Planting Justice, an organization in East Oakland, California, provides urban farming jobs and economic security for former inmates, and supports local gardening projects to increase food sovereignty in a community with little access to healthy food options. With thirty employees, about half of whom are transitioning back into society after incarceration, the organization operates an organic nursery business with more than 1,100 varieties of fruit trees, and an edible landscaping business installing gardens, chicken coops, beehives, rain barrels and graywater reuse systems throughout the Bay Area. The income from these businesses goes towards the creation of gardens in low-income areas and the development of school gardening and nutrition programs. Planting Justice is in the process of transferring ownership of its nursery land to the local Ohlone community, through the indigenous women-owned Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. The Planting Justice website and this New York Times article detail the organization’s diverse programs and impacts, past and present.
Comprising 15 workers’ unions, more than 150 community associations, and a regional association of organic farmers, the Polo da Borborema (link in Portuguese) in semi-arid Paraíba, Brazil, upholds land-based livelihoods for more than 5,000 families through supporting agroecological farming methods, animal husbandry, local water management, marketing, political organizing, and more. Read more about Polo da Borborema’s work in our Medium article on water sovereignty. Photo by user Prscilla (Wikimedia Commons).
In just a few summers, a community in Berlin transformed a decades-old concrete wasteland into a thriving garden and sustainable urban living education center, with more than one acre of gardens, trees, gathering spaces, and a farm-to-table restaurant in the city center. All of the agriculture at Prinzessinnengarten is mobile, to maintain organic production on contaminated and paved land. Using this same mobile infrastructure, founding organization Nomadisch Grün transforms other unused spaces in the city into temporary pop-up gardens, to aid neighborhoods in reimagining other unused urban land as gardens. See Prinzessinnengarten’s English-language website for detailed information on its history.
In 2001, when technical services failed to create a shift toward sustainable farming practices in rural Shanxi, China, former schoolteacher Zheng Bing gathered women together for public dances. Within a few years, more than 1,000 women from 43 villages participated; this social cohesion formed the basis for a group of farming cooperatives with 2,700 families on 2,000 hectares. The group focuses on improving quality of life and ecological consciousness in rural areas, with programs such as sustainable agriculture trainings, bulk purchasing of organic food, and social services for the elderly. Read this interview with Zheng Bing and a case study in this report from iPES-Food to learn more. Photo by Chlukoe (Wikimedia Commons)
Pun Pun is an organic farm and intentional community, as well as a center for seed- saving and sustainable living and learning, just north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Members of the Pun Pun community also run two restaurants in Chiang Mai City, where they serve local, organic, GMO-free food, created to highlight the value of the diverse traditional seed varieties grown and saved at Pun Pun. Read more about Pun Pun’s work in this Medium article.
Renaissance Community Co-op in East Greensboro, North Carolina, was founded in 2016 by a low-income, predominantly African-American community. After the neighborhood’s only grocery store closed its doors in 1998, a local citizens’ group reached out to chain stores for nearly 20 years without success. Working together with the nonprofit Fund for Democratic Communities, the neighborhood opened its own store instead, in the process creating jobs for residents, providing food to thousands of people, and challenging the assumption that co-op grocery stores are successful only in higher-income neighborhoods. See this article and visit the co-op’s website for more information.
Split between two locations not far outside Beijing, Shared Harvest is an organic farm and CSA providing fresh, local, chemical-free vegetables, free-range eggs, chicken and pork to hundreds of people in the Beijing area. Shi Yan, the founder of Shared Harvest, is also a leader of the CSA and sustainable farming movements in China, and the farm serves as a Community Food Safety Research and Extension Center (CFSREC) attached to Tsinghua University. Learn more by reading “Meet the woman leading China’s new organic farming army”. And follow Shared Harvest on Facebook. Photo by F_A (CC BY 2.0)
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Skipper Otto’s has taken the popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model and applied it to the realm of seafood. Members of the “Community Supported Fishery”, or CSF, buy shares and receive installments of local, sustainably-caught seafood throughout the fishing season. To learn more, visit Skipper Otto’s website.
Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities is an agroecology initiative in Malawi, in southeastern Africa. Centered on improving food security and soil quality for smallholder farmers – and led by the farmers themselves – the group facilitates the distribution of time-tested knowledge to build rural resilience, support indigenous ways of life, and fight systemic inequalities. Read more at soilandfood.org.
This biodiverse family farm is committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. They do so by working to reconnect diverse communities with the land, with a particular focus on young people – training up the next generation of activist-farmers to join in a movement for food sovereignty and community self-determination. Read more about Soul Fire Farm’s work in this Medium article.