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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Farmer Training Program Helps Refugees Plant New Roots

August 10, 2011 |

The seventeen immigrant women involved in the New Roots for Refugees farmer training program don’t understand why their small urban garden plots draw so much attention. Farming is a natural part of their lives.

The training program is run by the Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, an organization that helps to resettle refugees in the Kansas City area and provide case management, English as a Second Language and job development. The idea for the program emerged in 2004 while Sherissa McDonald, an employee of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, was running a group to help refugee women acclimate to their new surroundings. When the topic of gardening arose, the group expressed a desire to have an area of land to cultivate. So that year the women planted small community gardens outside of the Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas offices. Read More

Online Tool Gives Sustainable Farmers Competitive Advantage

July 27, 2011 |

WesMar Farms is one of two licensed goat dairies in Louisiana. Marketing their fresh goat milk, cheese and seasonal produce can be an obstacle for this sustainable family farm, Marguerite Constantine said.

“I am not a large company. I don’t have a big advertising budget. I can’t afford an ad agency or a PR person,” she explained. “My resources are limited not only by time, but money.”

When MarketMaker, a free online tool designed to link agricultural supply chain players, came to Louisiana in 2010, Constantine was quick to create an account. She said that it was “tailor-made” for her small farm’s market research and advertising needs. Read More

Startup Profile: Local Dirt Pairs Food Lovers with Local Farmers

July 12, 2011 |

local dirt matches local farmers with local consumersLocal Dirt (localdirt.com) is a site for suitors. However, instead of matching up locals who are looking for love, it matches up anyone who loves to eat local food with the farmers who are willing to feed them. The service is grounded in research that shows that given the choice people would prefer to eat food grown in their own community (even more than they would prefer to eat organic). And it is driven by the desire to help small farmers market their products without having to rely on the kindness of supermarket chains. “Farmers lose about 40% of their crops because they just can’t sell it,” says Heather Hilleren, who came up with the idea for Local Dirt in a social entrepreneurship course that she took while studying for her MBA. “The local foods movement has finally given me hope for the future of farming.” Read More

CUESA Moves Farmers and Consumers to Embrace Sustainable Future

July 8, 2011 |

Center for Urban Education About Sustainable AgricultureThe word ‘sustainable’ tends to get thrown around in the marketplace, which can be confusing to consumers who want to make conscientious food choices. That’s not the case when it comes to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). Through their farmers market, education and outreach programs, and framework of sustainable best practices, they’re helping set the standards for what the word can and should mean.

CUESA’s mission is to cultivate a sustainable food system by educating urban consumers and creating connections between them and local producers. Since 1999, CUESA has managed the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, a successful thrice-weekly market that requires its vendors to meet strict guidelines. Read More

Fingerling Potatoes, Rainbow Carrots, Romanesco and Persian Mulberries! Oh My!

June 13, 2011 |

weiser family farms uses sustainable methods to produce its productsFrom red, white, orange, yellow and purple rainbow carrots to Persian mulberries, some of the most unusual and tasty produce varieties found in Southern California’s famed farmers markets are sustainably grown by Weiser Family Farms. Alex Weiser, President at California-based Wieser Family Farms, said the very success of the farm depends in large part on the sustainable practices that it employs. Read More