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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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10 ‘Agrihoods’ Growing Across the Country

October 2, 2017 |

Compulsory CSA memberships, an organic farm for your kids to run through, cultivate and harvest, residents encouraged to create their own farming businesses. These are just some of the facets of ‘agrihoods’, the farm-focused housing developments that are sprouting up across the country. Instead of simply paving over arable land, developers are beginning to embrace agriculture to lure home buyers, create community and conserve land. Over 200 agrihoods currently exist in America. Here are 10 agrihoods every informed urban ag enthusiast should know about. Read More

USDA Announces More Than $8.6 Million to Support Community Food Projects

September 25, 2017 |

News Release – WASHINGTON, D.C – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced more than $8.6 million in available funding to assist low-income individuals and communities in developing local and self-reliant food systems. This funding is available through NIFA’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“This program is important because it reaches beyond short-term food relief,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “It integrates economic, social, and environmental impacts to form comprehensive solutions to problems across all food system levels.” Read More

From Supermarket Rooftops to a Storied Ball Park, an Urban Farming Co. Increases Access to Local Food

September 12, 2017 |

Since its inception in 2008, Green City Growers (GCG), a Certified B Corporation that installs and maintains vegetable gardens and farms within the greater Boston area, has assisted in the production of more than 175,000 pounds of organic produce, donated more than 12,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables, and engaged more than 7,500 people through their efforts. 

“The mission is to grow food in unused spaces and provide people access to fresh produce,” says Jessie Banhazl, CEO and co-founder of GCG. “Having that mission as the core of our trajectory has led us into so many different spaces, which has been really fun and interesting and made us realize that there are so many possibilities for this kind of work.” Read More

For Profit Hydroponic Farm in Chicago Seeks to Increase Employment Opportunities in Underserved Community

September 7, 2017 |

Darius Jones, general manager, vice president, and part of owner of Garfield Produce, an urban hydroponic farm located in Garfield Park, a west-side community in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Garfield Produce.

“Education is the most important thing,” says Darius Jones, general manager, vice president, and part of owner of Garfield Produce, an urban hydroponic farm located in Garfield Park, a west-side community in Chicago. “We’re trying to create an environment that inspires people to grow and feel valued.”

Since its inception in 2013, Garfield Produce has been working to improve economic growth and employment opportunities for Garfield Park community members. The for-profit business was born from a collaboration between a successful retired couple, Mark and Judy Thomas, and an engineering major from DePaul University, Steve Lu.

Through missionary work with the Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Mark and Judy saw that their misconceptions about poverty—that it is the result of laziness and not taking advantage of the same opportunities afforded to others—were inaccurate, according to Jones. What the Thomas’ discovered was that people did want to work, but there were no opportunities available and a number of systemic obstacles in place that hindered people’s ability to work. Read More

Apps for Ag Hackathon Seeks a Technological “Steel Plow” to Revolutionize Agriculture

August 28, 2017 |

Sreejumon Kundilepurayil, left, and Vidya Kannoly accepting their award for first prize at the Apps for Ag Hackathon in July 2017. Their app, Dr. Green, uses IBM’s Watson system to diagnose ailing plants.
Photo courtesy of Evett Kilmartin.

The collision of technology and agriculture might be just what the world needs to respond to an impending food crisis if global food production does not double by 2050, according to Robert Tse, State Broadband Coordinator and Chief Strategy Officer for Agriculture Technology and Innovation for USDA CA Rural Development.

According to Tse, the world’s population will grow by approximately 2 billion people by the half-century mark, and the current rate of increase in food production globally is less than half of what is needed every year to account for it.

“The application or development of technology applied to agriculture is critical,” says Tse. “There are only two ways to increase food production: increase acreage or increase yield. There is no more exploitable land for farming around the world, so one of the ways we’re going to reach the percentage increase we need is through ag technology that enables us to increase production across the board and reduce waste.”   Read More