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.
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
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 on the Growing Communities website. Photo by Carly Gayle.
The Homeless Garden Project explains, “In the soil of our urban farm and garden, people find the tools they need to build a home in the world.” The project works toward creating a thriving inclusive community, workforce, and local food system by providing job training, transitional employment, and support services to people who are homeless in Santa Cruz, California. They also run a local food and flower shop and CSA, which offers scholarships for community members unable to afford shares. To learn more, visit:http://www.homelessgardenproject.org/index.php.
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 and other similar initiatives in our Medium article on community water sovereignty. Photo by Carly Gayle.
This small NGO began by providing the village of Todmorden 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.Photo by Matthias Geh(CC BY 2.0)
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 this 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, and this article from Climate Action Network South Asia. Photo by Arabinda Mahapatra.