To Break Cycle of Poverty, Claremont-CA Nonprofit Forms Community Alliance for Urban Sustainable Ag

Since 2011 Uncommon Good has been growing local food that exceeds organic standards. Together with the low-income families it serves, Uncommon Good formed the Community Alliance for Urban Sustainable Agriculture Program (CAUSA) to develop a food production program that could feed the hungry, provide community education, and supply the local community with the highest quality fruits and vegetables.

Photo courtesy of Uncommon Good.

In 2011, Nancy Mintie, founder of Claremont, CA-based Uncommon Good saw in urban agriculture an opportunity to help fulfill her organization’s mission to break intergenerational poverty cycles and give people the tools to lift themselves up. Mintie says her embrace of urban agriculture in Uncommon Good’s ongoing efforts to promote health, wellness, education and sustainability was a matter of leveraging a resource that had been right under her nose.

The seed was planted during the recession.

“We’d been doing education and social services work, and we saw the level of hardship just skyrocket,” she says. “We were seeing a reverse migration since people were now starving here as badly as they had been back home in Mexico.”

Hope was in short supply.

So Mintie started with the idea that a community garden could, at least, get people fed; but her clients had their doubts. Read more

Local Food Marketplace and New Technology Keys to Future of Agriculture in OC, Says Irvine Farmer

A.G. Kawamura of Orange County Produce is the former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and a champion of local food production in Orange County. (photo courtesy A.G. Kawamura/Orange County Produce)

A.G. Kawamura of Orange County Produce is the former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. (photo courtesy A.G. Kawamura/OC Produce)

Farmer A.G. Kawamura is doing his part to preserve and foster the agricultural heritage in Irvine, California, a city of more than 250,000 in the heart of heavily-populated Orange County, just south of Los Angeles.

Kawamura, the former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is in charge of field production at family-owned Orange County Produce. His grandparents immigrated to California from Japan in the early 1900s and began farming. Then, in 1958, his father moved the operation, then known as Western Marketing Company, to Orange County. In 1994, the family changed the company’s name to Orange County Produce because of their belief that Orange County still wants to participate in its agriculture heritage.

Because of its strategic location in Southern California, Kawamura believes Orange County Produce can make an impact throughout the region.

Read more

5 Urban Agriculture Strategies to Grow Your City’s Food Supply

Many cities have been integrating urban gardening into their patchworks for decades. Other communities are just getting started.

Here are five strategies for jump-starting new urban agriculture projects and sustaining those underway.

1. Take inventory of your city’s land (and rooftops)

Cities are big places, and most people don’t have the vantage point to discover every potential growing site at a single glance. To navigate their own scale, cities interested in urban agriculture have taken land inventories. They’re just like the inventory a shop clerk takes, but instead of counting boxes, city planners look at parcel maps and other data to map unused spaces that could support food production. Read more

OC Food System Case Study: Control Air Community Farm Utilizes Aquaponics to Grow Food for Community

aaron flora renewable farms aquaponicsOn a small patch of land nestled in between a busy street, an elementary school, and a row of houses sits a quiet farm that is making big waves in Orange County sustainability. Inside the farm you’ll find rows of arugula, basil, and other crops in raised plant beds connected to tanks of tilapia. It also uses minimal water to operate and produces over 2,000 pounds of food for underserved residents. It’s the Control Air Community Farm in Anaheim, a project of Renewable Farms. It is an aquaponics farm, a farming system that combines elements of aquaculture and hydroponics and it just might be the future of sustainable agriculture. Read more

Can Cities Feed Themselves? A Look at Urban Farming in 5 Major American Urban Centers

Food Field is a for profit 4-acre urban farm based in Detroit that was founded in 2010 by Noah Link and Alex Bryan. Photo Credit: Food Field.

Food Field is a for profit 4-acre urban farm based in Detroit that was founded in 2010 by Noah Link and Alex Bryan. Photo Credit: Food Field.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that urban agriculture—the practice of cultivating and distributing food in population-dense areas—is all the rage.

As Americans learn more about our food system and how it affects our health and the environment, many city-dwellers are looking for alternatives to pesticide-laden fruit and vegetables, GMOs and CAFOs.

In response, many farmers have turned to cultivating in cities to meet the demand for locally grown crops. And ordinary citizens are taking it upon themselves to learn how to grow their own food. Read more