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.
Fleet Farming is invigorating local food production in Orlando, Florida by converting the lawns of private homes into market gardens. The group organizes bi-weekly Swarm Rides where volunteers bike from garden to garden together, communally maintaining more than a dozen front-yard plots. Harvests are split between the homeowner and farmers’ markets that primarily serve lower-income residents. Fleet Farming has also created nine school gardens on a similar model. In addition, they offer food forest consultations, raised bed installation and maintenance, and farm-to-table cooking classes. Read more at fleetfarming.org.
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.
A few years ago, the staff of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture realized that while school gardens were gaining in popularity in elementary schools, there was still a systemic lack of food education programs for high schoolers. They created Food Ed, a semester-long course that explores the intersection of food, nutrition, agriculture, history, and the environment.
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. Photo byMarta Triviño,(CC BY 2.0)
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 their Facebook page. Photo by Sue Jackson
Fresh Prescription is an innovative program that connects public health with the health of the local food economy. It was started in Detroit, Michigan in 2013 with the goal of increasing low-income residents’ access to nourishing, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. The program enables primary care physicians to prescribe fresh produce to their patients as a way of treating and preventing chronic diet-related diseases, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Learn more about Fresh Prescription and similar initiatives currently being piloted throughout the United States.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia – the city with the highest level of income inequality in the US – Gangstas to Growers offers a full-time three-month program that reduces recidivism and breaks the cycle of generational poverty by training previously incarcerated young adults in farming and entrepreneurship skills. Revenue from the program’s signature hot sauce provides much of the funding, and gives youth an opportunity to participate in all stages of the business – from seeding to bottling to selling…
Founded by six university students who love to share their knowledge of sustainable farming as much as they love traversing the countryside on motorcycles, Geng Motor Imut (GMI) – the unlikely hybrid between a motorcycle gang and a sustainable farming resource – is helping to spread inexpensive appropriate technologies and sustainable farming knowledge throughout Indonesia. GMI uses all proceeds from sales of their cheap, human-scale technology to fund activities including advocacy, community events, and a sustainable agriculture program in the local juvenile detention center. The Small is Beautiful Project has released a short, five-minute film about Geng Motor Imut as part of a series of ‘little films about big change-makers’. Photo by Luke Robinson