Keeping food from hitting the landfill is important to us. And keeping the world from going hungry is even more. A whopping 40 percent of all food is wasted in the United States. And before that food is thrown out, it travels about 1500 miles from farm to plate, burning valuable resources along the way. So how can we waste less?

From the way we grow it, harvest it and distribute it, local groups across the country are working to end the wasteful cycle in unique ways. Learn how urban farmers and innovators are revolutionizing the food web and creating a more localized food system for our communities.

1. Fleet Farming

While a lush lawn looks nice, watering, mowing and manicuring it can be exhausting for both you and the environment. Instead, you can donate your front lawn to Fleet Farming to be converted into a vegetable garden, called a “farmlette.” Harvest all you can eat, and they’ll harvest the rest and deliver the food to local restaurants or community markets. And to make their cause even more eco-friendly, their volunteers travel on bicycles. Fleet Farming started in Orlando and has since expanded to Oakland, California and Jacksonville, Florida.

“Whether it be backyards, front yards, abandoned lots, neglected fruit trees, or underutilized faith-based or business land; we see an astounding potential to transform these together for the good of our communities.”

Caroline Chomanics | Program Manager, Fleet Farming

Vegetable Gardens Created from Fleet Farming

Image courtesy of Fleet Farming

2. Urban Gleaners

Founded in 2009 by Tracy Oseran, Urban Gleaners serves up to 500 pounds of fresh food weekly to 23 schools in Multnomah County, Oregon. But first, what is a gleaner? Traditionally, gleaners collected crops leftover after the farmer’s harvest. A modern-day take on gleaning, Urban Gleaners’ Farm to Schools Program collects edible, surplus food from local restaurants and grocery stores to help alleviate one of the highest rates of childhood hunger in the U.S.

Food Collected by Urban Gleaners

Image courtesy of Urban Gleaners

3. Cityblooms

Cityblooms combines technology and agriculture to create a smarter, more sustainable way of growing food for our growing population. Instead of shipping fresh produce long distances to grocery stores, Cityblooms introduced automated agriculture to Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley. Their hydroponic micro-farms use 90 percent less water than traditional farming and grow tasty leafy greens on rooftops.

“Our planet will need to grow as much food in the next 40 years as it has in the last 10,000 years, making sustainable farming and food production an imperative for our society, and the future of our precious world.”

Nick Halmos | Founder & CEO, Cityblooms

Cityblooms Automated Agriculture

Image courtesy of Cityblooms

4. Food Forward

Plenty of food falls from neighborhood fruit trees and is left on the ground to rot. One single tree can yield hundreds of pounds of fresh fruit per season, which is typically much more than a single family can eat. Homeowners in Southern California with too much fruit can register their backyard trees with Food Forward. All of the fruit is then donated to local hunger relief agencies.

“In the first year the organization recovered 100,000 pounds of fresh fruit through backyard harvesting. Now Food Forward has three produce recovery programs – Backyard Harvest, Farmers Market Recovery, and Wholesale Recovery – which collectively have rescued over 35 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Laura Jellum | Food Forward

Urban Gleaners in Action

Image courtesy of Food Forward

Putting an End to Food Waste in America

From automated agriculture to fruit gleaning, there are many ways you can put an end to food waste in your neighborhood. How do you think we can all fight food waste in America? Let us know in the comments!

Take a look at the Environmental Innovators section of our blog for other organizations making a positive impact on the environment.