The Recirculating Farms Coalition is a collaborative group of individuals and organizations – farmers, educators, chefs and many others – committed to building healthy communities through training, outreach and advocacy on innovative farming and food justice. We develop ecologically and socially responsible programs that grow local, affordable food, and create stable jobs in green businesses, in diverse communities, to foster physical, mental and financial wellness nationwide.
Our primary food production systems in the United States are overly industrialized — for example, concentrated animal feed lots, factory fishing boats, and massive fruit and vegetable farms. Reliance on imported foods, with minimal safety inspections and a huge carbon footprint to transport products around the globe, hurts us and our environment, providing fewer jobs, increasing pollution and delivering consumers lower quality food. The U.S. government, in response to the public’s growing complaints about our troubled food system, continues to explore various ways to boost domestic food production. Unfortunately, it mostly does so in a manner that encourages further industrialization and poor food quality. Our challenge is to promote an alternative to this model, one that establishes healthy, natural, and community-based food production.
We envision a movement toward community-based food production. This can provide safer, fresher, better quality, accessible food and local green job opportunities. A different way of growing, “recirculating farming,” is emerging nationwide and can meet these goals.
Recirculating farms use constantly cleaned, recycled water as the basis to grow food. They can grow plants (recirculating hydroponics), fish (recirculating aquaculture), or plants and fish together in one system (aquaponics). Recirculating farms come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles, but they all have one main theme – recycled water. These farms are almost entirely closed loop, and can operate without chemicals or antibiotics, efficiently use water and energy, and be located virtually anywhere — importantly, near the people they serve. This cuts down on use of fuel for shipping and refrigeration and lowers costs of the farm; savings that can be passed on to the consumer, making good food more affordable. These farms can provide a wide range of products, including finfish, shellfish, herbs, fruits, vegetables, other plants and flowers.
Our vision is for communities across the country to have recirculating farms as a source of local, healthy fresh food and stable jobs in green businesses.
The Recirculating Farms Coalition grew out of a program initiated at Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy organization. In 2009, staff with the Fish and Oceans Program at Food & Water Watch coordinated a meeting of leading recirculating aquaculturists, hydroponic and aquaponic farmers, other scientists and government agencies involved in agriculture and fisheries fields. The outcome of this meeting was a unanimous call for a coordinating collaborative entity that could help raise the profile of recirculating farms in the United States and push for policy, legislative and educational initiatives. Thus, the Coalition was born. In its infancy we were a group of professionals, entrepreneurs and others interested in exploring a better, more local way to provide sustainably-produced, accessible food. Since that time, the Recirculating Farms Coalition has grown in membership and programs, developing strategic plans to promote policy, legislative, and educational activities throughout the U.S. We are headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana where we have a dedicated local team and several urban farms in cooperation with veterans, musicians, senior housing and community health and wellness organizations, managed under “Growing Local NOLA”. We run a mobile fresh food delivery and holistic health program “Growing Local On the Geaux”, that brings various health-supportive services into New Orleans neighborhoods with low-access to such resources.