he decided to become a farmer, what types of sustainable practices he employs, the challenges that he faces and more. Read More

Certification Org. Pushes Consistent Commitment to Sustainability in Agriculture at Every Step of Production

March 22, 2012 |

With incredibly comprehensive guidelines on environmental stewardship, social responsibility and animal welfare, Portland-based Food Alliance is making it easier to identify producers who demonstrate a true commitment to sustainability.

Food Alliance is a nonprofit that develops stewardship guidelines to help define sustainable agricultural practices and provides third-party certification of sustainable agricultural and food handling practices. It began in 1993 as a joint project of Oregon State University, Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to create market incentives for the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. In 1997, it was incorporated and began creating its first guidelines, initially for fruit and vegetable growers. Read More

Sustainable Food Supply Continues Growth in Sluggish Economy

March 1, 2012 |

News Release - (Portland, OR) – Food Alliance recently published an updated list of food and farm products certified to its Sustainability Standards for Agricultural Production and Food Handling Operations. 46 new farms and food handling operations became certified in 2011, representing a 15% annual increase.

“There are now nearly 100 companies marketing thousands of Food Alliance Certified products throughout the United States and Canada” said Executive Director Scott Exo. Read More