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Help farmers go organic!

While there's a lot of focus here on local food, helping farmers transition to organic farming can have even greater benefits for the environment. We can fight global warming with dirt: if 10,000 U.S. farms convert to organic production, the amount of CO2 taken up in the soil will be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road. That's just carbon sequestration- even more CO2 emissions will be prevented because fertilizer is not being used.

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Building on other "adopt-a-farmer" suggestions, this would connect urban residents with farmers in a partnership. Many farmers are interested in changing to organic production, but may not have the time to research the process. Working with existing nonprofits who focus on organic farming, urban volunteers would be trained in the issues, and would offer direct (but virtual) support to farmers to help them along each step of the process. A game or competition could be incorporated to help make the journey more fun. Farmers can publicly commit to the project at the beginning to provide even more motivation to complete.

We can use the power of social networking—both online and offline—to rapidly grow the group of farmers who want to be part of this project. Traditional outreach to farmers hasn't been fully successful; though organic agriculture has been growing rapidly in the last decade, it still accounts for only 0.5 percent of total farmland in the U.S.

Transportation is actually a relatively minor part of the whole lifecycle impact of food production. Huge environmental effects come from pesticide and synthetic fertilizer use. We can have an initial goal of helping 10,000 farms transition, inspired by a 30-year study that showed that making that change is equivalent to taking over one million cars off the road.

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