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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Urban Agriculture

Urban Farming Institute Digs in to Build Healthier, Locally-based Food System

September 26, 2016 |
Participants in the Urban Farming Institute of Boston. Photo courtesy of Urban Farming Institute of Boston.

Farmers from the Urban Farming Institute of Boston. Photo courtesy of Urban Farming Institute of Boston.

For Patricia Spence, executive director of the Urban Farming Institute of Boston (UFI), farming was always a part of family life. Her grandfather, who came from Jamaica, set up his own mini farm right in Boston where he grew everything from grapes to a wide variety of vegetables. Her father then did the same thing in their home. Now as executive director of the Urban Farming Institute, a job that requires plenty of energy and enthusiasm, she is actively pursuing the organization’s all-encompassing mission.

Patricia recalls how recently students from a local university came over to discuss business planning. At one point the students said, “So you have to decide in your mission statement, which thing you’re going to do – are you going to work on the commercial sector and create the farmers, or are you going to engage the urban communities?” Her response was unequivocal: “There is no separation. We have to do it all. Because as you’re farming, your community is walking right by you and you want to engage them, get them involved. That’s the best way to do it.” Read More

Two Urban Farms in Ohio Offer Hope and Food Access to Community in Need

September 21, 2016 |
A volunteer mans a pay-what-you-can produce stand at Wheatland Farms, one of two urban farms in Grove City, Ohio that are part of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank's Urban Farms of Central Ohio initiative. Photo courtesy of Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

A volunteer mans a pay-what-you-can produce stand at Wheatland Farms, one of two urban farms in Grove City, Ohio that are part of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s Urban Farms of Central Ohio initiative. Photo courtesy of Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Two five-acre urban farms in Columbus, Ohio are offering a hardy mixture of hope, employment and improved food access to underserved community members. The farms, collectively known as the Urban Farms of Central Ohio, are part of a nonprofit, sustainability initiative created by the Mid-Ohio Food Bank to revitalize the neighborhood of Grove City.

Sarah Lenkay, Strategic Projects Manager at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, says that the Urban Farms of Central Ohio initiative is centered on the idea of fostering hope for the community and lasting, valuable education.

“We impact the community by giving new life to another life,” says Lenkay. “We want to serve as an anchor providing for the community.”

The two sites that the urban farms occupy were part of a land access grant given to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank by the Columbus Land Bank to repurpose underutilized properties. Read More

Eight Acre Urban Farm in Baltimore Provides Foundation for Self-supporting Local Food System

September 19, 2016 |
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A hoop house that is part of the eight acre Real Food Farm urban farming operation in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Civic Works.

To combat food access challenges and build community, eight acres in and around Baltimore’s Clifton Park have been transformed into Real Food Farm.

After two years of research and fund development, the farm harvested its first crop in 2010. Since then, the farm has produced thousands of pounds of food for distribution across Baltimore’s food deserts.

Chrissy Goldberg, Food and Farm Director for Civic Works, the nonprofit that oversees Real Food Farm, said more than 13,000 pounds of food have been distributed between January and August 2016. One of the primary methods of distribution is the Mobile Farmers Market program.

“The goal is to strengthen Baltimore communities,” Goldberg said. “We’re a little more nuanced, we believe in local and sustainable. We’re promoting a local food system that can support itself.” Read More

LAST DAY to Purchase Discounted Early Bird Tickets for Seedstock’s ‘Future of Urban Food Systems’ Conference

September 16, 2016 |

early bird registrationToday is the LAST DAY to obtain Early Bird discounted registration tickets for the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference presented by Seedstock in partnership with the OC Food Access Coalition. Scheduled for Nov. 10 – 11, 2016, at California State University, Fullerton (Hosted by U-ACRE), the conference will explore the community and economic development potential of fostering local food systems in cities. Read More

Episcopal Diocese Plants Seeds of Hope to Address Food Insecurity in Southern California

September 15, 2016 |
Tim Alderson,

Tim Alderson, executive director of Seeds of Hope, a food justice ministry that provides universal and affordable access to basic nutrition.

One of the largest diocese in the nation, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has made food justice a top priority. In 2013, it created Seeds of Hope, a food justice ministry that “provides universal and affordable access to basic nutrition,” says Seeds of Hope Executive Director, Tim Alderson. “In the six California counties that make up the Diocese of Los Angeles, that condition does not exist. Our job is to do what we can to address these issues.”

The idea for Seeds of Hope was conceived when Bishop Jon Bruno was diagnosed with leukemia and admitted for his final treatment at City of Hope. Though not his patient, he met endocrinologist Raynald Samoa, M.D. who was covering rounds. The two men spent over two hours talking about food related illnesses, food access issues and disparities of food health in communites. Dr. Samoa also knew Alderson, who was working on a farm project for City of Hope. Read More

A Homecoming Plants Seed for Establishment of Urban Farm

September 14, 2016 |
Michael Meier, co-founder and head farmer at Ground Floor Farm in Stuart, Florida. Photo credit: Zoe Aparicio.

Michael Meier, co-founder and head farmer at Ground Floor Farm in Stuart, Florida. Photo credit: Zoe Aparicio.

The crew behind Ground Floor Farm never expected to return home to Stuart, Florida, and start an urban farm and community space. And yet, that’s how life happened—and they fully believe that others should consider pursuing the same idea in their communities.

The idea behind Ground Floor Farm was conceived about three years ago by Jackie Vitale, Mike Meier, and Micah Hartman. The three founders came from various career and college backgrounds, and none had set out to work in farming. For example, Vitale had studied and worked in theater, and Meier said his attraction to farming was more from a political and environmental angle than a focused interest in agriculture.

Yet when returning home one winter about three years ago, they broached the idea of starting a farm. “We started to talk about what our town needs,” Meier says. “We thought about a community space, food, fun, and art.” After finding a spot in downtown Stuart, they officially opened in March 2015. Read More

‘Resources are the Real Money’ at Last Organic Outpost Urban Farm

September 12, 2016 |
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The Last Organic Outpost is a nonprofit farm and social entrepreneurship incubator, based in Houston’s 5th Ward. Photo courtesy of Last Organic Outpost.

Joe Icet has a message for humanity: the world is in sad shape, and we’re here to lift it up through sustainable agriculture. His friends have even dubbed him a “land evangelist” because of his passion in talking to students and community members about the power of positive land stewardship.

“This is the ‘Disneyland of Sustainability’, haven’t you heard?” he asks as he guides visitors around a slightly hidden farming campus in Houston’s Fifth Ward residential neighborhood.

This retired union pipe fitter has made sustainable and organic farming his life’s mission. He founded The Last Organic Outpost, a nonprofit farm and social entrepreneurship incubator, in 2004. Since then, he has built up a thriving community education program and urban farm on less than two acres of land. Read More

Seedstock’s ‘Grow Local OC’ Conference Nears Discounted Early Bird Registration Deadline

September 9, 2016 |

early bird registrationLess than ONE week remains to obtain Early Bird discounted registration tickets for Seedstock’s upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference presented in partnership with the OC Food Access Coalition. Scheduled for Nov. 10 – 11, 2016, at California State University, Fullerton (Hosted by U-ACRE), the conference will explore the community and economic development potential of fostering local food systems in cities. Read More