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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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USDA and SCORE Launch Innovative Mentorship Effort to Support New Farmers and Ranchers

August 8, 2017 |

News Release – DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from SCORE, the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers. Today’s agreement provides new help resources for beginning ranchers, veterans, women, socially disadvantaged Americans and others, providing new tools to help them both grow and thrive in agri-business.

“Shepherding one generation to the next is our responsibility. We want to help new farmers, veterans, and people transitioning from other industries to agriculture,” said Secretary Perdue. “They need land, equipment, and access to capital, but they also need advice and guidance. That’s what SCORE is all about.” Read More

A Nonprofit Farms Rooftops of Nation’s Capital with Triple Bottom Line in Mind

August 7, 2017 |

Located in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Rooftop Roots is a social enterprise taking the restrictive needs of a city littered with zoning laws and height restrictions as a challenge worth going vertical for. Designing, installing and maintaining custom gardens on rooftops, and creating community gardens across the city, Rooftop Roots is helping to build the conversation on how the nation’s capital utilizes its green spaces.

“We’re a nonprofit landscaping company but instead of mowing lawns we build gardens and maintain gardens for residential, commercial and community partners,” says Thomas Schneider, Executive Director of nonprofit Rooftop Roots.

After discovering their dream of office buildings with built up gardens on top was practically impossible to achieve with D.C.’s height restrictions, Rooftop Roots had to rethink its business plan. “We won’t only put gardens on roofs but we’ll put gardens in every nook and cranny and urban landscape we possibly can,” says Schneider. Read More

Diverse Family Farms Remain Essential Feature of U.S. Agriculture

August 2, 2017 |

Family farms remain an essential feature of agriculture in the United States. Family farms make up 99 percent of America’s 2.1 million farms and 89 percent of agricultural production. Most farms in the United States are small: 90 percent are … Read More

How Some African Farmers are Responding to Climate Change — and What We Can Learn from Them

August 1, 2017 |

This article was originally published on Ensia.com

Agriculture is being hit hard by drought, but nimble producers are fighting back.

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As sub-Saharan Africa’s climate changes, small-scale farmers are increasingly looking to innovative ways of dealing with agricultural challenges. And in some instances, the techniques they adopt are helping to combat climate change, too.

Alternative animal feed, climate-friendly grasses and the use of fodder trees are among the examples providing farmers resilience and leading to benefits such as more productive livestock and new business opportunities — all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building healthy soils.  Read More

Hive Income Promotes Hive Health

July 31, 2017 |

The Best Bees Company, founded in 2010, was delivering, installing and maintaining beehives across New England before branching out into several major cities including Washington D.C., Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of The Best Bees Company.

When PhD graduate Noah Wilson-Rich looked around for a way to raise capital for bee health research, he stumbled upon the idea of starting a beehive installation company. Before long, The Best Bees Company, founded in 2010, was delivering, installing and maintaining beehives across New England before branching out into several major cities including Washington D.C., Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles. With a focus on creating a healthier bee population and preventative messages to combat multiple stress disorder, Wilson-Rich and his nationwide team of trained beekeepers are collecting regional bee data, disrupting traditional patterns of honeybee home choice and encouraging the restoration of America’s dwindling pollinator habitat.

“Everything we do is in Boston, it’s like our experimental area; then we scale that across the different sites,” says Wilson-Rich, founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Boston-based The Best Bees Company.  Custom built hives, installation and monthly maintenance as well as the bees necessary to make the whole thing work runs Read More