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.
At this residential school in Pune, India, students and farmers work together to cultivate and market indigenous varieties of seeds, learning agricultural and business skills in the process. In an area once dominated by hybrid varieties, the program now produces eight tons of heritage seeds per year, and also sells produce to parents and their networks. Demand for both is greater than the supply, and the program plans to expand production to ten more villages in the coming year. Read this article to learn more about this bountiful partnership.
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.
Driving through rural parts of the US state of Illinois, it’s easy to feel that you’re lost in an endless sea of industrial agriculture: corn, soybeans, and mechanized farming equipment stretch to every horizon. But hidden throughout are small family farms, trying to support themselves and their communities with diverse varieties of organic fruits, vegetables and livestock as they have for generations. Stewards of the Land, LLC is an alliance of family farmers clustered around the town of Fairbury, Illinois. By working together they’re able to get their food into more local markets and restaurants, making ecological farming more profitable and helping ensure it will be carried on to the next generation. To learn more, visit Stewards of the Land’s website. Photo by CinCool (CC BY 2.0)
Suma Yapu is an association of communities in southern Peru dedicated to keeping the cultural and agricultural traditions of the Aymara people alive. It offers a platform for sharing heritage varieties of traditional crops, and skills for living close to the land – such as creating cloth from alpaca fiber, making pottery, and using medicinal plants. The association also works with government schools to ensure that Aymara cultural practices, including environmental conservation, are woven into the otherwise formal curriculum. Suma Yapu’s networks for rural and urban youth offer apprenticeship programs in place-based livelihoods, and spaces for reflection on upholding traditional culture in a globalizing world. Read more about their projects and philosophy of “development with identity” here (link in Spanish).
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) has spent decades fighting for the rights of the Garifuna people, who emerged from a history of colonialism with the knowledge that small-scale farming and fishing can bring liberation and autonomy. Through women’s empowerment, legal action, community radio, and local assemblies, OFRANEH’s defense of the Garifuna has come to encompass land rights, cultural expression, and food security. Learn more at OFRANEH’s website.
In just two decades, the Chikukwa permaculture initiative has transformed six villages in Eastern Zimbabwe from a state of chronic food insecurity and severe environmental degradation to one of food sufficiency, community self-reliance, and ecological regeneration. The Project’s training programs in permaculture have been complemented by other capacity-building initiatives focused on conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, health issues, local education, specialized skill development, and more. To learn more about the Chikukwa Project, and to watch a film about the initiative, see theChikikwa Project website.