From droughts and global food price shocks to climate change and resource constraints, disruptive events continue to rattle an ever shifting agricultural landscape that must increase worldwide food production by 70% in the next 35 years to feed an estimated 10 billion by 2050. While many paint these disruptive events as cataclysmic, others rise to meet them with technological solutions – form high tech irrigation systems and innovative soil monitoring tools to hydroponics and aquaponics and novel GIS mapping tools – that seek to fill gaps, or else make growing even more efficient and sustainable.
To discuss how growers and entrepreneurs are using technology to combat the challenges posed by disruptive events while simultaneously bolstering a growing local food marketplace, the 2nd Annual GrowRIVERSIDE Conference: The Future of Local Food will feature a breakout session entitled “Disruption and Technology in Agriculture”. The session will be run by the following noteworthy growers and agricultural technology experts:
The future of local food will not be restricted to produce grown in fields. Arable land grows scarcer and consequently more expensive by the year. Thus, many new farmers and entrepreneurs are opting to explore and pursue growing produce in controlled environments. Utilizing hydroponic technologies that typically require only 10% of the water necessary to grow similar crops outdoors, these indoor farmers can often produce more than 20 times the traditional field-crop yield in the same amount of space.
Indoor farms can also be placed anywhere – including in the middle of a city, in vacant warehouses and on land that is often much cheaper than arable land. That indoor farms can be placed in cities also enables them to provide more local food access to buyers – from restaurants and institutions to wholesalers and supermarkets.
Excerpt: As international trade picks up and local food stocks decline, food security may be at higher risk of impending crises.
Across Southern California, a new breed of small farmer is emerging to not only take advantage of the growing demand for local food, but also to connect urban communities to their food. These farmers are nimble, resourceful and pushing the limits often working on backyard plots within or on the outskirts of cities that are less than 1-acre in size. Yet they are creating economically viable business models by growing salable produce on every inch of their land.
To learn more about how farmers are successfully growing on small lots and how this type of small plot agriculture might benefit your city and community, or even find a place in your own backyard, you won’t want to miss the GrowRIVERSIDE Conference breakout session entitled “Developing Urban Farms that Benefit City, Economy and Community” featuring:
Droughts, above average temperatures in winter and unexpected frosts. The climate is in an unprecedented state of flux and unpredictable weather is having an outsized impact on farmers and their ability to produce food efficiently. Riverside farmers as well as farmers across the country and world face similar challenges related to climate change and must look to adopt new practices and technologies to farm smarter.
To learn more about how farmers and agriculture communities can develop long-term strategy and production improvements that can help to mitigate the risks of changing climate conditions, A.G. Kawamura, a local farmer and former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, will give a talk entitled “Climate Smart Agriculture for Small and Urban Farmers” at the upcoming GrowRIVERSIDE: The Future of Local Food Conference on June 11 – 12 (with community day on June 13) at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, CA.
Vertical farms: the idea captures our imagination. We envision their upward-twisting frames nestled between the steel and chrome skyscrapers of the big city. Each floor overflows with plant life, bringing local food and a breath of fresh air to cities with a footprint smaller than any “horizontal” farm.
But is vertical farming practical, or just a fantasy?
While setup and electrical costs remain expensive, a wave of vertical farmers around the world has been finding new ways to cut costs and streamline systems to make vertical farming a reality. They may not be ‘farmscrapers’ but these five vertical farms achieve production rates up to 100 times more efficient per square foot than traditional farming while bringing year-round local produce to their communities.
This piece is part of a series exploring the top 10 states in the Strolling of the Heifers’ 2015 Locavore Index.
It’s hardly surprising with all the great things going on there, that Vermont comes in first place in the 2015 Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index. When community gardens were still just a seed catalog and a dream for many around the nation, Vermont was building on firmly established sustainable ground.
“I think it’s inspiring how much Pittsburgh has changed even in the last ten years,” says Jaclyn Clifford of Trellis, a Pittsburgh-based sustainable policy and ag business legal firm. “It’s incredible how the city’s not only growing in terms of population and jobs, but people are really starting to become more environmentally aware.”
Marlene van Es and Jaclyn Clifford are launching their sustainable law business before finishing law school. Along with their communications officer, Sarah Abboud, they will offer a monthly subscription fee system and focus on urban agriculture in the city. The bar exam is set for July, and Trellis will open its doors in August 2015.
by Traci Knight
Despite the lack of a robust agricultural program at Oakland University, located in Rochester Hills, Mich., a growing movement to fuse ecology and sustainability into the curriculum of this science and arts driven academic institution is emerging.
Both undergraduate and graduate students can gain 12 to 13 credits working on OU’s student organic farm and up to 20 total credits with cross-disciplinary electives that focus on the history of agriculture and food system development.
1 Historical crops in Arizona may be future of agriculture (AZCentral.com)
Excerpt: Historical crops farmed on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona may be part of the key to the future of sustainable agriculture.
2 Is sustainable agriculture reachable? (Des …