Just as everything we do begins at the farm, we support innovative organizations that grow and nurture our industry. We are committed to making a difference through our mission and priorities to develop healthy, organic foods and food practices as well as contributing to the health of our planet. These featured organizations directly support those goals and we are honored to support and celebrate their work.
UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems
UCSC’s Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems trains and supports new, innovative organic farmers and gardeners through their annual Apprenticeship Program and through regional beginning farmer workshops and mentoring. The Center also supports research efforts that improve organic farming techniques and promote biodiverse agroecological systems. The UNFI Foundation supports the Center’s 2015 efforts to increase college and university sourcing of locally grown, organic produce and to create public education programs for community members interested in organic farming and gardening.
What they do: Research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems.
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Friends of Zenger Farm
Zenger Farm’s Emerging Farmer Training Program educates beginning farmers in all aspects of sustainable, small-scale farming in a culturally and economically diverse neighborhood in East Portland, Oregon. Internships provide extensive hands-on training in field techniques through the care of 3.5 acres of vegetables, orchards, chickens, turkeys and honeybees. Interns also learn about food access for underserved populations and participate in classroom instruction on soil health, irrigation management, machinery use, crop planning, food safety, marketing, and farm financials. The UNFI Foundation also supports the construction of an Urban Grange that will be used for youth education programs and will introduce an entrepreneurial incubator for emerging local food businesses.
What they do: Increase amount of sustainable, healthy foods available in the community.
The Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund works to address the shortage of organic farmers by incentivizing study and careers in organic agricultural production methods. The Fund leverages leading agricultural networks, such as Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Ag in the Classroom by partnering to provide grants for organic-specific projects, giving voice to a new, emerging face of farming.
What they do: Educate, advocate and promote organic.
Homeless Garden Project
The Homeless Garden Project is a 12 month program that provides job training, transitional employment and support services to people who are homeless. Training takes place on their 3.5 acre organic farm on the bluffs above the Monterey Bay in California. The farm provides a space for renewal, community, and the satisfaction of producing healthy food. On-the-job training is supplemented by a weekly lecture series with topics ranging from soil quality to resume writing. The Project operates a farm stand and CSA program. Participants are connected to housing, food stamps, drug rehabilitation, counseling, and health services with one-on-one social work sessions to support accomplishing goals. The Project also hosts public workshops on environmental stewardship, the causes of homelessness, nutrition and cooking, and sustainable agriculture.
What they do: Provide transitional employment on an organic farm for those who are homeless.
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Florida Organic Growers
Florida Organic Growers (FOG) offers educational workshops on organic crop production, including topics such as soil fertility, integrated pest management, irrigation water conservation, cover crops, transitioning from conventional to organic practices, marketing, agricultural policy issues, and organic certification. FOG also coordinates on-farm workshops for Florida farmers in different regions to increase knowledge about tropical and subtropical, organic, whole-system farming methods.
What they do: Support and promote organic and sustainable agriculture.
Location: Gainsville, FL
Good Food Business Accelerator
FamilyFarmed.org's Good Food Business Accelerator supports new or growing food and farm businesses in order to help fuel the rapidly expanding markets for sustainably produced local food. Mentoring, strategic support and access to capital is provided to these businesses, helping them to build skills and connect to potential customers and investors. This accelerator is the only program to focus solely on sustainable, local food and farm businesses. FamilyFarmed.org is a leader in developing markets for this type of food in the Midwest, and is expected to develop regional versions of this program in other areas of the country as well.
What they do: Accelerate sustainable, local food and farm businesses.
PCC Farmland Trust
PCC Farmland Trust is a land trust whose mission is to secure, preserve and steward threatened farmland in the Northwest. They ensure that generations of local farmers productively farm using sustainable, organic method, and place farmers on rescued property, enabling them to actively produce food for the local community. PCC Farmland Trust also restores farms by planting trees, native shrubs and pollinator species to improve the health of the property, as well as performing invasive weed removal.
What they do: Work to keep farms in the hands of farmers.
Ecological Farming Association
For over 30 years, the EcoFarm Conference has encouraged the growth of a healthy, ecologically sound and economically viable agricultural system. The EcoFarm Conference is the flagship event of the Ecological Farming Association, an organization that nurtures healthy, just food systems and communities by bringing people together for education, alliance building, and celebration. EcoFarm is tailored to those looking for a technical edge: organic and ecological farmers and ranchers (large and small), handlers, marketers, students, educators, researchers, activists, and governmental agencies.
What they do: Advance ecological farming through education.
GrowingGreat™ is a nationwide community-based non-profit nutritional education organization dedicated to inspiring children and adults to adopt healthy eating habits, decreasing the risk of obesity and disease. Their goal is to help children, families and communities understand where food comes from, appreciate that food serves a purpose in overall health and has an impact on longevity and well-¬being. Currently, GrowingGreat™ serves over 30,000 students in 67 schools throughout California, Nevada and Hawaii.
What they do: Inspire school children and adults to take on healthy eating habits.
Location: Manhattan Beach, CA
The Organic Center
The Organic Center's mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public. As an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) research and education organization, operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association, The Center envisions improved health for the earth and its inhabitants through the conversion of agriculture to organic methods.
Due to a generous grant from UNFI Foundation, The Organic Center, is working with U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agricultural Research Service scientists to conduct targeted research on the factors affecting the presence of arsenic in organically grown rice.
What they do: Bring you science that supports the benefits of organic food and farming to human, animal and environmental health.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Washington State University, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources
Measure to Manage (M2M): Food and Farm Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health
More and more consumers are searching for healthier food, but how can an individual pick the healthiest carrot, or choose among all the so-called “healthy” choices in the bakery, dairy, or cereal aisles of the supermarket? A new program at Washington State University led by Dr. Charles Benbrook is working now to develop consumer friendly tools to quantify the nutritional quality and safety of individual foods, meals, and even daily diets. Dr. Benbrook’s new program will develop tools and recommend science-based metrics for measuring food quality and agricultural sustainability. The UNFI Foundation has provided a portion of the start-up capital needed to launch the M2M program.
What they do: Draw on science in helping farmers and companies produce healthier food, while helping consumers find their own path toward a healthier diet.
Farmer Veteran Coalition
The mission of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is to mobilize veterans to feed America. FVC was started by long time organic farmer Michael O’Gorman in 2009 to help find viable employment and places to heal for young soldiers returning from war. FVC met Army veteran Ben Riker (seen here with wife Lindsey and son Lucas) at last years’ MOSES conference. Ben finished his military duty in 2010 after deployment to Iraq and Kuwait. He is now back at his family’s organic cranberry farm, James Lake Farms in Wisconsin. The UNFI Foundation is helping FVC bring veterans like Ben to MOSES and Eco-Farm.
Photo: Sarah Stauner
What they do: Create viable futures for America’s veterans by enlisting their help in building a healthy food supply for all.
Just Label It
Just Label It (JLI), a project of the Organic Voices Action Fund, is a national coalition of more than 600 diverse groups and 300,000 individuals, dedicated to the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The message is simple: consumers have a right to know about our food so we can make informed choices about what we buy, eat and serve our families. Launched in 2011, JLI’s coalition represents the healthcare community, consumer advocates, farmers, concerned parents, environmentalists, agricultural organizations, businesses, the faith-based community and many more. JLI has led the effort to garner 1.1 million signatures demanding that the US government label GE foods.
What they do: Represent the rights of the consumer and promote transparency in food labeling.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
The MOSES Organic Farming Conference is the largest of its kind in the US. In February 2012, over 3,100 farmers, educators and agricultural professionals participated in 70 workshops on topics related to organic and sustainable farming. The conference grows in attendance every year, and this year also included 160 exhibitors.
In addition, MOSES builds relationships through its Grow Organic program. They provide farmers a wide range of information through their toll-free Organic Info Line, Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring, Farm Field Days, the Rural Women's Project, the Young Organic Stewards Program, an in-depth bi-monthly newsletter, over 30 Fact Sheets and a website.
What they do: Provide resources and training to help farmers grow organic successfully.
Location: Spring Valley, WI