Posts Tagged ‘innovations’


U.S Food Day: 25 Innovations in 25 U.S. States

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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. (more…)


Designing a Plan to Reduce Food Waste

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Nourishing the Planet is collaborating with a team of graduate students at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design (ID) to research the problem of global food waste. In February, the ID research team hosted a workshop in which participants shared photos and talked about their experiences implementing bottom of the pyramid projects in India, Thailand, and Africa.

An ID team member takes notes on a projected photograph of a Botswana farmer as Danielle Nierenberg shares her story. (Photo credit: ID)

This workshop, along with other design research and analysis methods, will be used to identify opportunities for addressing food waste in developing countries. Patrick Whitney, Dean of the Institute of Design, is the faculty adviser to the project. Whitney has published and lectured around the world on ways of making technological innovations more humane, the link between design and business strategy, and design for the bottom of the pyramid.

The result of the students’ work will be included in an upcoming e-book on food waste co-authored by Nourishing the Planet Director Danielle Nierenberg and journalist Jonathan Bloom. The report will highlight agricultural practices that aim to reduce post-harvest losses obtained through NtP’s existing research on food waste and insights from field experts.

Stay tuned for more updates on the report.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative to Launch New Blog on January 30

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By Kate Rosenberg

The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature (LPFN) Initiative is a collaborative initiative working at the landscape level in over 60 countries, from China to Costa Rica, which aims to promote and scale up successful “ecoagriculture” strategies. Ecoagriculture is rooted in managing the complex dynamics among plants, animals, water, soil, insects, and other micro-fauna to produce crops and livestock in environmentally sustainable ways. LPFN’s overseeing partner is EcoAgriculture Partners, which supports diverse individuals and organizations working at the local, national and international levels to create and sustain ecoagriculture landscapes around the world.

Permaculture Project in Gaborone, Botswana (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

On January 30, LFPN will launch its new blog, which will provide perspective and discussion from innovators seeking to advance integrated approaches to agriculture that simultaneously meet goals for food production, ecosystem health, and human well-being. LPFN’s new blog will also serve as a sounding board for discussing how to most effectively scale up these ecologically-oriented agriculture practices.

Around the world, farmers, NGOs, policymakers, businesses, and other players in the global food system are finding ways to make agriculture more ecologically sustainable. Many communities are already practicing ecoagriculture—they’re creating livestock corridors through fields in Benin, silvopastoral systems (combining pasture with increased tree cover) in Nicaragua, and increasing productivity through the introduction of agroforestry trees as an alternative source of timber, fuel, fodder, and food in Kenya.
While many effective and encouraging innovations are taking place, time isn’t on our side—ecosystems around the world are showing signs of distress and climate change is altering agricultural landscapes. Now, more than ever, resources for and communication among practitioners is needed to scale up effective agriculture strategies that are capable of improving food security, protecting ecosystems, and revitalizing local economies.



Fishing for Sustainable Practices to Conserve Fisheries

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Global fish production has reached an all-time high, according to Nourishing the Planet’s latest research for the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online publication. Aquaculture, or fish farming—once a minor contributor to total fish harvest—increased 50-fold between the 1950s and 2008 and now contributes nearly half of all fish produced worldwide.


We need to sustainably manage global fisheries to secure livelihoods and protect ecosystems. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated 53 percent of fisheries are considered fully exploited—harvested to their maximum sustainable levels—with no room for expansion in production. Population growth and a higher demand for dietary protein are putting increasing pressure on depleted stocks and threatened ecosystems.

Increased farming of large predators, such as salmon and tuna, has led to overfishing of prey fish—including anchoveta and herring, which are commonly used as fishmeal. It generally takes at least three kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of salmon. The shrinking of the numbers of prey species threatens the entire food chain, putting further stress on large predator stocks.

Depleting fisheries also negatively affect the economies of developing countries, home to the nearly 60 percent of the world’s fishers that are classified as small-scale commercial or subsistence fishers. In Africa, an estimated 100 million people depend on fish from inland sources, such as lakes and rivers, for income as well as protein and much-needed micronutrients like vitamin A, calcium, iron, and zinc. But coastal fisheries across West Africa have declined by up to 50 percent in the last 30 years due to significant pressure from large industrial fleets.



Small Planet Fund’s Annual Party and Auction Fundraiser in New York City

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This Friday is the 9th annual Small Planet Fund Party and Auction in New York City. Proceeds will benefit Small Planet Fund grantees, such as Family Farm Defenders and Landless Workers Movement (MST), and this year’s special honoree, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) —an organization that empowers restaurant workers to win back unpaid wages, fight back against workplace discrimination, and gain access to vacations, sick days, and health care.  You can still get your tickets online and join in the fun to support a great cause!


Heifer’s World Ark on NtP

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Nourishing the Planet co-project Director Danielle Nierenberg was recently interviewed for Heifer International’s publication World Ark on the goals and discoveries of the project. The interview also discusses the launch of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, which highlights several Heifer International supported projects.

To read more about the partnership between Nourishing the Planet and Heifer see: Meet the Nourishing the Planet Advisory Group: Jim De Vries and For Poor Households in Rwanda, One Cow Makes A Difference


Part 34: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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Each day we run three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

Gambia: Fish Market Outside Banjul (photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

1. Victor Gatonye Kuria, Kenya says:

‘In my opinion, I would like to see more funding going to agricultural self sustaining projects. Over reliance on funding has a counter productive effect in the long run. Countries should be teaching “how to fish” and not ” supplying fish occasionally”. Therefore if more funding can go into training and implementing self sustaining projects like cash crop farming and other innovative farming practices like mushroom farming in western Kenya which has enabled families to rely on farming.”

2. Ahamad Kyaruzi, Tanzania says:

“I would like more funding to innovations/ technologies dissemination to end users(farmers/firms)

3. Frank Place, World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya says:

“Two areas for increased attention would be (1) investing in improving soil health and water harvesting in order to increase food production now and mitigate effects from pending climate change and (2) micro credit for smallholder farmers.”

What is your answer? Email me at or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg

To read other responses, see:

Part 29
: Eric Kisiangani (Kenya), Stephen Muchiri, & Luis Gasser.
Part 30: Betty Maeda, Mary Mavanza (Tanzania), & Naude Malan (South Africa).
Part 31Theresa Endres (Mali), Gezahegn Ayele, & Kephas Indangasi.
Part 32: Susan Mwangi (Kenya), Keshab Thapa (Nepal) & Francis Lwamugira (Tanzania).
Part 33: Yohannnes Mariam, Tshediso Phahlane (South Africa), & Nancy Karanja (Kenya).


Part 25: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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Each day we run three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

1. Tony Gasbarro, University of Alaska, USA says:

“I am not an agricultural expert, but I have had a chance to work with poor farmers as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador and have visited farmers in the Amazonian region of Peru.  In my opinion strengthening agricultural extension services would be a good use of any additional agricultural funding.”

2. John Hassall says:

“I would like to see more agriculture funding go to food security projects that build the capacity of farmers to produce crops that are sustainable long-term rather than short term high yield crops.”

3. Kamal Khadka, Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD) , Nepal says:

“I am from a NGO in Nepal known as LI-BIRD. I am a plant breeder by profession. Regarding your question, being a citizen of  one of the poorest country in the world, I would like to see more fund directed towards agricultural research. In Nepal, the investment in agricultural researches is extremely low. The donors are usually interested in investing in development oriented projects. On the other hand government of Nepal is unable to allocate minimum resource for agricultural research. Hence, I feel that in a poor country like Nepal investment in agricultural research should be promoted along with investment in development sector.”

To read more responses, see:

Part 1Dave Andrews (USA), Dave Johnstone (Cameroon), & Pierre Castagnoli (Italy)
Part 2Paul Sinandja (Togo), Dov Pasternak (Niger), & Pascal Pulvery (France)
Part 3:  Christine McCulloch (UK), Hans R Herren (USA), & Amadou Niang.
Part 4
Michel Koos (Netherlands), Don Seville (USA), & Ron Gretlarson
Part 5:  Shahul SalimRoger Leakey (Kenya), & Monty P Jones (Ghana)
Part 6Calestous Juma (USA), Ray Anderson (USA), & Rob Munro (Zambia)
Part 7Tom Philpott (USA), Grace Mwaura, & Thangavelu Vasantha Kumaran
Part 8Peter Mietzner (Namibia), Madyo Couto (Mozambique), & Norman Thomas Uphoff (USA)
Part 9Tilahun Amede (Ethiopia), Shree kumar Maharjan (Nepal), & Ashwani Vasishth (USA)
Part 10:  Mary Shawa (Malawi), Wayne S. Teel (USA), & Bell Okello (Kenya)
Part 11: Mark Wells (South Africa), Pashupati Chaudhary (USA), & Megan Putnam (Ghana)
Part 12David Wallinga (USA), Ysabel Vicente, & Esperance Zossou (Benin)
Part 13Susi Basith (Indonesia), Diana Husic (USA), & Carolina Cardona (Togo)
Part 14:  Rachel FriedmanJennifer Geist (USA), & Lowden Stoole
Part 15Antonio Requejo, Alexandra Spieldoch (USA), & Daniele Giovannucci (USA)
Part 16
Mary Njenga (Kenya), Mabel Toribio,Makere Stewart-Harawira (Canada)
Part 17Dale Lewis (Zambia), Chris Ojiewo (Tanzania), & Molly Mattessich (USA)
Part 18Gregory Bowman (USA), Lucila Nunes de Vargas, & Caroline Smith
Part 19Tesfom Solomon (Sweden), Sahr Lebbie (USA), & Jenny Goldie (Austrialia)
Part 20Steven SweetVicki Lipski, & Viola Ransel
Part 21: Puspa R. TiwariJohan Staal (Netherlands), & Kevin Kamp (USA)
Part 22Steve Osofsky (USA), John Vickrey (USA), & Michael Levenston (Canada)
Part 23: Vasan (India), Excellent Hachileka (Zambia), Royce Gloria Androa (Uganda)
Part 24: Pam Allee, Dennis Calvan, and Salibo (Burkina Faso)

What is your answer? Email me at or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg


Nourishing the Planet in Gambia’s The Point

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Check out this feature article in one of The Gambia’s largest circulating newspapers, The Point. While visiting with environmentally sustainable agriculture projects in Gambia’s capital city Banjul, Nourishing the Planet project co-director Danielle Nierenberg was interviewed by The Point staff. The article discusses NtP’s goals of portraying stories of hope and success from Africa and encouraging the exchange of working innovations between African farmers across the continent.

To read about one agricultural project that is working to improve livelihoods in The Gambia see:  Turning the Catch of the Day into Improved Livelihoods for the Whole Community.


Part 11: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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Each day we are posting three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

1. Mark Wells, Gaia Cooperative , South Africa says:
“I believe that agricultural funds should be directed towards providing real agroecological support to rural households which includes, integrated pest management, rain water harvesting and other best practices and technologies to make the most of their local resources whilst at the same time developing equitable distribution systems such as local processing and distribution cooperatives linked to consumer cooperatives.”

2. Pashupati Chaudhary, Dept. of Biology, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA says:

“I believe more investment should go to smallholders, as well (Asia has 87 percent and Africa has 8 percent of them). However, more focus should be given to participatory research to develop drought tolerant varieties. Africa and a part of Asia are already experiencing water-stress, and we expect more drought in future. In addition, IRRI and ICARDA should increase their investment for Africa and Asia, the two major hunger hotspots. Now, ICARDA spends only about 10 percent of its total budget for SSA and Asia (excluding central and west Asia) and IRRI spends about the same for Africa.”

3. Megan Putnam, Engineers Without Borders, Ghana says:
“I’d like to see more funding directed to an “innovation fund” that supports young agricultural entrepreneurs to invest in starting agricultural businesses.”

To read more responses:
Part 1: Dave Andrews (USA), Dave Johnstone (Cameroon), & Pierre Castagnoli (Italy)
Part 2: Paul Sinandja (Togo), Dov Pasternak (Niger), & Pascal Pulvery (France)
Part 3Christine McCulloch (UK), Hans R Herren (USA), & Amadou Niang.
Part 4 : Michel Koos (Netherlands), Don Seville (USA), & Ron Gretlarson
Part 5Shahul Salim, Roger Leakey (Kenya), & Monty P Jones (Ghana)
Part 6: Calestous Juma (USA), Ray Anderson (USA), & Rob Munro (Zambia)
Part 7: Tom Philpott (USA), Grace Mwaura, & Thangavelu Vasantha Kumaran
Part 8: Peter Mietzner (Namibia), Madyo Couto (Mozambique), & Norman Thomas Uphoff (USA)
Part 9: Tilahun Amede (Ethiopia), Shree kumar Maharjan (Nepal), & Ashwani Vasishth (USA)
Part 10Mary Shawa (Malawi), Wayne S. Teel (USA), & Bell Okello (Kenya)

What is your answer? Email me at or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg