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.
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.
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, listen to the NPR story How Community Supported Agriculture Sprouted In China. Photo byEdward Sanderson,(CC BY 2.0)
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/urbanfarmingukraine. Photo courtesy of Meconomica
In 2005, in the face of rapidly increasing land values, urban sprawl, and farmland development pressures, the forward-thinking Mouans-Sartoux town council purchased an old farm estate that was slated for development, and has since designated over 100 hectares of land in the area as protected farmland. The municipality also set a goal that 100% of the food served to children in the region’s three public schools should be local and organic. To help meet this ambitious target, the local council updated their procurement policies to make it easier for small producers in the area to meet school catering needs. But even after changing these policies, the supply of local produce was insufficient to meet the town’s needs. So the town took matters into their own hands by growing their own vegetables on the old estate purchased a few years earlier. In 2010 the town hired its first “municipal farmer,” invested in farming and storage equipment, and officially launched its régie agricole municipale or “municipal farming service.” By 2015 the municipally-run farm produced 85% of the organic vegetables used in local school meals. The program reduces food waste by coordinating school menus with what’s available on the farm, and by processing and storing produce harvested during school holidays. In addition to fresh produce, the municipal farm provides opportunities for children and adults to learn about farming and where their food comes from, including a pedagogical plot which was created specifically for beneficiaries of the local food bank. To learn more, visit the program’s website (in French) or read the relevant entries in these reports from Access to Land and the Transnational Institute. Photo from Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 4.0
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.