Local food phenoms

The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project occupies a unique niche in the swelling local food movement. Beyond simply advocating for buying close to home, the NESFP fosters sustainability in the local food economy by disseminating agricultural knowledge and helping the next generation of American farmers help themselves. Through its cooperative CSA, farmer incubator programs, mobile poultry processing unit, and other cutting-edge endeavors, the NESFP is quietly shaping attitudes and economies around the future of agriculture.
But the NESFP is not alone on the forefront of the local food movement. Below are three brief profiles of groups and individuals in the area who are doing their own part to know their food and know, (or be!), their farmer:
The Urban Homesteader’s League: This Cambridge-based non-profit is “committed to re-imagining the good life as one that is meaningful, pleasurable, environmentally sustainable, and socially just. [They] place the home at the center of that pursuit and see it as a site for personal and societal transformation.” Founded just last summer by Lisa Gross, an artist and graduate student living in Inman Square, the UHL has quickly blossomed into a source of inspiration for over 800 urban homesteaders of all stripes. Urban farmers and gardeners, makers of cheese, soap and yogurt, home composters, knitters and carpenters all have a place under the wide umbrella of UHL’s skill-sharing. The UHL’s most recent project is its Market Stand at the Union Square Farmers’ Market in Somerville, where Lisa and many others teach mini-workshops on a variety of homesteading skills. For more information on the UHL, visit their website at www.urbanhomesteadersleague.org or find them on Facebook and Meetup.
Top Sprouts: Top Sprouts is a for-profit venture that is working to create “edible campuses” and local food production through rooftop farming and gardening. Alice Leung and Akshay Kolte founded the company in 2008 in Boston and are currently developing a pilot project with Bunker Hill Community College. The project would entail the construction of greenhouses on the flat roofs of the school that will grow vegetables “for year round food production and yield a healthy return on investment”. The company hopes that the pilot project will serve as a model for rooftop growing in other parts of the city, and Alice and Akshay have been collaborating with students and the city of Boston to expand the scope of their work. To learn more about Top Sprouts, check out their website at www.topsprouts.com.
Julia Davis and Andy McLeod: A lot of catering companies have noticed a dramatic upswing in the number of engaged couples wishing to have their wedding reception dinners stocked completely with local foods. But Julia Davis and Andy McLeod of Washington, Maine are going one giant step further: they are growing essentially all of it themselves. From greens to squash to chickens, this ambitious couple are planning to have the harvest of their 7,500 square foot backyard garden completed by September 24th, when they will enlist family and friends in the preparation of a complete menu of homegrown delights for about 100 guests. To follow the progress of this labor of love, check out their blog at localfoodwedding.wordpress.com.
-Jeff Hake

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