Green hero: Danielle Nierenberg

25 April 10

| Connecting Us All |

Danielle Nierenberg of Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet at World Vegetable Center in Arusha, Kenya

Sometimes it seems everything we read and see about Africa screams conflict, famine, HIV/AIDS, disease. Little wonder, then, that so few of us travel there, beyond an all-inclusive green safari in Kenya or for the upcoming World Cup games in South Africa.

But green travel is inherently about connection to local communities, about giving moral and financial support to those who struggle to lift up their families and their tiny slice of the planet.

That’s what makes Danielle Nierenberg so noteworthy. As co-director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet program, she is traveling across sub-Saharan Africa. Along the way, she talks to farmers, NGOs, development workers and policy-makers about environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger and poverty. The project culminates next year with the release of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, Worldwatch’s flagship publication. The book will serve as a road map for the funding and donor community about projects that work to both nourish people and the planet.

Danielle started her trip in Ethiopia in October 2009 and after 6 months of seeing firsthand more than 120 projects, she quickly began to realize that the media often miss the real story—that underneath the very real problems are hundreds of exciting innovations to protect the environment and improve peoples’ livelihoods.

In Kenya, for example, she visited Kibera—one of the largest slums in sub-Saharan Africa, home to almost a million people. There, traveling with Urban Harvest, Danielle met a women’s cooperative that is raising vegetables on “vertical farms”—rice sacks filled with dirt that can grow vegetables such as kale and spinach. In Tanzania, she visited the World Vegetable Center in Arusha, where researchers and farmers are working together to improve diets and lives while protecting indigenous foods. In Uganda, Danielle met with an organization run by Edward Mukiibi and Roger Serunjogi, the founders of Project DISC (Developing Innovations in School Cultivation), who have built school gardens to teach children about nutrition and environmental sustainability.

2014 Update: Danielle now heads up Food Tank, which highlights “hope and success in agriculture” and features “innovative ideas that are already working on the ground, in cities, in kitchens, in fields and in laboratories.”

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