Tweet…Tomorrow is U.S. Food Day, a yearly nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Watch our short, fun video about Food Day by clicking here!
In honor of Food Day 2012, we’d like to showcase 50 state-by-state programs, projects, individuals, and organizations that are innovating to make the nation’s food and agricultural system more sustainable. This week, we bring you the first 25, from Alabama to Missouri. Keep an eye out for the second 25 next week, where we will highlight innovations taking place from Montana to Wyoming!
1. Alabama. The Jones Valley Urban Farm in Birmingham, Alabama has been in operation since 2007. Occupying 3.5 acres of once vacant space in downtown Birmingham, Jones Valley Urban Farm grows organic produce and flowers and offers hands-on education to the community about farming and nutritious foods.
2. Alaska. The Fish to Schools program, created by the Sitka Conservation Society, is a school feeding initiative dedicated to serving local and nutritious seafood to students in Sitka, Alaska. As the ninth largest seafood port in the United States, Sitka’s economy and community is strongly interconnected with seafood. Through the Fish to Schools program, Sitka youth gain knowledge about local seafood resources by integrating seafood into their diets and by attending educational seminars on marine life and the process of harvesting seafood.
3. Arizona. The Sunizona Family Farms in Wilcox, Arizona started growing cucumbers in 1996. Today, not only do they sell nearly 95 percent of their organic produce, ranging from tomatoes, to kale to beets, to chard, locally, they also use growing methods which rely strictly on plant-based products. No animal inputs are used in any part of the farming process, they make their own fertilizers out of vegetable components, and even use waste pecan shells to create wood pellets, which they use to heat their greenhouse.
4. Arkansas. The City of North Little Rock, Arkansas has been given $1.5 million to encourage healthy nutrition and lifestyles in low-income neighborhoods. The mission is to make the City of North Little Rock a Fit 2 Live community that is committed to healthy eating and active living by creating an environment that recognizes and encourages citizens to adopt healthy life choices.
5. California. In 2011, San Francisco passed the Urban Agriculture Ordinance, amending the zoning code to allow food production for personal and public use, provide guidelines and requirements for urban farms, and regulating the sale of harvested products and value-added products. This law has allowed San Francisco to expand into sustainable urban agriculture and become a promoter of healthy, sustainable diets. Products like jams and pickles, for example, as well as those sold at farmer’s markets, are subject to the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s guidelines under this law, while agricultural products for personal consumption remain unregulated.
6. Colorado. The Central Colorado Land Link Initiative is a program designed to preserve agricultural land and connect new farmers to retiring or veteran agrarians. The Land Link Initiative is helping to keep retiring farmer’s property in farming by connecting them with next generation farmers who are interested continuing to cultivate the land.
7. Connecticut. The Connecticut Farm-to-School Program has nearly 50 farms and 95 school districts participating in its program. It helps provide cafeterias in Connecticut schools with locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables. The Farm-to-School Program is not only developing new markets for local farms, but is also providing Connecticut youth with nutritious food.
8. Delaware. The Delaware Young Farmers Program has been helping young farmers acquire farmland through long-term, no-interest loans since 2011. Designed to give a leg up to young farmers looking to start their own farms, the Program targets Delaware natives between 18 and 40 years old and offers them up to $500,000 in no-interest 30-year loans.
9. Florida. Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc. (FAITC) is a non-profit organization that aims to educate students in Florida schools about the importance of agriculture. FAITC provides grants to teachers and volunteers for projects that teach students the importance of agriculture and the contribution Florida farmers make to their communities and state. The organization holds workshops to train teachers and volunteers and uses the 2013 Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award to recognize teachers who find innovative ways to bring agriculture into the classroom.
10. Georgia. In 2011, Georgia Olive Farms (GOF) conducted the first commercial olive harvest east of the Mississippi river since the late 1800s. GOF, an agricultural cooperative formed in 2009, aims to help potential East Coast olive farmers by providing informational resources, market access, and selling young olive trees. They also provide consumers with sustainably, locally produced olive oil, which greatly reduces the carbon footprint for olive oil consumed on the East Coast.
11. Hawaii. On the island of Oahu, FarmRoof grows organic, unprocessed foods on local rooftops. Rooftop farms lower energy costs by insulating the building and help prevent sewage back-ups by absorbing rain water. They also increase biodiversity and promote local food, reducing food miles and energy use.
12. Idaho. Earthly Delights Farm is a small-scale, human-powered farm growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers in Boise, Idaho. The farm uses almost exclusively hand tools and transports their produce on bicycles. Earthly Delights engages the community through their internships, workshops, and unique events like “weed dating” – speed dating where participants spend time learning about plants and weeding while getting to know one another.
13. Illinois. Part vertical farm, part food-business incubator, and part research and education space, The Plant in Chicago, Illinois is converting an old meat-packing building into an indoor vertical garden. The Plant will include a tilapia fish farm, vegetable gardens, a bakery, a brewery, a mushroom farm, and a shared kitchen space. The net-zero energy design hopes to not only produce zero waste, but actually consume more waste than it produces, eliminating waste from surrounding neighborhood food manufacturers.
14. Indiana. What’s better than fresh baked goods? Fresh baked goods with a conscience! Marilyn’s Bakery, located in Northwest Indiana since 1986, focuses on seasonal items made using locally-grown, farm fresh produce. The bakery sells only fair trade coffee, offers many vegetarian and health-conscious options, and uses 100 percent biodegradable packaging.
15. Iowa. Small Potatoes Farm is a certified-organic, human-scale vegetable farm run by Rick and Stacy Hartmann. Since 2001, Small Potatoes Farm has been selling their vegetables to local chefs, specialty grocery stores, and the community in the Ames and Des Moines areas. Their website includes information on their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a recipe database, and a Sustainable Agriculture Library of books they loan out to those interested in learning more about sustainable food and agriculture.
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