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)
L’Atelier Paysan is a French cooperative that helps farmers design machines and buildings appropriate to the needs of small-scale farms practicing agroecology. The group makes plans for its tools available for free on its website; it also organizes training sessions at which farmers learn metalworking by building tools they can use on their own farms. Through this work, the cooperative aims to help farmers “collectively regain technical sovereignty and autonomy through the re-appropriation of knowledge”, freeing them from dependency on big farm machinery companies, and advancing the movement towards local, small-scale, ecological food. Learn more in this article from Commons Transition.
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 in France 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. By 2015 their municipally-run farm produced 85% of the organic vegetables used in local school meals. 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
Mountain Roots Food Project in Gunnison County, Colorado (USA) takes a multi-pronged approach to local food resilience. The organization runs a two-acre educational working farm with a CSA program, and two collaborative community gardens in which members work together and share the harvest. It also creates school garden and nutrition education programs in public schools, and runs summer camps connecting kids with local food systems and the ecology of the Rocky Mountains. Emphasizing food access for all, Mountain Roots also hosts free produce markets for people in need, as well as a ‘food rescue’ program connecting food-insecure families with excess produce from backyard gardens and farms. Learn more about their innovative programs at mountainrootsfoodproject.org.
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.
This Toronto-based organization creates community around harvesting, sharing, and celebrating local, seasonal fruit. City residents register their fruit-bearing trees with the organization, and it mobilizes volunteers to pick the fruit when it is ripe. The yield is divided evenly between the owner, the volunteers, and people in need. In 2018, Not Far From The Tree donated nearly 8,000 pounds of local fruit to 33 local food banks, shelters, and community kitchens, all delivered by bicycle. To learn more about their work, visit their website – and check out this guide from City Fruit in Seattle to learn how to organize your own urban fruit harvest.
In Holyoke, Massachusetts, US, the urban agriculture organization Nuestras Raíces has grown to include a central farm, a network of 12 community gardens, and a youth program currently working to improve the food served in schools. Founded by Puerto Rican immigrants, Nuestras Raíces brings food and culture together in a tangible way by hosting cultural events at its urban farm ‘La Finca,’ which also hosts training for beginning farmers and spaces for small local businesses. Visit their website for more information.
The Palestinian West Bank is one of the regions where agriculture was first practiced, with many ancient seed varieties native to the area. But lately, Palestinian farming culture has fallen under threat. The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library works to preserve the area’s rare and precious seed varieties, and other aspects of the farming culture, before it is too late. Read the full story in this Medium article.