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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Building a Megafarm in Anaheim, CA: A Q&A With Aaron Flora

January 26, 2015 |
Image courtesy of Renewable Farms

Image courtesy of Renewable Farms

Aaron Flora has worked on creating farms with Renewable Farms for years, but he just recently embarked on his biggest project to date, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign: a mega-aquaponics farm for the city of Anaheim, California that will double as a community training center.

Seedstock recently interviewed Flora and asked him about how Renewable Farms made the Anaheim project happen, how the mega farm will remain sustainable and what he hopes this farm will achieve in the future. Read More

Can Aquaponics Thrive in the Midwest? Indiana Startup Bets On It

January 25, 2015 |
Justin Long, CEO. Photo courtesy Justin Long.

Justin Long, CEO. Photo courtesy Justin Long.

How can a cold, Midwestern state grow organic produce all year, while also providing fresh fish to the local community? Those are the questions Justin Long, co-founder and CEO, and Jason Fry, co-founder, asked themselves before founding Blue Lotus Aquaponics in November 2013.

Before creating their company, Long and Fry did their research by traveling to a few Midwestern states and visiting places where people were experimenting with aquaculture techniques.

Long wanted to dabble in aquaponics because of its sustainable, high-yield nature. And Fry’s family background in commercial farming in northern Indiana helped him to flesh out the company’s overall concept. Read More

Sustainable Ag + Food News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

January 22, 2015 |

seedstockFrom fork to farm: Startup recycles grocery store food waste into organic fertilizer

Excerpt: In just 3 hours, California Safe Soil turns fresh food waste into a liquid fertilizer which promises to boost yields, cut costs, and reduce water pollution in agriculture.

Source: TreeHugger Read More

Michigan’s Governor Dissolves State Food Policy Council as MSU Looks to Build Local Council Network

January 21, 2015 |
Photos courtesy of The Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University

Photos courtesy of The Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University

Two recent developments in Michigan have caught the attention of local and sustainable food activists across the country. On December 14, 2014, Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, abolished the Michigan Food Policy Council (MFPC), absorbing the work of the Council into a new subcommittee within the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development.

The same week, the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University issued a Request for Proposals to coordinate a new network of local food councils across the state. Read More

Time is Running Out to Register for Local Orbit’s Hub Camp San Diego!

January 21, 2015 |

Local Orbit Develops a Web Platform to Facilitate Local and Regional distribution for Sustainable FarmersSPONSORED POST

There are only a few more spots left for Local Orbit’s Hub Camp in San Diego.

Hub Camp: the Nuts & Bolts of Local Food Distribution

March 1-3 in San Diego, California

APPLY TODAY Read More

Farm-to-School Program Brings Fresh and Local Food to Riverside, CA School District

January 21, 2015 |
A Riverside Unified School District student holds up an apple which he is about to eat. Through the efforts of Rodney Taylor and others, students in the Riverside Unified School District are actively encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables. (photo courtesy of Rodney Taylor/Riverside Unified School District)

A Riverside Unified School District student holds up an apple which he is about to eat. Through the efforts of Rodney Taylor and others, students in the Riverside Unified School District are actively encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables. (photo courtesy of Rodney Taylor/Riverside Unified School District)

In the Riverside Unified School District in Southern California students enjoy access to locally-sourced salad bars and experiential learning opportunities in agriculture and nutrition.

Much of this success has been spearheaded by Rodney Taylor, a noted farm-to-school expert and Director of Nutrition Services for Riverside Unified School District.

In 1997, Taylor led a similar effort in the Malibu and Santa Monica school districts. But while those areas are known for their affluence, Riverside has more economic challenges. So when Taylor wanted to increase healthy food options for public school students in Riverside, there was no shortage of doubters.

Taylor did not see why healthy eating in public schools should be difficult anywhere. His goal is and always has been a simple one: “To get kids to consume their fruits and vegetables.” Through achieving this goal (and then some), he has proved his doubters wrong.

The numbers tell the story. In 2005, the Riverside USD farm-to-school program was just a pilot project, with one school salad bar. By 2010, all 31 schools in the district offered salad bars. And while the program is revenue neutral for the district, it generates income for the small, local farmers who supply the fruits and vegetables. Read More

Local Food Startup Freezes Its Way Onto Grocers’ Shelves

January 20, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Husk

Photo courtesy of Husk

Nick Carter, Adam Moody and Chris Baggott came together a couple of years ago to invest in a processing facility in Greenfield, Indiana. Their goal: to launch a value-added sustainable company to place local foods in grocery stores.

Husk grows market share in the local frozen food market through a combination of entrepreneurial know-how and the power of social media. At the close of their second growing season, the company has established market share for local farmers in a grocery store world dominated by multinational wholesalers.

Nick Carter, president of Husk, has a family background in farming and discovered a niche market for meat rabbits in his native Indiana. His company Meat the Rabbit allowed him to use his farming background while learning the ins-and-out of the wholesale sustainable agriculture market. Co-founders Moody and Baggott, with successful technology startup and food processing backgrounds, were ideal bedfellows when Carter decided to branch out from game meats into the world of locally grown, flash-frozen foods. Read More

From Farm to Fork and Back Again: New California Law Seeks to Close Food Waste Loop

January 19, 2015 |
California State Capitol. Source: Wikimedia Commons

California State Capitol. Source: Wikimedia Commons

California’s regulations governing organic food waste became more stringent on September 28, 2014, as Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1826 into law.  The law requires commercial generators of food waste to have it composted or transformed to energy via anaerobic digestion.

One of the main impetuses for AB 1826, according to San Francisco Department of the Environment commercial zero waste senior coordinator Jack Macy, is keeping organic waste out of landfills. Read More

Sustainable Ag + Food News: Seedstock’s Weekly Roundup

January 16, 2015 |

seedstockFood ‘Accelerators’ and the $10 Bag of Pasta

Excerpt: Most of what’s produced here gets shipped elsewhere, said Robert Puro of Seedstock, a consultant in sustainable food systems. In most major cities, only 1% to 2% of what’s consumed is produced locally, he said. Developing that shorter supply chain—from local farms to packing and production facilities to retailers—is “the big missing piece in the local food puzzle,” Mr. Puro said.

Source: WSJ.com Read More

5 Native Tribal Organizations Reviving Sustainable Agriculture Tradition

January 15, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Team Toca

Photo courtesy of Team Toca

Sustainable agriculture techniques like companion planting and dryland farming were practiced for thousands of years in North America by Native Americans. Today, health problems and loss of ancestral knowledge about food and farming are common in many tribal communities. Sustainable farming is a way for tribes to get back to their roots while addressing these problems.

Here are five organizations looking to their heritage for solutions to address these and other problems. Read More