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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Farming for a Small Planet

January 15, 2018 |

This piece was originally published on the Economics of Happiness Blog.

People yearn for alternatives to industrial agriculture, but they are worried. They see large-scale operations relying on corporate-supplied chemical inputs as the only high-productivity farming model. Another approach might be kinder to the environment and less risky for consumers, but, they assume, it would not be up to the task of providing all the food needed by our still-growing global population.

Contrary to such assumptions, there is ample evidence that an alternative approach—organic agriculture, or more broadly “agroecology”—is actually the only way to ensure that all people have access to sufficient, healthful food. Inefficiency and ecological destruction are built into the industrial model. But, beyond that, our ability to meet the world’s needs is only partially determined by what quantities are produced in fields, pastures, and waterways. Wider societal rules and norms ultimately shape whether any given quantity of food produced is actually used to meet humanity’s needs. In many ways, how we grow food determines who can eat and who cannot—no matter how much we produce. Solving our multiple food crises thus requires a systems approach in which citizens around the world remake our understanding and practice of democracy. Read More

From Identifying Plant Pests to Picking Fruit, AI is Reinventing How Farmers Produce Your Food

January 10, 2018 |

This article was originally published on ensia.com.

A sophisticated form of artificial intelligence known as deep learning could help make agriculture more efficient and environmentally friendly.

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Sick crops? These Indian subsistence farmers know just what to do: Pull out their smartphones and take their picture. The farmers then upload the images with GPS locations to a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) app named Plantix. The app identifies the crop type in the image and spits out a diagnosis of a disease, pest or nutrient deficiency. Plantix also aids farmers by recommending targeted biological or chemical treatments for ailing plants, reducing the volume of agrochemicals in groundwater and waterways that can result from overuse or incorrect application of herbicides and pesticides. Read More

16 SoCal Food System-Focused Organizations that Need Your Support

November 28, 2017 |

It’s “Giving Tuesday”, but giving can be accomplished on any day of the week. As Seedstock is based in Southern California we wanted to make you aware of 16 organizations in the area focused on food access, community gardening, food justice, local food system development, fighting food waste, and food education that you can support. We probably missed a number of organizations, so please post your organizations info in the comments section below to add it to the list. Happy Giving!!! Read More

USDA Aims to Improve Food and Nutrition Education for Low-Income Communities

November 8, 2017 |

News Release – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced support to develop local and self-reliant food systems, such as farm to table enterprises that bring nutritious food to low-income communities. This funding is available through NIFA’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“This program reaches into neighborhoods across America to improve access to food and nutrition education, assist community outreach, and empower local farms,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These NIFA investments help communities develop field to fork food systems that provide long-term community solutions.” Read More

USDA Awards Nation’s Largest Grant to Expand California Healthy Eating Program to More Farmers’ Markets

August 8, 2017 |

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA) and its partners a $3.9 million Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant – the largest in the country. FINI grants are designed to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP, formerly food stamps).

“We are thrilled to be selected for a federal FINI award,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The program is a triple win for California – it supports the health of our low-income shoppers, our farmers, and the local economy.” Read More