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.
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 Fitzroy Urban Harvest Food Swap 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
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.