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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Registration Deadline Nears For Seedstock’s Nov. 12 Urban Agriculture Symposium at UCLA

October 30, 2014 |

sliderJonathan-Club-RooftopLos Angeles, CA (PRWEB) October 30, 2014 – Less than two weeks remain to register for Seedstock’s 3rd Annual Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference – “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities” – to be held Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

The event’s first day Urban Ag field trip is sold out and a limited number of tickets are available for the second day symposium.

Building on the foundation of its 2012 and 2013 annual conferences, this year’s Seedstock event will focus on the economic impact as well as the community and environmental benefits that can result from the development of both a robust local food system and vibrant urban agriculture infrastructure. Read More

5 Colleges Where Students Are Getting Creative with Sustainable Agriculture

October 30, 2014 |
Oberlin Farm. Image courtesy of Oberlin Farm.

Oberlin Farm. Image courtesy of Oberlin Farm.

by Rose Egelhoff

Across the country, sustainable agriculture is growing on college campuses. Carefully nourished soil on old athletic fields and other underutilized areas is becoming darker and richer, and nascent orchards are surviving the trial-and-error pruning of novices to mature and bear fruit. These student-led farms are providing local food, community, and practical agricultural experience to their young caretakers.

Here are 5 farms across the nation where students are working, learning and experimenting in sustainable food production.    Read More

Young People in Food: Birke Baehr Educates Kids on Our Broken Food System

October 29, 2014 |

Image courtesy of Birke Baehr

When Birke Baehr was 8 years old, he read about the possibility of high-fructose corn syrup containing mercury and grew alarmed, and curious. His curiosity led to further research about the health of foods produced through conventional agriculture. The more Baehr learned, the more he became convinced that he needed to tell others of what he was learning.

Wanting to get his message across to younger readers, Baehr wrote a children’s book titled “Birke on the Farm: The Story of a Boy’s Search for Real Food.” Read More

Sneak Peek: Seedstock Conference Panel on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investment in Local Food

October 29, 2014 |
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The movement to grow the proportion of local food on our plates is gaining momentum across the nation.

But progress is uneven. While 89 percent of Vermont schools engage in some type of local food program, only 44 percent do so nationally, according to USDA. Large food service providers and institutions are, for the most part, still getting their food from the big guys. The military, one of the largest food markets in the country, gets most of its food from large agribusiness, according to the New York Times.

The demand is there. As compared with the 2007 USDA Agricultural Census, the current 2012 Census shows an increase of 8 percent for the number of farms selling directly to consumers and 5 percent for the sales in dollars of directly marketed agricultural products.

The challenge for innovators, entrepreneurs and growers is securing the investment necessary to start and grow their companies in order to meet this market demand.

Seedstock’s upcoming “Reintegrating Agriculture: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities” Conference on November 12, 2014 at UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles, CA will look at the innovations and business models that have the potential to help expand local and regional food systems as well as the funding routes that entrepreneurs and new growers can take to start and grow their operations.

The discussion will be led by moderator Wilton Risenhoover of the UCLA Venture Fund and feature expert panelists Nicola Kerslake of New Bean Capital, Rob Trice of Better Food Ventures and The Mixing Bowl, and Robert TSE of USDA Rural Development. Read More

9 Technology Tools for Localizing the Food System

October 28, 2014 |
The Farmigo team. Farmigo, based in Brooklyn, New York, uses technology to make locally-produced foods more accessible. (photo courtesy of Farmigo)

The Farmigo team. Farmigo, based in Brooklyn, New York, uses technology to make locally-produced foods more accessible. (photo courtesy of Farmigo)

It might seem that to purchase locally-produced foods, one must take a two-lane county road to the nearest farm stand or visit the local farmers’ market. Even though it may seem that the big-box grocery store is an embedded part of modern life, modern technology increasingly is empowering the buying and selling of local foods on an larger-than-ever scale. From radio frequency identification tags to online food hubs to mobile phone apps, technology is taking agriculture “back” to the future.

The following are nine cutting-edge examples. Read More

Sustainable Ag News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

October 24, 2014 |

seedstockUSDA Creates New Website for Climate Hubs

Excerpt: On Wednesday, October 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new website dedicated to its regional climate change “hubs,” which the Department created in 2013.  USDA maintains seven hubs–Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast–and three sub-hubs–Caribbean, Northern Forests, and California.  USDA created the three sub-hubs where “special aspects of biogeography, production systems, sector needs, or demographics suggested the need for focused work at a sub-regional scale.”

Source: Read More

5 Farms Pushing the Boundaries of Indoor Agriculture

October 23, 2014 |
Bright Farms Courtesy of Bright Farms

Bright Farms
Courtesy of Bright Farms

Indoor farms are the new and innovative way to grow greens. Modern indoor farms are quite large and filled with state-of-the-art technologies – they aren’t the tiny greenhouses of yesteryear.

We’ve rounded up five, indoor farms to give you a taste of what some of the most innovative growing organizations are producing.

1. Bright Farms 

Bright Farms has built its state-of-the-art farming facilities in seven cities. Bright Farms specializes in creating farms that conserve land and water. The Farms also are designed to “eliminate agricultural runoff” and to “reduce greenhouse gas emission from transportation.” Bright Farms has partnered with CropKing (specialists in controlled environment agriculture), Hort Americas (provides products to greenhouse growers), NetSuite (software company), and Nexus Greenhouse Systems (produces affordable greenhouse structures) to ensure it produces top-notch facilities Read More

Local Food Hub Works on Getting Beyond Commodity Corn in The Hoosier State

October 22, 2014 |
Image courtesy of Husk

Image courtesy of Husk

That sweet corn at your nearest supermarket chain probably was not grown locally. In all likelihood, neither were the green beans, lettuce or apples.

Husk is trying to change that. With headquarters in Greenfield, Indiana the startup is aiming to make sure locally-produced food at supermarkets and not just farmers’ markets.

Founded in 2013 by Nick Carter, Adam Moody and Chris Baggott, Husk is is creating a local foods system, complete with farming partners, a processing and distribution facility, and store. Only local farmers grow produce for Husk, and Husk products only sell at local and regional markets. Read More

10 Agriculture Jobs That Didn’t Exist 25 Years Ago

October 21, 2014 |
Mark Winchel tends to his aquaponics system. Photo courtesy of Aquaponics North.

Mark Winchel tends to his aquaponics system. Photo courtesy of Aquaponics North.

What we as a nation define as “agriculture” is morphing and expanding to reflect the changing landscape of American industry.  In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics referred to organic food production as a “growth industry,” denoting a turning point between the farming of the past and the forward-looking, sustainable farming and food economy of the future.

Here are 10 new agriculture and food-sector jobs that didn’t exist 25 years ago. 

Aquaponics Farmer

An aquaponics farmer raises fish in tanks and uses the fish waste water to grow plants and vegetables. Operations can be as small as a backyard tank to a full scale commercial operation.  The recently released 2013 Aquaculture Census states there are now 71 aquaponic farms in the United States with 650 commercial tanks in operation. In the 2005 data, updated in 2007, aquaponics isn’t even mentioned. Aquaponics farming as a measurable commercial American industry is still in its infancy, but looks looks like a growth industry. Read More

Five Farm Implements That Did Not Exist 25 Years Ago

October 21, 2014 |
Image Credit: Rowbot

Image Credit: Rowbot

Farming has gone high-tech. With the convergence of science and technology, as well as no-till methods and increasing concerns about soil composition and fertilizer use, growers can now access information and tools unheard of twenty-five years ago.

Robert Yoder, Purdue Extension Educator based in Marshall County, Indiana, believes that farm innovation is leading to better environmental stewardship as well. “Farmers themselves are better educated about environmental issues,” he says, “and new technology is enabling better soil management practices.” With over 30 years as an Extension agent working in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, Yoder has seen a great deal of change in his career span, and he notes at least five innovations in farming equipment that did not exist before 1990 in common use now. Read More