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Public Orchards – A New Kind of Investment

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

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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The Food Chain Is Flirting With a Not-For-Profit Landscape

Touch the Soil News #385 Hundreds of NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) around the world continue attacking the industrial “for-profit” food chain. And it doesn’t look like they are going to stop anytime soon. The indiscriminations arising out of for-profit corporate models – span everything from cost, environmental exploitation, toxicity, loss of diversity and failure to deliver health. The issues are not going away. Now national governments are singing similar tunes. In a recent Kelp4Less news piece #376 (posted 5/9/2016), the nation of Brazil has rang the alarm bell about farming with toxic chemicals and how GMOs drive that problem. Brazil has the highest per-capita use of pesticides in the world.…

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A Domino Effect

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

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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Growing Food – Help for War Veterans Getting Back to Normal

Touch the Soil News # 156 When a good idea hatches, it usually takes a little time for the word to get out and for a vision to take form. Back in 2012, U.S. Marine veteran Chris Brown co-founded Growing Veterans – an organization that combines sustainable farming with helping veterans re-establish some semblance of a normal life. Recently, Growing Veterans have been making news and the word is getting out. Brown, with three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, knows of the injuries veterans come home with that are physical and mental – that can lead to isolation, substance abuse, unemployment and even suicide. Turning attention to growing food and…

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Food, Social Enterprise and the Caring for Others

Touch the Soil News # 142 So what is the world coming to? A bright young woman with a Masters in Business Administration from Portland State has no interest in pursuing the Wall Street Model of business and profit. Instead, she is striving to bring healthy food to the underserved with a goal of only breaking even. Meet Amelia Pape. After graduation, she bought a van and started a mobile business called My Street Grocery in Portland, Oregon. Her mission was to sell healthy food in areas of Portland where there was little access to grocery stores. As her work and idea began to gain visibility she eventually approached Whole…

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What Are Food Hubs? Can They Help You Become A Successful Local Farmer? (Part 2 of 2)

Touch the Soil News # 141 The growing development of food hubs is materially populated with not-for-profit visions that do not seek high returns, but primarily the cash flows necessary to keep the doors open. In Part 2 of this food hub coverage we’ll take a brief look at five (5) successful food hubs and their operations. Information about these food hubs came from a research project by the Wallace Center. It is encouraging to see enterprises and communities support a change from the industrial food system. Red Tomato food hub, Plainville, Massachusetts Red Tomato has annual sales of approximately $4 million with 7 employees. Red Tomato, established in 1997,…

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What Are Food Hubs? Can They Help You Become A Successful Local Farmer? (Part 1 of 2)

Touch the Soil News # 140 A few years back while visiting La Montanita Food Cooperative in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we learned about local food hubs. The Co-op had asked its 8,000 members about where the Co-op should source its food. The message came back loud and clear – source food locally and regionally. The Co-op was interested in not only fresh and local, but protecting and developing the areas food shed. A food shed strives to enhance the production, processing, delivery and consumption of food within a regional geographic area. A food shed normally incorporates enough area (and customers) to support diverse food production and processing. To fulfill their…

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