In 2006, Shelly Herman and Irvin Cernauskas set out on a mission to make local and organic food available year-round in two major Midwestern markets: Chicago and Milwaukee. Cernauskas, who had been actively involved the environmental nonprofit community and in creating markets for local farmers, already had the connections needed to help create a stronger relationship between local farmers and urban consumers.
“The farmers were talking about how they want to spend more time farming and less time trucking their food all over the place,” said Herman. “At the same time we realized that people in the city or suburbs need a way to get fresh, healthy food in a year-round way.” To fill this growing need, Herman and Cernauskas started Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks, a local and organic food delivery service.
Seedstock 2nd Annual Sustainable Ag Innovation Conference to Examine Local Food Production and Supply ChainJune 17, 2013 | seedstock
(LOS ANGELES) – Seedstock will be hosting The 2nd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference Farming: Fundamentals and the Future, which will explore solutions and business models with the potential to assist local producers in increasing their presence in the supply chain. Slated for Tuesday and Wednesday, November 5-6, 2013, the conference will address the economic opportunities and environmental and societal benefits of embracing, developing, and investing in sustainable farms, practices, technologies, and start-up companies.
Have you ever wondered how some plants are able to endure the most extreme conditions from the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park to the high altitudes of Mt. Everest? It turns out that many of these plants likely owe their survival to symbiotic fungi that make themselves at home within the plants tissues. Microbiologist Russell (Rusty) Rodriguez and geneticist Regina Redman of Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies in Seattle, Washington are trying to foster similar relationships between fungus and plants in agriculture in hopes of improving drought and salinity tolerance, promoting temperature resistance, and boosting nutrient content.
The husband and wife team first discovered a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and a plant by chance while studying plants that grow in different soils in Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s. Rodriguez was collecting data for the U. S. Geological Survey where he worked as a principle investigator and microbiologist. Redman was conducting her own research while working as a research professor in the State University of Montana’s microbiology department.
Paul Trudeau, owner of Southside Aquaponic Farm (SAF), founded his small, farming operation in Sacramento, Calif., in 2009. Although Trudeau’s aquaponic farm began as a hobby, the farm has since grown into a business endeavor and now serves Mulvaney’s Building & Loan, a Sacramento, Calif., restaurant.
The Learning Process
In the beginning, Trudeau scoured the Internet to find information and resources on how to start a small-scale aquaponic farm on his own. He found a lot of information and became involved with other people in the Sacramento area who worked with aquaponics. The learning process also included a lot of help from aquaponics organizations.
Cattle farming is just about as far apart from aquaponics as you can get, but for one family in Devine, TX, the switch from one to the other was the logical choice.
“We wanted to utilize our small acreage for something that my husband and I could both work on. We wanted a business that we could capitalize on without having to go too far from our home, and we wanted to make it sustainable.”
Peggy and Richard Scott had been classic Texas cattle ranchers for over a decade, but more frequent droughts and a desire for change pushed them in a new direction.
“We worked in California, Arizona and Vermont for a while so you know there was a thriving local food movement there. So when we came to North Dakota we saw that there wasn’t really. There really wasn’t any professional level CSA and there’s a 100,000 people in this community so we thought ‘well geez there’s got to be room for us to create a business like this.’” –Brian McGinness, Riverbound Farm
Bounded by the historic Missouri River, the North Dakota based Riverbound Farm is home to Brian and Angie McGinness and their children. A farm located in the river bottom comprised of 10-acres of grow space, cottonwood forest, pasture land and wetlands, is a less than typical location for growing certified organic vegetables and creating a community supported agriculture system (CSA). Turns out it’s also a lesson for farmers across the nation. If you grow it, they will come.
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications from cooperatives to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“These grants will jump start small business hiring and help producers in areas facing economic challenges get the tools they need to succeed,” Vilsack said. “Small businesses are the engines of job growth and innovation in America.”
When Terra and Mike Brownback purchased their countryside farm along with an old, rundown farmhouse in 1978, they had no idea that their little dream would become one of the most prominent and successful organic farms in Central Pennsylvania. With big dreams and a little savings, the suburban kids embarked on a mission to make their own small imprint on the future of sustainable agriculture. Included with their 56 acres in Loysville, Perry County, was an 1880 farmhouse in desperate need of a makeover to even make it livable. “Our house was in such bad shape. The windows were even broken out,” says Terra Brownback.
Thirty-seven years of blood, sweat and tears put into fixing up their home, learning how to farm and purchasing additional adjacent acreage have truly paid off. The Brownback’s now run Spiral Path Farm, a 255-acre farm that is home to a 20-year-old, 2,300-member CSA. It is a USDA Organic-certified producer for local farmers markets and a collection of regional organic wholesale warehouses.
Hydroponics, and other sustainable gardening and growing practices, are gradually becoming more widely used in Nevada not only as a result of the arid climate and challenging soil conditions in the area, but also to increase local food production. And the Desert Research Institute (DRI), which is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education and conducts various research projects concerning environmental science every year, wants to ensure that young people on board with the developing industry there.
In fact, there are many hydro-centric businesses emerging in the area, said Amelia Gulling of DRI, who is the administrator for the institute’s GreenPower Program. “And there are going to be some international businesses hopefully coming specifically to Las Vegas to do larger scale hydro-farming,” Gulling said.
According to Green Spirit Farms‘ Research and Development Manager Daniel Kluko, the future of farming is heading in one clear direction: vertical. “If we want to feed hungry people this is how we need to farm,” said Kluko.
Kluko believes that vertical farming offers a very important benefit in today’s world of scarce land and resources— the potential for unparalleled plant density. After all, how else can a farmer grow 27 heads of lettuce in one square foot of growing space?
Green Spirit Farms was started by Daniel’s father Milan Kluko under his engineering company Fountainhead Engineering LTD. The idea for the farm emerged while the company was evaluating indoor, urban farm models in North America for a non-profit client—a process which piqued Milan Kluko’s interest about the viability of a vertical farming operation.