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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By AJ Hughes

Urban Aquaponic Farmer and Chef Redefines Local Food in Orange County, CA

March 3, 2016 |
Heads of lettuce gain their sustenance through aquaponics channels at Future Foods Farms in Brea. Photo courtesy Barbie Wheatley/Future Foods Farms.

Heads of lettuce gain their sustenance through aquaponics channels at Future Foods Farms in Brea. Photo courtesy Barbie Wheatley/Future Foods Farms.

In a county named for its former abundance of orange groves, chef and farmer Adam Navidi is on the forefront of redefining local food and agriculture through his restaurant, farm, and catering business.

Navidi is executive chef of Oceans & Earth restaurant in Yorba Linda, runs Chef Adam Navidi Catering and operates Future Foods Farms in Brea, an organic aquaponic farm that comprises 25 acres and several greenhouses.

Navidi’s road to farming was shaped by one of his mentors, the late legendary chef Jean-Louis Palladin.

“Palladin said chefs would be known for their relationships with farmers,” Navidi says. Read More

Florida Farming Op Converts Water-Thirsty Lawns into Sustainable Food Producing Farmlettes

February 28, 2016 |
Fleet Farming in Orlando utilizes volunteers on bikes to harvest produce from participating home sites. Not only does its work spur local agriculture in the region, but it also builds community. (photo courtesy Heather Grove/Fleet Farming)

Fleet Farming in Orlando utilizes volunteers on bikes to harvest produce from participating home sites. Not only does its work spur local agriculture in the region, but it also builds community. (Photo courtesy Heather Grove/Fleet Farming)

Orlando, Florida-based Fleet Farming is helping people convert their water-thirsty and fertilizer-hungry St. Augustine grass lawns to prolific food-producing farmlettes.

The initial idea was proposed by John Rife, founder and owner of Orlando’s East End Market. Speaking at a Hive Orlando community workshop held by Ideas for Us (an NPO/NGO focused on environmental sustainability), Rife stressed the importance of farming lawns to spur local food production.

Intrigued, Ideas for Us president and founder Chris Castro refined Rife’s idea, which evolved into Fleet Farming. Castro and Heather Grove, also from East End Market, now serve as Fleet Farming co-coordinators. Read More

Initiative Supports Farmers’ Markets on Military Bases to Improve Healthy Food Access

February 23, 2016 |
Emma MacMannis and Marianna Sheehan browse through baskets of fruit at the Onslow County Farmers’ Market located at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. (photo courtesy Zona Lewis/U.S. Department of Defense)

Emma MacMannis and Marianna Sheehan browse through baskets of fruit at the Onslow County Farmers’ Market located at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. (Photo courtesy Zona Lewis/U.S. Department of Defense)

Food equity nonprofit Wholesome Wave vice president Gus Schumacher recently took a serendipitous airplane trip—he sat next to a retired general, and the two began talking about the lack of healthy food access on military bases.

The general happened to serve on an advisory council for the Healthy Base Initiative; a program launched to address an epidemic of obesity among troops.

“Thirty percent of recruits were obese, which costs the Department of Defense significantly,” says Wholesome Wave founder and CEO Michel Nischan. “The Department of Defense wanted to change the environment on base, and it thought that having farmers’ markets on bases was a good idea.” Read More

Agriculture Key to California Economic Summit’s ‘One Million Challenge’ for Workers, Water and Homes

February 18, 2016 |
Trees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photoTrees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Trees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

In November 2015, the fourth California Economic Summit took place in Ontario, located in Southern California’s Inland Empire. Agriculture was a key component of the vision outlined at the event, which is designed to spur economic growth in the Golden State.

The event is put on by the California Stewardship Network, a group promoting economic vitality and California Forward, a bipartisan government reform initiative.

“The first economic summit did not include agriculture, which was a large frustration,” says Glenda Humiston, Working Landscapes Action Team co-lead and vice president of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (along with co-lead A.G. Kawamura, an urban farmer from Orange County). “The following year, we advocated for a Working Landscapes action team.” Read More

Fresh Food in Every Neighborhood: Food Policy Council Outlines Path to Equity in the City of Angels

February 17, 2016 |
A blighted vacant lot is seen in Los Angeles. Through urban agriculture incentive zones, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council wants to see more vacant blighted land transformed into thriving urban farms and gardens. (photo courtesy Camille de la Vega/Los Angeles Food Policy Council)

A blighted vacant lot is seen in Los Angeles. Through urban agriculture incentive zones, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council wants to see more vacant blighted land transformed into thriving urban farms and gardens. (Photo courtesy Camille de la Vega/Los Angeles Food Policy Council)

Imagine a world-class metropolis where people take their relationships with food so seriously that all citizens enjoy access to farmers’ markets. The notion of food waste is obsolete (instead, think food capital). Farms and gardens thrive where vacant lots once languished and the streets are alive with an astounding variety of food vendors.

That’s a vision that the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) is working hard to make a reality in the City of Angels. To make food access more equitable for all, LAFPC is stressing four equity initiatives which focus on urban agriculture incentive zones, sidewalk food vending, food waste recycling and compost, and accessible farmers’ markets. Read More