Local Food Systems

Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG)

Founded in 2010, Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) partners with the community to grow healthy food and people.  With a mission to foster food sovereignty and racial and economic justice, HUG is led by and centers its work on economically disadvantaged people and people of color.  Food is distributed at its seasonal Saturday produce stand, and those taking food are asked to give back to the community in some way—which could encompass volunteering in their gardens, making quilts for children, or contributing in some other way to the neighborhood.  The nonprofit also offers a range of social and educational programs including numerous workshops and youth internships.

Making a Difference Foundation

Founded in 2003 to provide school scholarships and funding for third world humanitarian missions, Making a Difference Foundation (MADF) has grown into a direct service nonprofit focused on meeting the needs of residents within the Puget Sound region.  The nonprofit’s sanctuary garden provides a nurturing environment in which women veterans grow organic food for the community.  Food is distributed through the nonprofit’s food bank, delivered to home-bound and elderly residents, and packed in backpacks distributed to homeless clients.  In 2016, MADF provided nearly 1.6 pounds of food to over 110,700 people.  Most recently, the nonprofit launched a pilot program designed to provide safe, secure, and stable housing for high-need veterans with families.  The program provides its clients with a safe home, financial stability classes, and connections to social services.

Genesis Hope

Established in 2008 by Genesis Lutheran Church, Genesis Hope works to nurture a sustainable, local economy with community-based, urban agriculture businesses that ensure food security for all Detroit residents.  Through its Young Sprouts program, the nonprofit provides job and leadership training to area youth at its youth-operated urban farm and farmer’s market.  The farm produces about 1,000 pounds of produce a year, a third of which is distributed free to community members.

Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) was established in 2006 to address food insecurity in Detroit’s black community and to organize city residents to take a leadership role in the food security movement. Aiming to promote self-reliance, food security, and justice in Detroit’s Black neighborhoods, DBCFSN focuses on influencing public policy, engaging in urban agriculture, promoting healthy eating, encouraging cooperative buying, and directing youth towards food-related careers.  The nonprofit’s seven-acre site, D-Town Farm, grows more than 30 types of fruits and vegetables, and includes a rain retention pond, solar energy station, and composting area.  To increase access to healthy, affordable food while building community ownership and creating local jobs, DBCFSN plans to create the Detroit Food Commons, which will include a cooperative grocery store, a kitchen jobs incubator, a healthy food café, and space for community events.

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

Aiming to empower urban neighborhoods and address critical social problems, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) uses urban agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community.  Since 2011, MUFI’s farm has grown over 50,000 pounds of produce, which is provided to area households on a “pay what you can” basis, donated to food pantries, and sold to local markets and restaurants.  The nonprofit is currently focused on a three-acre area in Detroit’s North End community, where it is working to redevelop a vacant, distressed property into a community resource center that includes a nonprofit incubator space and a community garden with 150 raised beds.

Green Door Gourmet

Green Door Gourmet is a 350-acre organic farm located less than ten miles from Nashville’s downtown that grows fruits, flowers, vegetables, and herbs using holistic methods.  Products are sold through its CSA and at its on-site store, which also serves as a local food hub by offering goods from over 100 other local artisan producers and growers.  Green Door Gourmet supports the community by donating a portion of its products to area food banks and charities.

The Nashville Food Project

Aiming to cultivate community and alleviate hunger in Nashville, the Nashville Food Project works to bring people together to grow, cook, and share nourishing food.  Its urban gardens grow food for its programs, provide space to individual gardeners to grow food for themselves or families, and serve as a venue for a range of gardening workshops and classes.  Its kitchens prepare about 1,100 meals a week using the food it grows and other donations, which are then delivered across the county to people in need.

Nashville Grown

Nashville Grown is a Nashville-based food hub focused on building the capacity of the local food system so that small, sustainable, local farms will thrive.  Established in 2012, the food hub helps connect about 20 small, sustainable local farms and markets located within 100 miles of Nashville’s downtown with wholesale opportunities at restaurants, grocery stores, and schools.  To ensure minority communities can access the training needed to become sustainable farmers, Nashville Grown launched its Refugee Farm Lab in 2013.  After completing a series of classes, participants can farm on the Lab’s incubator farm for up to three years and access free equipment, supplies, and mentorship for a year.  The nonprofit also runs a Landshare program, which helps match area farmers with available land.

City Growers

City Growers transforms vacant Boston lots into economically and environmentally sustainable urban farms that create livable wage employment opportunities for Boston residents. They also increase access to affordable, healthy food, and contribute to greater food security.  The for-profit venture currently operates four Boston sites and generates revenues by selling produce to a range of local restaurants and small grocers.

Good Food Business Accelerator

Good Food Business Accelerator is the first accelerator in the U.S. focused on building local supply chains around “good food,” defined as local, sustainable, humane, and fair.  To do so, the accelerator provides hands-on workshops, seminars, access to capital, and one-on-one mentorships to food and farm entrepreneurs ready to launch or scale up.  Since its establishment in 2014, the accelerator has helped area businesses raise more than $23 million.

Urban Canopy

Urban Canopy aims to grow more healthy food in Chicago in a way that creates local jobs, empowers communities, reduces environmental impact, and is sustainable.  Founded as a small public school project in 2011, Urban Canopy is now a for-profit enterprise that grows thousands of wheat grass and micro-green trays in an indoor growing space.  It also operates a CSA, manages and supplies farmers markers located in underserved communities, runs a Compost Club, and offers incentives such as coupons for its produce to encourage participation.

Food Well Alliance

The Food Well Alliance works to grow a resilient, local food movement in Metro Atlanta by connecting individuals and organizations and promoting collective action to build healthier communities.  Through its Local Food Grant program, Food Well Alliance has provided $600,000 in support of enterprises that are using local food as a transformational tool to build healthier communities.  The nonprofit also provides micro-grants to community gardens and funds local organizations that run capacity-building programs for local food enterprises.


Launched in 2007, Re:Vision aims to work with people in Denver’s economically marginalized neighborhoods to develop resident leaders, cultivate community food systems, and build a locally-owned economy.  Through its Backyard Gardens program, it provides low-income families with the resources and technical assistance needed to create high-production organic vegetable gardens.  The nonprofit also runs a community urban farm, which includes a greenhouse, fruit orchard, demonstration beehive, and over 10,000 square feet of production beds.  To empower people to choose healthier food, in 2015 it built a new educational kitchen space to support cooking, nutrition, and food preservation classes for community members.  It is now working with community residents to develop a member-owned and operated grocery store in Westwood, a current food desert.


GreenLeaf is a nonprofit that uses urban agriculture to empower Denver youth, build community, and achieve food justice.  Youth run all aspects of GreenLeaf’s food production, distribution, and community outreach and canvassing efforts, and receive a fair wage and a portion of the harvest for their work.  Since its start in 2008, GreenLeaf youth have grown over 10,000 pounds of produce, donating over 15 percent to hunger-relief agencies and selling 50 percent at sliding scale prices to residents in Denver’s food deserts. Read more about GreenLeaf...

Denver Urban Gardens

Established in 1985 to help Denver residents create sustainable, food-producing neighborhood gardens, Denver Urban Gardens now operates 157 community gardens in the Denver metro area (including 46 school-based sites)—which together grow more than 610 tons of fresh produce a year—and an educational farm, DeLaney Community Farm.  The nonprofit also runs several training programs for youth and adults.

New Haven Farms

Founded in 2012 in response to the intersecting crises of diabetes, obesity, environmental degradation, and poverty, New Haven Farms works to transform vacant, dilapidated urban spaces in New Haven’s poorest neighborhoods into small, organic farms.  Through its farm-based wellness program, the nonprofit provides low-income adults who are facing diet-related, chronic disease risk factors weekly cooking demonstrations, nutrition classes, gardening seminars, and a share of fresh vegetables and fruits (along with culturally relevant, affordable, nutritious, and bilingual recipes).  Its new pilot program, “Peels & Wheels,” uses bikes to transport residents’ food waste to one of its farms, where it is composted and then used at the nonprofit’s farm sites.