by Traci Knight
Access to fresh, healthy food as an economic development driver is becoming part of the picture in Michigan with the launch of Michigan Good Food Fund in June.
This statewide loan and grant fund will provide financing and business assistance to benefit communities with good food and economic opportunity, by offering funding from a broad sector of stakeholders, nonprofits, and philanthropist groups. The coalition is looking to support businesses to aggregate and distribute fresh produce in underserved communities while simultaneously building local economies.
The 4th Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Conference: Innovation and the Rise of Local Food, which will take place this fall at UC San Diego, will explore solutions and methodologies that small farmers and entrepreneurs are embracing to grow more sustainably, improve access to fresh and healthy local food and manage resources more efficiently against the dueling backdrop of a lingering drought and burgeoning local food marketplace.
Slated for Tuesday, November 3 (Urban/Hydroponic Farm Field Trip) and Wednesday (Conference Day at UC San Diego), November 4, 2015, the event will explore, among other topics, how small farmers are embracing technology to grow food more sustainably, new business creation, water management, urban farming, food access and more.
With Roots in Soilless Growing and Desire to Promote Health, Couple Sets Sights on Aquaponics OperationJuly 24, 2015 | AJ Hughes
An aquaponics operation is coming to Goshen, Indiana, a town in the northern part of the state already rich with farms and a culture of local food.
Given the name High Water Mark by its founders, husband and wife Noah and Ruth Smucker, the aquaponics farm will be a source of organic produce.
Aquaponics combines hydroponics with the raising of fish, so plants and fish sustain each other.
Currently, the Smuckers have a small aquaponics system upstairs in their house, but what they plan to do is tear down their garage and build a 700-square-foot greenhouse in its place. They hope to have this completed later this year.
Strolling of the Heifers’ 2015 Locavore Index: Building a Local Food System on a Tradition of Self-Reliance in MontanaJuly 22, 2015 | seedstock
by Rose Egelhoff
This piece is part of a series exploring the top 10 states in the Strolling of the Heifers 2015 Locavore Index.
In the 2015 Locavore Index, Montana clocked in at 7th in the country, on the strength of its many farmers’ markets, CSAs, food hubs and direct sales. Montana has ranked in the top 10 on the Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index for four consecutive years, as long as Strolling of the Heifers has been compiling the index.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Montana, a state with more resident cattle than people. Five percent of the $3 billion that Montanans spend on food every year goes to local (in-state) food.
More and more companies are proclaiming sustainability, which is becoming all the rage. But how is sustainability defined and measured? How to differentiate between organizations practicing sustainability or just giving it lip service?
Meeting this need is Leonardo Academy’s Sustainable Standards Program.
Leonardo Academy, a Madison, Wisconsin-based nonprofit that develops and maintains a variety of sustainability standards, is close to unveiling an updated National Sustainable Agriculture Standard, dubbed LEO-4000.
A second public comment period for the Standard concluded on May 18. Significant changes were made to the Standard after the first public comment period ended in 2014, including ways to address the needs of small farms.
Mahindra USA, a Houston, Tx.-based farming equipment manufacturer, shifted its focus towards sustainable agriculture, in 2010. And now the firm is looking to boost small urban farms with a recent investment of $100,000 in Detroit’s urban farmers.
Through its Detroit-based North American Technical Center, Mahindra awarded money and equipment grants to five Detroit nonprofits. The recipients include two community gardening programs, the Neighbors Building Brightmoor’s Farmway group and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm. The city of Detroit received a Mahindra utility vehicle. The tractor company has made similar awards to other metropolitan areas and their urban farmers in the past.
“As part of the urban ag initiative program it’s a natural fit,” says Martin Cisneros, Marketing Communications Manager at Mahindra USA remarking on the Detroit investment. “I think it’s a movement we’re generally seeing across the industry; a more sustainable agriculture. Seems like the ecotype farming initiatives, the co-ops, is what you see a lot more of.”
National Young Farmers Coalition Report Features Case Studies on Drought-Resilient Farming in the Arid WestJuly 15, 2015 | seedstock
The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) partnered with the Family Farms Alliance to create Innovations in Agricultural Stewardship: Stories of Conservation and Drought Resilience in the Arid West, a report featuring five case studies, with analysis of the balance of water usage around the year at three operations.
Released in May, the report is “an effort to elevate the voices of farmers and ranchers,” says Kate Greenburg, Western Organizer at the NYFC and co-author of Innovations in Agricultural Stewardship. The report also aims to show “the nuances of western water and how we really need policy that is nuanced and involves farmers and ranchers in shaping it.” Both the NYFC and the Family Farms Alliance are advocacy groups for independent farmers and ranchers.
The Lower 48 have come far in the battle for local food, but Alaska has much to share when it comes to creating sustainable economies. Despite dramatic seasonal changes, infrastructure gaps and transportation challenges, sustainability has always been a way of life in many of Alaska’s small communities.
Here are the top five ways Alaskans are role-modeling sustainable food economies.
Marine Life Conservation Programming. Abundant marine life has sustained Alaska’s native population for centuries. Increased commercial fishing in the Bering Sea and ocean acidification has created numerous issues for local Alaskans and their small fishing communities. With a growing fish to school program, community supported fisheries and the advocacy work of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), protecting the natural resources of America’s final frontier has never looked brighter. Actively engaged in reducing bycatch and advocating for a reduction in exports, the AMCC is the small fisherman’s champion ensuring Alaskan fish is always available for Alaskan natives.
Excerpt: A recent program funded through the Leopold Center at Iowa State University proved successful in increased local food use at four northeast Iowa school districts.
Ashley Ponschok grew up in Minneapolis-St. Paul and returned to her family’s home state of Wisconsin to attend college. After studying biology and chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, she decided the lab life wasn’t for her.
Switching to the field of public health changed everything. Today, Ponschok is the Senior Community Development Specialist for Live54218.org, a Green Bay initiative to promote a healthier community.