Local Food Movement Gains Ground

May 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

At what point is a movement no longer a movement?  When its ideas and principles become mainstream.

The local food movement is rapidly approaching that moment.  More and more celebrities are backing local food, and now even venture capital firms and Corporate America are paying attention to the rumblings of the masses over how their food is grown.

Just last week, TV personality Rachael Ray and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a public-private partnership to help schools build gardens and provide cooking and nutrition education to urban youths.  In addition to providing school grants of $500 – $1,000, the initiative supports a variety of school gardening and cooking projects, including summer internships for teens.

Corporations, too, are building gardens as a perk for employees.  According to a recent New York Times article, companies across the nation — Yahoo, Google, Toyota, Best Buy, Intel, Target, Kohl’s and Aveda among them — see corporate gardens as a way to boost employee morale and health and build teamwork at a time when they can’t afford to give employees pay raises or bonuses.  Power company Chesapeake Energy, for example, created a $500,000 garden in Oklahoma City the size of a city block and hired someone, the reporter wrote, “to tend the crops when employees can’t.”

Venture capital firms have sniffed opportunity in the local food movement and are eager to fund promising ventures.  New Seed Advisors, a New York advisory startup firm that brings together local food and farm entrepreneurs and investors, in March hosted a conference — Agriculture 2.0 — in Palo Alto, Calif., that drew a crowd of venture capitalists, according to this article in the New York Times.  Many investors asked that the conference also be held in Canada, Europe and India.

Ordinary Americans, too, are fixated with growing their own food, in some cases experimenting with wacky new food production methods such as upside-down planters.   In this New York Times article, reporter Michael Tortorello writes about growing interest in home hydroponics and aquaponics systems. These indoor growing systems are the greenhouse equivalent of Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory, complete with pumps, water tanks and a labyrinth of pipes, valves and drains.

On multiple fronts, the local food movement is gaining ground.  And as it does, it ironically will cease to be.

Entry filed under: Community Gardens, Local Food Production, Urban Agriculture. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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