Via Change.org – Prisons in California, Florida, and Connecticut are training prisoners to become local farmers. According to the article; this can lead to potential savings by the states:
In Florida, during the first quarter of 2010 alone, the prison farming program saved taxpayers $60,000
But more importantly this is a great opportunity for ex-offenders to gain valuable, usable skills as once they reenter society. According to a 2008 report by the New York Bar Association’s Task Force on Employment Opportunities for the Previously Incarcerated, one year after leaving prison, 60 percent of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed. Urban farms are becoming more common in cities and these farms will require skilled laborers.
Farmers’ Markets, along with local food profits, are on the rise. The increase in commerce has reintroduced the fear of “resellers,” but is this legitimate? Many nonprofits that run farmers’ markets require that all items sold are locally sourced and produced by the farmer selling behind the booth. (Original article WSJ, follow-up by Slashfood).
Convenience is often sited as a drawback to the CSA model. The pickup is usually once a week, during a short window, and in one location. As the model grows, so too does the innovative thinking. In Illinois, a group of CSAs will have drop-offs at some larger buildings in the downtown area, which will allow shares to be sold to those who work in the building, rather than by neighborhood. Also tollway oases are being used as drop-offs. (Chicago Tribune via MNN)
Demand for local meat leads to the need for more slaughterhouses; which then leads to the question recently posed in the New York Times:
What role, if any, should the federal government play in creating better food processing and delivery systems?
The responders cover many aspects of the debate (one panelist was featured here). Some local governments have started local food legislation. Is the federal government next?
Real Estate developer John Hantz wants to turn vacant lots in Detroit into for profit urban farms. This has sparked heavy debate among those who want urban farms to remain nonprofits vs large scale ventures. A common nonprofit model: take unused lots, lease land to those who want to farm at a subsided rate, farmers sell some produce at a farmers market. Hantz has proposed a purchase of unused residential land for a year round urban farm. Hantz’s business plan has resulted in racial and community tension.