Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Agriculture’

Posted on March 9, 2011 - by

Not a Hippie Pipe Dream: UN Says Eco-Farming Can Feed the World

Whenever I talk about how damaging conventional farming is to our society and planet, eventually some naysayer raises his hand and asks, “Yeah but, how do you know that reverting to traditional and organic farming methods is going to produce enough food? Aren’t we regressing backwards from the technological progress we’ve made? It’s just not practical to go back to the old days—stop being a Luddite.”

At that point, I reiterate that modern industrialized agriculture may appear to generate greater yields, but this comes at a high cost, requiring far more fertilizer and pesticide inputs than traditional forms of agriculture that respect the diversity and balance of nature. Still, not everyone is swayed by these arguments. And well, frankly, I’m not out to convince everyone.

The thing is, not nearly enough research has been done on this question, at least not with studies that haven’t been sponsored by interest groups. There is room to argue that corporate partnerships at our nation’s universities have not only stymied research on eco-friendly farming practices, but have in fact encouraged the development of corporate-friendly genetically-engineered organisms and proprietary agricultural products.

The good news: yesterday, the United Nations released a report on small-scale and agroecological farming, written by Olivier De Schutter, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. He is an investigator who is independent from any government or organization.

In no uncertain terms, De Schutter states, “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live—especially in unfavorable environments…Conventional farming relies on expensive inputs, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks. It simply is not the best choice anymore today.” (UN News Release)

This change in focus is crucial for feeding the estimated 9 billion people that will populate the planet by 2050. Rather than relying on distant industrial inputs, agroecological farming relies on local resources, additional labor, and traditional knowledge for crop rotation and pest control techniques. In addition, De Schutter takes a nuanced approach to crop breeding techniques, noting that genetically-modified seeds concentrate power in the hands of seed companies, but marker-assisted selection and participatory plant breeding “use the strength of modern science, while at the same time putting farmers in the driver’s seat.” (AlterNet)

How do we get our governments and farmers to make the switch to sustainable forms of agriculture? It will certainly be difficult to achieve, particularly when our current model diverts nearly 90% of the corn crop to animal feed or ethanol (Bittman). We need to have Congressional consensus that this issue must be addressed right now. And that will only happen if voices are demanding change, insisting that we break away from a path that leads to self-destruction.

So, did you talk about sustainable farming today?

Drop me a line at


Posted on August 24, 2010 - by

FRESH 1% Applicants

As you may already know, FRESH has decided, in the spirit of generosity, to give 1% of our 2010 annual income to a nonprofit who is doing incredible things in the food world (read previous blog here).  We received 42 applications and as we have been reading through them, we decided that they were all doing such incredible work that we needed to share them with you.  Please scroll down to peruse!  Applicants are organized alphabetically.

In a few weeks, after we’ve gone through the applications, the FRESH team is going to pick 10 submissions to offer to you (50K FRESH supporters) to vote on.  Stay tuned!
The Ample Harvest campaign diminishes hunger in America by helping backyard gardeners share their excess garden produce with neighborhood food pantries.

Bountiful Cities Project
The Bountiful Cities mission is to create an urban land community spaces that produce food in abundance while fostering social justice and sustainability.

Bowdoin Organic Garden
The Bowdin Organic Garden strives to foster an appreciation for an understanding of taste and high quality food and draw the correlations between seed selection, growing methods, food preparation and pleasurable outcomes.

California Food and Justice Coalition
The Coalition promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice priorities.

California Institute for Rural Studies
The mission of CIRS is to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California’s rural communities.

Ceres Community Project
Through an integrated model, Ceres brings teens into the kitchen to teach them about growing, preparing and eating whole foods. The teens learn by volunteering as the program chef’s, preparing delicious and nutrient rich free meals for families dealing with cancer and other life threatening illnesses.

Collective Roots
Through the integration and implementation of two key program areas, garden based learning and food system change, Collective Roots is seeking to educate and engage youth and communities in food system change through sustainable programs that impact health, education, and the environment.

Community Agriculture Network
The mission of Community Agricultural Network is to engage students in meaningful dialogue about sustainability issues using technology, to facilitate relationships between students in classroom and people working on sustainable urban agriculture projects, and to motivate students to take action for sustainability in their own communities.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
CISA has brought together farmers and community members to support and strengthen agriculture in western Massachusetts through programs which promote local farm products, educate community members and consumers, provide technical assistance to farmers, and analyze and address gaps in the local food system.

Community Kitchens Northwest
This organization brings people from all backgrounds together to cook up good, healthy food to take home and eat later.

Cooper Landing Community School
Offers a program that is designed to create health awareness and to address social and community concerns through the use of skills, ideas and knowledge offered by people in their town.

D.C. Farm to School Network
The mission of D.C. Farm to School Network is to improve the health and well being of schoolchildren in the District of Columbia, and of our local environmental and food economy, by increasing access to healthy, local, and sustainable foods in all Washington, D.C. schools.

Engaged Community Offshoots, Inc. (ECO)
ECO works to strengthen communities through the recalibrating the regional food system in the Chesapeake region by introducing new ways of making food and money that are environmentally sustainable.

Farm Aid
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America.

Farming Concrete
The purpose of Farming Concrete is to preserve and legitimize community gardens by collecting data and mapping urban sustainability.

FarmFolkCityFolk Society
The FarmFolkCityFolk Society has supported community-based sustainable food systems in British Columbia by engaging in public education with farm and city folks; actively organizing and advocating around local, timely issues; building alliances with other organizations; harnessing the energy of our volunteers; and having foresight into the future of food and agriculture.

Free Farm Stand
The Free Farm Stand is dedicated to aiding the food security and health of their community through garden and food education and the growth, harvest, and dispersal of organic backyard and community grown produce.

Full Circle Farm
An 11 acre educational farm that offers garden-based education to middle school children all school year long.

Garrard County Farmer’s Market
With a goal of promoting local food, the market serves as an avenue to educate the community about food and health.

Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council
Through policy, projects and education, the Greater Grand Rapids Food System council works to make the food system more sustainable, with an emphasis on affordable, healthy food available to everyone.

Hayes Valley Farm
Hayes Valley Farm’s mission is to serve as a community and agricultural hub empowering San Francisco residents to connect with one another, grow their own food, and learn about sustainable ecological systems.

Healthy Solutions
Health Solutions is working to enhance the lives of the undeserved, underprivileged, and/or marginalized and to help them make informed decisions through the creation of community based food systems allowing all community members access to healthy, affordable foods, quality jobs through agriculture and education and training.

Indiana University Food Studies
The Indiana University Food Studies program is working cooperatively with many organizations in their local community and on campus to promote new thinking about food,food security, and sustainability, with the a focus on food that is good for the community, food that is good for the environment and the future, and food that is good for human health and all its dimensions.

Just Harvest Education Fund
The Just Harvest Education Fund works to ensure that the public safety net of food and income assistance is strong, accessible, and responsive to people in need, to enable low-income people to navigate the complexity of safety net programs and to empower them to speak for themselves to policymakers on the issues that affect their ability to keep food on the table.

Kaslo Food Security Project
The Kaslo Food Security Project aims to build a resilient food system for North Kootenay Lake residents by working directly and in support of our regional farmers, retailers and residents.

Life Cycles Project Society
A predominantly youth driven organization that is geared towards education and building community connections through hands-on projects that work towards creating better local and global food security.

Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance
The Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance works to raise public awareness about the need for a decentralized, earth and people-friendly food system.

Mission Food Access Network
The Mission Food Access Network includes members of local groups and citizens who are working towards a healthy, sustainable food future for Mission. The goals of the Mission Food Access Network consist of decreasing hunger, improving nutritional health, and increasing local food sustainability.

Karpophoreo Project
The Karpophoreo Project is a ministry of Mobile Loaves and Fishes that reclaims abandoned backyards and front yards, church lots and empty lots to feed, settle, and employ the population most in need of the centering effects of a functioning local food economy, the homeless.

National Hunger Clearinghouse Program/ WhyHunger
The National Hunger Clearing House collects and distributes information about programs that address the immediate and long-term needs of struggling families and individuals in order to build the capacity of emergency food providers.

Northeast Animal Power Field Days
This annual event has become a clearing-house for educational and operational resources, building networks, and sharing experiences around the many aspects of draft animal-power, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and local food systems in the Northeast.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey serves the state of New Jersey and surrounding areas with year-round public programs including farmer meetings, workshops for homeowners and consumers, professional development training, farm business planning courses, and the annual Winter Conference.

Our School at Blair Grocery
The mission of Our School at Blair Grocery is to create a resource rich safe space for youth empowerment and sustainable community development. Our School at Blair Grocery envisions a community where empowered youth engage in reflective practice with others to actualize effective, replicable Environmental Justice based local solutions to global challenges.

Produce to the People
Produce to the People works to build food security and community health through garden and food education, the creation of green jobs for youth, and the growth, harvest, and dispersal of organic backyard and community grown produce.

Research, Education, Action and Policy (REAP) on Food Group
REAP is committed to projects that shorten the distance from farm to table, support small family farmers, encourage sustainable agriculture practices, preserve the diversity and safety of our food supply and address the food security of everyone in our community.

Rural Education Action Network
The mission of the Rural Education Action Network is to celebrate renewable land-use practices that advance the cultural web of our local communities.

Seven Generations Ahead
SGA advocates for pro-active community solutions to global environmental issues, and works with municipal, business, and community decision-makers to promote green community development, clean, renewable energy, eco-effective products, zero waster strategies, green building design, and fresh, local, and sustainable food raised using healthy practices.

Sierra Bounty
The mission of Sierra Bounty is to create a healthy, sustainable food community by uniting farmers with their local market and supporting efforts to increase access to fresh, organic produce for all residents of the Eastern Sierra.

The Lord’s Acre
The Lords Acre grows fresh produce to provide nutritious food from a local, sustainable resource garden in support of local nonprofit food banks.

Tierra Miguel Foundation
The mission of the Tierra Miguel Foundation is to inform and educate on the value of local, sustainable agriculture practices and to demonstrate these practices on our 85- acre working produce farm.

Triskles’ mission is to provide and run practical, experiential programs (Food for Thought, for one), for underserved youth, that emphasize sustainable, healthy practices which teach the importance and long-term benefits of making healthy food choices and other life altering decisions. The impact of these activities expands to their families and communities through the gardens they plant and harvest, the recipes they prepare and share, and the skills they learn while working on local farms (teamwork, time management, etc.) – all of which engender a healthy lifestyle for our leaders of tomorrow!.

United Methodist Ministries – Missouri River District
The United Methodist Ministries utilizes creative collaborations to work towards the eradication of hunger, poverty and racism.

Virginia Food System Council
The mission of the Virginia Food System Council is to advance nutrient-rich and safe food system for Virginians at all income levels, with an emphasis on access to local food, successful linkages between food producers and consumers, and a healthy viable future for Virginia’s farmers and farmland

The mission of YouthLaunch is to provide empowering service experiences for young people through innovative programs that combine the best practices of positive youth development with the transformative powers of service.


Posted on May 10, 2010 - by

FRESH is coming to Congress!

The National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association and FRESH are sponsoring a special screening of FRESH for our legislators.
Has FRESH inspired you? It will also inspire those who make our laws.

The food safety bill is in front of the senate right now.  FRESH will educate our legislators on the benefits of a local food system threatened by S 510. Let’s get our Senators and Representatives there so they can see and understand the unintended consequences S 510 would have on our small farms.

WHEN: Friday May 21, 2010, 4:30-6:30
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building Foyer
WHAT: Special screening of FRESH for legislators and staff

Ana Joanes, FRESH Director and Producer, and star Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms will introduce the movie, take questions after the screening and speak to legislators on the importance of preserving access to our Fresh foods and the farms those foods come from.

Learn more about FRESH and see a trailer on the FRESH homepage.


1. Please help by donating to cover expenses! We are a VERY small team and want to make this screening as dynamic as possible by having Ana Joanes attend.  You can help us do this by donating just $3!  Donate Now!

2. If you’ve already talked with your senators about S 510 please follow-up with the staffer you spoke to and ask them to attend the screening of FRESH.  If you haven’t yet contacted your representative, you can find yours by entering your zip-code here.

Questions or for more information please contact Liz Reitzig or 301-807-5063


Posted on May 7, 2010 - by

FRESH Farm to Table Dinner: La Merenda

Guest Post by: Haute Apple Pie

Buying local is nothing new. 100 even 50 years ago, buying and eating local wasn’t a choice. Everybody had to do it.

When you put it that way, “local” is far from a new concept but the buy & eat local craze is sweeping the nation and the ladies of HAP are excited about it. We recently attended a “Farm to Table” dinner hosted at La Merenda, an international tapas restaurant and a true Milwaukee gem. The dinner was hosted in promotion of the movie “FRESH,” a documentary exploring the world of sustainable farming and shedding light on what has become the industrial agriculture market.

A member of Braise RSA, La Merenda is a local restaurant with a focus on buying local. With an eclectic mix of flavors from around the world, you would never guess many of the ingredients come from our own backyard. Local businesses like Sweet Water Organics, an urban farm that uses hydroponics to grow crops, make it possible for restaurants like La Merenda to support the cause.

Executive Chef Peter Sandroni prepared a four-course meal, with every ingredient hailing from Wisconsin…not an easy task for April in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites are lucky at this time of the year to escape spring snowfalls. But Sandroni mastered his courses with the freshest of ingredients and bold flavors that kept us wanting more. When we asked about our favorite seasonal dish, the Butternut Squash Ravioli, we found that not only does he buy local for that dish as well, but Sandroni houses the squash in the basement of his house to ensure he has enough! We were also treated to sustainably produced wine at each course, expertly paired by local sommelier, Nate Norfolk.

Don’t think that you can make a restaurant style meal using all local ingredients? Check out the menu and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

Course 1: Toasted Goat Cheese Salad
Honey Goat Cheese: Montchevre Belmont, WI
Mixed Greens: Sweet Water Organics, Milwaukee
Pancetta: La Quercia Norwark, IA
Wine: 2008 Tangent Sauvignon Blanc – Edna Valley, CA

La Merenda Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

Course 2: Spinach Ravioli in Rosemary Cream Sauce
Spinach: Pinehold Gardens Oak Creek, WI
Ricotta: Grande Cheese Brownsville, WI
Cream: Sassy Cow Creamery Columbus, WI
Rosemary: from Peter’s house!
Parmesan: Sarveccio Plymouth, WI
Wine: 2005 Vitanza Chianti Colli Senesi – Tuscany, Italy

Course 3: Braised Pork with Mushroom and Blue Cornmeal Polenta
Pork: Wilson Farm Meats Elkhorn, WI
Prosciutto: La Quercia Norwark, IA
Carrots: Tipi Produce Evansville, WI
Onions and Mushrooms: River Valley Farm Burlington, WI
Blue Corn Meal: Pristine View Farm Hillsboro, WI
Half and Half: Sassy Cow Creamery Columbus, WI
Asiago: Belgioso Denmark, WI
Wine: 2008 Ecologica Syrah/Malbec – La Rioja, Argentina

La Merenda Milwaukee Braised Pork with Polenta

Course 4: Chocolate Hickory Nut Crème Brulee
Chocolate: Omahene Milwaukee, WI
Cream: Sasssy Cow Creamery, Columbus WI
Eggs: Yuppie Hill Farm Burlington, WI
Hickory Nuts: Twin Hawks Hillsboro, WI
Wine: NV Lautenback’s Orchard Country Sweet Black Cherry – Fish Creek, WI

La Merenda Chocolate Creme Brulee

Similar to Food Inc and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, FRESH digs in and asks viewers to reconsider where their food comes from and why they buy what they buy.  Without being all doomsday-style, FRESH will definitely make you think twice about what you eat and how even small decisions with your dollar might cause corporations to listen up.

We were also thrilled to see a fellow Milwaukeean, Will Allen of the Growing Power urban farming initiative, play a prominent and truly inspirational role in the film.  If you thought “farm” and “city” can’t go hand-in-hand, think again.  Based in a rough Milwaukee neighborhood, Growing Power’s two acre headquarters is home to 6 greenhouses, aquaponics stations, beehives, hen houses, goats, a compost center and more. We can’t wait to check out their goods at the Fox Point Farmer’s Market and hope to pop by HQ sometime soon.

How do you get involved with this Fresh movement? What are your favorite “fresh” places to eat? Share your ideas here or get more involved by hosting your own farm to table event with ideas from the FRESH community.