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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Urban Agriculture

Small Farmers at the Forefront of Riverside’s Urban Agriculture

January 25, 2016 |
Urban Farmer Scott Berndt of Fox Farm with his produce. Photo courtesy of Scott Berndt.

Urban Farmer Scott Berndt of Fox Farm with his produce. Photo courtesy of Scott Berndt.

Scott Berndt first moved to California to start a career in hotel and restaurant management. But having spent his childhood on a farm in South Dakota and hailing from a multi-generation family of farmers, he soon emba

rked on a side project: growing tomatoes.

In the early days of Fox Farm, Scott Berndt packed 300 tomato plants into his backyard in Riverside, CA, seeding them and then selling the young plants at an annual plant sale.

In 2014, Berndt’s real estate agent visited his home and asked about the crop of plants in the backyard. When Berndt told her what he was doing, and that he wished for more space, she offered the two and a half acres behind her home as a growing plot, so long as he did not use chemicals or toxins. Since Berndt was already using organic methods, and continued doing so with the flowers he cultivated on her land, it was a perfect fit. A year later, he converted an unused horse corral as additional growing space for vegetables, and Fox Farm was born. Read More

Common Good City Farm Brings D.C. Community Together

January 6, 2016 |
Photo courtesy of Common Good Farm.

Photo courtesy of Common Good Farm.

From 1998 to 2006, Common Good City Farm was known as Shaw EcoVillage, a nonprofit that trained youth to become leaders of sustainable change in Washington D.C.’s urban neighborhoods. 

Through SEV’s EcoDesign Corps program, more than 500 youth got the opportunity to work on community-based projects focused on creating sustainable economic, environmental, and social change in D.C. 

“The EcoDesign Corps program included building and sustaining an urban food garden in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood,” Rachael Callahan, executive director of Common Good City Farm, says. “Sadly, SEV closed in early 2007.”

Luckily, SEV has had a successful rebirth, thanks to nonprofit Bread for the City. Read More

Indiana School Farm Teaches Urban Farming, Entrepreneurship

December 15, 2015 |
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A student at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy handles chickens inside their coop at the school’s farm. (Photo courtesy Lynda Bodie/Thea Bowman Leadership Academy)

Gary, Indiana, known for being the birthplace of Michael Jackson and home to massive steel plants, now has a high school with an urban farm program.

Last year, students at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary started the urban farm. It’s founded and operated under the principles of a business plan written as part of an entrepreneurship and personal finance class curriculum. Read More

New Data Toolkit Allows Urban Farmers to Measure Progress

December 10, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Hornaday Community Garden.

Photo courtesy of Hornaday Community Garden.

Urban farmers and gardeners now have a brand new way to measure their results and gather hard data thanks to the Farming Concrete Data Collection Tool Kit. 

The project originated in New York City in 2009 as a collaborative venture between nonprofits Added Value Farms and the Design Trust for Public Space. The data collection tools are intended to help individual farmers quantify what they are doing in ways that will help them both improve and promote their farms. Read More

The City of Atlanta Hires First Urban Agriculture Director

December 1, 2015 |
Mario Cambardella has been named as the City of Atlanta’s very first director of urban agriculture. (photo courtesy Stephanie Stuckey Benfield/City of Atlanta)

Mario Cambardella has been named as the City of Atlanta’s very first director of urban agriculture. (Photo courtesy Stephanie Stuckey Benfield/City of Atlanta)

The City of Atlanta, Georgia last month named its first-ever urban agriculture director. Mario Cambardella is poised to officially join the city’s administrative roster, headed by Mayor Kasim Reed, in early December.

There is a critical need for such a position, according to Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, director of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability. She says Cambardella will expand upon the city’s urban agriculture ordinance, which was adopted in June 2014 and changed Atlanta’s zoning rules to make more room for urban agricultural operations.

“We need more urban farmers,” says Benfield.  She expects Cambardella to lead the way in refining the city’s urban agriculture policy and identifying opportunities for urban agriculture in underserved communities. He will be responsible for cultivating partnerships with local nonprofits and helping would-be urban farmers to navigate the city’s permitting process. He’ll also serve as a resource for farmers’ markets. Read More

USDA Helps Schools Connect with Local Farmers and Ranchers

November 19, 2015 |
post_usdalogoNearly $5 Million in Grants Will Create Healthier School Meals and Support Local Farmers in 39 States This School Year

WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack  announced $4.8 million in grants for 74 projects spanning 39 states that support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to connect child nutrition programs with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program. Read More

Residents and Policymakers in Lawrence, Kansas are Working to Revise Urban Agriculture Codes

November 16, 2015 |
Residents may soon be allowed to keep up to two small goats if they meet certain requirements. Image source: Wikipedia

Residents may soon be allowed to keep up to two small goats if they meet certain requirements. Image source: Wikipedia

City planners in Lawrence, Kansas are working together with local farmers to finalize changes to the city’s urban agriculture regulations. Home to the University of Kansas, this city of 80,000 hopes to work toward a strong relationship between urban farmers, non-farmer residents, and local governments in other small cities across the country, according to  local station KAHB.

In August, the city conducted a survey asking residents about the barriers they face in growing food. They received 160 responses that they hope will indicate how to best support backyard farmers and urban growers in Lawrence. Open meetings were held on September 28 and October 19 to discuss the proposed new plan, which focuses heavily on small livestock but also addresses land access and on-site sales for community gardens and urban farms, among other things. The proposal puts the spotlight on “small animals that are more appropriate in a denser urban setting,” specifically bees, birds, small goats, worms, crickets, rabbits, and fish. Read More

Indiana Urban Farm Takes Whole Lifestyle Approach to Local Food

November 9, 2015 |
Yoga is part of all programs at Growing Places Indy, where food is viewed as one component leading to health and wholeness. (photo courtesy Laura Henderson/Growing Places Indy)

Yoga is part of all programs at Growing Places Indy, where food is viewed as one component leading to health and wholeness. (Photo courtesy Laura Henderson/Growing Places Indy)

The phrases “grow well, eat well, live well, be well” adorn the website of Indianapolis urban farm Growing Places Indy, which uses food to help people find more wholeness in their lives.

For the past seven years, the work of Growing Places Indy has evolved to include a winter farmers’ market, yoga classes, a summer apprenticeship program, educational offerings, and several urban farm sites.

The journey started with the Indy Winter Farmers Market, founded in 2008 by Laura Henderson, who now serves as executive director of Growing Places Indy. Created to give Indianapolis residents a year-round supply of locally-produced foods, the winter market operates from November to April inside the Indianapolis City Market in downtown Indianapolis. Read More