by Dec 28, 2011
The US Federal Government put the spotlight on cooperatives this week. Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Congressional leader for the national cooperative movement, introduced the National Cooperative Development Act.
Cooperatives are owned and operated by the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods in an effort to provide mutual benefit to everyone involved. They range greatly in size and cover a wide spectrum of sectors, including farms and markets.
“We have food deserts in low-income urban areas where food cooperatives are often the only enterprises willing to bring food security and nutrition to the community while anchoring the buy-local campaigns we see happening everywhere,” Fattah said. “Every new or expanded cooperative, regardless of the goods or services it provides, will be a job creator and an economic engine where it’s most needed.”
Although the cooperative business model faces many unique challenges, the new legislature addresses some of these problems.
The National Cooperative Development Center will:
- Award grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges, and universities so that they can provide technical assistance to operating cooperatives or groups that are attempting to form cooperatives;
- Provide guidance, information on best practices and technical assistance to communities seeking to establish cooperatives;
- Create a revolving loan fund to provide loans and seed capital to groups who are attempting to form cooperatives;
- Provide funding for training of providers of technical assistance and supporting existing professional development training for organizations engaged in cooperative development;
- Establish cooperative development centers in areas that currently do not have them.
by Dec 22, 2011
Heal the Bay’s “A Day without a Bag” day was held on December 15, 2011 in Santa Monica, with retailers joining the efforts to promote the use of reusable bags. In its fifth year running, the campaign is meant to be a “holiday gift to the environment”.
The question about this campaign is whether or not it will in fact encourage shoppers to change their daily habits and switch to reusable (and more earth friendly) shopping bags. A question has also been raised as to whether or not a ban on disposable bags should be put into place in the area. If consumers and retailers can join forces and eliminate the use of plastic bags for one day – during the holiday shopping season, none the less – could they not continue to do the same year round?
As a sign of their participation, 99 Cent Only Stores aimed to give away over 9999 reusable bags today to customers with a minimum purchase of $29.99. They also gave volunteers of Heal the Bay 1000 bags to distribute at various public sites throughout L.A. County. 99 Cent Only Stores currently operate 291 retail locations. More than half of the company’s sales coming from food and beverages; including fruits and vegetables, dairy, deli and frozen foods, along with organic and gourmet foods.
by Dec 16, 2011
The story of Nick Maravell, a Potomac farmer who started an international campaign to save his farm, saw major change this week when he dropped his lawsuit against the local school board and received an extension to his lease. The lease, which was set to expire on January 1, 2012, was extended until August 15, 2012.
The land is used to raise seeds for food-grade corn and soybeans, as well as winter rye and a legume called hairy vetch. Maravell produces his certified organic seeds without genetically modified organisms, and sells them through catalogues and other farmers. A series of petitions to save the farm has gathered over 50,000 signatures.
Maravell, who has been farming the 20-acre plot since 1980, was notified in March that his lease was being terminated to build and operate public-private soccer fields. The land is owned by the Montgomery County Public School Board. The lease extension only lasts until mid-August, when construction on the soccer fields is set to begin.
by Jul 03, 2011
Growing organic is a phenomenon that is expanding in North America. A return to the roots of our past may represent a path to the future as more people begin to realize the multiple benefits of locally grown food. One new website launch aims to facilitate the connection between those who want organic food and the farms that produce it.
The site, which launched July 2011, is known as the Organic Farm Directory (http://organicfarmfood.org). It features a simple search form which allows you to locate nearby organic farms by city, address or postal code. The database currently has 14,600 listings which users can view through Google Maps.
There are two reasons why organic farming has become popular with both farmers and consumers. For the conscious farmer there is less damage to the environment when choosing all-organic farming methods. For the consumer there is a greater documented health benefit from produce that has not been subjected to harsh chemicals and cross-country travel. Of course many also realize that organic food simply tastes better!
The launch of the Organic Farm Directory is proof that a great idea can translate to an incredible health resource connecting producer/providers with enthusiastic consumers.
- Over 14 thousand organic farms in the database
- Integrated with Google Maps for local searches
- Search by city, address or postal code
- 100% Free listings
- Inspired by the Food Inc. Documentary