Bring up “roots” in Memphis, and you could be referring to the blend of bluegrass and gospel music for which the region is famous. In this case, however, Roots Memphis is an urban farm incubator located literally just around the corner from Graceland, Elvis Presley’s stately former residence. The Roots operation is dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices, and now includes three farms (one at the original site, two at other locations nearby), an agricultural training program for young farmers, and a for-profit CSA open to the community.
Mary Phillips is co-director, along with Wes Riddle. A former resident of Memphis, she returned in 2008 for a short time, not imagining that she would establish a home—much less a farm—in the city.
It’s getting easier to buy food grown in northeast Iowa, thanks to a regional food hub,.
For small to mid-sized farming operations, associating with a regional food hub can mean selling more crops, reaching more markets, and earning more money to reinvest in the farm. Associating with a food hub also means that more food can be distributed to markets nearby, a boon for the regional economy. Food hubs help farmers aggregate, market, and distribute their goods, jobs that growers may not have time or money to do themselves.
Farmers often don’t have an easy time getting access to capital to sustain and grow their businesses. Capay Organic, an organic family farm based about 35 miles west of Sacramento, California, faced just this dilemma in 2009.
To deal with their cash flow issues, owners Noah Barnes and Thaddeus and Freeman Barsotti took matters into their own hands creating their own lending system, the Green Loan Program.
Local urban farmers in Detroit have recognized that the whole is often greater than its parts—and so they’ve combined forces to strengthen the local food scene and their own bottom lines.
Six Detroit farm businesses have combined to create City Commons, a cooperative in which members support the six farms with a purchase of seasonal shares of fresh produce and other farm products. Members receive a weekly box of fresh-from-the-farm, organically grown food that has been raised entirely within Detroit’s city limits. The coop model is advantageous for customers who like a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. It’s also advantageous for independent farmers who are trying to make a living exclusively by farming—especially those who share a passion for fresh, local food for an urban population.
As a nation enamored with the marvels of capitalism, it is little wonder that worker-owned cooperatives (businesses owned and controlled by their workers) have not managed to capture much attention in the United States. There are, in fact, 300 worker cooperatives in the United States, but most of them remain relatively unknown or misunderstood by the general public.
Our Harvest Cooperative is a union worker-owned cooperative started in 2012 by the Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative. The Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative, which emerged in 2009, is a collaboration between Spain’s Mondragon Worker-Owned Cooperatives and the United Steelworkers—two organizations that came together with the goal of duplicating the success of Mondragon in the United States. Mondragon, founded in 1956, is now the seventh-largest corporation in Spain and remains a model for successful worker-owned cooperatives throughout the world.
Higher Ground Farm founder John Stoddard is all about moving on up—especially when it comes to urban agriculture.
In 2012, Stoddard wrote a guest post for Seedstock highlighting the potential of rooftop farming. At the time, he and his business partner, Courtney Hennessey, were searching for a roof space to farm. They’ve since started farming on the roof of the Boston Design Center, a 55,000 square foot space in South Boston, and completed their first farming season in 2013.
UC Riverside Takes Active Role in Promoting Community and Local Food Systems at ‘Grow Riverside’ ConferenceMarch 26, 2014 | Robert Puro
UC Riverside, a sponsor of last week’s ‘Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond’ Conference, played a large role in shaping the conference proceedings and contributing concrete ideas and steps to help the City of Riverside develop local agriculture strategies and solutions to reconnect with its agricultural roots and foster a robust and sustainable local food future.
Fortino Morales III, Director of the UC Riverside Community Garden (R’Garden), a 3-acre community garden on UCR’s campus, participated on the ‘Local Ag Growth Strategies’ panel on day one of the conference. The panel looked at the infrastructure needed to grow new farmers from educational programs and farmer training to incentives for entrepreneurs and more.
Over 400 Attendees Gather at Sold Out Grow Riverside Conference to Drive Local Food System Development in CityMarch 25, 2014 | Robert Puro
If ever there was doubt about the interest, desire and motivation among the citizens of the City of Riverside to develop local agriculture strategies and solutions to reconnect with their agricultural roots and create economic opportunities that growers, advocates, government officials and other major stakeholders can leverage to foster a robust and sustainable local food future, it was allayed at the SOLD OUT ‘Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!’ Conference Conference that took place at the Riverside Convention Center on March 19 – 20.
A diverse array of over 420 attendees from growers, ag entrepreneurs, local food advocates and distributors to City of Riverside officials, university students and professors from across California, business executives and California FFA members from Horte Vista High School were on hand to hear from some of the most innovative thinkers, experts and practitioners in the local and urban agriculture sphere.