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Posts Tagged ‘farmers’

Local Harvest: Metasite for organic & local food

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on July 26th, 2011

From the LocalHarvest website:

LocalHarvest is America’s #1 organic and local food website. We maintain a definitive and reliable “living” public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Our search engine helps people find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area. Our online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.

The richness, variety, and flavor of our communities, food systems, and diets is in jeopardy. The exclusive focus on economic efficiency has brought us low prices and convenience through large supermarkets chains, agribusiness and factory farms, while taking away many other aspects of our food lives, like our personal relation with our food and with the people who produce it. More and more people are realizing this and actively working to turn the tide and to preserve a food industry based on family-owned, small scale businesses. They are our best guarantee against a world of styrofoam-like long-shelf-life tomatoes and diets dictated from corporate boardrooms. The Buy Local movement is quickly taking us beyond the promise of environmental responsibility that the organic movement delivered, and awakening the US to the importance of community, variety, humane treatment of farm animals, and social and environmental responsibility in regards to our food economy.

LocalHarvest was founded in 1998, and is now the number one informational resource for the Buy Local movement and the top place on the Internet where people find information on direct marketing family farms. We now have more than 20000 members, and are growing by about 20 new members every day. Through our servers, our website and those of our partners serve about three and a half million page views per month to the public interested in buying food from family farms. LocalHarvest is located in Santa Cruz, California, and was founded by Guillermo Payet, a software engineer and activist dedicated to generating positive social change through the Internet.

Ethical Consumer is setting up a similar resource in Melbourne, Australia, and is seeking local involvement. KA

Flexible Trading Systems: Mobile Phones as Debit Cards for Farmers

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 11th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute

Image: Energy For All 2030 via flickr CC

From “Phone Banking for the Unbanked“, by Matt Styslinger:

You might have a few dollars in your wallet, but chances are most of the money you spend is through your credit or debit card. The cashless system we’ve grown accustomed to across North America, offers consumers instant access to products and services—giving us the freedom to buy whatever we want whenever we want it. Much of the developing world still relies solely on cash and barter transactions.

But now entrepreneurs in Africa are pioneering a remote electronic money network for the continent’s “unbanked” rural people, allowing customers to use their cell phones like a debit card. Investing in this social entrepreneurship could bring prosperity to markets that need it most. Over the past decade, cell phone use has increased fivefold in Africa. Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project traveled across sub-Saharan Africa over the last year, and has found that nearly everyone, from remote villagers in Ethiopia and Uganda to poor farmers in Niger, has a cell phone.

Farmers are using their phones to gain access to information and other things they didn’t have before. They can check crop prices before investing time in long trips to city markets, for example, giving them the option to wait until prices increase. Agricultural extension agents and development agencies use cell phones to inform farmers about changes in weather that could affect crops.

Thanks to the efforts of companies like Mobile Transactions in Lusaka, Zambia—which Worldwatch highlights in its recently released, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet—Zambian cotton farmers without bank accounts can now electronically receive payments for their crop direct to their mobile phones. About 80 percent of Zambians, particularly in rural areas, don’t have bank accounts. By using mobile banking, farmers are not only able to get paid more quickly and transparently, but they can also use their mobile accounts to send money transfers, buy phone credit, pay school fees for their children, and order agriculture inputs such as fertilizer and seed. Electronic payments also allow them to build up a credit history over time, which will make getting loans easier in the future.

The cashless system has several benefits. First, money stored electronically is less likely to be stolen or misused. Second, electronic transactions can be instant—lowering transaction costs—whereas in-person cash transactions often mean investing time and money in transportation. Electronic money can benefit more marginalized people who often have to rely on middlemen to help them access markets.

But Mobile Transactions does not have the luxury of riding off of the coattails of highly successful ventures like Twitter and the iPhone. “We’ve faced similar challenges to any start-up of trying to do a lot with a little,” says the company’s CEO, Mike Quinn. “The investment funds are out there, but we are a new business in an emerging industry in a country that few people know much about.”

The investment needed to firmly establish mobile banking in Zambia is large, and even more is needed for it to go international. But the models are there. The technology is there. The expertise is there and growing daily. And according to Quinn, “There is no better place or time to be an entrepreneur in an emerging mobile payments industry.”

From “Phone Banking for the Unbanked“, by Matt Styslinger.

SoupCycle & Community Supported Agriculture

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on April 22nd, 2010

Source: Springwise

SoupCycle is a bicycle-based delivery service for organic soup, made from locally grown produce and delivered each week to subscribers.

Three soups are typically on the menu in any given week at SoupCycle. Consumers who live or work in the Portland, Oregon, company’s delivery area begin by checking out the selections for the following week and placing their order by midnight on Friday; rustic bread, salad and dressing are also available. With a list of subscribers in hand, SoupCycle then buys the necessary produce from local farmers. On Monday it cooks up those ingredients into delectable soup, and then on Tuesdays it begins its weekly deliveries, with a different delivery day for each area. Each of SoupCycle’s trailers can carry some 40 soup containers, 40 bread loaves and 20 salads at once.

Since SoupCycle first launched about a year and a half ago, it has delivered more than 10,000 orders of soup, spent USD 33,000 with local farmers and saved 3,000 gas-powered miles by using bicycles instead. Some 300 subscribers now enjoy its weekly deliveries.

See the original post on Springwise.

Farming Futures – A new green Revolution?

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 29th, 2009

Source: Cleanfood, the Future Climate newsletter

Report Source: Forum for the Future

It’s been a big year for agriculture and climate change, and the Forum’s Farming Futures project has been at the heart of the action.

The Low Carbon Transition Plan, launched by the UK Government in June, recognised that nitrous oxide and methane are the main greenhouse gas culprits in the sector, and challenged the agricultural industry with the first ever reduction target: an 11% cut in emissions by 2020.

Meanwhile, the new UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) data (UKCP09) showed farmers that hotter, drier summers, longer growing seasons, and new crops, pests and diseases are likely to be on their way; the Renewable Energy Strategy is demanding greater clean energy production; and a set of reports about food security are challenging us to think about how we can produce more food whilst simultaneously reducing our impact on the environment. The industry is responding with a Voluntary Action Plan to reduce emissions, and has put Farming Futures – the key communications project in the sector – at the heart of it. In its third year of delivery, Farming Futures is getting the message across to farmers that a low-carbon agricultural sector can be profitable and lower risk.

Evidence that it’s making a difference include a growing number of farmers signing up for on-farm events, on subjects from beef and sheep to renewable energy and irrigation; rising web hits on the dedicated site; and rising profile for the project in farming media.

With an independent survey showing that 41% of farmers are now familiar with the project brand, we are now exploring new partnership opportunities for a fourth phase, and are keen to hear from anyone in the Forum’s networks who’d like to find out more or get involved

Blurring boundaries: farmland and vegie gardens

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 26th, 2009

Source: The Ecologist, from “Room to grow: turning farmland into allotments by Dorienne Robinson, Oct 6

Image: net_efekt via flickr CC

David and Kay Hicks run a small family farm, “Chyanhall”, in Cornwall (UK) with their daughter Carly. Just over two years ago they decided to look for an alternative income from the land and considered such things as moutain- and quad-biking tracks. Realising that there was a growing demand for allotments, they decided to research this area instead.

Eighteen months ago the first allotment was fenced for the first tenant, now there are 120 allotments on 8 acres, which cover three small fields, and a waiting list of another 40 interested people.  A full size allotment costs just £1.92 per week.  Prior to the allotment scheme David and Kay’s eight acres were generating around £700 per year, mostly as grass keep for livestock, or producing a cut of silage or hay. It does not take too much time with a calculator to discover that the income from this ground has risen from £700 per year to around £12,000.

There are no CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] subsidies operating here, no top down European directives, no skewing of world markets to generate activity, just pure common sense and responding to local demand.

Read the rest of this entry »

Italy Remote Farming

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 18th, 2009

Source: Springwise

Remote Vegetable Growing_LeVerdure

“Have you forgotten where the vegetables on your table come from?”

It’s a question agricultural firm Azienda Agricola Giacomo Ferraris asks potential customers. Offering Italians the opportunity to reconnect with the origins of their food, the company’s innovative online offering—Le Verdure Del Mio Orto (‘The Vegetables from my Garden’)—lets anyone build an organic garden right from their web browser.

Users first select a garden size based on the number of people they’d like to feed; 30m2 is sufficient for 1–2 people and costs EUR 850 per year. The virtual gardener can then choose from 40 different types of vegetables, using a highly intuitive interface that includes information on expected yields and harvest times. Read the rest of this entry »