How heroes of the sustainable food movement have inspired me – By Eileen Gordon

Eileen Gordon lives in the Napa Valley with her husband, chef Michael Chiarello, and their family. She understands that “sustainable food isn’t just a catch phrase – it’s a way of life” and she’s created Dirt-to-Dine Adventure Camps for kids at Connelly Ranch and Barnraiser, a crowd funding site and community to “power the good food movement one project at a time” to share her passion for supporting farmers, educators, chefs and local food producers and creating a “new, healthier, more sustainable food system”. To read the article, click here.

DIY Greenhouse Concepts

Have you ever wanted to grow your own food right at home, all year-round? Learn how to build a greenhouse using an old trampoline and 3 more great ideas for using other recycled materials. It’s cheap, easy and fun! Help protect the environment and enjoy your very own produce. Download easy step by step instructions and photos here.

Connecting Women In Ag: Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network

There are only a handful of educational, networking, social media forums and conferences that focus on women in agriculture. One of the newest ways that the USDA is connecting women is through the new #womeninag mentoring network. All you have to do to join in the network is send an email to agwomenlead@usda.gov. You can share your stories and offer suggestions on how we can build a new generation of women leaders in agriculture. To learn more about the program, click here.

A Farmer’s Guide to Working with Land Trusts

The National Young Farmers Coalition recently released a new guide for farmers, designed to provide an introduction to land trusts and explain the process of partnering with a land trust to access affordable farmland.
Finding and securing land to farm is one of the biggest challenges that beginning farmers and ranchers face in starting a career in agriculture, and the guide explains how these groups can be powerful partners in a farmer’s search for affordable farmland. To learn more, click here.

Napa Curbside Food Composting is Here!

Napa residents can now put food scraps and food-soiled paper in their brown compost cart, right along with yardwaste. Kitchen pails will be delivered over the next few months, but food scraps can now be added directly to the brown cart. Designed to provide residents with an easy way to dispose of all the food scraps that collect from preparing meals, scraping plates and cleaning out the refrigerator of unwanted leftovers or spoiled food. You can even include paper towels, napkins, paper plates and coffee cups! Leftovers are processed into organic compost that’s used as a soil amendment for landscaping, gardens, farms & vineyards, closing the loop locally and sustainably! To learn more about the program, click here.

Mother Nature Network: Why 2015 is a big year for child nutrition

The new Farm to School Act and the proposed renewal of federal child nutrition programs should make this an important time for kids and healthy eating. 2015 is an important year for food in schools and the impact of decisions about childhood nutrition and obesity in America. That’s because actions on state and federal levels in three areas will have a profound effect on what could become one of the most important classrooms for every child in every school in America, the cafeteria. To read more, click here.

Call for Graduate Student Grant Proposals in Sustainable Agriculture

Congress has defined sustainable agriculture as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices. The Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is seeking grant proposals for graduate student projects on sustainable agriculture that will include research and education components and can produce measurable results. Students will consult with farmers and ranchers from germination through completion, produce educational materials, and share their goals, activities and findings with producers and other stakeholders. The deadline for proposals is May 13th. To learn more, click here.

Blessings in a Backpack – Because Hunger Doesn’t Take Weekends Off

Blessings in a Backpack provides elementary schoolchildren (who are on the federal Free and Reduced Price Meal Program) with a backpack of food to take home for 38 weekends during the school year. Backpack food includes easy-to-prepare, ready-to-eat foods, like granola bars, juice boxes, mac and cheese, and oatmeal. There are 20+ million children in our country at risk of hunger. The consequences of poor nutrition can result in a weaker immune system, increased hospitalization, lower IQ, shorter attention spans, and lower academic achievement. Blessings in a Backpack is a non-profit organization dedicated to feeding the future of America, one school at a time. They’re currently feeding more than 72,000 children in 44 states. The program is a hybrid of private sector funding and public partnership carried out in public schools. To learn more, click here.

Sustainable Cotton Project

Since 1996, the Sustainable Cotton Project, based in Winters, has been dedicated to the production and promotion of sustainably grown domestic cotton fiber. In the field, they work with innovative growers to produce a high-quality fiber without using the most toxic pesticides and herbicides, and connect growers, manufacturers and consumers, to develop a cleaner supply chain. Their mission is to lessen the toll that the soil-to-shirt cotton production process takes on the earth’s air, water, and soil, and the health of people in cotton growing areas. To learn more, click here.

FIBERSHED – Supporting Regenerative Fiber Systems

Where were your clothes grown & sewn? Where were the yarns farmed? Where was the fiber ranched? Was the color grown or was it mined? These are just a few of the important questions Fibershed wants us to consider as we begin taking stock of our personal impacts on the planet, including climate change, and fresh water degradation. As a non-profit organization, they’re dedicated to building a bridge between people and the raw materials that clothe them, through education, research and laying the foundation for regenerative fiber systems. Mary Pettis-Sarley produces a line of yarn called Twirl, made from the fiber of animals on her Napa Valley ranch, with some of the yarns dyed in her fermentation indigo vat, some dyed with the plants from her land, and some in the natural fiber colors. Her yarns can often be found at the Fibershed farmers’ market stands. Click here to learn more.