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Public Orchards – A New Kind of Investment

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Touch the Soil News #448 (feature art work courtesy of Louisville Grows) The industrial food chain is a reflection of massive investments whose ability to drain family food enterprises of their cash flows is legendary. As a result, most neighborhood grocery stores are gone, most family farms are gone and the largest grocery chain is the nation’s food banking network with over 50,000 partners that have a charitable feeding program. On the horizon, however, is a new kind of food chain struggling to emerge. Investments in this new food chain are building blocks that stay in place and serve humanity via food, jobs and environmental stewardship. Human-oriented investments have been…

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Pushing the Frontiers of Economics

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Touch the Soil News #390 Do you ever wonder where dollars come from? The technical accounting acrobatics that banks and the Federal Reserve engage in to invoke dollars are too much for this short news piece. However, there is another sister question that also needs answering. How effective are dollars as a medium of exchange – or, more simply – how well do dollars circulate? Like a body’s circulatory system that takes oxygen and nutrients to the outer limbs, the circulatory system of dollars falls far short of reaching the outer limbs of American society. The U.S. circulatory system that distributes dollars is primarily the activities surrounding employment and the…

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A Domino Effect

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Touch the Soil News #289 Food and farming has become a domain of a growing number of non-profits. A recent story by Melanie Whyte of Arizona State University reveals just how far non-profit expressions of food and agriculture can go.   Domino #1 The city of Phoenix did a self-assessment and found that 43 percent of the total land in Phoenix was in vacant lots. The city helped form a coalition of local businesses and non-profits known as PHX Renews. PHX Renews began as a 15-acre project that embraces urban agriculture and other beautification projects. The ultimate goal is to find uses that are functional (urban food) and beautifying of…

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Emerging Farming Model – It’s About Jobs and People Over Profits

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Touch the Soil News #216 The entry of non profit oriented enterprises into food and farming is a theme we have frequently covered. There have been so many stories of connecting food, farming, jobs and social responsibility it has become a growing trend. Perhaps – in time – a mega-trend. RecoveryPark is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Detroit. To implement its vision of employing military veterans, ex-convicts, recovering addicts and others having trouble finding employment – they are starting a large urban commercial farm. Called RecoveryPark Farms, there will be greenhouses, hoop houses and hydroponic systems on 60 acres of blighted Detroit Land. About 35 acres of the project is…

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Grow A Row – Is This a Window into the Future of Food?

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Touch the Soil News # 127 The non-profit  “America’s Grow a Row” was started by a non-farmer – Chip Paillex – some 14 years ago in New Jersey. Back in 2002, Chip and his daughter rented a small 30’ X 30’ plot and started planting food crops for the first time in his life. One day they saw a three-line article in the paper that said if you ever have extra produce, “grow-a-row” for the hungry and bring it down to the food pantry. Chip Paillex – Founder of Grow A Row (photo courtesy of Grow A Row) Moved by the simplicity of the message Paillex and his daughter began…

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The Urban Farm Collective – Cornerstone to a New Food Chain (Part 2 of 2)

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As we wrote in Part 1, the Urban Farm Collective (UFC) is an effort of many people working together on 15 urban garden plots in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.  Contemplating the UFC enterprise brings up the age-old question: Are we better off working together or going at it alone? Our modern economic system has an entrenched double standard when it comes to working together. In the food chain, for example, grocery stores go head to head in heated competition. However, inside each competing grocery store, there is a charge for team work and working together. So, when a food enterprise shows up on the scene that is about working…

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The Urban Farm Collective – Cornerstone to a New Food Chain (Part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #122 Food and access to food has been the subordinate child of a chaotic Wall Street with demonstrated insensitivities to planetary ecology and human health. It should not be surprising then that not-for-profit ventures – as relates to food – are exploring beyond the mentality of the corporate board room. From Left to Right – Ari Rosner, Janette Kaden (Founder of UFC), Holli Prohaska (Current Director) Thanks to Holli Prohaska, who worked with us in getting this story together, we get an inside look at the Urban Farm Collective (UFC). The UFC organizes people wanting to work for food, organizes access to land and organizes what…

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