Grains are often thought of as part and parcel of the monocultural global food economy – so much so that, even within local food movements, local wheat and other staple crops are rarely discussed. The Common Grain Alliance, an association of more than 30 farmers, millers, and bakers in and around Virginia, is working to change that by building an integrated regional economy and raising the profile of local grains. It’s no easy feat…
Cook County, in the greater Chicago area, adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program as its policy in June 2018, becoming the third and largest municipality in the USA to do so. The Good Food Purchasing Program provides a framework for municipalities to create food procurement policies that align with the core values of sustainable, equitable food systems: local sourcing, nutrition, environmental sustainability, workers’ rights, and animal welfare. Cook County’s implementation of the program includes policies that favor purchasing food from businesses that employ former inmates and people in low- and middle-income areas, and the resolution also increases access to county land for minority farmers. For more information, read about Cook County Resolution #18-1650, and about the frameworks of the Good Food Purchasing Program.
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.
Credibles (or “edible credits”) function like community supported agriculture shares, except that they can be bought at all kinds of local food establishments — coffee shops, restaurants, butcher shops, grocery stores. As with CSA shares, when customers buy Credibles they are paying upfront — or investing — in local businesses for future edible returns. The businesses can then use the money for capital and operating expenses, and Credibles customers can pop in at any time to pick up a cup of coffee, a loaf of bread or some fresh veggies — strengthening ties between business owners and their communities. To learn more visithttps://credibles.co.
When staff at the Lakenau Medical Center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania learned that many of their patients had little access to healthy food, they decided to make food access a healthcare priority. In 2015, the hospital partnered with a local food-advocacy nonprofit, Greener Partners, to create a half-acre farm on the medical center’s campus, which has provided more than 4,000 pounds of produce to patients at no cost. Educators lead pop-up markets, cooking demonstrations, and classes on nutrition in waiting rooms and wards throughout the facility, and thousands of students learn about gardening and nutrition at the farm each year.Read moreand take a look at thisYes Magazine articleabout the farm.
Dream of Wild Health is an organic farm and seed bank dedicated to helping American Indian people reclaim their physical, spiritual, and mental health by returning to their own foodways. Read Dream of Wild Health’s full story in this Medium 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 in this article from The Logical Indian. Photo by Carly Gayle.
Access to land is one of the biggest challenges for farmers worldwide. In the US alone, 175 acres of farmland is lost to development every hour. Equity Trust, based in New England, works with farmers and land trusts to stem this tide and develop creative solutions for preserving farms. Their approach, based on the affordable housing movement, involves transferring land ownership to a nonprofit entity and leasing land to farmers at below-market rates. The farmers continue to own their homes, buildings, and other infrastructure on the land, with a buffer against the volatility of land prices in the real estate market. Read more about Equity Trust’s work on their website, in this article by The New Food Economy, and in this Medium article.
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 check out this article about the initiative by the Next City Project.