Sustainable Agriculture – Resources & Courses

We just received an awesome email through the COMFOOD listserv at Tufts University, so we thought we would share it with you all. Big thanks to MOSES team for putting this together.

It’s an outline of the premiere Sustainable Agriculture resources & courses in the US at the moment.  It’s a window into the Production & Distribution sector of our food system – one that is crying out for more farmers with a focus on sustainable land use practices.  So, if you’re thinking of going back to school, getting a crash course online, or delving deeper into what sustainable agriculture looks like in c21st – here’s your guide. You can also find out more about existing resources in our Tips & Tricks for Local Food distribution here.

 

Agro-Ecology & Sustainable Ag. Program (ASAP)
U of I Urbana-Champaign, W503 Turner Hall, MC-047, 1102 S Goodwin Ave   Urbana, IL
217-333-9471 fax 217-244-3219
mwander@illinois.edu   www.asap.sustainability.uiuc.edu
Facilitates and promotes research and education which protects Illinois natural and human resources and sustains agricultural production.

Black Hawk College
26230 Black Hawk Road   Galva, IL
309-854-1722 fax 309-856-5601
Hawesj@bhc.edu   blackhawkorganics.blogspot.com/
Exploring the use of sound agricultural practices to produce and market alternative agricultural crops. Offers courses and operates a four acre production program that follows USDA organic certification guidelines through certifying agent, Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA).

Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS)
1535 Observatory Drive   Madison, WI
608-262-8018 fax 608-265-3020
cecarusi@wisc.edu   www.cias.wisc.edu
A sustainable agriculture research center at UW-Madison that brings together farmers, researchers, and policy makers to study farming practices and profitability.

Indian Hills Community College
721 N First Street   Centerville, IA
641-856-2143 fax 641-856-3158
bkaster@indianhills.edu   www.indianhills.edu
This program is designed to provide area landowners, farmers, and young adults with access to land the entrepreneurial skills necessary to start a new or further develop an existing land-based business, and/or gain employment in an agriculturally related field.

Iowa State University, Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture (GPSA)
253 Bessey Hall   Ames, IA
515-294-6518 fax 515-294-1337
gpsa@iastate.edu   www.sust.ag.iastate.edu/gpsa/
The first program to offer the MS and PhD in sustainable agriculture, the GPSA emphasizes experiential learning through an interdisciplinary curriculum. Students acquire depth of knowledge as well as systems-level thinking while pursuing advanced research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Iowa State University, Dept of Agronomy
1126J Agronomy Hall   Ames, IA
515-294-3846 fax 515-294-8146
miller@iastate.edu   www.ImAnAgronomist.net
Agronomy at ISU is dedicated to maintaining a systems approach to agriculture. Our undergraduate program in Agronomy includes an Agroecology option that has been of high interest to students who want to study organic and sustainable agriculture.

Iowa State University, Organic Ag Program
106 Horticulture Hall   Ames, IA
515-294-7069 fax 515-294-0730
kdelate@iastate.edu   extension.agron.iastate.edu/organicag/
Dr. Delate’s position in ISU Extension is devoted to organic agriculture. ISU Extension also offers fact sheets and other materials on sustainable agriculture.

Lake Land College
5001 Lake Land Blvd   Mattoon, IL
217-234-5569 fax 217-234-5200
dbarkley@lakeland.cc.il.us   www.lakeland.cc.il.us
This program is designed for students planning a career in alternative agriculture production. Emphasis on the fundamentals of agroecology, incorporation of biological pest management, and sustainable crop and livestock production along with the concepts of direct marketing.

Maharishi University of Management, Sustainable Living Dept
Dr Keith Wallace Drive   Fairfield, IA
641-472-7000 x 1109 fax 641-472-1235
www.mum.edu/sustainable_livingsustainability@mum.edu
A rapidly expanding sustainable living undergraduate program gives students understanding and skills to develop sustainable systems and communities to create a more sustainable world. Courses cover policy, renewable energy, ecology, organic and community supported agriculture, and green design and building, etc.

Marshalltown Community College – Entrepreneurial & Diversified Agriculture Program
3700 S. Center Street   Marshalltown, IA
641-844-5788
linda.barnes@iavalley.edu   www.iavalley.edu/mcc/about/programs-degrees/EntrepreneurialandDiversifiedAg.html
This program offers one year certificates and two year degrees. Included on campus is a 140 acre farm used for demonstration to students and new farmers who wish to begin farming on site.

Michigan State University Extension
303 Natural Resources CAARS   East Lansing, MI
517-353-3543 fax 517-353-3834
sorrone@msu.edu   www.michiganorganic.msu.edu
The C.S. Mott Group at MSU engages communities in applied research and outreach that promote sustainable food systems to improve access to and availability of healthy, locally-produced food. There is a focus on organic farming approaches for vegetables and field crops.

Michigan State University W.K. Kellogg Biological Station
3700 E Gull Lake Drive   Hickory Corners, MI
269-671-2341 fax 269-671-2351
Director@kbs.msu.edu   www.kbs.msu.edu
Year-round biological field station conducting research on the ecology of managed and unmanaged systems that supports educational and extension/outreach programs, including sustainable agricultural practices for row-crop production (conventional and organic), cover crops, grazed pastures, and biofuels.

Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA)
1991 Upper Buford Circle   St Paul, MN
612-625-8235 fax 612-625-1268
misamail@umn.edu   www.misa.umn.edu
Bringing together the diverse interests of the agricultural community and the University to promote sustainable agriculture.

North Dakota State University – Carrington Research Extension Center
PO Box 219   Carrington, ND
701-652-2951 fax 701-652-2055
vern.anderson@ndsu.edu   www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu
Researches crop and animal ecosystems to help family farms maintain profitability. Specializing in ruminants and all crop production.

North Dakota State University – Dickinson Research Extension Center
1041 State Avenue   Dickinson, ND
701-483-2348 ext. 113 fax 701-483-2073
frank.kutka@ndsu.edu
SARE state coordinator for both North and South Dakotas.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
2740 W Mason St, PO Box 19042   Green Bay, WI
920-498-5568
valerie.dantoin@nwtc.edu   www.nwtc.edu
Offers accredited, on-line and in-person courses to gain skills in organic agriculture. Courses were developed through process that includes expert farmers working in organics. The courses take you through step-by-step learning with printed materials, short lectures, media, demos, and classroom discussion.

University of California – Santa Cruz – Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
1156 High Street   Santa Cruz, CA
831-459-3240 fax 831-459-2799
apprenticeship@ucsc.edu   casfs.ucsc.edu
A six-month, full time education program held at the 25-acre Farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Course includes classroom instruction, in-field training, and hands-on experience in the gardens, greenhouses, orchards, fields, and marketing outlets.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Crop Sciences
1201 W Gregory Dr   Urbana, IL
217-621-7974 fax 217-333-4582
aslan@illinois.edu   asap.sustainability.uiuc.edu/org-ag
Developing research and outreach programs on cover cropping, weed management in organic farming systems. Coordinating on-farm research, organic farm tours.

University of Minnesota-Southwest Research and Outreach Center (SWROC)
23669 130th St   Lamberton, MN
507-752-7372 fax 507-752-5097
riddl003@umn.edu   organicecology.umn.edu
The U of MN’s Organic Ecology Program explores the science of organic agriculture through on-farm and experiment station research; variety trials; organic field days; workshops; publications; and the Organic Ecology website.

University of Minnesota, Applied Plant Sciences Graduate Program
1991 Upper Buford Circle   St. Paul, MN
612-625-4742 fax 612-625-1268
apsc@umn.edu   www.appliedplantsciences.umn.edu/
Biological solutions to real-world problems come to life in the Applied Plant Sciences graduate program. We offer Undergraduate, Minor, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in one or more of the following specializations: Sustainable Agriculture; Agronomy/Agroecology; Horticultural Science; Plant Breeding/Molecular Genetics; Applied Plant Sciences.

University of Wisconsin – Madison, Agroecology Program
1525 Observatory Dr   Madison, WI
608-890-1456
caelholm@wisc.edu   www.agroecology.wisc.edu
We seek to foster the development of the facilitators, researchers, and practitioners of a more equitable and resource-efficient agriculture. Our curriculum addresses agriculture as the simultaneously biophysical and social enterprise that it is.

University of Wisconsin – River Falls, Plant & Earth Science Dept
410 S 3rd St   River Falls, WI
715-425-3941 fax 715-425-3785
william.anderson@uwrf.edu   www.uwrf.edu
UWRF’s Sustainable Agriculture option within the Crop and Soil Science major promotes land productivity, environmental stewardship, economic practicality and rural community viability. Two relevant minors are now available to students as well: Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Studies.

 


University of Minnesota Duluth – Continuing Education
104 Darland Administration Bldg, 1049 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812-3011
218/726-8113
cehelp@d.umn.edu   www.d.umn.edu
The Sustainable Food Systems certificate is self paced and equivalent to 50 hours. This includes the time it takes to read, view and apply the concepts through the activities provided in each module. If you register for the certificate you will have access to the website for one year after registration. If you register for individual modules, you will have access for six months. If you are unable to complete the certificate / modules within these timeframes, your access will be cancelled and you must re-register if you wish to continue.

Production, Distribution & Waste – Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

Recently we’ve heard the same old arguments being pumped out by industrial agriculture, especially in reaction to the droughts in the US.

 

The argument goes: “There’s almost 7 billion people on Earth, and there’s 1 billion hungry. We need more food to feed the world. We must intensify agriculture; bigger & better, and we’ve got the answer – we call it a Sustainable Agriculture”.  That ‘Sustainable Agriculture future’ is typically large-scale intensive agriculture, GMO, and more sophisticated ‘scientific’ farming methods.  Inevitably the cost of this agriculture is greater, and farmers must have all of the latest information, tools, machinery & chemicals to make it happen.  It also, coincidentally, means greater profits for the big boys of industrial agriculture (rather than farmers).

 

There’s an assumption in there that needs testing: “We need more food to feed the world”.  It’s so often taken as a given, but there significant research which suggests otherwise.

 

We grow enough food to feed 10 billion people already. Eric Holt-Giménez recently wrote a fantastic rebuttal of the industrial agriculture view on the future of food. The first part of his argument centres around the point that Hunger is not caused by scarcity, but by poverty – that is what needs to be tackled to feed the hungry people in the world, not more food.  It follows on to show that Industrial Ag Vs Natural Farming does not represent the gaps in yields that are constantly talked about by GMO advocates. The longest running study (Rodale Institute – 47 year study) shows that Organic farming has better yields & profits, whilst requiring lower energy inputs & causing lower greenhouse gas outputs.

 

We Already Grow Enough Food - Infographic - Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

The UN have put out several studies on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture which do not support the Industrial Ag spin. They don’t stand to create vast profits from their view, but they do expect to see greater advances in sustainable development & poverty alleviation through more agriculture shifting to small-scale agroecological production. There also are gains in climate resilience and energy reduction from adopting farming based on ecological systems.

 

A 2011 report on Food Waste by the Food & Agriculture Organisation (PDF) suggests 1/3 of global food production is wasted through the supply chain or pre/post consumption. This food waste infographic featured on Food+Tech Connect supports this argument, showing it’s as high as 40% in the US.

 

It’s clear to see there’s significant work that needs to be addressed on the Consumer side of things, but this also supports our assertion that a big change needs to happen upstream.  If food distribution were to change from the centralised, industrial model that accounts for 99% of our food system, to local food webs, then we have the opportunity to disrupt the food waste in this area of the chain too.

 

The world has changed since our food system was invented – the information & web revolution has made new things possible – aggregation of supply & demand through web-based tools is just one of them.  We built Bucky Box for many reasons, one of which indicates the potential for decentralised food systems & local food webs to be more efficient than Industrialised Ag.  By re-localising food distribution with these new tools, we can efficiently move food from farm to fork with minimal wastage, instead of farm to landfill.

 

The time has come for a revolution in our food system.  It may be a quiet revolution which sees individuals consciously choosing to buy local, for small-scale farming to make a wholesale return, and for more-than-profit food distribution to rise, powered by a wave of digital tools for a better food system.

Tips for Local Food #3 : Creative Funding – finding new & innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave. This week is ‘Creative Funding’ – finding new & innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise.

Bucky Box - helping you find new & innovative ways to fund local food enterprise

 

You can also check out ‘#1 : Get Social – a guide to new media for local food‘ & ‘#2 : Call on Existing Resources & Support – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants‘.

 

Finding it hard to find the capital to get your local food enterprise off the ground? Want to scale up your business, but finance is a barrier?

 

Here’s our first guide to creative funding paths for local food enterprises, which we think may help you find a path away from the loan sharks & corporate banks, to an exciting future of local food funding.

 

You may remember we wrote a blog off the back of National Good Food Network’s webinar about funding local food.  This is still a great resource for a variety of creative ways to fund local food enterprise, so we’re re-posting the slideshow below.  However, this blog is the follow up with some fresh new ideas from our research in this space too.

 

Local Food Funding Webinar Round-up

[<a href=”http://storify.com/buckybox/local-food-investment-webinar” target=”_blank”>View the story “Local Food Investment Webinar – National Good Food Network” on Storify</a>]<br /> <h1>Local Food Investment Webinar – National Good Food Network</h1> <h2>A webinar hosted by @ngfn on innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise.More information at the National Good Food Network here: http://bit.ly/y7TKRg</h2> <p>Storified by Bucky Box · Sun, Aug 05 2012 21:27:10</p> <div>Youngfarmers</div> <div>Find out how the USDA supports local and regional food systems. Free webinar TODAY 3:30p ET 12:30p PT http://bit.ly/y3qVhDNatl Good Food Netwk</div> <div>’Cutting Edge Ways to Fund your Food Business’ #NGFNwebinar on now http://bit.ly/w07Ggl – thanks @ngfn!Bucky Box</div> <div><b><i>You can see the FULL webinar video here now too:</i></b></div> <div>Cutting Edge Ways to Fund Your Food Business – an NGFN webinarwallacecenter</div> <div><b>Check out the live-tweeted round-up here too:</b></div> <div>Study & Support of #FoodHubs – resource coming soon from USDA & Wallace Centre http://foodhub.info #NGFNwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>USDA Unveils New Food Hub Resource Guide to Expand Market …Apr 20, 2012 … CHICAGO, April 20, 2012 ? The U. S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the first Regional Food Hub Resource Guide, bol…</div> <div>Food Hub Center — National Good Food NetworkBuilding Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and … Check out the Regional Food Hub Resource Guide, a new …</div> <div>Panelist & speaker Michael Shuman is introduced to the webinar audience of around 80 people from around the country (and world in Bucky Box’s case!)<br></div> <div>Michael Shuman (economist & author) – ‘Local $, Local sense’ : the importance of #investment in #food. Webinars coming up! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Information from NGFN:<br><span style=”font-style: italic;”>Drawing from his new book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street,” Michael Shuman will explain a dozen, low-cost strategies local businesses are using to secure new capital from the general public.  He will talk about specialized bank CD programs, prepurchase deals, new-generation cooperatives, internet sponsorship sites (like Kickstarter), P2P lenders (like Prosper and Kiva), community lending circles, investment clubs, municipal bond schemes, local revolving loan funds, direct public offerings, and local stock exchanges.  He also will report on the latest news of a crowdfunding reform bill – sponsored by Tea-Party Republicans but endorsed by the Obama Administration – that is working its way through Congress and could literally make trillions of dollars of new capital available to local business.</span></div> <div>www.postcarbon.org</div> <div>$103m to relocalise food in Boulder, but #local people can fund this with a fraction of our savings & securities. #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Economic impact of moving 25% of food to #local: 1899 jobs, $81m in wages, $138m local gdp – in Boulder County alone! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>’A tiny fraction of national long term capital is invested in local markets’. Shift $ from Wall St to Local! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>AGREED! Software being one! "Many efficiencies discovered in current food system that are not contrary to Good Food." #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>The Local Food investment tips start rolling in from Michael Shuman….<br></div> <div>Investment in Local Food: 1) Speciality Deposits (CD’s) http://trib.al/43JZ5Y #investment #food #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Specialty Deposits – Deposit Services – Citizens Business BankWith CDARS, you can access FDIC protection on multi-million dollar CD investments through Citizens Business Bank. There are few guarant…</div> <div>1) Speciality Deposits: Alternative Credit Union CENTS http://trib.al/Et7k9d #ngfnwebinar #investmentBucky Box</div> <div>Alternatives.org: Business CENTS – Alternatives Federal Credit UnionWhether you are at the starting stages or have been in business for years, Business CENTS can help. Business CENTS is a comprehensive s…</div> <div>Investment in Local Food: 2) Co-op Investment – lighter & easy to get off the ground #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Cooperatives take up the next 5 minutes or so – seem like quite the possibilities in this space.<br></div> <div>#Co-ops are amazing. It’s official. Food Hub with Co-op backing anyone? #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>International Year of Cooperatives Video Clip 2012uncoopsyear</div> <div>2012 International Year of Co-operatives | Welcome to the official …A key aim of the International Year is to raise public awareness of the co- operative business model. In the media section you can find …</div> <div>Carrying on with the tips…</div> <div>3) LION – local investment opportunity network – Local Food enterprises can apply! #investment #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>The Concept | Lion InvestingWe know it's important to “buy local.” What if we could also invest locally? LION – the Local Investment Opportunities Network – co…</div> <div>Local Food Investment tip #4: Sponsorship – get in on the @kickstarter crowdfunding revolution! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>KickstarterKickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects.</div> <div>Haha, "The electronic Mohammad Yunus" Local Food Investment tip #5: e-Lending – get in on @kiva action! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Kiva – Loans that change livesMake a loan to an entrepreneur across the globe for as little as $25. Kiva is the world's first online lending platform connecting …</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #6 ‘Slow Munis’ – Municipal Bonds http://trib.al/lHzWn8 #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Municipal bond – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaA municipal bond is a bond issued by an American city or other local government , or their agencies. Potential issuers of municipal bond…</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #7 Pre-Sales – Get your money up front to aid growth! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Food $ tip #8 Local Stock: locally raised funds for local projects http://trib.al/wV2kns #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Stock take of new legislation bills related to Crowdfunding – as backed by Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street.<br></div> <div>Pending legislation in US could open up a whole realm of new securities to Local Food if #crowdfunding legislation goes thru! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Food $ tip #8: Local Stock Exchanges – Hawaii might be first off the rank! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Stock Exchanges and National StimulusLocal Stock Exchanges and. National Stimulus. Michael Shuman. Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Since the global financial …</div> <div>Local Food Investment tip #9: Investment Clubs like @SlowMoney & @SlowMoneyNYC #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Slow Money: Investment strategies appropriate to the realities of the …What it means to be an investor in the 21st century, promoting principles of soil fertility, sense of place, and cultural, environmenta…</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #10: Self Directed IRA (there’s even a "For Dummies" book for it!) #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Tax Advantages of Day Trading Through Self-Directed IRAs – For …Much of the tax hassle associated with day trading is eliminated if you trade through a self-directed Individual Retirement Arrangement…</div> <div>So the big question: "When the 1st $1trillion shifts from Wall St, what would you do for local food with a portion of it?" #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Prepare for the next stockmarket crash as everyone shifts their investment into local channels.Sustaination</div> <div>Food Hubs were talked about a fair bit as a shifting trend to open up new markets for CSA’s and local growers.  Check out http://foodhub.info to jump to the Wallace Centre’s resource portal for Food Hub information!<br></div> <div>Csrwire</div> <div>Food Hubs – Viable Regional Distribution Solutions – an NGFN webinarwallacecenter</div> <div>Big excitement about #FoodHubs from Michael Shuman as future of local food on #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Staticflickr</div> <div>I think Sustaination might have to bring our early investment offer forward.. over excited by #ngfnwebinar — thanks @buckyboxSustaination</div> <div>Michael Shuman opens the webinar to questions.  He explains investment into Food Hubs could be a prudent move at the moment.  We also ask about investment in technology for Food Hubs…<br></div> <div>Afraid we disagree on that one! ‘Most useful basis for software in local food is redeploying old technology’ what do u reckon @sustaination?Bucky Box</div> <div>@buckybox if you *can* re-use old software, then obviously do that. But there’s *always* room for necessary innovation #foodtechSustaination</div> <div>@Sustaination I’ve not seen too many VegeBox schemes operating SAP tho. Is #Tech moving too fast to deploy old tech for emerging industries?Bucky Box</div> <div>@buckybox barcode scanners, cheap gsm cell phones for remote data capture… all useful old tech which can be used.Sustaination</div> <div>@Sustaination True, simple smart phones & tablets will have a big role in the emerging decentralised food system. Time to make it happen.Bucky Box</div> <div>NZ Social Enterprise Bucky Box to Simplify Distribution for – SeedstockJan 16, 2012 … Bucky Box is a Wellington, New Zealand-based social enterprise dedicated to building software to improve the world&#39…</div> <div>BuckyBox: Helping Farmers Get Fresh Food To Your Table – Co.ExistCommunity supported agriculture and other farm-to-consumer schemes potentially offer a great way for independent farmers to compete in …</div> <div>Software firm focuses on helping small organic farms | Springwise3 days ago … Founded by one of the entrepreneurs behind Ooooby – which we covered back in 2010 – New Zealand-based Bucky Box is a sof…</div> <div>Study on shifting 25% of food to Local systems can be found here (PDF): http://trib.al/eoufudBucky Box</div> <div>Great stuff @NGFN, TY for the webinar, really interesting & helpful! Report to follow here: http://trib.al/T2EFXN #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Ditto! RT @buckybox: Great stuff @NGFN, TY for the webinar, really interesting! Report to follow here: http://s.coop/aorx #ngfnwebinarSustaination</div> <div>Check out more of National Good Food Network & Wallace Centre’s work here:<br></div> <div>Welcome — Wallace CenterWelcome to Wallace Center</div> <div>Welcome to your National Good Food Network — National Good Food NetworkThe National Good Food Network is bringing together people from all parts of the rapidly emerging good food system – producers, buyers, d…</div> <div>Check out more of Michael Shuman’s work here:<br></div> <div>Cutting Edge Capital – Creative Capital Raising for Your Business » About UsJenny has over fifteen years of experience as an attorney for and creator of social enterprises. She has raised funds for and launched a …</div> <div>THE BUSINESS ALLIANCE FOR LOCAL LIVING ECONOMIES | BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living EconomiesDansko Stepping up its U.S. Footprint (posted on Mar 15 2012) Philadelphia Inquirer The Dansko shoe company strives to manufacture their …</div> <div>Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael H. Shuman – Chelsea GreenLocal Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman probes the future of investing — making the case for investors to put their money into buil…</div> <div>Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street – Michael Shumanargusfest</div>Cooperatives & Community

There’s something about local food enterprise which shouts cooperation to us, and if there’s one thing we can learn from nature about feeding a geographical area / community / neighbourhood, then it’s that competition & cooperation can be utilised together for greater outcomes.

 

2012 is the year of the Cooperative, and there’s plenty of examples, events & resources about how you can use co-operative models in your local neighbourhood to either get started, or raise capital for expansion. Check out the Food feed over on the Cooperative-2012 site for more gems, including a series of ebooks on using Cooperative Models to create a better food system. There’s also lots of great examples over on NGFN’s food hub site.

 

The basic idea goes:

  1. Gather interest from your neighbourhood – leaflet the town!
  2. Establish the cooperative funding model – tell people how they can invest
  3. Create a funding opportunity & cast the net – tap your networks for interested investors & engage them in your opportunity
  4. Fulfill your cooperative investment opportunity – use the money to get started / grow & return profits to the investors.
Grants & Seed Funding

Governments, charities, philanthropists & other funders around the world are waking up to the potential for investment & philanthropic seed funding for local food enterprise.  Whether you’re an individual, community organisation or social enterprise, there’s lots of options with a little research.

 

Focusing primarily on US & UK (where the financial landscapes are most developed for local food) we have picked out the best guides & examples;

USA

UK

We’re aware of some great programs in UK which offer support & financial packages for food funding. Take a look at Local Food Grants, and Making Local Food Work.

 

If you’re looking for something outside of these regions, as people frequently are, we suggest starting with your National/Regional Government body which looks after Agriculture & Food, and then deploying the power of Google or Twitter to find local grants or support.

 

Crowd Power

Unless you’ve been avoiding the internet for the last couple of years, there’s a chance you would have heard of the ‘Power of the Crowd’ in some shape or form.  This is an emergent space where new offerings are popping up and disappearing all the time (mainly because if you don’t have a crowd, the idea wont work!).

 

Many people will be familiar with websites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Pozible, PledgeMe and more. These are the fore-runners in the Crowdfunding revolution which follow a fairly simple formula;

  • Create a Project & write a creative introduction / post a video to entice people to support you.
  • Offer Rewards – at the time of writing, there’s financial & legal barriers to offering anything more than a ‘pledge’ to support the project.
  • Get Social – share share share with your networks to spread the word you’re looking for help to get started / scale up.
  • Crowdfund! If people believe in your idea & like your rewards, they pledge money. Simple and incredibly effective.  If your project hits the target, you get the money, the pledgers get their rewards, and the world gets another project which may not have happened otherwise.
Crowfunding can be used to remarkable effect, and stories of $10k projects being funded three or four times over are not uncommon.  There’s been some successful projects related to local & community food projects, but we believe the various sites out there could be used much more for local food start ups!  Not only do you get the money, you usually also get heaps of buzz, a ready-to-go customer base, and passionate advocates who follow your progress & delight in hitting your target with you!

 

Recently, Slow Money launched Credibles; a crowdfunding investment system which returns food instead of money, this US based system has the potential to be replicated around the world.  Also launched in the last month, Three Revolutions, a crowdfunding platform dedicated totally to food.

 

We have also seen a revolution bubbling around the world in ‘Crowd Investment’ through sites such as Crowdcube. This is worth keeping an eye on!

 

As ever, these guides are a work in progress. If you’ve had success / seen someone else be successful with funding their local food enterprise beyond sharks & pounds of flesh – we’d love to hear from you! Comment or Tweet!

Sustainable Food Summit – Vision of a Future Food System

*This blog was republished in part on Food+Tech Connect as ‘How Technology will decentralise the global food system’, Fair Food Network and Sustaination’s “3rd Industrial Revolution”.

 

How do we create a food system which is sustainable in the face of growing population pressures, changing weather patterns, declining natural resources, and a sharp decline in soil health?

A summit to co-create the future of the food system in Australia, and indeed around the world

This is one of the questions we held, when we recently headed to the shores of Australia to attend the National Sustainable Food Summit in Sydney, to hang out with some of the visionaries who are engaged in the dialogue of how the future of Australia’s food system will play out.

 

The summit was re-convened after last year’s successful meeting which brought people from around the country to listen to key note speakers, and engage in workshop sessions to talk about & co-create the future.

 

Several of the attendees were live tweeting the event on the hashtag #FoodSummit & #SFS12, and a Storify was being built as the event progressed: you can check it out here.

 

Asides from the fascinating conversations, great connections & pretty tasty conference food, there was a fair few insights into where the food system would be moving over the course of the next 20 years or so, and it’s our recollection of these insights we want to try and capture for you:

  • The food system, much like other industries around the world, is one of the next major industries that will become decentralised thanks to the web, peer-to-peer trading, and as a response to 30 years of legacy which has served financial interest more than the people & planet it relies upon.
  • A flexible, resilient & sustainable food system is already emerging, and with software & other food tech as a catalyst, is going to emerge even more rapidly. It will form a meshed web reaching around the world, of localised food systems within a bigger global food system.
  • The food system of the future will be complex – made up of traditional agriculture, urban agriculture, small-scale farms, bio-domes, vertical growing spaces, hydroponics, backyard gardening, community gardening, and more.
  • Organic Farming can feed 10 billion people, and small-scale sustainable agriculture is the way it will happen. Several recent reports, including one from the UN Special Rapporteur have identified this, and there is a growing focus on ecological / biological farming methods.
  • We will have to shift from the 99% industrialized food system we currently have globally, as resource pressures (peak oil & the likes) will mean current techniques will continue to push the cost of food up.  The transition may not be easy for all concerned, those with vested interests in keeping the status quo are likely to resist, but they will be swept away if they do not change (see changes in Music Industry!).
  • Huge advancements can be made as we shift to a decentralized food system, especially in the area of food & resource waste, which accounts for the main reason for current artificially high prices.  In 2010 we produced enough food to feed c.12 billion people, we just wasted a large portion of it.
  • Remove the ‘squeeze’ caused by the Food Distribution ‘profit centre’, and we will ease the financial, environmental & social strain currently put on food production & consumption.
  • Local & Regional food economies will be rejuvenated with a new set of values based on more than profit, beginning with the foundations that People & Planet should be at the centre of the food system, with Money/Profit playing the role of social exchange lubricant rather than sole economic measurement.
  • The emergence of vege box schemes, CSA’s, co-ops, buying groups & food hubs are all proving the future path of the food system right now. Software is a major lever of change to catalyse these forms of enterprise.
  • More farmers will be needed and more small-scale distributors.
  • The future food system will have a much greater transparency & traceability from Farm to Fork, enabled by food tech.

There were of course many many more, but these are some of the strongest trends that we heard at the conference.

 

The early keynote by Jeremy Rifkin was one of the talks which set a lot of the context for the conference, and whilst it’s fairly lengthy – there’s some great insights into economic trends which are worth a watch.

Take a look at more of the notes, podcasts, videos & other Food Summit resources collated by the 3 Pillars Network.

 

The summit felt like a positive reinforcement for a project we’ve already committed to, a great learning experience to push the boundaries of our knowledge, and a great opportunity to share space with so many other who had a similar vision of a decentralised food system.  We’re really excited by some of the projects which are happening around Australia, and indeed around the world as we speak – one of the blogs which we follow regularly is Food+Tech Connect which showcases some of the most exciting Food Tech projects in the States (and a few like us, outside). Make sure you read the ‘Hacking The Food System’ articles.

 

We recently spoke at the Changemakers Convention in Christchurch, New Zealand, where people from around the country outlined their passions, visions & actions in their chosen area of interest.  We spoke about “Food Security & Resilience in an Uncertain Future”, which led us to deliver a ‘state of the nation’ of how our food system currently teeters, some examples of food system fragility (largely taken from our blog about disasters & resilience), and the bright future that is emerging with technology enabling new ways for our food system to thrive.

 

For now, it’s back to work on supporting our fantastic beta customers, and spreading the word to more local food distributors who might make use of our system – please feel free to share with your networks if you might know someone who would like to change the food system for the better!

Mapping a peer-to-peer food system of the future

Seedstock features Bucky Box on Sustainable Agriculture & Tech Startup Blog

We woke up on Tuesday morning to find Seedstock had published an article about Bucky Box’s work in the local food movement.

 

Our founder, Will, had chatted with their writers about our vision for mainstream organic farming, and a people & planet friendly food system, as well as filling them in on the social enterprise angle of our work, where we aim to support champions around the world who work on research, education, capacity building & awareness raising for a better food system.

 

Do take the opportunity to check out the article, entitled “NZ Social Enterprise Bucky Box to Simplify Distribution for Sustainable Farmers with Web-based Application

Read about how NZ Social Enterprise, Bucky Box, is enabling local food distribution through a web software applicationIf you’ve not read Seedstock before, and you have an interest in sustainable agriculture focusing on startups, entrepreneurship, technology, urban agriculture, news and research – then you should head on over to their site right now!

 

Big thanks also to all the people who picked up the article, and are sharing with their networks – a significant boost came from Food+Tech Connect and Slow Food USA through twitter!

Twitter Hashtags for Local Food!

Twitter bird hovers holding #LocalFood signHashtags are a great way to follow specific areas of interest on Twitter, so here’s our run down of hashtags we follow to keep up on the amazing work going on around the world in the local & organic food movement.  Set up a couple of feeds in tweetdeck / hootsuite, and watch the good news roll in!

 

We’ve also been curating a list of people who talk & work on creating a people & planet friendly food system for you to follow.

 

General Farming & Agriculture:

#agriculture / #farming – very general catch all for Agriculture / Farming tweets

#food – general catch all for all things food

#agchat#foodchat – hosted by AgChat.org (“The AgChat Foundation is designed to help those who produce food, fuel, fiber and feed tell agriculture’s story from their point of view.”) – disclaimer: AgChat is sponsored by several corporate & Government interests, but there’s some interesting discussions on both sides of the fence.

#AgChatOz – spurned off the back of the success of the above – this is the space for Australian Farmers & Ag professionals to connect around their home country’s specific challenges and opportunities.

#AgriChatUK – likewise the need for connection and chatter in the UK farming community brought about this hashtag, you can read the full story here.

#AgGen – young farmers and the future of farming is discussed in this growing community. Started in the UK.

#AgChatNZ – Kiwi’s don’t like to miss out, so they spun out this hashtag to talk New Zealand farming. Largely facilitated by the Federated Farmers organisation, which is fairly conservative in their tastes, so tends to be fairly ‘conventional agriculture’ based. That said, there’s interesting work with Biological Farming in NZ, and we’re pushing hard for more Sustainable Ag content in the community too.

#goodfood – often used by daily tweeters to simply chat about their tasty dinners, but there’s quite a bit of use in relation to people & planet friendly food.

#foodbloggers – find & chat with people who blog about Food, there’s even an International Food Blogger conference organised by Foodista!

#SustainableAg / #SustAg – keep in touch with the Sustainable Agriculture discussion on these hashtags.

#Agroecology – keep an eye on this hashtag, as whilst it’s not highly used at the moment, it’s an emerging trend toward Regenerative Agriculture, with a focus on renewing the health of our soils.  Agroecology was identified by the UN Special Rapporteur for Food Security, as a key component in sustainable development, and got a fair bit of press at Rio+20.

#FoodSystem – a hashtag we believe will slowly rise in use, as the local food movement grows, and we understand that we live in a dynamic global food system.

#profood – recently on the rise, focused on all things organic, local & ethical in the food system!

 

Local Food

#localfood – complete with RT bot, the local food hashtag is growing in its use and conversations are often found around it.

#eatlocal – another prolifically used local food hashtag, well worth following!

#locavore – for the ‘ultra local’ fans amongst us, locavore is a term used mostly in Australia & US.

#realfood – people seeking to differentiate from industrialised agriculture can often be found on this hashtag.

#SlowFood – keep up with the Slow Food movement.

#SlowMoney – a movement which grew out of Slow Food, which seeks to raise capital for innovative Food Enterprises which seek to create a better food system.

#Foodies – a term applied to people who follow ‘good food’ practices.

#UrbanAg – check out the discussions on urban agriculture

#TEDxMan – explodes in use during each TEDxManhattan, the 2012 event was themed “Changing The Way We Eat” – report here.

 

Local Food Initiatives & Enterprises – the shorthand

#VegeBox / #VegBox – tweets about Vegetable Box Delivery Schemes.

#CSA – discussion & broadcasts about Community Supported Agriculture.

#FoodHub – find out more about the emergence of Food Hubs around the world on the FoodHub hashtag

If you need a run down on Local Food jargon – check out our guide here.

 

Organic & Permaculture

#permaculture – a big community and movement behind the permaculture principles of agriculture, find out much more on this hashtag.

#organic – the organic movement is growing exponentially year on year, follow its progress here

#biodynamic – an organic method of farming which considers holistic symbiosis of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. A little traffic from a defined community, much like permaculture.

 

Health & Education

#FoodRevolution / #FoodRev@JamieOliver created the Food Revolution movement in USA, and the thriving community which use this hashtag also have tools available to co-ordinate through the Food Revolution website.  2012 went down with 1000’s of tweets from around the world – check out our Food Revolution Day photos here.

#FoodDay – a 2011 day launched in USA to bring conversation about healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way, to the masses

#FoodSummit – Conferences around the world have been using this hashtag, but we joined all the forward-thinkers at the Sustainable Food Summit in Australia.

 

Focused on the 1 billion who go to bed hungry

#poverty – used by a diverse group of people, mainly those interested in sustainable food production, development, activists, social enterprises

#changedinner – seeking to address the food distribution problem, @30project launched ChangeDinner campaign in late 2011

 

Intersection of Food & Technology

#foodtech – a thriving community is also growing around the Food+Technology Connect crew who are specifically interested in how technology can change our food system for the better.  There are also great stories highlighted by the Seedstock team in regards to sustainable agriculture focusing on startups, entrepreneurship, technology, urban agriculture, news and research

#localfoodsoftware – popping up now & then as more software, like Bucky Box, becomes available.

 

Follow @buckybox!


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In addition to the above, we sometimes use #socent when we’re talking about the social enterprise foundation to our business – learn more about that here: Video – ‘Tools for a better food system‘.

 

Thanks for reading – please do let us know of any other hashtags we should include, or feel free to pop us on your own list, and we’d love to connect with you at @buckybox!

Twitter Bird sings Local Food Movement hastags