Tools of Transformation
- Education and Training
- Sustainable Farming
- Women's Empowerment
In the past two years 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States. Heifer is changing that through the Seeds of Change Initiative by encouraging local farmers.
The United States of America, the world's third largest country, gained its independence in 1776 when it defeated the British in the Revolutionary War. It has since become one of the largest and most technologically powerful economies in the world. Aside from a number of internal conflicts, including the Civil War (1861-1865) and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the U.S. has remained a stable democratic state.
Despite fertile lands and a large economy, many people in the U.S. are without work and don't have enough to eat. In the past two years, 2.6 million people have slipped into poverty; that's the highest number of people below the poverty line in twenty years. One in six children in the U.S. don't know where or when they will find their next meal.
In addition, family farms are being shut down at an alarming rate. Very few young people become farmers today, and there are five million fewer farms today than there were in the 1930s.
Two areas in particular suffer from extreme poverty: the Appalachia region, which stretches from rural Pennsylvania to northern Alabama, and the Arkansas Delta, which follows the Mississippi River along the eastern half of the state. Unemployment rates in those areas are double that of the nation, and approximately one in four people in the Delta and one in three children in Appalachia suffer from a lack of access to healthy food.
Seeds of Change Initiative
Supporting local growers and innovators is key to strengthening local economies in the U.S. By encouraging community development on the local level, Heifer is creating opportunities, improving access to markets for small farmers and providing environmental sustainability.
Heifer's first project in the U.S. provided dairy cows for 25 Arkansas families in 1947. In those early days, much of our project work was carried out by committed volunteers. Since the 1980s, Heifer's regional directors and volunteers have developed support projects across the U.S., but now it’s time for a new approach.
Through the Seeds of Change Initiative, Heifer is bringing farmers together in both Appalachia and the Arkansas Delta to create programs that address the core issues affecting those regions. We are building resilient local economies by transforming the way people produce, sell and eat their food to create vibrant, sustainable food systems. Our farmers are improving local economies, increasing local food production, feeding schools and driving change throughout entire communities.
The Seeds of Change Initiative is driven by local motivation, local farmers, local innovation and local leadership. This focus on community-based development is the key to successfully ending hunger here at home.
Areas of Focus
- Production — To meet regional demand for locally grown food, Seeds of Change is working to recruit and support a broad base of small-scale farmers to help increase their production.
- Markets — Market demand is the foundation for rebuilding local food systems in both regions. Seeds of Change will connect small, low-income farmers to larger regional economies and profitable markets.
- Infrastructure — Seeds of Change producers will gain access to community-owned, affordable services and infrastructure. They also receive support in marketing, processing, aggregation and distribution.
- Entrepreneurship — The Seeds of Change entrepreneurial strategy encourages a farmer-to-farmer collaboration and mentorship program that will nurture new producers and move products from farms to markets more efficiently. These food entrepreneurs will, in turn, provide innovative solutions and open opportunities in local food systems.
- Capital — In both Appalachia and Arkansas, many farmers lack access to resources and capital. The Seeds of Change program provides technical support, grants, loans, and direct investments for farmers and food entrepreneurs.