Category Archives: farmers market

3 Picks: Sustainable Cities, Floating Farmers Market, Freshii

Food Gardens, Channels, Vertical Farms – Shanghai Sustainable Masterplan

Below, are today’s three chosen agricultural-related news picks.

1) Cities are on the front lines of climate change: By Stephen Leahy. “With the backing of their residents, many cities and towns around the world are becoming cleaner, greener and better places to live by banning cars, improving mass transit, reducing energy use and growing their own food while adding public and green spaces. “Getting cities right solves many problems,” Register said. Cities are truly ground zero for action on climate change, protection of ecosystems, biodiversity, energy use, food production and more because that’s where most people live today, he said. Cities consume about 75 percent of the world’s energy and resources. They are directly or indirectly responsible for 75 percent of global carbon emissions…”

2) Floating farmers market to revive historic trade route: By Amy Langfield. “A trade route used by the Mohawks, missionaries, fur traders and colonists will take a step toward revival this weekend as the Vermont Sail Freight Project embarks on a 330-mile journey downriver, stopping at historic river towns along the Hudson. They’ll pick up cargo from 30 farmers and sell it at pop-up markets on its way to New York…”

3) Freshii saves energy, water, and chemicals: By Dan Rowe. “Freshii is unique in that they use no dishwashers, hoods, ranges or ovens, reducing the footprint left by their restaurants. To eliminate the need for dishwashers, they have opted for 100 percent biodegradable food-safe mixing bags to create their salads and custom rice/noodle bowls, which in total—including the production and transportation of the bags to Freshii restaurants—use less than five times the electricity of even the most energy efficient dishwashers…”

This news post was written and compiled by K. McDonald.

About the Photo: Part of the Sustainable Urban Masterplan for Shanghai, this image shows the channels with pedestrian and slow traffic lanes on the right, and urban food gardens on the left. The channel transports water from vertical farm to vertical farm, cooling the city and being filtered through various plants and organisms along the way. Two vertical farm buildings sit in the background, these farms supply sustainable energy, fresh water and food to 50.000 people in a range of one kilometer around their center. The open lower floors of the tower in the middle serves as a community garden, where residents can grow their own spices and specialty crops.

Farmers Markets Locate in Metro Areas and Continue to Grow in Number

San Francisco Farmers Market

It is not easy nor is it a financial windfall to become a farmers market producer. For entry level producers or “greenhorns”, it is important to pick a smart location that has a receptive public, à la consumer.

Market growers have a large amount of preparation required before they load their products, drive sometimes great distances to their market, set up their display, sit through all kinds of weather, and then wait to see if the consumer antes up before they pack up their perishables to return home. CSA (community supported agriculture) contracts are a more secure income for these producers.

The number of farmers markets in the U.S. has increased more than four-fold since 1994, when the USDA began keeping track of their numbers. In August of 2012, there were 7,828 farmers markets operating in the United States. Nearly forty percent of the nation’s farmers markets are in metro areas which have a reliable consumer base.

The highest concentration of markets are found in California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The red areas in the map below show where the greatest increase in the number of farmers markets has occurred over the past four years.

In related news, the USDA has announced that it will begin to provide micro loans of up to $35,000 to help small farmers, minorities, veterans, and “disadvantaged” producers start-up farm operations.

The program can be used to finance hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses. As their financing needs increase, applicants can apply for an operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000.

When announcing the loan program, Vilsack said that the “USDA continues to help grow a new generation of farmers, while ensuring the strength of an American agriculture sector that drives our economy, creates jobs, and provides the most secure and affordable food supply in the world.”

As we all know, the above statement is a stretch of the truth at best, because today’s high land prices and rents which result from policies of crop insurance, direct payments for monoculture crops produced by very large farms, and the corn ethanol mandate, are reasons that it is next to impossible for a “greenhorn” to begin a farming operation. While access to credit is important, being able to turn out a profit is even more important.

Since the average age of the farmer in the U.S. is 57, and the fastest growing segment is the over-65 age group, it is clear that we need younger replacement farmers. And the new and underemployed generation of capable workers includes many who would like to enter the occupation of farming.

What a new generation of farmers really needs is policy support in the next Farm Bill. “Get big or get out” continues to be the dominant trend in agriculture in the U.S.