An excited crowd gathered on an empty lot in Central City New Orleans this morning as the Recirculating Farms Coalition and the New Orleans Food and Farm Network officially broke ground on a unique community farm and food center – “Growing Local NOLA”.
Neighbors stopped by to talk about their hopes for the new facility, city and state officials gave congratulations and well wishes and partners and supporters joined in celebration.
The core of the Center will be a working farm that showcases cutting-edge yet affordable, water, space and energy efficient growing techniques, like recirculating hydroponics and aquaponics. These systems use constantly recycled nutrient-rich water in place of soil to grow plants (including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs) and aquaponics raise fish too (learn more here).
Products will be offered to local distributors and restaurants, and directly to consumers through a nearby green market, and special events like a farmers’ market.
There will be a wide range of programs at the Center like personal gardening, commercial farming, and farm-to-table cooking classes, fitness workshops, youth and senior events, lectures, and community discussions related to food, health and more. The Center will also host a community garden, with raised soil beds and fruit trees
Working with other existing programs, Growing Local NOLA plans to help tackle the city’s label as a food desert and the state’s high obesity rate – the second worst in the country by providing healthy fresh affordable food and training in urban farming.
The organizations recently received major grants for the project from, among others, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and the Claneil Foundation. Christy Oliver Reeves, Director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana attended the event in person.
Read more about the groundbreaking here – see what city and state officials and others said about Growing Local NOLA!
Sanjay Kharod, Christy Oliver Reeves, Marianne Cufone
and Ayame Nagatani Dinkler at groundbreaking
We are very excited to announce the release of our brand new report – From Out of the Blue – Green Farming. It explains what recirculating farming is, how it is growing in popularity and why these farms are key in providing healthy, fresh, affordable food in the U.S. and beyond. In it, there are photos of various farms and recirculating systems, and discussion about how recirculating farming is a sustainable way to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers and fish in urban and rural environments. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the report!
Amidst the many celebrations with messages about all things eco-friendly from recycling to eating local and discussions on how we humans interact with our natural environment – our creative side emerged – so from us to you, we here at the Recirculating Farms Coalition wish you a happy, healthy, thoughtful Earth Day:
Blue water, clean air
Earth – live, cherish, nurture, use
Humans, be kind – THINK!
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!
Watch Marianne talk about recirculating farms, our Coalition and more – Check out the free live webcast of TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat online today from 10:30am est to 5:45pm est. http://bit.ly/WJEFYg
UPDATE: check out what TEDX Manhattan posted about us and AnneMarie Colbin in their update section!
We here at the Recirculating Farms Coalition wish you a very happy and healthy 2013! In light of the start of the new year, we thought that we’d share some of our great successes from 2012, and our plans for 2013.
First, in September, we celebrated our one-year anniversary. Thanks to all of you – we had an unbelievable 1st year as a formal organization. We now work with thousands of farms, farmers, fishermen, foodies and many others from across the U.S. and around the world, and stay in contact with everyone via Facebook and Twitter. We hope to grow our network of cooperative partners and supporters even more in 2013.
We expanded our team, welcoming Amber Griffith, Christina Lizzi, Alexander “Sascha” Bollag and Katharine Davis Reich – and our Board too, with new member (and now Board President) – Sanjay Kharod.
Growling Local – Our new food and farm center located in New Orleans, Louisiana is on the move – we announced our plans to build a 2.5 acres research, training and demonstration center on National Food Day, in cooperation with our wonderful partners. We will be hosting a groundbreaking event in early 2013 with full construction following soon after – and a grand opening and program launch expected in the spring.
New and Beginning Farmer Workshops – in partnership with the New Orleans Food & Farm Network – we began our intensive market farmer trainings that include in-classroom presentations and on-the-farm hands-on learning – from sustainable growing practices to business planning. We look forward in 2013 to adding new intermediate and advanced classes, and growing an active mentorship program with our participating farmers to support more new and beginning farmers.
Mapping the Movement – on Earth Day we debuted the national database that we created with an interactive map that displays locations of commercial recirculating farms all around the country. Color coding shows if the farms are hydroponic (plants), aquaculture (fish) or aquaponic (fish and plants) and clicking on the points displays basic data for consumers – location, contact information, what products are sold and where to buy them. In 2013 we hope to add many more farms – so please get in touch if you know of a farm near you not yet on our map!
TEDx Manhattan – last year we were invited to give a presentation on recirculating farming at the TEDx Manhattan – Changing the Way We Eat event. This year, we’ve been invited back, to provide an update on our projects and introduce one of the new speakers.
We’d love to hear from you about your favorite food-related experiences from last year and any ideas, hopes and plans for 2013.
Thanks for all you do – Marianne Cufone, Executive Director