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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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L.A.-area Startup Envisions Sustainable Farming in the Suburbs

November 26, 2014 |
Ethan's Farm. Photo by Rose Egelhoff.

Ethan’s Farm. Photo by Rose Egelhoff.

by Rose Egelhoff

I arrive at the address I was given, but all I see, at first, is an empty lot, covered in weeds and blocked by a chain link fence. After a second look, I realize the place I am looking for is next door. I walk past the house at the front of the property, through a wide gate and into what at first glance appears to be a sea of mulch.

It’s 8:30 a.m. Tony de Veyra and Rishi Kumar, the managers of the half-acre plot, have already been at work for two hours at Ethan’s Farm. Read More

Towards Doing Thanksgiving Right: 7 Books By Sustainable Chefs

November 25, 2014 |

The-Chefs-Collaborative-Cookbook-Cover-FINAL

by Terra Ash Bruxvoort

Thanks to reality TV shows like Top Chef and Mind of a Chef, some chefs have become bigger celebrities than ever before. Many are taking their newfound celebrity and using it as a platform to spread important messages about sustainable food. These chefs are running their own farms, working with farmers to bring back local ingredients, and advocating for sustainable fish and meat. Whether you’re interested in the farm-to-table movement, improving your own cooking, or just want to read about food, these seven books by sustainable chefs are sure to deliver. Read More

Nonprofit Helps Appalachia Farmers Sustainably Adapt to Changing Markets

November 24, 2014 |
Asheville Farmers' Market. Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

Asheville Farmers’ Market. Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

by Jenny Sechler

How do you create a thriving, sustainable local food system?

According to Charlie Jackson, the executive director of the Asheville, NC based Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project “you’ve got to jump in and start doing it.”

This is precisely what Jackson and a group of fellow volunteers did in 1999, when they began to develop community programs aimed at protecting the farming economies of their western North Carolina communities. Their efforts were so successful that now, 15 years later, ASAP has developed into an model for communities across the United States looking to invigorate their farming economies and improve public health and vitality.  Read More

Sustainable Ag + Food News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

November 21, 2014 |

seedstockWalmart Commits to More Sustainable Food. Is it Serious?

Excerpt: On Monday, Walmart held its second semi-annual Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting — webcast live and re-aired the following day — and announced a new pledge to help create a more sustainable food system. Taken at face value, the country’s largest food retailer appears to be making a real commitment to help develop a healthier, more affordable, and less environmentally damaging food supply.  Walmart’s real legacy in this area, though, will be measured by how much concrete action follows its ambitious commitments.

Source: Triple Pundit Read More

Women in Food: Maine Activist Connects the Dots Between Food and Human Rights

November 20, 2014 |
Community activist Lillian Lake sees food at the center of numerous social issues, including the environment, sustainability, and human trafficking. (photo courtesy of Lillian Lake)

Community activist Lillian Lake sees food at the center of numerous social issues, including the environment, sustainability, and human trafficking. (photo courtesy of Lillian Lake)

Human trafficking, justice, the environment and sustainability all have one thing in common, says community visionary Lillian Lake of Lewiston, Maine: food.

“Everything comes back to food,” says Lake, who writes, consults and engages in policy development toward a goal of affordable and just sustainability. Realizing that people, industries, institutions and ideas are all interrelated, she works hard at making connections that will help the world be a better place for all.

The food industry, she says, has a tremendous impact on the local, national and international economy, but this impact is not always a good one.

For example, why are Americans able to buy shrimp for $9.99 per pound? Because one of the world’s largest shrimp producing nations, Thailand, uses forced labor on its shrimp boats, Lake says. And around the world, migrant farm workers are forced to provide labor whether they want to or not. This is a direct result of human trafficking. Read More

Food Co-op Leads the Way To a More Sustainable Riverside

November 19, 2014 |
Riverside Food Co-op’s Crop Box is featured at this Co-op exhibit. The Crop Box, offered monthly to Co-op members, includes numerous in-season fruits, vegetables and greens. (photo courtesy of Diana Hyatt/Riverside Food Co-op)

Riverside Food Co-op’s Crop Box is featured at this Co-op exhibit. The Crop Box, offered monthly to Co-op members, includes numerous in-season fruits, vegetables and greens. (photo courtesy of Diana Hyatt/Riverside Food Co-op)

The Riverside Food Co-op is not only increasing access to locally-produced foods in Riverside, California, but the organization is also bringing other entities together toward this cause.

Riverside was hit hard by the Great Recession, and according to Nick Melquiades, a member of the Co-op’s CORE (Community of Outstanding and Resourceful Entrepreneurs) Team, the Riverside Food Co-op was borne from those difficult times.

“The Co-op formed in response to the recession in Riverside, including real estate foreclosures and a bad economic climate,” Melquiades says. “We needed something more independent.” Read More

From Vacant Lot to Garden Spot: L.A.-based Nonprofit Greens Up Blighted Land

November 18, 2014 |
Viviana Franco is founder and executive director of From Lot to Spot, an organization that spearheads efforts for more community gardens and green space throughout Southern California.  photo courtesy of Viviana Franco/From Lot to Spot

Viviana Franco is founder and executive director of From Lot to Spot, an organization that spearheads efforts for more community gardens and green space throughout Southern California. photo courtesy of Viviana Franco/From Lot to Spot

Los Angeles-headquartered From Lot to Spot is true to its name—the organization transforms unused, vacant lots into vibrant spots of green space and parkland.

According to founder and executive director Viviana Franco, From Lot to Spot has spearheaded several urban and community garden initiatives throughout Southern California, including several in Riverside.

Franco says Riverside hired From Lot to Spot as a partner in building up the gardens, specifically in capacity building and leadership processes. These gardens include Tequesquite Community Garden, Arlanza Community Garden , and East Side Community Garden at Emerson Elementary School. Read More

Young People in Food: The Spice Kidz Offer Curry as Alternative to Fast Fare

November 17, 2014 |
Eve and Liam Knight, also known as The Spice Kidz, excelled in a series of young entrepreneur competitions sponsored by the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. (photo courtesy of Liam Knight)

Eve and Liam Knight, also known as The Spice Kidz, excelled in a series of young entrepreneur competitions sponsored by the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. (photo courtesy of Liam Knight)

Eve and Liam Knight of Gulf Breeze, Florida moved to the United States from Ireland when they were 7 and 9 years old, respectively. One of their biggest culture shocks? Getting used to American food.

The siblings addressed this problem by starting their own curry business. The brother and sister team became The Spice Kidz.

Five years later, the Knights have not only spread the gospel of great-tasting and healthy curry among their classmates, but they also have a burgeoning business.

Culinary skills run in the family—their mother attended culinary school, and their grandmother in Ireland made curry often.

“In Ireland, a lot of people eat curry,” says Eve. “We found in the United States, some people didn’t know what it was.” Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

November 14, 2014 |

seedstockIn urban farming, a different taste of L.A.

Excerpt: The tour was organized by Seedstock, a Los Angeles-based company that offers consulting services and disseminates information about sustainable food projects. It hosts an annual conference on sustainable agriculture, which begins Wednesday at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. This year’s theme is “Reintegrating Agriculture: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities.”

Source: LA Times Read More

Local Food Marketplace and Urban Agriculture Take Center Stage at 3rd Annual Seedstock Conference

November 13, 2014 |
Muir Ranch, Pasadena, CA  Photo credit: AJ Hughes

Muir Ranch, Pasadena, CA Photo credit: AJ Hughes

Policy, economics, local food systems, urban agriculture, innovation and entrepreneurship were the star topics at Seedstock’s 3rd annual Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference. The conference drew the attention of the Los Angeles Times, which covered the tour for their City Beat column.

Participants at the two-day event, held November 11-12 in Los Angeles, toured a rooftop farm atop a storied private club in downtown Los Angeles, an urban farming operation at a Pasadena high school, a food production business incubator in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood, and an aquaponic shipping container farm in the city’s arts district. Read More