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Each year, Food Tank highlights organizations that help create a more sustainable global food system. They protect biodiversity, produce valuable agricultural research, fight hunger and much more.

This year, Food Tank featured 116 organizations that made vital improvements to our food system in 2015.

This year, Food Tank is featuring 116 organizations you may not have heard about, but should look out for over the new year. Photo credit: Food Tank
This year, Food Tank is featuring 116 organizations you may not have heard about, but should look out for over the new year. Photo credit: Food Tank

Here are the 116 sustainable organizations to watch in 2016:

1. 4-H: 4-H is a youth development program of the Cooperative Extension System of land-grant universities in the U.S. Based in Chevy Chase, Maryland, 4-H encourages youth to pursue their own projects, with help from volunteers and mentors. The organization also provides programs in several categories: science programs which encourage youth to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), healthy living programs and programs that encourage young people to be well-informed and engaged citizens of their communities.

2. African Biodiversity Network (ABN): ABN was founded in 1996 in Kenya as a regional network of individuals and organizations in 12 African countries: Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. ABN focuses on indigenous knowledge, protecting biodiversity and improving agricultural policies and legislation.

3. African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD): AWARD works to strengthen the research and leadership skills of African women working in agricultural research and development. Launched in 2008, AWARD helps promising women contribute more effectively to food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

4. A Growing Culture: A Growing Culture uses information exchange, outreach and advocacy to connect farmers around the world to the tools they need for ecologically friendly practices. The organization offers an online platform for knowledge sharing, while promoting site-specific and collaborative development, farmer-led documentation and farmer-led innovation on the ground.

5. Agenda Gotsch: Swiss farmer and researcher Ernst Götsch migrated to Brazil in the early ’80s and has settled on a farm in the cocoa zone of southern Bahia. Götsch developed a set of principles and techniques that enable integrating food producing dynamics with natural regeneration of forests called Sintropic Agriculture. Agenda Gotsch produces films, text and courses on Sintropic Agriculture.

6. Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO): AERO is a Montana-based grassroots, nonprofit organization promoting resource conservation and local economic vitality. AERO nurtures individual and community self-reliance through programs that support sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and environmental quality.

7. Asian Farmers Association For Sustainable Rural Development (AFA): AFA aims to be an influential voice of small-scale farmers in Asia. The organization lobbies governments in Asia and works as an advocacy group for farmers’ rights and development, agrarian reform and mainstreaming sustainable agriculture in regional and national policies and programs.

8. Association of Rural Workers (ATC): ATC is the lead La Via Campesina member organization in Nicaragua. The ATC represents the interests of more than 50,000 campesino and landless rural workers families, organized in cooperatives, small landholding associations and unions. The ATC operates a Central American Training Center in Nicaragua and trains community leaders from across Central America.

9. Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC): AIFSC is a nonprofit organization that works to promote agricultural innovation and attract investment to agricultural development projects. Aiming to build capacity for farming initiatives worldwide, AIFSC focuses on achieving specific goals like improving nutrition, connecting researchers with industry and enhancing supply chain systems to allow farmers to bring their products to market.

10. Backyard Growers: Backyard Growers is a grassroots organization in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which is working to reshape the relationship of communities with their food. They provide resources and support to establish vegetable gardens at homes, housing communities, organizations and schools.

11. Barn2Door: Barn2Door is an online marketplace for foods grown sustainably by farmers around the U.S. Barn2Door connects producers with consumers by providing an online storefront for marketing, selling and buying local, sustainable and specialty foods.

12. Brooklyn Food Coalition (BFC): BFC is a grassroots organization, which unites and increases the capacity of organizations and community-based groups in Brooklyn, New York City who are committed to ending inequity and racism in the food system.

13. California Food and Justice Coalition (CFJC): CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing economic, social, agricultural and environmental justice priorities. CFJC collaborates with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply for Californians through advocacy, organizing and education. The coalition focuses on increasing access to land and resources for rebuilding local food systems.

14. California Institute for Rural Studies: California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) wants to increase social justice in rural California for all residents by building sustainable communities based on a healthy agriculture primarily for marginalized populations. The organization engages in scientific research in topics such as food systems, rural health and farm labor, with the intention of mobilizing policy change. CIRS aims to turn this research into action in order to strengthen social justice and increase the sustainability of California’s rural communities.

15. Camino Verde: Camino Verde is a U.S.-based nonprofit with locations in Concord, Massachusetts, and Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Camino Verde’s mission is to plant trees and encourage future planting through educational programs and public awareness. The initiative’s Living Seed Bank acts as a botanical garden with more than 250 tree species, protects endangered varieties and provides an arena for further research into multi-species agroforestry systems.

16. The Carrot Project: The Carrot Project gives access to financing and support for small farms and food businesses while helping to create a sustainable food economy. Based in Massachusetts, they work with local family farms that take part in sustainable growing methods, as well as retailers that sell locally grown products. They work with approximately 70 farms and businesses every year in the Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and the Greater Berkshires areas.

17. Center for a Livable Future (CLF): CLF is a research center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health dedicated to improving human health and ensuring food, water and shelter for all. The program conducts regional food systems research, examines antibiotic use in animal agriculture, explores the contributions of agriculture to climate change and offers community food programming in Baltimore, Maryland. Through a systems focus on diet, food production and human health, CLF works to investigate and promote policies that will protect both human health and the global environment.

18. Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems: The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems is an education and research program at the University of California Santa Cruz that aims to create a socially responsible and non-exploitative food system. The Center performs research in areas such as food security and social and economic justice in agriculture and their education efforts span formal university courses to the Life Lab’s Garden Classroom for elementary school children.

19. Ceres Community Project: Ceres Community Project energizes communities by linking what we eat and how we care for one another with the health of people and the environment. Youth grow organic food and prepare organic meals that are delivered for free to low-income families struggling with a serious health challenge.

20. City Schoolyard Garden (CSG): CSG works with youth in Charlottesville, Virginia, to cultivate environmental stewardship ethics and healthy eating habits. CSG uses school garden spaces and farm-to-cafeteria education to enhance academic learning and inspire community engagement.

21. ChopChopKids: ChopChopKids is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit whose mission is to inspire, engage and educate kids to cook real food with their families. A key belief of the organization is that cooking and eating together as a family is a vital step in resolving the obesity and hunger epidemics.

22. Colorado Farm to School Task ForceColorado Farm to School supports the development of regional farm-to-school networks across the state. The organization breaks down barriers between local producers and school cafeterias by engaging in policy advocacy, supporting local foods infrastructure and increasing awareness about Colorado food systems.

23. Compassion in World Farming (CIWF)CIWF campaigns internationally against animal cruelty in farming practices. Part of the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance along with the Soil Association and Sustain in the UK, CIWF published the Case Study of a Health Crisis that details the health implications of the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture.

24. Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network: This organization brings together agriculture practitioners from the U.S. and Cuba with the goal of exchanging research and information about sustainable food systems.

25. Cultivating Community: Cultivating Community creates and sustains greater access to healthy, local foods by having farm stands and mobile markets. Based in Portland, Maine, they help empower people to play many roles in restoring the local, sustainable food system by having youth programs and encouraging everyone to volunteer and participate on one of their many community gardens.

26. ECOVA MALIFounded by former Peace Corps volunteers Cynthia Hellmann and Gregory Flatt, ECOVA MALI works with Malian farmers to teach other farmers about sustainable agriculture methods. They also offer micro-financing and small-scale grants so that farmers can invest in the sustainability, both social and environmental, of their operations.

27. Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN): ENN, an Oxford-based organization, enables nutrition networking and learning to build the evidence base for nutrition programming. The organization’s focus is communities in crisis, typically humanitarian emergencies and where undernutrition is a significant chronic problem.

28. Fairtrade America: Fairtrade is committed to changing the way trade has traditionally worked, which has disadvantaged the poorest producers. Through better prices, good working conditions and fairer trade terms for marginalized producers in developing countries, they are continuously work to change the status quo and make trade fair.

29. Fair Trade USAFair Trade USA enables consumers to vote with their dollar. The organization provides farmers in developing nations the tools they need to thrive as international business people. Instead of creating dependency on aid, they use a market-based approach that gives farmers fair prices, workers safe conditions and entire communities resources for fair, healthy and sustainable lives.

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