Growing Cities Blog

Q & A with Emily Snyder from Food Day

October 1st, 2014
Sophie Brinker

This last week Growing Cities had the opportunity to talk with Emily Snyder about Food Day 2014! Emily joined the Food Day team in August of 2013. Prior to this, Emily worked on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Nutrition Action Healthletter. Emily earned a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University, and completed the Cornell Dietetic Internship. She is a Registered Dietitian, and a member of the Board of Directors of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Area Dietetic Association (DCMADA). Click the photo below to learn even more about how you can get involved with Food Day!


Sophie: What is Food Day ​and how do you​ ​all ​support local and sustainable agriculture?

Emily: Food Day inspires Americans to change their diets and our food policies. Every October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies. October 24 is a day to resolve to make changes in our own diets and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level. In 2014, Food Day will have a special focus on food access and justice for food and farm workers.

Food Day aims to support sustainable and organic farms. Currently, sustainable farms receive little to no federal support and often lack market access to keep them competitive. Meanwhile, the largest 10 percent of industrialized farms—which contribute to poor health and severe environmental degradation—receive 75 percent of all farm subsidies.

Sophie: How long has Food Day been happening, and where did it get its start?

Emily: Food Day was created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in 2011, but it is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders and organizations, including student leaders, public offices, school districts, and local organizers.

Food Day invites you to be a part of the movement that seeks to transform the way Americans eat.

Sophie:​ How can people get involved with Food Day in their community?

Emily:There are a number of ways to get involved depending on your time, interest, and resources. Here are a few:

•Spread the word about Food Day to your friends, family, and network, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

•Advocate for a food or nutrition policy in your community. 35 Ways to Change the Food System: The Essential Food Day Toolkit is a great resource.

•Host an event or organize an activity, whether large or small.

•Coordinate Food Day activity for your area.

•Attend events in your community.

Sophie: ​What’s your favorite part of our film, Growing Cities, and why?

Emily: I first saw Growing Cities in April 2014 at a film screening that Food Day hosted in Washington, DC, and I loved it.

While it’s hard to pick a favorite part of the film, I think it has to be the part about Windowfarms. I live in an apartment building in Washington, DC, on the sixth floor. I have no yard for a garden.It’s neat to see innovative ways to grow food wherever we are. From the film: “Instead of blinds [in windows], why don’t we use that space for farming? … They can also be something beautiful that we live with.” I have a windowsill herb garden, but now want to get a Windowfarm also!

Sophie: What’s one issue in the food movement you wish people were more aware of?

Emily: Justice throughout the food chain—from farm workers to child consumers. And that is one of the reason’s that Food Day 2014 will have a special focus on food justice, as well as increasing Americans’ access to healthful food.

America’s food system is extraordinarily productive, but aspects of it represent injustices to workers on farms, in slaughterhouses, and in restaurants; to child and adult consumers; to farm animals; and to the environment. To find out more, check out this infographic we created as part of Food Day’s focus on food justice.

Sophie: Anything else you’d like to add?

Emily: Please get involved in Food Day! However you and your community chooses to celebrate, the key is participation. For more information, please get in touch with us at or202-777-8392.

These good food interviews are part of Growing Cities “Grow Where You Are” campaign to inspire and empower people to get more deeply involved in their local food systems and create healthier, more sustainable, and just communities.

A Thoughtful Look at Growing Your Own Food

December 2nd, 2013

What follows is an excerpt from a short blog post from Base Landscape that I found to be motivating and inspiring.  Take a look!


Two years ago I had surgery. That surgery was in many ways a wake up call, a call to action to live a different, healthier life, a life that would make me proud when I look back. Part of that process led me to leave my corporate job in a large design firm and start BASE. I wanted to have the freedom and the flexibility to focus on the work that really sparked my passion. Projects that made me excited and that I felt like my contribution was making a difference to my surroundings and hopefully the world.

Urban agriculture has been a passion of mine for a long time. As I learn more, that passion is taking me to focus on the industrial production of food, the importance of pollinators to produce the food, and the unfortunate prevalence of pesticides in our food and the negative healths effects that pesticides cause not just to humans but to the entire environment and particularly to pollinators, especially bees.

Read more HERE!

Ted Talk on Healing and Our Land

November 26th, 2013

Thanks to The Green Horns blog, for presenting this Ted talk.  Take a look!

Allan Savory

They ask that you…

Join us for this two-day conference in beautiful Chico, CA. We have an amazing line-up of speakers. Super-star Robb Wolf, New York Times best-selling author of The Paleo Solution, will be talking about eating the way humans were designed to. Our very own Allan Savory will be talking about how properly managing livestock can reverse desertification, restore grassland ecosystems and stop climate change. We’ll also have world-famous blogger and author Jenny Mcgruther who is the amazing woman behind one of the most popular food blogs in the world, Nourished Kitchen. Jenny will be talking about bringing these concepts home and how to implement them in our daily meals. We’ll have Dr. Cindy Daley, of Chico State, who has done incredible research, that’s being touted all over the globe, on the nutritional benefits of grass-fed meat and milk. We’ll also have a panel comprised of grass-fed livestock ranchers from around the north-state sharing a bit of their lifestyle and talking about how to make grass-fed meats more available to the masses.

Read more HERE!

Mapping Food Justice!

October 28th, 2013

Here’s a site that maps organizations that deal with food justice. Check it out to find out what is going on in your area!


Natasha Bowens describes herself as a “young, brown female who likes to farm.” And while she didn’t grow up doing it, she’s now dedicated her career to creating a network of other people of color in farming and food justice.

In 2010 she  began a blog titled Brown.Girl.Farming, and soon after started working on The Color of Food, a multimedia project that gathers stories of people of color leading farming and food justice initiatives in their hometowns. Bowens traveled across the country, doing interviews and taking photographs, and is set to publish a book in the spring. Based on what she learned in her travels she also developed the Color of Food map—which charts farms and food justice initiatives owned or operated by people of color. Anyone in the world can add to the map. There are already 272 organizations featured on this list.”

via Color Lines

Prison Gardens: A Great Step

October 15th, 2013

Here’s an excerpt of an article about some of the prison garden programs that have been popping up around the country. I think this is an amazing idea that seems like a real win-win. It has so much potential for healing both our food systems that desperately need affordable, good food, as well as the people who work in these gardens.


Every day, four inmates of Texas’s Smith County Jail are transported 18 kilometers from the jail, where they spend the day hard at work. Unlike standard prison labor programs however, the fruits of these prisoners’ labors are actually fruits—and vegetables. Smith County Jail is one of several prisons in the county that are giving inmates the opportunity to give back to the community, and provide fresh produce for themselves.

Since 2010, inmates who have demonstrated good behavior are given the opportunity to work in the Smith County Jail’s garden, where they grow tomatoes, corn, squash, peas, and other produce. The produce is then sent back to the prison, or shipped to nearby communities where local organizations such as the East Texas Food Bank provide meals to needy families…

Read more from Food Tank  here.

Urban Orchards

October 5th, 2013

This week was my first week back home in New England  after a Summer out West and a long road trip back, and I must say, after the intense heat in Colorado and Utah, I couldn’t wait for the New England Fall. What better way to celebrate Autumn colors, smells, and tastes, than to go apple picking! A couple friends and I spent the sunny day meandering through rows upon rows of fruit trees, laden with huge gorgeous apples of all kinds, sampling the different varieties, and jokingly complaining about how full we were getting (and we hadn’t even found the Jonagolds yet!) And somehow we still managed to find room for the apple-cider donuts and pumpkin ice cream that awaited us at the welcome barn. As we sat there munching on these Autumn delectables, we reminisced about apple-picking excursions of our childhood and basked in how perfect life felt at that moment.

Orchards have always been a significant part of our fall food traditions, and so that led me to think about the orchards of our cities. Here’s a smattering of organizations and projects that are bringing vibrancy to our urban centers through forests and their fruits.


The Philadelphia Orchard Project has been very active, planting fruit trees and berry bushes while working with other community organizations to create productive, beautiful orchards.

uo 3pack

Urban Orchards is a company in Albuquerque that turns the city’s normally unused fruit into natural jams and jellies. Yum!


There are plenty of fruit trees already growing around your city! How do you find them though? The guys at Falling Fruit are helping to compile the locations of these public trees in one huge map for your convenience!


And then there is Fallen Fruit, which describes itself  ”as a common denominator to change the way you see the world. Using photography, video, performance, and installation, Fallen Fruit’s work focuses on urban space, neighborhood, located citizenship and community in relation to fruit.” They helped to create the first public fruit park in CA!


And finally, there is Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, WA! This new project strives to create a public food forest that mimics the dynamics of a natural forest so that it can sustain itself over the years, providing free food to the community, visitors, foragers, and those in need.

Please feel free to post links to any other urban orchards that you know of! Let’s spread the fruity goodness!

Growing Cities and National Young Farmers Coalition Urge You to Speak Out

September 26th, 2013
NYFC is led by an Advisory Committee of farmers and farm service providers. (photo from website)

NYFC is led by an Advisory Committee of farmers and farm service providers. (photo from website)

What follows is an excerpt from a post on the NYFC Blog, all about the proposed Day of Action.

New food safety regulations are coming to a farm near yours!  (Actually, they’re coming to your farm too.)

As we have previously reported, the FDA is writing an entirely new set of food safety laws.  There are a lot of huge changes, many of which will have an impact on beginning farmers, organic growers and local farms alike.

Join the National Young Farmers Coalition for a National Day of Action to protect local farms!

Read more HERE!

Also, take this survey to show NYFC how these impending rules could impact your farm by filling out this survey.  Consider making a donation! :D

Contact Tracy at to get more info and to sign up.



ARUNDEL, ME: Southern Maine Young Farmers Coalition Kick-off Mixer! – September 28th
Come learn how to build a high tunnel at Frinklepod Farm at 12pm and join us for a potluck celebration with Allagash beer, Green Bee Soda, live music, a bonfire and fellow young farmers! 5pm at Neverdun Farm in Arundel.  Click here for more info.

ATLANTA, GA: Southeast Young And Beginning Farmer Alliance Lunch Mixer – September 28th
Join us for a series of monthly post-market lunches on Saturdays.  The first one is at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Atlanta, GA.

FRANKFORT, KY – Kentucky Beginning Farmers Conference- October 5th
A one-day statewide event for beginning farmers, including workshops, great food, and networking opportunities.  Stay tuned for more details!

OKANOGAN, WA: Washington Young Farmers Mixer – October 6th
Fourth annual WAYFC Mixer, to be held at Filaree Farm, in Okanogan, WA.  Details to be released soon. Visit the Washington Young Farmers Coalition website for more information.

BURLINGTON, VT Vermont Young Farmers Coalition Tractor Maintenance Workshop and Mixer at the Intervale Center – October 6th
Join VYFC in gathering for a tractor maintenance workshop and mixer.  Starts at 3pm. Email Brittany at to get involved.

SEBASTOPOL, CA: North Coast Young Farmers Guild Meeting – October 8th
Join other farmers from the North Coast for the monthly Guild meeting at GrowKitchen, 245 Ferguson Rd. Sebastopol, CA.

JOHNSTON, RI: Young Farmer Nights Farm Tour – October 10th
Join other young farmers for a tour of Tour of Freedom Food Farm in Johnston, RI.  Contact for details.

PALISADE, CO: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers of Mesa County Hoe Down and Harvest Party – October 13th
An end of season celebration with the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers of Mesa County!  Food donated by Field to Fork CSA and Roan Creek Ranch.  Wine provided by Mesa Park Vineyards.  Apples for bobbing, pumpkins for picking. Live music, fun and games. Contact Brooke at for more info.

WILLITS, CA: Mendocino County Young Farmers Guild Meeting – October 15th
Get together with other young farmers in Mendocino County for this inaugural guild meeting!  At the Willits Grange Hall.

AUSTIN, TX: Texas Young Farmers Coalition Meetup – October 16th
Blackstar Coop. Come join us for our monthly- 3rd Wednesday farmer meetup! Beers and conversations abound.  Contact for more info.

AUSTIN, TX: Texas Young Farmers Coalition Farm Tour – October 19th
Join us as we head to A+S Farm and Ranch for a skill building workshop on sheep. Sean will cover grazing,processing  and shearing topics among others. Contact for more info.

JAMESTOWN, RI: Young Farmer Nights Farm Tour – October 22nd
Join other young farmers for a chicken processing training with Pat’s Pastured at Windmist Farm, Jamestown, RI.  Contact for details.

CONNECTICUT: Farmland Access and Affordability Forum – October 25th
The purpose of the forum is to brainstorm strategies to address farmland access and affordability in Connecticut and to engage an expanded coalition of key individuals, businesses, organizations and agencies in developing a common agenda around these issues. For more information contact Susan Mitchell, New Connecticut Farmers Alliance, at

SOUTH CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA: Young Farmers Mixer – October 26th
In the Harrisburg area, details TBA. Contact Emily at to get involved!

SONOMA COUNTY, CA: Sonoma County Young Farmers Guild Meeting – October 27th
Get together with other young farmers in Sonoma County for this inaugural guild meeting!

FALKVILLE, AL: Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network Young and Beginning Farmer Potluck – October 27th
Join other young and beginning farmers for ASAN’s potluck!  Click here for more info.

AUSTIN, TX: First Annual Moontower Agricultural Coop Harvest Party – November 9th
Grab your ticket and join farmers and farmer friends alike for a dinner and homebrew beer feast. Other events include Farmer Olympics and a panel discussion involving inspiring people in the Texas farming and food community. Contact for more info on tickets.

Civil Eats Kickstarter Campaign

September 21st, 2013
Editor-in-Chief Naomi Starkman and Managing Editor Paula Crossfield on the set with Michael Pollan. Photo by Robin Moore.

Editor-in-Chief Naomi Starkman and Managing Editor Paula Crossfield on the set with Michael Pollan. Photo by Robin Moore.

There is currently a Kickstarter Campaign for Civil Eats, an organization whose focus is truly one to admire–getting helpful and pertinent information about the food system out there for all eyes to see.

What follows is an excerpt from a post on the Civil Eats website, all about their campaign.

For nearly five years, Civil Eats has brought you extensive coverage of food policy stories, from the farm field to the halls of Congress. You might not know that our site is a labor of love and has been run entirely without paying anyone–ourselves, our editors or our writers.

That’s about to change, but we need your help: Today, we’re launching our Kickstarter Campaign which will take place over the next 30 days and we’re asking 4,000 of you to please donate $25 each to help continue our work in 2014.

If we don’t fund Civil Eats by the end of the year, it could be forced to shutter its doors.

Our Kickstarter aims to raise enough funding to shift the site from an all-volunteer effort to a professional enterprise in 2014 so we can produce more in-depth, original reporting and visually engaging content by paying our writers and editors a fair wage.

We also plan to expand our community resources on the site so that you can better plug into the issues that impact you. In addition, funding will help us maintain Civil Eats during that time so that we can continue to produce some of the most groundbreaking and informative news on food today.

Reade more HERE!