When Sean Conway of Lakewood, Colorado observed his neighbors watering and mowing the grass in rarely used yards, inspiration struck. He saw an opportunity to utilize those spaces for a higher purpose: to localize the food system in his neighborhood.
“It seemed silly,” says Conway while describing his new business, Micro Farms. After learning how to farm in the Peace Corp, Conway solidified his idea while working for a nonprofit in Wyoming where produce was grown for low-income populations.
Los Angeles County’s blighted areas and abandoned lots could be seeing more green in the near future.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors recently approved an Urban Agricultural Incentive Zone Program (also known as a Tomato Garden Tax Break). If implemented, the policy has the potential to transform vacant and privately owned land in the county into urban farms, and help reduce blight and illegal dumping throughout Los Angeles city and county.
In addition to adding more green space, the “tax break” also would create local jobs in urban farming and support food security and access. The details of the program still need to be worked out to make it reality.
Grow Riverside Conference to Examine Economic, Community Benefits of Local Sustainable Agriculture in Urban AreasJanuary 14, 2015 | seedstock
This year’s conference at the Riverside Convention Center sets its focus on “The Future of Local Food” with the goal of sharing vital lessons and information with many municipalities.
Using Riverside’s significant accomplishments over the past 12 months as a model, the conference will examine the City’s initial steps to build and strengthen its local food system as well as explore solutions to help other cities and local governments establish and bolster their own similar initiatives.
The Riverside Food Co-op is not only increasing access to locally-produced foods in Riverside, California, but the organization is also bringing other entities together toward this cause.
Riverside was hit hard by the Great Recession, and according to Nick Melquiades, a member of the Co-op’s CORE (Community of Outstanding and Resourceful Entrepreneurs) Team, the Riverside Food Co-op was borne from those difficult times.
“The Co-op formed in response to the recession in Riverside, including real estate foreclosures and a bad economic climate,” Melquiades says. “We needed something more independent.”
Los Angeles-headquartered From Lot to Spot is true to its name—the organization transforms unused, vacant lots into vibrant spots of green space and parkland.
According to founder and executive director Viviana Franco, From Lot to Spot has spearheaded several urban and community garden initiatives throughout Southern California, including several in Riverside.
Franco says Riverside hired From Lot to Spot as a partner in building up the gardens, specifically in capacity building and leadership processes. These gardens include Tequesquite Community Garden, Arlanza Community Garden, and East Side Community Garden at Emerson Elementary School.
Limited Seats Remain: Only Six More Days Until Seedstock’s Urban Ag-Focused ‘Grow Riverside’ ConferenceMarch 13, 2014 | Robert Puro
Only SIX more days remain to obtain tickets at for Seedstock’s urban ag-focused “Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!” conference. The event, to be held Wednesday and Thursday, March 19-20, at the Riverside Convention Center, will focus on the development of urban agriculture strategies and solutions that cities, Riverside in this particular case, can use to reconnect with their agricultural roots and create economic opportunities that citizens, growers, advocates, government officials and other major stakeholders can leverage to foster a robust and sustainable local food future.
PRESENTED in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside by Seedstock, a social venture that fosters the development of robust and sustainable local food systems through the use of a variety of tools, including the news and information blog seedstock.com, live events and consulting services.
The event will feature a broad lineup of speakers ranging from urban agriculture entrepreneurs, USDA representatives from the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development program and Natural Resources Conservation Service to investors, funding and policy experts, sustainable farmers and aquaponics practitioners and buyers and distributors of local produce;
Notable experts in urban agriculture, new farm financing, local food systems development, vegetable crop cultivation, food hubs and digital technology have been added to what’s shaping up to be a blockbuster slate of speakers for the Urban Ag-focused Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond! Conference, which will be held at the Riverside Convention Center on March 19 – 20, 2014 in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside.
The conference will focus on the development of urban agriculture and local food system strategies and solutions that cities, Riverside in this particular case, can use to reconnect with their agricultural roots and create economic opportunities that investors, citizens, growers, government officials and other major stakeholders can leverage to foster a robust and sustainable local food future.
Register now to receive the Seed Saver Discount rate at: http://growriverside.eventbrite.com
New additions to the program include:
Martin Anenberg, founder of So Cal Farm Network, started buying and selling locally grown produce in 2004. His first customer was a school district in Los Angeles County that ordered once a week for many of its elementary school’s salad bars.
After growing his business to include restaurants and institutions, Martin joined forces with one of the major produce distributors in downtown Los Angeles. It was this experience where he gained first hand knowledge of how large scale agriculture and distribution worked.
Martin’s mission is to develop a local produce supply chain that resembles the efficiency and positive aspects of mainstream agricultural distribution. By creating a one stop solution for wholesalers, restaurants, institutions, and CSA’s , businesses can focus on what they do best and easily purchase source-verified farm products.
Martin’s past work experiences include Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the University of Massachusetts, Locally Grown Manager for Worldwide Produce, and Business Development Manager for Freshpoint of Southern California. Martin currently serves as a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and as a member of the Los Angeles Regional Food Hub Group, which is headed by the Center of Food and Justice at Occidental College. Martin’s work has been featured on PBS’s former series “Life and Times.”
Don Webber, Partner, Cultivating Good, Inc. brings more than 20 years experience in both corporate and non-profit management, leadership and governance to the Cultivating Good team. He has applied his entrepreneurialism to start-up, local and national companies and non-profit organizations. Don is currently a Board Member of Slow Food Temecula Valley.
After creating Harvest 2U, a successful third party CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivering locally grown organic produce in Riverside and San Diego Counties, Don joined forces with E.A.T Marketplace to form Cultivating Good. The purpose of Cultivating Good is to promote awareness, foster education, improve health and create jobs in our communities through a focus on sustainable agriculture and the craft-food industry. Cultivating Good brings an entrepreneurial approach to managing and distributing good, clean, local food literally from the ground to the plate.
Leah Di Bernardo is the award-winning Chef of E.A.T Extraordinary Artisan Table, a locally grown Eatery in the Temecula Valley. Dedicated to providing farm foraged, hand crafted fair, since 2002. E.A.T’s business-mission statement champions purchasing local and supporting your neighbors, as this stimulates the region’s economy and creates conviviality, loyalty & community.
Di Bernardo learned how important small farmers were at a young age while helping her dad on their Oregon farm. It was at this time that she truly fell in love with the art of scratch cooking and the idea that creating a wholesome meal does more than just feed the body – it feeds the soul. After more than 10 years as an accomplished producer in the film and television industry, Leah wanted to pass along these core values to her own daughter, Gabrielle Rose, who’s now 11 years old, and a food advocate in her own right!
So with her sass, her creativity, her ever-present warmth and compassion, Leah now produces great food and phenomenal events- all this while championing, and fighting for small farmers rights and Artisan food producers growth! The Slow Food Movement is at the heart of everything Leah does. She is passionate about the world community of farmers as well as the local food movement and strives to keep traditions and family food heritage alive within all of this. “The food we eat affects how we think, feel and treat others. So eat good, clean food,” she regularly tells customers, family, and friends.
Jenna Smith is the Executive Director of Central Coast Grown, a non-profit organization that works to develop a sustainable regional food system in San Luis Obispo County. Over the last several years she has collaborated directly with the City of San Luis Obispo to bring a 20-acre, multi-enterprise educational farm into production. Currently she serves as the Chair for the San Luis Obispo County Food Systems Coalition and sits on the state-wide California Food Policy Council. Jenna holds a dual M.A. in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from American University (Washington, D.C.) and the United Nations-Mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica).
Milt McGiffen is UCR’s Extension Vegetable Specialist and Vice Chair for Extension. He grew up in the rolling farmland and forests of rural western Pennsylvania, earning his BS from Penn State and MS from NCSU. After graduating with his PhD from the University of Illinois, Milt worked as a Research Agronomist for the North Central Soil Conservation Laboratory before beginning his 22 years at UCR. He conducts applied research on crop production, weed management, organic agriculture, and the ecosystem services provided by agriculture. His extension program covers the full range of crop production issues, including training Master Gardener’s and pest control advisors. He has worked in Ukraine, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, China, and several other countries as part of USAID and other programs for small farmers. Dr. McGiffen is particularly interested in bringing together urban dwellers and farmers to sustain agriculture, provide healthy local food, and maintain the environment.
Erika Block is the Founder and CEO of Local Orbit, which provides sales and business management tools for the entrepreneurs & organizations building the New Food Economy. Local Orbit helps build profitable businesses and healthier communities.
Prior to Local Orbit, Erika founded and ran an entrepreneurial arts organization, producing cross-sector partnerships in the US, Great Britain and South Africa. She also led the renovation of a vacant building in Detroit into a theater, gallery and bar where she worked with vendors to source local food for events. Throughout her career, Erika has created collaborative environments that facilitate learning and action. She has an MFA from Columbia University, and did graduate work in Interactive Technology at NYU. Erika comes from a family of fruit peddlers, meat processors, restaurant owners and wholesalers. She is a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. Other awards include Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40.
Curt Covington is a Managing Director and Area Manager for the Agribusiness Banking Division at San Francisco-based Bank of the West. Bank of the West ranks as the 3rd largest agricultural lender among commercial banks in the United States.
With 34 years of agricultural banking experience, Curt is responsible for managing the growth and performance of the bank’s $1.5 billion regional agricultural loan portfolio.
Prior to joining Bank of the West in 2006, Curt spent a good part of his early banking career in the Farm Credit system followed by a period as a credit administrator with Rabobank. He is the past chairman of the American Bankers Association Ag and Rural Bankers Committee in Washington DC and is the present chairman of the RMA Agricultural Bankers Committee. Curt serves as co-chair and manages two agricultural Lender programs: The Agricultural Lending Institute, a joint venture with California State University, Fresno, and, The Agricultural Banking Institute of the Americas, a joint venture with Universidad del Pacifico, in Peru.
Daniel Allen is the CEO of Farmscape, an urban farming venture based in Los Angeles that has setup more than 350 gardens at homes, schools and restaurants and maintains 125 on a weekly basis. Dan is a Master Gardener and a member of the LA Food Policy Council’s Working Group on Urban Agriculture. He is also a periodic contributor to The Huffington Post and Seedstock.
Register now to receive the Seed Saver Discount rate at: http://growriverside.eventbrite.com
Interested in learning from Cooperative Extension experts about how to set up an economically viable small scale urban farm? Or exploring the future of urban and local agriculture in American cities? Then grab one of the limited Seed Saver Special Tickets (offer expires January 17; so hurry!) and come to Seedstock’s inaugural Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond! conference that will be held at the Riverside Convention Center on March 19 – 20 in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside. The event will be a two-day, outcomes-based conference designed to examine and develop solutions that will enable cities, Riverside in this particular case, to reconnect to their agricultural roots and galvanize citizens, growers, advocates, government officials and other major stakeholders around the economic opportunities that can result from employing sustainable urban agriculture.
The event will feature a broad lineup of speakers ranging from urban agriculture entrepreneurs, USDA representatives from the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development program and Natural Resources Conservation Service to investors, funding and policy experts, sustainable farmers and aquaponics practitioners and buyers and distributors of local produce; and will cover a variety of topics, including: How to Set up an Economically Viable Small-scale Urban Farm; Local Agriculture Grow Strategies, Urban Agriculture Policy, The Market Opportunity for Urban Agriculture, Innovative and Economically Viable Small-scale Agriculture Solutions and more!
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
Glenda Humiston – California State Director at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development
Bob Knight – Founder of Inland Orange Conservancy and Old Grove Orange, Inc.
Val Dolcini – State Executive Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA)
Colin and Karen Archipley – Archi’s Acres and Veterans for Sustainable Agriculture Training program (VSAT)
Mark Hoddle – Biological Control Extension Specialist at UC Riverside
Erika Block and Noah Fulmer – Local Orbit
Paula Daniels – Founder of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council
Don Webber – Partner, Cultivating Good, Inc. and Owner of Harvest 2U
Leah Di Bernardo – Exec. Chef & Founder of E.A.T. Extraordinary Artisan Table and Partner, Cultivating Good, Inc.
David Rosenstein – Founder of EVO Farm and Chair of the Aquaponics Association – Western Region
Milt McGiffen – Cooperative Extension Vegetable Crops Specialist & Plant Physiologist at UC Riverside
Pierre Sleiman – Founder of Go Green Agriculture
Rickey Smith – Founder of Urban Green
Rodney K. Taylor – Director of Nutrition Services, for the Riverside Unified School District
Dwight Detter – Local Forager for Whole Foods Market
Hassan Ghamlouch – The Grove
Gabriel Ruiz – Unity Farm
Daniel Aaron Francis – Riverside Permaculture Guild
Etaferahu Takele – Riverside County Director/Area Advisor Farm Management/Agricultural Economics for UC Cooperative Extension
Robert Hewitt – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Clay Monroe – Principal Account Manager for the City of Riverside Public Utilities Department
Fortino Morales III – Community Garden Coordinator at University of California, Riverside
Rick Pruetz (FAICP) – Founder of Planning & Implementation Strategies
REGISTRATION & TICKETS: A limited number of Early Bird Tickets remain, so register quickly to reserve your spot! http://growriverside.eventbrite.com