Posts Tagged ‘Harvest of Hope’

Aug24

From a Garden in South Africa, to a Cafeteria in California: Sharing Meals and Good Ideas

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By Molly Theobald

Usually a conversation about world hunger conjures images of starving children in Africa. But while sub-Saharan Africa may be the epicenter of world hunger, the U.S. has a lot to learn from the agricultural practices in use there.

Right now there are countless organizations working on the ground to improve access to food, increase incomes, and provide nutritional education. And their successes hold lessons that we can benefit from right here at home.

Abalimi Bezekhaya is helping to end hunger in Cape Town, South Africa (Photo Credit: Marie Viljoen)

The organization Abalimi Bezekhaya, for example, a non-profit organization working in the informal settlements outside Cape Town, South Africa, is just one of many organizations that has found its own way to reduce local hunger in Africa.  Abalimi Bezekhaya is helping to turn the settlements into areas that produce food—and money—which in turn generates green spaces in order to alleviate poverty and protect the fragile surrounding ecosystem.  Providing training and materials, Abalimi Bezekhaya helps people to turn school yards and empty plots of land into gardens. Each garden is run by 6 to 8 farmers who, with support and time, are soon able to produce enough food to feed their families.

But while Abalimi Bezekhaya is bringing agriculture and food into the townships, it is also helping the townships to bring fresh produce into the city. With support from the Ackerman Pick n’ Pay Foundation, and in partnership with the South African Institute of Entrepreneurship (SAIE) and the Business Place Philippi, Abalimi Bezekhaya founded Harvest of Hope (HoH) in 2008. HoH purchases the surplus crops from 14 groups of farmers working in Abalimi Bezekhaya’s community plots, packages them in boxes and delivers them to selected schools where parents can purchase them to take home.

For families in Cape Town, HoH means fresh vegetables instead of the older, and often imported, produce at the grocery store. And for families of the farmers working with Hope of Harvest, it means a source of food, income, and improved quality of life.

There are similar projects in the Bay Area of the United States. Since 2001, for example, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) has been helping to coordinate relationships between school cafeterias and local food producers. These relationships bring nutritious meals to students who might not otherwise be able to afford them, and provide a consistent source of income for local small-scale farmers who are struggling to make a living in the face of a national agricultural system that increasingly favors large, industrial farming operations. The Veggielution Community Farm is working with volunteers and youth to create a more sustainable food system in the Santa Clara Valley and in East San Jose.

Other cities are taking notice. In Washington, D.C., for example, the local farm to school program spent almost a year looking at programs all over the United States, including those in Portland, Oregon and others on the West Coast, as models to follow.  “There are so many people and organizations involved that it takes a lot of care and trial runs and screwing up to develop a successful farm to school program,” said Andrea Northrup, the Program Coordinator for the Farm to School Network in DC. “But it’s so valuable for the students, the farmers, and the entire community that we really wanted to get it right. So we looked to other cities and other programs for guidance.”

The DC program has learned valuable lessons and experienced success. Founded in 2008, it has already held a Farm to School Week in order to introduce farmers to schools and parents, and students to local food producers. This year the Farm to School Week plans to engage all 123 city public schools and all 70 charter schools and has plans for a more permanent program that would bring 60,000 meals containing fresh produce to the DC public school system every day during the school year.

In Cape Town, Washington, D.C., California, and all over the United States, successful programs are working on the ground to alleviate global hunger and poverty, improve livelihoods, and teach children healthy eating habits. Instead of viewing world hunger as a distant problem with no solution, we should pay attention to those fighting it all over the world. We just might learn a thing or two.

Molly Theobald is a Food and Agriculture research fellow at the Worldwatch Institute.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.

Jun21

Urban agriculture a fruitful solution for helping poor

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By Danielle Nierenberg and Lacey Cochart

Check out this article in the LA Daily News, the second largest circulating daily newspaper in Los Angeles. The piece highlights urban agriculture as a means of alleviating hunger and poverty in LA, as well as around the world.

Los Angeles residents are facing difficult challenges in securing nutritious and affordable food. Gas prices are around $4 per gallon and food prices are among the highest in the United States.

Urban agriculture is becoming an important component in our fight against hunger and poverty. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In L.A. County, 16 percent of residents are living below the poverty level, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. As the city braces itself to face these challenges, farming in the city can provide jobs, nutrition, and hope to some of L.A.’s poorest communities.

In an effort to provide stability for residents, the Los Angeles Community Garden Council is working with 70 community gardens, responsible for feeding 3,900 families. The council consists of a group of gardeners that are helping people find plots for gardens in their neighborhoods and establish relationships with neighbors by hosting picnics and educational conferences at garden sites.

The best source for teaching young people about urban agriculture and how to grow their own food is their schools. L.A. is home to the second- largest school district in the nation and the Los Angeles Unified School District is making some controversial – and healthier – changes in the school lunches, eaten by 650,000 students every day.

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Jun16

Farming the cities, feeding an urban future

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As people move from rural to urban settings in search of economic opportunities, urban agriculture is becoming an important provider of both food and employment, according to researchers with the Worldwatch Institute. “Urban agriculture is providing food, jobs, and hope in Nairobi, Kampala, Dakar, and other cities across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Danielle Nierenberg, co-director of the Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project. “In some cases, urban farmers are providing important inputs, such as seed, to rural farmers, dispelling the myth that urban agriculture helps feed the poor and hungry only in cities.”

As the population in cities grows, urban farms might be a solution to improve food security for urban areas. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The United Nations projects that up to 65 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, up from around 50 percent today. The rate of urban migration is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where inadequate urban infrastructure struggles to keep up with the large influx of people. “Although most of the world’s poor and hungry remain in rural areas, hunger is migrating with people into urban areas,” said Brian Halweil, co-director of the Nourishing the Planet project.

Currently, an estimated 800 million people worldwide are engaged in urban agriculture, producing 15–20 percent of the world’s food. However, this activity occurs mainly in Asia, making it critical to place more worldwide emphasis on this vital sector. In Africa, 14 million people migrate from rural to urban areas each year, and studies suggest that an estimated 35–40 million Africans living in cities will need to depend on urban agriculture to meet their food requirements in the future.

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Nov24

What works: Connecting Farmers to Market

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This post is part of a series where Nourishing the Planet asks its readers: What works? Every week we’ll ask the question and every week you can join the conversation!

A farmer may have the secret technique for growing bushels and bushels of potatoes, but without a connection to the market, that extra yield is not worth much. Whether they’re carting goods by bicycle to nearby towns or selling their crop to a middleman, getting produce to the market means income for farmers.

These are just some the programs helping to connect farmers to the market. Tell us what works! (Photo Credit: Bernard Pollack)

In Sudan’s Kebkabyia province, Abdall Omer Saeedo, a vegetable producer, has to travel 10 kilometers twice a week to the nearest market to sell his crops, including green fodder. Without a cart or truck, he paid others to pack and transport his crops. But the money he earned wasn’t enough to cover his production, packing, and transport costs. Nor did it cover the cost of seeds for the next season, education for his children, and other household needs. The UK charity Practical Action helped Saeedo by working with local metal workers to design and build a cart he could use with his donkey to transport his goods to and from the market twice a week.

Practical Action has also developed a project that provides farmers in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Kenya with bicycle trailers that can carry over 400 pounds of goods to market.

In Cape Town, South Africa, Abalimi Bezekhaya has converted several empty lots in the township into gardens run by 6 to 8 farmers who grow organic vegetables and indigenous plants. And in 2008, Abalimi Bezekhaya began their Harvest of Hope program, purchasing surplus produce from their different plots, packaging them in boxes, and delivering the boxes to area schools where parents can purchase them to take home. (more…)

Nov03

Nourishing the Planet TV: From the Township Garden to the City Table

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Around 1 million people in South Africa—the majority of whom are recent arrivals from the former apartheid homelands, Transkei and Ciskei— live in the shacks that make up Khayelitsha, Nyanga and the area surrounding the Cape Flats outside Cape Town.  Just under half, or 40 percent, of the population is unemployed, while the rest barely earn enough income to feed their families. In this week’s episode, Nourishing the Planet research fellow, Molly Theobald, introduces an innovation that is helping families in these settlements become farmers to improve their diets, create a source of income, restore the local environment and bring fresh produce to the city.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04_SureycS8&feature=player_embedded

To read more about innovations that improve diets and incomes while bringing fresh produce to the city, see: From the Township Garden to the City Table.

Sep09

Innovation of the Week: From the Township Garden to the City Table

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Around 1 million people in South Africa—the majority of whom are recent arrivals from the former apartheid homelands, Transkei and Ciskei— live in the shacks that make up Khayelitsha, Nyanga and the area surrounding the Cape Flats outside Cape Town.  Just under half, or 40 percent, of the population is unemployed, while the rest barely earn enough income to feed their families.

While Abalimi Bezekhaya is bringing food and wild flora into the townships, it is also helping the townships to bring fresh produce into the city. (Photo credit: harounkola.com)

In Xhosa, the most common language found in the area, the word abalimi means “the planters”. Through partnerships with local grassroots organizations, the aptly named, Abalimi Bezekhaya, a non-profit organization working with the people living in these informal settlements, is helping to create a community of planters who can feed the township.

Abalimi Bezekhaya is helping to transform townships into food—and income—generating green spaces in order to alleviate poverty and to protect the fragile surrounding ecosystem.  Providing training and materials, Abalimi Bezekhaya helps people to turn school yards and empty plots of land into gardens. Each gardens is run by 6 to 8 farmers who, with support and time, are  soon able to produce enough food to feed their families. Abalimi Bezekhaya encourages community members to plant indigenous trees and other flora in the township streets to create shade and increase awareness of the local plant life, much of which is endangered due to urban sprawl.

But while Abalimi Bezekhaya is bringing food and wild flora into the townships, it is also helping the townships to bring fresh produce into the city.

With support from the Ackerman Pick n’Pay Foundation, and in partnership with the South African Institute of Entrepreneurship (SAIE) and the Business Place Philippi, Abalimi Bezekhaya founded Harvest of Hope (HoH) in 2008. HoH purchases the surplus crops from 14 groups of farmers working in Abalimi Bezekhaya’s community plots, packages them in boxes and delivers them to selected schools where parents can purchase them to take home.

For families in Cape Town, HoH means fresh vegetables instead of the older, and often imported, produce at the grocery store. But for families of the farmers working with Hope of Harvest, it means much more.  “To grow these vegetables here for me, first, is a life,” said Christina Kaba, a farmer working with HoH in a video about the project. “Second, is how you can give to your family without asking anyone for a donation for money or food.  Here you are making money, you are making food.”

To read more about innovations that bring produce to cities, see: Vertical Farms: Finding Ways to Grow Food in Kibera, Growing Food in Urban “Trash,” Creating a Market for the Taste of Home,  Looking for an Answer in the Private Sector, and Reducing Wastewater Starts with a Conversation.