In Search of Sustainable

In Search of Sustainable: What is Sustainable Agriculture, Anyway?

You may have recently heard the word “sustainable” being thrown around, whether it’s on labels, in commercials, or in the name of our organization! The many farmers and gardeners with whom SFC works generally practice sustainable methods of food production, and they are certainly participants in, and contributors to, a sustainable food system. Usually, this is a term used to describe an environmental aspect of a process or product.

In celebration of Earth Day 2016, we’d like to offer some deeper explanations about sustainability in our food system, especially in agriculture. For a more technical definition, we will rely on a more prominent national organization, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

What is Sustainable Agriculture?

-reprinted from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website

“Sustainable agriculture” as legally defined in U.S. Code Title 7, Section 3103 means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long term:

  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs.
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends.
  • Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls.
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations.
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

The basic goals of sustainable agriculture are environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity (sometimes referred to as the “three legs” of the sustainability stool).

Read more, including the description of sustainable agriculture from the California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, here:

How does SFC Support Sustainable Agriculture?

As you can see, the term includes, but extends far beyond the environmental aspect. Our work, too, incorporates a focus on environmental sustainability and stewardship of natural resources. However, our programs are embedded in the economic and social elements of sustainability throughout our entire food system. Some examples of how SFC supports farmers who are using sustainable practices range from connecting them with consumers through Farm to Work, to getting kids excited about local veggies through Farm to School. And if you haven’t already, we invite you to come down to one of our weekly Farmers’ Markets to see what sustainable agriculture looks like in practice!