MIT Media Lab: Partnering with Target to explore future of food; launching the Open Agriculture Initiative wiki

The MIT Media Lab has embarked with Target and the design firm IDEO on a multi-year collaboration that will explore areas such as urban farming, food transparency and authenticity, supply chain and health. The story is here.

And here’s a story about a project that is related: Caleb Harper’s Open Agriculture Initiative, the first open-source platform for global agriculture and food hackers.

Accelerating food entrepreneurship

Rutgers Food Innovation Center is hosting RutgersX – Accelerating Food Entrepreneurs Conference on Monday, Nov. 16 at the Rutgers University College Avenue Student Center in New Brunswick.

Scheduled in connection with Global Entrepreneurship Week, the event is part of FIC’s new RutgersX Food Accelerator Program and will connect clients to investors and members of the food industry.

Registration goes up from $149 to $199 per person, effective November 1. For more information or to register, click here.

An early fall visit to the Farminary

hoop house

A small garden includes a hoop house in the making, where some crops will be nurtured through the winter months.

pond & trees

The Farminary is a 21-acre plot that was once a sod farm, just a couple of miles away from downtown Princeton.

Nathan Stucky, a 2015 doctoral graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary and director of its new project, Farminary, grew up on a cattle and wheat farm in Kansas.

He is looking to connect the land – adamah in Hebrew – to theological education. In the words of a piece on him and his project in The Mennonite World Review (read it here), he hopes to “grow the project in an intentional, disciplined way, using the best of agrarian sensibilities, paying attention to the seasons, what is prudent and will bear fruit.”

Global Food Initiative at UC’s 10 campuses

Janet Napolitano, University of California president, together with UC’s 10 campus chancellors, launched the UC Global Food Initiative in 2014. The latest project of the program brings Mark Bittman, food op-ed writer for The New York Times, in to lead a series of explorations on food issues. Here’s the youtube channel.

Background, from the website:

The University of California Global Food Initiative addresses one of the critical issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025. The initiative aligns the university’s research, outreach and operations in a sustained effort to develop, demonstrate and export solutions — throughout California, the United States and the world — for food security, health and sustainability.

…Building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC’s 10 campuses, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative draws on UC’s leadership in the fields of agriculture, medicine, nutrition, climate science, public policy, social science, biological science, humanities, arts and law, among others. Its focus is both external, such as how UC translates research into policy and helps communities eat more sustainably, and internal, such as how UC leverages its collective buying power and dining practices to create desirable policies and outcomes.”

 

More than 20 subcommittees and multicampus working groups are drawing on the efforts of faculty, students and staff, as well as engagement with the community for matters of curriculum, operations, policy, research and service.

21 acres and a new Farminary program

The Princeton Theological Seminary, our neighbor on Mercer Street, has launched Farminary, a program centered on its 21-acre parcel of land in Lawrenceville that combines theological education and sustainable agriculture. Nate Stucky is the Farminary’s founder and full-time director.

Excerpts from the TakePart story by Steve Holt:

“Stucky grew up in Kansas, on a farm outside Wichita, and farmed full-time for two years before coming to Princeton to pursue his Ph.D. He and a Princeton [Theological Seminary] alumnus first discussed the concept of a Farminary several years ago, but the seedling of an idea didn’t break ground until a mentor encouraged him to pursue his dream of taking seminary into the fields. He discovered last year that the Princeton seminary owned a 21-acre farm a few miles from campus that it had purchased as an investment a few years earlier, so Farminary was pitched to the seminary president, who loved it.

Besides the personal theological implications of studying scripture on a farm, Stucky says it doesn’t make sense to train faith leaders who are not conversant in the areas of ecology, sustainability, and food justice….At first, the harvest at the Farminary will likely be modest enough to feed only the students and faculty, but organizers are discussing long-term uses for the food, such as donating it to local food pantries, using it to source Princeton’s seminary dining hall, or even donating it to be used in Trenton public schools.”

Hostos Food Studies program in South Bronx

A growing movement of students and faculty have fueled the evolution of what’s now a Food Studies degree at Hostos, a community college of the City University of New York in South Bronx. The program, which started from a single writing course about food, offers its first official class in Fall 2015. Read The Atlantic story here.

When the program starts in the the fall, it will be the first of its kind in the country. Kristin Reynolds, who will be teaching two sections of Intro to Food Studies and leads similar courses at The New School in Manhattan, surveyed existing offerings across the country to help Hostos design the program. Community colleges, including Hostos often have programs that are more vocational in nature, focusing on fields such as hospitality, agriculture, and the culinary arts. Though a number of four-year institutions have launched similar programs, Reynolds found no other two-year institutions taking a liberal arts approach to food studies.

From The New York Times story (read the complete piece here).

 Hostos’s program is intended to train a new generation of professionals in the food industry and empower them to address longstanding socioeconomic issues involving food in their communities. At a time when the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough, faces a growing health crisis from diabetes and obesity-related illnesses, many residents say they do not have convenient or affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables….

Hostos’s dean of academic programs, Felix Cardona, said that the idea for the food studies program grew out of faculty and staff discussions about the importance of food to the Bronx’s future. In 2013, the college started offering a certificate program in how to run a green market. This spring, it will offer a similar program in the culinary arts.

“It was a glaring gap in our curriculum and I think we needed to be responsive to that,” Professor Cardona said.

 

The curriculum includes four tracks of study: Food Policy, Social Issues in Food, Health & Nutrition, and Environment & Sustainability. Click here for a link to the college.