NOLA – much more than Bourbon Street and Po’ Boys

New Orleans’ infamous label as the “Worst Food Desert in the U.S.” was superseded by a new – and much more flattering – claim to fame: home to important “food hubs”. Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary of Agriculture announced a new report about food hubs across the United States. It’s a way to support the local food movement, highlighting what works to get food from small farmers to a public increasingly wanting to eat food from their own area.

Food hubs are businesses or organizations that offer infrastructure, support and marketing to build regional food systems. The USDA’s new report highlights best practices in the 223 food hubs identified across the country, including in New Orleans! Hollygrove Market & Farm made the list. It is a popular site that is home to a community garden, aquaponic recirculating farm demonstration system (it grows plants with fish in an innovative soil-less system), community supported agriculture program and much more.

Bravo to the many new urban farms and farmers, food activists, community coalitions, educators and many others making a positive change in the way we grow and eat! Read more here.

TEDX Manhattan 2013!

It’s that time of year again – when good food advocates from all around the country gather in New York City for TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat. We come together to acknowledge that conversations about food are changing. Rising obesity rates, frequent scares about contaminated food and environmental degradation have made it abundantly clear that our reliance on industrial agriculture is unsustainable. The system is broken – and we know it.

We also know ways to fix this. Current concerns with our food culture are driving researchers, entrepreneurs and farmers alike to explore new ways to produce more food using less resources, be environmentally friendly and more versatile. Recirculating farms are making significant contributions to changing the way we eat, and are now being regularly recognized as a way to grow healthy fresh food more sustainably.

These farms reuse waste, constantly filter and recycle water and can run on alternative energy like solar, wind and geothermal power. They are entirely closed-loop and can be located almost anywhere, because they are versatile in shape and size and can be designed for indoors or outside, in hot or cold climates. The ability to grow vertically, or in almost any shape and their closed-loop, soil-less nature make them especially ideal for urban environments– where growing space may be small, oddly shaped, or paved over – or where soil is too contaminated for growing food.

It’s been an amazing year here at Recirculating Farms Coalition – with the beginning of our training programs for farmers, and planning for our new education, training and research center in New Orleans, LA. We get to talk about all our progress again at TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat.

Marianne Cufone, our Executive Director, was a speaker at the event last year, and is invited back this year to give an update on our work, and also introduce Dr. AnneMarie Colbin, the CEO and Founder of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts – where Marianne went to culinary school!

UPDATE: check out what TEDX Manhattan posted about us and AnneMarie Colbin in their update section!