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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Sustainable Ag + Food News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

December 18, 2014 |

seedstockWhat The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

Excerpt: As you’ve probably heard — or seen, if you’ve traveled to Cuba — food (and, at times, the lack thereof) remains one of the most striking emblems of Cuba’s dysfunctional economic system. Let’s just say that the agreement between Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will probably eventually mean big changes for the food supply in Cuba.

Source: NPR Read More

Land Trust Secures Vacant Lots for Urban Agriculture, Recreation in LA’s Underserved Neighborhoods

December 18, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of the LA Neighborhood Land Trust

Photo courtesy of the LA Neighborhood Land Trust

Founded in 2002, the LA Neighborhood Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that identifies underutilized space in a 475-square miles area in and around Los Angeles, and transforms it into green space for urban agriculture and community recreation projects.

Real estate costs are high in Los Angeles, so the work of the Trust moves forward one small lot at a time.

“Our little land trust is good with conserving half-acre properties and creating green space in a community that has never existed before,” says Mark Glassock, director of special projects for the Trust. “In terms of our acreage, we are quite small, but in terms of our impact and our reach in terms of population, I believe we’re actually very, very large.” Read More

Q&A: Nurit Katz Helps Move UCLA Toward 20 Percent Sustainable Food by 2020

December 16, 2014 |
UCLA's Chief Sustainability Officer. Photo courtesy of Nurit Katz.

Nurit Katz, UCLA’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Photo courtesy of Nurit Katz

Nurit Katz is UCLA’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, a role that has her working to advance a variety of sustainability goals at the university, as well as teaching in the UCLA Extension’s Global Sustainability Certificate Program.

Katz participated in a panel at the Seedstock Reintegrating Agriculture conference in November,where she provided insight into efforts to move UCLA towards its goal of having 20 percent of its food procurement qualify as sustainable by 2020.

We caught up with her after the conference to find out more about how how she does her job, and what projects she is working on to achieve this ambitious goal.

Seedstock: Describe the path of your career; how you did you come to your role as UCLA’s First Chief Sustainability Officer?

Nurit Katz: My background is in environmental and outdoor education. I used to work with kids a lot, taking kids from the city who’d never been hiking out on the trail. I also brought kids to a farm-to-school program where they learned about how to grow healthy food. A lot of kids don’t even know where the food comes from, and they got to participate and help grow food and interact with the farm.That was a really great program. Read More

Young People in Food: North Dakotans Hannah and Jonathan Moser Bring Local to Big Ag Country

December 15, 2014 |
Hannah and Jonathan Moser. Photo courtesy of Forager Farm.

Hannah and Jonathan Moser. Photo courtesy of Forager Farm.

After graduating college, Hannah and Jonathan Moser learned the mechanics of CSA management while working on a vegetable farm in Australia. Then the couple came home to North Dakota and decided to give it a try for themselves, launching Forager Farm.

The farm consists of approximately three acres of growing space on a large family cattle ranch. The Mosers completed their first growing season in October, using intensive growing, diverse crops and sustainable methods. Very quickly, Forager Farm has emerged as a leader in the local community’s sustainable local food scene.

In a state with very few CSA programs in place, the concept of a local food movement remains a fringe idea. In order to promote and gain support for consumer supported agriculture in the region, the Mosers had to first educate people as to what the need. Using her storytelling skills and a degree in PR and marketing, Hanna uses the web as a platform for growing awareness in her community. Read More

Q&A: Robert Egger on Food Security and the Aging Population

December 14, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Robert Egger.

Photo courtesy of Robert Egger.

Robert Egger is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen, a culinary arts job training program for people coming out of foster care and incarceration. He also launched D.C. Central Kitchen, a similar effort, in 1989. L.A. Kitchen is currently in pilot phase and will launch in a new space in 2015. Read more about L.A. Kitchen in Seedstock here.

At the Seedstock Reintegrating Agriculture conference in November, Egger delivered a keynote in which he talked about waste, both in terms of food and human potential, and opportunity, in existing community resources and in the impending wave of older people who will be hungry in coming years. Read More

Sustainable Ag + Food News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

December 12, 2014 |

seedstockGroundbreaking Study Shows How Sustainable Farming Practices Can Improve Yields

Excerpt: According to the analysis, led by Lauren Ponisio (and published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London), there is evidence that sustainable agriculture – when done right – may have the potential to match the productivity of our dominant agricultural systems.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists Read More

U.S. to See More Urban Farming in 2015 as Economics Improve, Consumer Demand Increases and More Incentives are Added

December 10, 2014 |

urban farm photoLos Angeles, CA (PRWEB) December 10, 2014 – Urban agriculture is expected to maintain strong growth in the United States in 2015 as cities and states provide more incentives, more start-up farmers enter the field, smaller operations improve their profitability and consumer demand for locally grown food remains strong, according to Seedstock.com.

The growth outlook for land, production and jobs connected with urban farming was generated from Seedstock’s recent annual conference at UCLA where more than 250 farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, investors and others gathered to hear experts discuss current factors driving robust local food systems in dozens of urban settings across the country. Read More

Nonprofit Spinoff Looks to ‘Bring Detroit Back’ Via Food Entrepreneurship

December 9, 2014 |
Photograph Courtesy of Hopeful Harvest

Photograph Courtesy of Hopeful Harvest

As the sustainable agriculture movement has flourished in the United States, so has the need to support the local food movement in concrete and productive ways. Hopeful Harvest Foods, an offshoot of the influential Forgotten Harvest of metro Detroit, is coming up with practical solutions to do just that.

Chris Nemeth, senior director of social enterprise for Forgotten Harvest and his partner Michael Szymanski, have developed several strategies to solidify the small food business infrastructure in Detroit while creating a template the rest of the country can follow. Read More

Are We Living in a Food Hub Bubble?

December 9, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Mad River Food Hub

Photo courtesy of Mad River Food Hub

Regional food hubs have become all the rage in the past year among local foods advocates. These startups promote local food system development by offering aggregation and distribution services to farmers, food producers and vendors around the country.

The glowing media coverage they often receive for this and their increasing numbers suggest food hubs are an idea whose time has come. But can they survive in the long term?

A Growing Movement

Looking at the numbers, it’s clear the movement’s definitely developed momentum over the past few years.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, their ranks grew 65 percent between 2009 and 2013, jumping from around 140 different establishments to over 230. The agency now identifies approximately 300 operating throughout the United States. Read More

Waste Not, Want Not: 7 Innovative Organizations Turning Excess into Aid

December 7, 2014 |
Student volunteers with Campus Kitchens Project deliver food to the needy. (photo courtesy of Linda Kurtz/Campus Kitchens Project)

Student volunteers with Campus Kitchens Project deliver food to the needy. (photo courtesy of Linda Kurtz/Campus Kitchens Project)

Virtually every major city has a food pantry to help the needy, but some food aid organizations are raising the sustainability bar by putting excess food and food waste to good use.

Many offer culinary training programs and others use algorithms to match excess food with those who need it, but the common denominator of the following organizations is that they turn food waste into food aid for those who desperately need it. Read More