Babahan Subak Association
The Babahan Subak Association in the Tabanan province of Bali is a water-sharing farmer cooperative that upholds traditional organic farming methods and maintains an educational gathering space to share the practice, history, and spiritual and cultural significance of rice farming with locals and visitors. The association grows heritage varieties of rice according to the Balinese calendar, creates its own organic fertilizer from cow manure, and – among other traditional practices – builds owl boxes to encourage these natural predators to control rodent populations. Educational tours of the village provide an opportunity to hear local elders and community leaders explain how rice cultivation maintains a deep synchronicity between seasonal cycles, humans, and the Balinese Hindu religion, and to eat meals prepared directly from the fields and forests of a traditional organic agro-ecosystem. Learn more about the association’s organic rice growing activities by visiting the Uma Wali website (in Indonesian), and learn more about current educational programs by emailing Kadek at [email protected] (bilingual).
This small business based in Christchurch, New Zealand, allows the city’s residents to host their own beehives – and produce their own honey – by offering fully managed bee hives for rent to the home gardener. Learn more at http://www.beezthingz.co.nz.
France’s Drôme Valley, consisting of 54,000 inhabitants in 102 small towns and villages, has undergone a paradigm shift towards organic agriculture over the past few decades. Today, 40% of the valley’s farmers use organic practices, compared to just 8% nationwide. The Biovallée Project, formed in 2009, is working to accelerate this trend and steward a region-wide sustainable development masterplan that will serve as a blueprint for the rest of France. The 204 members of the Association of Biovallée Actors work with government at the district and national level to plan and implement alternative energy production, conversion to organic agriculture, waste reduction, local food procurement for institutions, land use planning to slow urbanization, and more. To learn more, browse through the Biovallée website (in French) and read a detailed history of Drôme Valley’s organic production in this report from iPES-Food..
Photo by SMRD (CC BY-SA 3.0).
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) has spent decades fighting for the rights of the Garifuna people, who emerged from a history of colonialism with the knowledge that small-scale farming and fishing can bring liberation and autonomy. Through women’s empowerment, legal action, community radio, and local assemblies, OFRANEH’s defense of the Garifuna has come to encompass land rights, cultural expression, and food security. Learn more at OFRANEH’s website.
This map is aimed at catalyzing the voluntary transfer of land and resources to indigenous people and people of color who are eager to build a life in agriculture, but are stymied by systemic injustices. Indigenous/POC farmers and aspiring farmers can list their projects and resource needs on the map, where they can be contacted by people with resources or money in the bank, and provided with the tools they need to grow nourishing food for their communities. Due to the US’s lasting legacy of slavery and discrimination, indigenous and POC farmers routinely suffer from a lack of financial means, institutional support, and connections in the realm of agriculture, where 95 percent of farms are operated by white farmers. Begun by Soul Fire Farm, the map is designed to be part of a larger effort to deal with this legacy, while in the process connecting people across racial and class divides in a mutually empowering way. View the map and read more on Soul Fire Farm’s website.
Bristol Food Producers is a community benefit society and network of independent farmers, distributors, and retailers in Bristol, UK. The network provides mentorship for aspiring young farmers in the area, through a land matching program, skills development courses, access to markets, and events for socializing and networking. It also actively builds solidarity among existing local food producers, with the aim of scaling up local, sustainable, fair food production so that it can challenge supermarkets as the primary providers of food in the city. Visit Bristol Food Producers and the Bristol Food Network websites for more information.
Owned and operated by longstanding African American residents of Seattle’s Central District, Clean Greens was founded to supply fresh, sustainably grown produce at affordable prices to low-income families in the area. The Clean Greens farm also creates green jobs and provides people — in particular, inner-city children — with the opportunity to spend time growing food, learning about ecosystems and water cycles, and reconnecting with the earth and the soil that feeds them. To learn more, visit Clean Green’s website. And be sure to watch Growing Hope in the Urban Center.
For years, four farm workers and labor union organizers endured exposure to pesticides, low pay, and abusive situations while working on an industrial berry farm in Washington State. To remedy this situation, they decided to form an agricultural cooperative, enabling them to own their own land and to determine their own working conditions. With the support of the nonprofit Community to Community, they now own 22 acres of land on which they cultivate blueberries and strawberries that supply local demand for ethically-grown organic fruit. The cooperative’s founders now aim to support the development of other cooperatives in the area and to encourage a local solidarity economy. To learn more about the cooperative, see this August 2018 press release and this Yes Magazine article.
In April 2018, two friends in Goa, India created their town’s first zero-waste all-purpose grocery store. They found that the only way to completely eliminate disposable plastic from their supply chains was by buying from local vendors and producers, and asking them to bring their materials to the shop in gunny bags, jute sacks and reusable tin containers. Customers, meanwhile, are encouraged to bring their own paper or cloth bags. What’s more 100% of the vegetables they sell are locally grown and organic. To keep bulk dry goods from spoiling, the owners worked with elders to implement traditional preservation methods. Read more about the store.
Photo by Carly Gayle.
Food Commons Fresno is a farm, a CSA, a cooperatively-owned business, and a publicly available kitchen, all rolled into one. Many parts of Fresno County, California are low-income food deserts, but not because of any lack of food production – most of the produce is simply exported. Food Commons Fresno aims to change that by integrating local farmers, food trucks, food-related small businesses, and even anchor institutions like hospitals and universities, into a network of institutions that keeps wealth, and food, local. The best part is that it’s a model that can be replicated in cities worldwide! Read more at http://www.foodcommonsfresno.org/ and this article about the initiative by the Next City Project.
Food Forward connects quality produce that would normally be thrown away with the people who need it most. Working throughout the Los Angeles, California area, Food Forward “rescues” 300,000 pounds of food per week from fruit trees and farmers markets. Through their many diverse partners, over 100,000 people per month (many of them with limited access to produce) are able to take home fresh, high-quality food that would otherwise have gone to waste. To learn more, visit foodforward.org.
The Fitzroy Urban Harvest Food Swap provides a space at a local park in Melbourne’s inner city where people meet monthly to exchange produce, seeds, cuttings, eggs, jam, chutney, flowers, jars, recipes and gardening tips. There is no money involved and no proviso that participants should take the equivalent of what they contribute. Rather, people are encouraged to take what they want. To learn more about The Fitzroy Urban Harvest or to connect with other similar projects throughout Australia, visit Fitzroy Urban Harvest Food Swap
The 160-acre Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas raises heritage breeds of chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. The farm focuses on the conservation of beautiful, hardy, and self-reliant poultry breeds – some found nowhere else in the world – and on creating and maintaining high standards of environmental stewardship and animal welfare.
Owner Frank Reese plans to expand his farm into an education center, the Good Shepherd Institute, to share his best practices in agroecological poultry farming and to raise awareness of the value of heritage breeds to small sustainable farms. Learn more about Frank’s work and the role of heritage breeds in local food systems on the Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch and Institute websites.
Read more about the Good Shepherd Institute in our piece The Architecture of Food Systems on Medium.
Photo by Jim Richardson.
GroCycle Urban Mushroom Farm grows organic mushrooms in a repurposed office building in the city of Exeter. The farm diverts more than one ton of coffee grounds from landfills each month, and transforms it into organic oyster mushrooms and rich compost. GroCycle also offers resources and courses in indoor, low-cost mushroom farming, enabling more people to engage in small-scale urban agriculture without prior agricultural experience or access to land. Learn more about the organization’s philosophy and watch a video tour of the farm on the GroCycle website.
Growing Communities takes a whole-systems approach to local food, which includes operating the UK’s only 100% organic and biodynamic farmers’ market, as well as urban farms, agriculture education programs, and a CSA. The weekly farmers’ market, now in its 15th year, features produce and products from within a 60-mile radius and functions as an incubator for food startups. Learn more.
Photo: Carly Gayle.
Hupenyu Ivhu Farmer Innovators’ Group
Hupenyu Ivhu (“Soil is Life”) is a collective of farmers in Zimbabwe’s arid Zvishavane district who develop methods to increase water retention, food security, and crop diversity in rural lands. Farmer Bouwas Mawara started the group in 1989, after devising the “dead-level contour” method of capturing and storing water on the land and dramatically increasing his harvest.
Read more about Bouwas Mawara’s work in our Medium article on community water sovereignty.
Photo by Carly Gayle.
This small NGO began by providing the village of Todmordon with free access to local, organic produce by planting fruit trees, vegetables and herbs in public spaces throughout the town. Community members come out to tend the gardens together on weekends and everyone is welcome share the bounty. Now, they’re helping towns all over the world do the same. To learn more, visit Incredible Edible’s website.
Western consumer culture spreads the message far and wide that farming is stupid, village life is backward, and young people must move to cities if they want to progress. But young people in the remote Gambian villages where Africa Organics works have access to a lot of things most people in cities – especially in the industrialized countries — lack; land of their own, clean water and fertile soil, knowledge of how to grow food and build houses in a sustainable fashion. The Home Farm Project helps young people who want to stay in (or return to) their villages establish permanent, diverse, sustainable farms, and works to lend prestige to Gambia’s traditional knowledge and skills. To learn more, visit http://www.africaorganics.org.
Photo by Home Farm Project — By Bioversity International (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Ixpiyakok Women’s Association
Founded in 1984, the Ixpiyakok Women’s Association (ADEMI) is a local food organization run by and for women and families in Guatemala’s Chimaltenango region. ADEMI originally comprised a small group of Mayan widows who wished to combat malnutrition in their community. Now, ADEMI has grown to promote the value and health benefits of ancient seed varieties, native heirloom fruits and vegetables and family gardening in over thirty communities in the region. To learn more about ADEMI, read their case study by the Equator Initiative.
In the village of Kharamal in Odisha, India, traditional water collection methods are being used by residents to combat drought. Small structures called chahalas work in concert with gully plugs, vermicomposting, and other strategic practices to increase local farmers’ incomes while ending their dependence on chemical fertilizers, and to reduce the number of people leaving the village. Read more in this Hindustan Times article on Kharamal’s agricultural practices.
Photo by Arabinda Mahapatra.
This community composting initiative uses “compost hubs” throughout Los Angeles, CA to educate the public on the importance of compost, gather communities to work and play together, and connect people with the soil that feeds them. Learn more at LA Compost’s website.
Little Donkey Farm
This diversified organic farm hosts the first community supported agriculture (CSA) initiative in China. Located in a village just northwest of Beijing, Little Donkey Farm’s CSA has hundreds of members, while several hundred more families rent small plots of land from the farm – giving them a place to take a break from the city and plant their own gardens. ￼￼￼To learn more visit the Little Donkey Farm. Or listen to the NPR story, How Community Supported Agriculture Sprouted In China.
Comprised of designers, farmers and engineers, the Meconomica team is working to bring agriculture to the city of Kiev. They do so by developing garden projects in public spaces and offices — introducing micro-farms, permaculture, and vertical gardens — as well as by offering interactive urban gardening classes for adults and children at Kyiv Farm, one of their micro garden projects. In addition, they work with local farmers in and near Kiev to promote urban farming throughout the region. To learn more, visit http://meconomica.com/aboutuseng.
Photo courtesy of Meconomica
Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA)
The Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture, or MESA, is a cross-cultural network of farmers, elders, and educators, who share ancestral knowledge and practical skills with each other to build ecologically sound food systems. The list of their projects is lengthy, but perhaps the most unique is an on-site training program in Oakland, California, geared towards immigrants, refugees, and former prisoners who aspire to be farmers. They also have a two-way exchange program which allows farmers outside the US and inside the US to cross paths and learn from each other’s traditions. MESA’s extensive work can be explored at https://mesaprogram.org/.
Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S) is a nonprofit organization working to promote seed diversity and food security in the southwest region of the United States. Founded in 1983 as a humble operation with seeds stored in chest freezers, NS/S now preserves nearly 2,000 varieties of indigenous desert seeds, including many rare and endangered species. To learn more, visit Native Seeds/SEARCH’s website.
In Holyoke, Massachusetts, US, the urban agriculture organization Nuestras Raíces has grown to include a central farm, a network of 12 community gardens, and a youth program currently working to improve the food served in schools. Founded by Puerto Rican immigrants, Nuestras Raíces brings food and culture together in a tangible way by hosting cultural events at its urban farm ‘La Finca,’ which also hosts training for beginning farmers and spaces for small local businesses. Visit their website for more information.
Palestine Heirloom Seed Library
The Palestinian West Bank is one of the regions where agriculture was first practiced, with many ancient seed varieties native to the area. But lately, Palestinian farming culture has fallen under threat. The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library works to preserve the area’s rare and precious seed varieties, and other aspects of the farming culture, before it is too late.
Read the full story on Medium.
Pine Island Community Farm supports New American farmers — most of whom came to the U.S. as refugees — as they raise goats, chickens and garden crops in their new country. Many New Americans were farmers in their home countries, and Pine Island helps to send the message that they are welcome to live the lives they want in the United States.
Read more about Pine Island on Medium
Planting Justice, an organization in East Oakland, California, provides urban farming jobs and economic security for former inmates, and supports local gardening projects to increase food sovereignty in a community with little access to healthy food options. With thirty employees, about half of whom are transitioning back into society after incarceration, the organization operates an organic nursery business with more than 1,100 varieties of fruit trees, and an edible landscaping business installing gardens, chicken coops, beehives, rain barrels and graywater reuse systems throughout the Bay Area. The income from these businesses goes towards the creation of gardens in low-income areas and the development of school gardening and nutrition programs. Planting Justice is in the process of transferring ownership of its nursery land to the local Ohlone community, through the indigenous women-owned Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. The Planting Justice website and this New York Times article detail the organization’s diverse programs and impacts, past and present.
Polo da Borborema
Comprising 15 workers’ unions, more than 150 community associations, and a regional association of organic farmers, the Polo da Borborema (link in Portuguese) in semi-arid Paraíba, Brazil, upholds land-based livelihoods for more than 5,000 families through supporting agroecological farming methods, animal husbandry, local water management, marketing, political organizing, and more.
Read more about Polo da Borborema’s work in our Medium article on water sovereignty.
Photo by user Prscilla (Wikimedia Commons).
In just a few summers, a community in Berlin transformed a decades-old concrete wasteland into a thriving garden and sustainable urban living education center, with more than one acre of gardens, trees, gathering spaces, and a farm-to-table restaurant in the city center. All of the agriculture at Prinzessinnengarten is mobile, to maintain organic production on contaminated and paved land. Using this same mobile infrastructure, founding organization Nomadisch Grün transforms other unused spaces in the city into temporary pop-up gardens, to aid neighborhoods in reimagining other unused urban land as gardens. See Prinzessinnengarten’s English-language website for detailed information on its history.
Pun Pun Center for Self-Reliance
Pun Pun is an organic farm and intentional community, as well as a center for seed- saving and sustainable living and learning, just north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Members of the Pun Pun community also run two restaurants in Chiang Mai City, where they serve local, organic, GMO-free food, created to highlight the value of the diverse traditional seed varieties grown and saved at Pun Pun.
Read more about Pun Pun’s work.
The Real Food Store is the first community-owned grocery store in Exeter, UK – but it’s so much more than your average grocery: it’s a vibrant hub reconnecting local consumers with local producers, and reweaving the fabric of local interdependence severed in the process of globalization. To learn more, visit The Real Food Store’s website.
Renaissance Community Co-op in East Greensboro, North Carolina, was founded in 2016 by a low-income, predominantly African-American community. After the neighborhood’s only grocery store closed its doors in 1998, a local citizens’ group reached out to chain stores for nearly 20 years without success. Working together with the nonprofit Fund for Democratic Communities, the neighborhood opened its own store instead, in the process creating jobs for residents, providing food to thousands of people, and challenging the assumption that co-op grocery stores are successful only in higher-income neighborhoods. See this article and visit the co-op’s website for more information.
Shared Harvest Farm
Split between two locations not far outside Beijing, Shared Harvest is an organic farm and CSA providing fresh, local, chemical-free vegetables, free-range eggs, chicken and pork to hundreds of people in the Beijing area. Shi Yan, the founder of Shared Harvest, is also a leader of the CSA and sustainable farming movements in China, and the farm serves as a Community Food Safety Research and Extension Center (CFSREC) attached to Tsinghua University. Learn more by reading “Meet the woman leading China’s new organic farming army”. And follow Shared Harvest on Facebook.
Photo by F_A (CC BY 2.0)
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Skipper Otto’s has taken the popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model and applied it to the realm of seafood. Members of the “Community Supported Fishery”, or CSF, buy shares and receive installments of local, sustainably-caught seafood throughout the fishing season. To learn more, visit Skipper Otto’s website.
Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities is an agroecology initiative in Malawi, in southeastern Africa. Centered on improving food security and soil quality for smallholder farmers – and led by the farmers themselves – the group facilitates the distribution of time-tested knowledge to build rural resilience, support indigenous ways of life, and fight systemic inequalities. Read more at soilandfood.org
Soul Fire Farm
This biodiverse family farm is committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. They do so by working to reconnect diverse communities with the land, with a particular focus on young people – training up the next generation of activist-farmers to join in a movement for food sovereignty and community self-determination.
Read more about Soul Fire Farm’s work on Medium.
Driving through rural parts of the US state of Illinois, it’s easy to feel that you’re lost in an endless sea of industrial agriculture: corn, soybeans, and mechanized farming equipment stretch to every horizon. But hidden throughout are small family farms, trying to support themselves and their communities with diverse varieties of organic fruits, vegetables and livestock as they have for generations. Stewards of the Land, LLC is an alliance of family farmers clustered around the town of Fairbury, Illinois. By working together they’re able to get their food into more local markets and restaurants, making ecological farming more profitable and helping ensure it will be carried on to the next generation. To learn more, visit Stewards of the Land’s website.
Photo by CinCool (CC BY 2.0)
Thimble Island Ocean Farm uses “3D ocean farming” to grow sustainable kelp and seafood, rejuvenate ecosystems, combat climate change, and create local jobs along Long Island Sound. Greenwave, meanwhile, supports ocean health by training and supporting a new generation of ocean farmers and innovators. Sound a bit confusing? It’s definitely worth reading more. Visit the websites for Thimble Island Ocean Farm and Greenwave – be sure to watch the short films!
Read this article written by Thimble Island founder Bren Smith on Medium.
Vrihi & Basudha
Vrihi & Basudha were originally established to save heirloom rice varieties, and to encourage the non-commercial exchange of seeds among local farmers. After nearly 20 years, Vrihi is now “the largest folk rice seed bank in eastern India”, with over 940 endangered varieties in its collection. Basudha, meanwhile, serves as an interdisciplinary research farm where sophisticated ecological studies are conducted to evaluate the differences between chemical versus ecological farming systems.
Read more about Vrihi & Basudha on Medium
Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum & Shashe Agroecology School both work to support smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe as they exchange ideas about agroecology, reconnect with traditional farming practices, and lobby to protect their livelihoods from seed patent laws, the World Trade Organization and transnational corporations.
Read the full story on Medium.
Related Planet Local entries from other categories:
- Local Business and Finance: Agrarian Trust (USA), Credibles (USA), Cargonomia (Hungary), Geng Motor Imut (Indonesia) and The Seikatsu Club (Japan)
- Health: Deaver Wellness Farm (USA), Dream of Wild Health (USA) and Fresh Prescription (USA)
- Local Policy and Community Rights: Cook County’s Good Food Purchasing Program (USA), Mouans-Sartoux’s Municipal Farm-to-School Program (France) and Todd Township Industrial Farming Ban (USA)
- Place-based Education: Homeless Garden Project (USA)
- Ecology: The Chikukwa Project (Zimbabwe) and Earthlore/Dzomo la Mupo (South Africa)
- Sharing and Repairing: Transfernation (USA)
- Eco Communities: Chololo Ecovillage (Tanzania) and Puhan Cooperative (China)