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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Second in Seedstock ‘Future of Food’ Field Trip Series to Focus on Community Food Systems Ventures

January 24, 2017 |

To provide an up close and personal look at a series of innovative community development ventures that have emerged to increase food security, reduce food waste, create jobs, enhance food access, and improve health and nutrition in communities, Seedstock has put together the ‘Future of Food – Community Food Systems Field Trip’.

Slated for Friday, March 17, 2017, the second ‘Future of Food’ field trip will look at the impact of community food systems ventures in Southern California, and include lectures from experts in the fields of community garden and urban farming program development, food access, and food justice.

The tour is the second in a series of Seedstock ‘Future of Food’ field trips that was recently launched to facilitate the exploration of food system innovations that are generating economic and community capital.

future of food field trip community food systems 4

Scheduled for Friday, March 17, 2017, ‘The Future of Food – Community Food Systems Field Trip’ will include visits to L.A. Kitchen, Edendale Grove – a Seeds of Hope run urban farm, and Lavender Hill Urban Farm – an urban farm and community garden run by the Los Angeles Community Garden Council.

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California Grower Sees Potential for Orchards on Terraces and Slopes of Subdivisions

January 23, 2017 |
Don Neff is president of Neff Ranch, which manages orchards on two different agricultural properties in Orange County. (photo courtesy Don Neff/Neff Ranch)

Don Neff is president of Neff Ranch, which manages orchards on two different agricultural properties in Orange County. (photo courtesy Don Neff/Neff Ranch)

Surprisingly, despite decades of urban development and the paving over of countless groves and orchards in the name of new housing tracts, with a little work one can still buy oranges grown in the few remaining groves that dot Orange County, California.

The presence of Orange County oranges at a number of farmers market in the region is in no small part due to the efforts of Don Neff, President of Neff Ranch, one of the last remaining orange growers in the county. After relocating to Southern California from Washington, Neff, a homebuilder and developer, was presented in with the opportunity to manage the remaining orange orchard on the Yorba Linda, CA estate of Susanna Bixby Bryant.

The location of the estate’s 21-acre orchard in the Santa Ana River floodplain kept its 4,000 Valencia orange trees safe from being bulldozed for new housing. Read More

In Urban Gardens Without Borders, Project Sweetie Pie Plants Seeds for Food Justice and Freedom

January 18, 2017 |
Micheal Chaney founder of Project Sweetie Pie Filling compost bin

Michael Chaney, founder of Project Sweetie Pie, an urban farming movement based in Northern Minnesota to seed healthy changes in the community. Photo Credit: Karl Hakanson.

“North Minneapolis is going green
Give us a call and learn what we mean
Where once lay urban blight
Now sits luscious garden sites
Gardens without borders
Classrooms without walls
Architects of our own destinies
Access to food justice for all.” 

    – Michael Chaney, Project Sweetie Pie

In a collaborative effort to revitalize the economy and the community of North Minneapolis, Project Sweetie Pie, an urban farming movement working to seed healthy changes in the community, has as one of its principal goals the mentorship of 500 local youth in growing food, obtaining practical sales and marketing skills, and becoming leaders. Launched in 2010 Project Sweetie Pie has made great strides towards this goal by aligning dozens of community partners with hundreds of urban youth to implement community garden and farm stand initiatives, which together have resulted in a framework for a more self-sufficient and self-aware urban community. Read More

On Land Once Occupied by a Tomato Cannery an Agrihood Rises to Grow New Farmers and Feed a Community

January 16, 2017 |

The Cannery, a farm-to-table housing development in Davis, California, is the first agrihood of its kind in California. With its own urban farm and small orchard, the unique housing development can offer its residents fresh, hyperlocal produce as well as pastured chickens and eggs.

The land for The Cannery, aptly named because it was once the site of a tomato cannery, was sold to The New Home Company by ConAgra. The City of Davis has a rule that if developmental land borders agricultural land, then a 300-foot buffer is required. In this case, the buffer was about seven acres in total. Instead of opting for a plain green space, though, the developers were attracted to the idea of creating a working farm on the land. Once the City of Davis accepted its proposal, the company turned to the Center for Land-Based Learning to plan, develop, and run the farm. It has taken over six years to get to the point where the farm is now operational. Read More

SoCal Urban Farming Org Increases Supply of Fresh Produce to Homeless Shelter by Healing Soil and Residents

January 11, 2017 |
GrowGood Urban Farm Bell California employee Shelter resident

Velva, an employee of GrowGood, a CA-based nonprofit that has been working with the Salvation Army since 2011 to develop a garden-based program for the residents of the Bell Shelter that uses healthy food and gardening as a catalyst for healing. (Photo courtesy of GrowGood. Photo credit: Amy Gordon.)

Prior to the establishment of the GrowGood urban farm on a lot across the way from the Salvation Army Bell Shelter located in Bell, CA, the shelter, which serves nearly 6,000 meals per week, incorporated very little fresh produce into its menu.

“They were spending cents per meal on fresh produce. Food was donated, so no one was going hungry; but the nutritional quality was often low,” says Brad Pregerson, co-founder of GrowGood, a CA-based nonprofit that has been working with the shelter since 2011 to develop a garden-based program to not only increase the supply of fresh produce to the shelter, but also to provide its residents with meaningful work and act as catalyst for healing.

The Salvation Army Bell Shelter, which opened in 1988, was established with help from Pregerson’s grandfather, Harry, a federal judge and veteran, who perceived the dire need to provide housing for the growing Read More

Innovative Neighborhood Farm Adjacent to Housing Complex Increases Food Access and Grows Community

January 9, 2017 |

“Beyond growing vegetables, beyond growing soil, we’re building community through agriculture,” says Dave Victor of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden. “That’s a big part of the mission, a big part of the vision for the farm. It’s all about providing healthy fresh local food for low income people.”

Dave Victor, after five years honing his growing skills with Garden City Harvest, became the manager of Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm just last year and he couldn’t be happier with his new position.

“Just like any sustainable agriculture farmer the focus is on building soil,” says Victor. “I tell people that I’m a vegetable farmer but first and foremost it’s all about growing soil and building that soil ecology.” Read More

Weekly Stories of Food Systems Innovation from Around the Country

January 5, 2017 |

To Grow Community and Jobs of the Future, Suburbanite Launches Vertical Farming Enterprise in Detroit

BY TRISH POPOVITCH

After spending time with street children in Brazil as part of a missionary trip, Jeff Adams, founder of Detroit, … Read More

Coalition Fights Food Waste to End Hunger in Orange County, CA

January 4, 2017 |

When Santa Ana, California pediatrician and Orange County Public Health Officer Eric Handler ran into Mark Lowry of the Orange County Food Bank some years ago, he had two questions for him:

  1. Do you have enough food in your food bank?
  2. If we captured all food waste, could we end hunger in Orange County?

Lowry’s answer to the first question was no, and his answer to the second question was yes. This interaction led to the formation of the Waste Not OC Coalition in 2012.

With an overarching goal to eradicate hunger in Orange County, the Waste Not OC Coalition recovers food by connecting restaurants and grocery stores with food recovery agencies. It distributes that food by connecting people in need with food pantries. It also educates donors, recipients and the general public about the importance of food donation and how to safely handle donated food. Read More

To Grow Community and Jobs of the Future, Suburbanite Launches Vertical Farming Enterprise in Detroit

January 3, 2017 |

Inside the 7,000 square foot warehouse that houses urban vertical farming operation Artesian Farms. Using artificial light and seven 20 foot high vertical towers and racked trays, the farm produces around 75 pounds of lettuce and kale a week, and approximately 40 pounds of basil per week. Photo courtesy of Artesian Farms.

After spending time with street children in Brazil as part of a missionary trip, Jeff Adams, founder of Detroit, Michigan-based urban vertical farming enterprise Artesian Farms, felt compelled to change his community. “If we can go 7,000 miles to work with young people we won’t see again, what can we do in our own backyard?”

13 years ago Adams moved from the suburbs of Detroit to the urban neighborhood of Brightmoor—roughly four square miles on the outskirts of Detroit full of abandoned homes and derelict industrial buildings.

“My wife and I sold our house in the suburbs and moved to the Brightmoor neighborhood in the city of Detroit. What I noticed was in our community there was a lack of jobs for people who are 18 to 30 years old that had some limited skills and limited availability to transportation to get to a job,” says Adams. “I started looking for opportunities to employ people. I set up a business incubator and started looking around to see what we could do.” Read More

Urban Farming Org Transforms 9 Empty Greenhouses to Tackle Food Insecurity and Grow Meaningful Jobs

January 2, 2017 |

When Lynchburg, Virginia resident Paul Lam’s beloved garden was destroyed inadvertently in 2003, residents rallied around him to find a new space. With the help of community members, Lam, who is disabled, eventually found a seven-acre site with nine empty greenhouses on it that had been the home of a large rose supplier.

The farm site needed a bit of rehab, so a call was put out for volunteers. Hundreds showed up from local area schools and universities to help clean it up. From this community outpouring for Lam, Lynchburg Grows, a nonprofit urban farming organization whose dual mission is to increase access to healthy food in the community and provide meaningful jobs to individuals with disabilities, was born. Read More