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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Trish Popovitch

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

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

For Homeless in Santa Cruz, CA, Garden Project Offers Hope, Stability, and Jobs

December 12, 2016 |

Talking about the homeless population of America is popular these days. And yet fixing the situation seems, to many, an impossibly overwhelming task. Others are proving it’s not. The Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project (HGP) uses sustainable agriculture as the springboard to a safer, productive and more hopeful life for many. The agriculture and gardening training provided to the homeless of Santa Cruz County through the project has culminated in both jobs and permanent housing for its trainees.

“We find people that express much greater degrees of well being after they are with us for a year, whether it’s in their diet, in their sense of self, in their ability to set goals and achieve them, in how connected they feel to the community,” says Darrie Ganzhorn Executive Director of the Homeless Garden Project.

Established in 1990, the HGP was the brainchild of Paul Lee, a member of the Citizens Committee on Homelessness. Lee began spending nights along with other board members in the homeless shelter. Read More

Twin Cities Coop Unites Diverse Coalition of Farmers in Shared Pursuit of Economic Viability

November 23, 2016 |
Emily Hanson

Emily Hanson, co-founder of Shared Ground Farmers’ Coop, which brings together farmers from diverse backgrounds to help them achieve economic viability and increase the supply of healthy, local food to communities in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Photo Courtesy of Emily Hanson.

Straddling the rural urban divide, Shared Ground Farmers’ Coop in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota seeks to unite minority and immigrant farmers and help them gain access to local food markets, achieve economic viability, and enhance leadership skills all while emphasizing sustainable farming.

“Our coop aims to bring together farmers from diverse backgrounds to work towards a better living and more healthy food for folks in the city,” says Emily Hanson, co-founder of Shared Ground and co-owner of Amery, WI-based Whetstone Farm, a 40 acre property that is primarily in pasture with approximately five acres of vegetables is one of the founding farms of the cooperative. “We strive to help make farm ownership possible, especially for immigrants and others who struggle with land tenure.” Read More

Rising Land Prices Push Urban Farmer to Develop Creative Solutions to Increase Food and Land Access

November 9, 2016 |

Against a backdrop of rising land prices, traditional farmers in Utah struggle to survive. However, a mix of resourcefulness and necessity is driving farmers to develop creative solutions in urban environs. Salt Lake City-based Green Urban Lunch Box (GULB) is one such endeavor that is utilizing innovative growing models to ensure urban farming fills the gap traditional farming cannot afford to maintain.

“We don’t want to do what other people are doing. If we cannot do it significantly better and significantly cheaper than another nonprofit is doing it then we shouldn’t do it, because we are just going to be competing with them for funds,” says founder Shawn Peterson.

A fifth generation Utah farmer and an experienced business entrepreneur, Peterson founded the Green Urban Lunch Box six years ago in the heart of Salt Lake City after watching the movie, Truck Farm (from the maker of King Corn) on using farm trucks in the urban setting. Read More