sustainable agriculture initiative
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers scattered around the country is gearing up to piece together the world’s first high-resolution map of global croplands, in a cross-institutional collaboration. The team’s goal is to answer the question, “Where is all of our food going to come from when global population reaches 9 billion people?” Researchers hope that having a detailed picture of what’s happening with croplands around the world will help to inform the net effect of regional demographic and geological changes. Piecing together that accurate of a map will likely take five years, $3.5 million (funded by NASA), computation of thousands of satellite images, and collaboration with crop experts all over the globe.
Anyone who has visited a Chipotle Mexican Grill knows their business model: pretty, tasty tacos and burritos prepared to order in an assembly line of tortillas, savory shredded meats, beans and an array of salsas to fit your heat tolerance.
What you might not know is that Chipotle is leading the way for “fast food” chains to transform their food sourcing to a more environmentally responsible model that taps local farmers, patronizes humanely-raised meat farms and gives customers a more healthful mouthful. Or, as Chipotle puts it, “Food With Integrity”.
According to Green Spirit Farms‘ Research and Development Manager Daniel Kluko, the future of farming is heading in one clear direction: vertical. “If we want to feed hungry people this is how we need to farm,” said Kluko.
Kluko believes that vertical farming offers a very important benefit in today’s world of scarce land and resources— the potential for unparalleled plant density. After all, how else can a farmer grow 27 heads of lettuce in one square foot of growing space?
Green Spirit Farms was started by Daniel’s father Milan Kluko under his engineering company Fountainhead Engineering LTD. The idea for the farm emerged while the company was evaluating indoor, urban farm models in North America for a non-profit client—a process which piqued Milan Kluko’s interest about the viability of a vertical farming operation.
Keep Growing Detroit, a nonprofit community gardening and urban agriculture support organization, has a mission to achieve nothing short of sovereignty for Detroiters.
Food sovereignty, that is.
The organization’s vision is one of a Detroit where Detroiters grow the majority of fruits and vegetables they consume. The group also serves Hamtramck and Highland Parks, autonomous cities surrounded on all sides by the City of Detroit.
A nationwide initiative to encourage hospitals to provide patients and employees with healthier food choices may benefit independent growers. The Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) program encourages hospitals across the country to pledge to a more sustainable food program in their facilities with a focus on buying local and encouraging preventative healthcare.
The Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) program is the brainchild of the folks at Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and is just one of their many initiatives to encourage hospitals to use their purchasing power to promote preventative healthcare through healthy food. HCWH began in 1996 in response to the discovery that the burning of medical waste was one of the largest sources of the carcinogen dioxin on the planet. HCWH is comprised of 28 separate organizations in 52 countries. The group is a privately funded 501 c3 with several green program successes already under their belt.
The demand for local food continues to grow, often faster than small growers and infrastructure can keep up. That’s why the work of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) is vital in connecting small farmers to big business in Northwest Washington State.
Founded in 2006, NABC is the brainchild of a group of farmers and politicians who noticed a gap in the small business assistance market. Independent growers running small farms are first and foremost farmers. Brand development, marketing, establishing a customer base and utilizing accounting technology are often unfamiliar and time consuming aspects of the small farm business. NABC provides assistance in these and other areas helping to keep small farms viable.
Facilitating Food Alliances, Ag Innovations Network Aims to Boost Local Food Production and Health of CitizensApril 15, 2013 | Jan Fletcher
Is healthy, locally produced food on the endangered ‘agri-list?’ Some think so and are taking a round-table approach to ensure local fare stays on the menu and local farmers keep their hands in the soil. Cultivating those grassroots is what this movement is all about, as volunteers address systemic issues in food production with a focus on local, sustainable cultivation.
The Sonoma County Food System Alliance created a forum to bring public-health advocates, farmers and ranchers together in a round-table work group. The goal according to the group’s website is fostering an awareness that cultivation of healthy food in a community is an ecosystem, with each part essential to supporting the whole.
The Sonoma County Health Department partnered with Ag Innovations Network (AIN), the Redwood Empire Food Bank and the Ag Commissioner’s Office to convene the Alliance in 2007, according to the group’s website.
On a brisk Saturday morning at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, 10 volunteers are laying cardboard and wood chips over an area recently choked with invasive plant species of reed canary grass and Himalayan blackberry. The creation of this urban farm, which according to the organization’s website has the potential to produce over 20,000 pounds of fresh food for families struggling with food security, is an example of what happens when city government, nonprofits, and the public come together.