Go Green by Doing Good

Ukrainian Immigrant Farmer Alexander Velikoretskikh - Mercy Corp NWUkrainian Immigrant Farmer Alexander Velikoretskikh – Mercy Corp NW

As I’ve commented on in the past (see What is Sustainable Cuisine? – Part Two), one tenant of sustainability and sustainable cuisine is social responsibility. The problem that many of us have is motivation and the need for good examples. I know that there is no lack of causes but how can we go green by doing good?

The Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers

The next time you enjoy a taste of locally produced wine or fresh fruits and vegetables, take a moment to appreciate the people who brought this bounty to your table. Vineyard owners and farmers in San Luis Obispo County rely on thousands of workers to plant, care for and harvest the wine grapes, fruits and vegetables grown in our county.

Established by Johnine and Brian Talley of Talley Vineyards in December, 2004, The Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers provides grants to the organizations that assist these important workers in our community. With the community’s help, they achieved their initial goal of $100,000 by the end of 2005, and the first grants were awarded in Spring, 2006. Their ongoing goal is to now raise $100,000 every year for the Fund.

To contribute, or for more information, please contact Johnine or Brian Talley at 805-489-0446 or Janice Fong Wolf at the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation (805) 543-2323. Donations to The Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers may also be made online via the Community Foundation website.

Organic Foods a Yuppie Luxury?

Frances Moore Lappe writing in the Huffington Post profiled Harry Rhodes and his seven-year-old Chicago-based non-profit organization, Growing Home. His organization has been providing jobs and training for the homeless, the previously incarcerated, and people with low incomes. At Growing Home’s four farm sites, participants learn organic farming and produce marketing. They also acquire general job skills. Over 70% of them end up getting work.

Harry says,

Our mission has expanded from job training and organic agriculture to community and economic development…We are showing how urban farming can be used as the catalyst for turning around low-income neighborhoods, such as Englewood on the south side of Chicago.

I’m from Chicago and I with Frances when she says “I can’t wait to visit the Growing Home team next time I’m in Chicago, and I’m especially eager to hear about the others they are sure to inspire. As Harry says, “just think what 10 or 100 organizations like Growing Home could do.”

National Immigrant Farming Initiative

One of my pet charities is Mercy Corp’sΒ New American Agriculture Project (NAAP). NAAP assists refugees and immigrants starting small scale farm enterprises. The program works within the greater National Immigrant Farming Initiative:

The National Immigrant Farming Initiative (NIFI) is a collaborative effort of Heifer International and other partners around the country. NIFI provides training, information sharing, networking opportunities, funding for projects through Heifer’s project development process, and other resources to support immigrant farmers. NIFI advocates for immigrant farmers and works to build awareness about the unique challenges immigrant farmers face, while increasing the visibility of their important contributions to our communities and agriculture.

NAAP participants gain the necessary tools, skills and connections to become entrepreneurial farmers within the local food sector. I am the perfect example. My last restaurant sponsored an opening party for NAAP. When one of their farmers, a Ukrainian immigrant named Alexander Velikoretskikh (pictured above), had product available, I got the call. Alex called on Tuesday mornings and over coffee, we worked out pricing, quantities and what he might have for the week.

Call it a real sense of satisfaction in seeing our commitment come full circle–from our donation and money to seed to product.

More eco-charity ideas from GO Network:
Empower Children with Charity Donation Choices
Eco-Angels: Venture Capital For Socially Responsiblity
Top 15 Charity Search Engines: Donate to Charity for Free

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