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September 9, 2020

Boulder County wins competitive USDA funding to promote community compost and waste reduction


Table-to-Farm project will incentivize healthy soil and conservation practices


Boulder County, CO. - Boulder County is one of 13 local and municipal governments from across the country selected to receive a cooperative agreement that will provide project funding and support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote community compost and waste reduction.

The funds will support the launch of a pilot project, Restore Colorado: A Table to Farm Movement. This project aims to increase access to compost for agricultural producers, improve soil quality, and encourage innovative, scalable waste management plans that reduce and divert food waste from landfills.

Through Restore Colorado, Boulder County will collaborate with nonprofits Mad Agriculture and Zero Foodprint to accelerate a more sustainable and circular food economy through a Table-to-Farm concept in which participating restaurants and consumers provide funding to incentivize healthy soil and conservation practices. Under the Restore Colorado banner, restaurants will be invited to partner with Zero Foodprint to collect an additional 1% fee from customer bills to fund regenerative farm projects for local food producers.

“This formalized partnership is an opportunity to actualize a powerful tool in the mission to regenerate land,” said Jane Cavagnero, Creative Director at Mad Agriculture. “Our team is honored to work locally to generate funds and help implement restorative projects through the Restore Colorado program. Working from Table-to-Farm is an important piece in creating a reciprocal and lasting regional food system.”

Many are familiar with the Farm-to-Table movement, however, Table-to-Farm is a concept still in its nascency. Whereas Farm-to-Table promotes the serving and sourcing of local food, Table-to-Farm focuses on consumers and restaurants taking responsibility for the supply chain emissions connected with food.

The stories of partnering farms, along with the story of the Restore Colorado initiative, will be told at restaurants that partner with Zero Foodprint. Farmers who receive funds from Zero Foodprint will receive technical support from Mad Agriculture. This project will also identify areas of improvement in the current supply chain for the large-scale application of compost, with the goal of creating a system that will work for Boulder County food producers in the long run. The application of compost is a promising carbon sequestration and sustainability strategy one that Boulder County has been supporting for several years.

“This project supports multiple Boulder County sustainability goals in zero waste, regenerative agriculture, and climate change mitigation,” said Tim Broderick, Senior Sustainability Strategist at Boulder County’s Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience. It adapts and synthesizes previously successful models brought forward by Zero Foodprint and Mad Agriculture. The county is excited about the long term impact this program could have on accelerating a closed loop organic materials stream in our community.

The USDA announced the selection of recipients for cooperative agreements through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. These are the first-ever recipients of these grants and cooperative agreements. Boulder County’s project proposal was chosen from a pool of 578 total applications.

For more information about Boulder County’s sustainability mission and to learn about other programs, visit www.boco.org/sustainability or contact Christian Herrmann at cherrmann@bouldercounty.org.


Background:

  • Mad Agriculture is a 501c3 based in Boulder, CO with a mission to create a regenerative revolution in agriculture. Mad Ag puts radical ideals to work by helping producers develop regenerative farm plans that lead to ecological and economic wealth. Farm plans are activated through access to capital, premium markets, and a community of practice. In providing technical support for partner farms, land stewards are then able to bring their farm visions to life.
  • Zero Foodprint is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes the food world around agricultural climate solutions. Named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation, Zero Foodprint views the food system as a major solution to global warming as well as a major cause. Zero Foodprint members crowd-fund grants that allow farmers to switch to renewable farming practices.
  • The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production was established through the 2018 Farm Bill. It is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and works in partnership with numerous USDA agencies that support urban agriculture. Its mission is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including community composting and food waste reduction. Through Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Projects, USDA is investing approximately $1.09 million in 13 pilot projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction. Priority was given to projects that anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits, incorporate plans to make compost easily accessible to farmers, including community gardeners, integrate other food waste strategies, including food recovery efforts, and collaborate with multiple partners. More information is available at farmers.gov/urban.

MadAg

Photo: Jane Cavagnero


Mission of the Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience

To ensure Boulder County’s operations and decision-making reflect our commitment to Environmental, Social and Economic sustainability and to build partnerships to help make the broader community more sustainable.