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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Sustainable Agriculture Standard Refined from Outside Input, Seeks Testers

July 20, 2015 |
These solar panels in an Oregon vineyard are just one example of many aspects of sustainability. The Leonardo Academy is working hard on a National Sustainable Agriculture Standard, meant to serve as a reliable measuring stick for sustainability. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

These solar panels in an Oregon vineyard are just one example of many aspects of sustainability. The Leonardo Academy is working hard on a National Sustainable Agriculture Standard, meant to serve as a reliable measuring stick for sustainability. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

More and more companies are proclaiming sustainability, which is becoming all the rage. But how is sustainability defined and measured? How to differentiate between organizations practicing sustainability or just giving it lip service?

Meeting this need is Leonardo Academy’s Sustainable Standards Program.

Leonardo Academy, a Madison, Wisconsin-based nonprofit that develops and maintains a variety of sustainability standards, is close to unveiling an updated National Sustainable Agriculture Standard, dubbed LEO-4000.

A second public comment period for the Standard concluded on May 18. Significant changes were made to the Standard after the first public comment period ended in 2014, including ways to address the needs of small farms. Read More

Countryside Initiative Invites Homesteaders to Work the Land at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

June 29, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of the Countryside Conservancy

Photo courtesy of the Countryside Conservancy

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) in Peninsula, Ohio, has nine homesteaders who reside on the Park’s land.

The CVNP has housed a non-profit farm conservancy since 1999, and recently, the conservancy opened up its program to new farmers once again.

The Initiative is inviting aspiring homesteaders and farmers from across the United States to apply to reside on the land’s two new vacant plots.

“The Countryside Initiative was first conceptualized by former CVNP superintendent, Jon Debo,” Tracy Emrick, partnership manager of the Countryside Conservancy, says.

Read More

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