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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Urban and Local Food Systems Experts to Address Seedstock Sustainable Ag Conference

September 1, 2015 |

Agriculture innovation, urban farming, local food access, and sourcing from sustainable and hydroponic farms are just a few of the topics to be discussed at Seedstock’s 4th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference: “Innovation and the Rise of Local Food,” scheduled for Nov. 3-4, 2015, at UC San Diego –

In addition to keynotes Pierre Sleiman, founder and CEO of Go Green Agriculture, and Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development for the Leichtag Foundation, this year’s Seedstock slate of speakers includes Gus Schumacher, Vice President of Policy at the Wholesome Wave Foundation and former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the United States Department of Agriculture during the Clinton administration.

“A movement is afoot to bring sustainable, locally grown produce to towns all across the nation,” stated Seedstock co-founder Robert Puro. “San Diego is a fine example of bringing that enterprise about in its local community. Our speakers, comprised of a most vibrant and innovative group of individuals, will bring a wealth of insight to all attendees on how to recreate that reality throughout America.”

The conference begins with a “Future Farm Field Trip” on Day 1 (Nov. 3) that includes visits to: Home Town Farms’ three-acre indoor hydroponic farming operation in San Marcos, CA; [email protected] Urban Farm, San Diego City College’s one-acre working farm located in the heart of downtown; Sundial Farm’s family-owned state-of-the-art hydroponic operation; and, the Leichtag Foundation’s 850,000 square feet of greenhouses on 67.5 acres in the heart of Encinitas.

The following day, event attendees will convene at the Beyster Auditorium at the Rady School of Management at the University of California-San Diego. A series of panels and keynotes will address the economic impact of a burgeoning and diverse small farm economy that is embracing innovation, sustainability and community to take advantage of a growing local food marketplace in cities and counties across the country. Presentations will offer a comprehensive examination of topics, including: Building the Local Food Marketplace; Technology and the Emergence of Alternative Supply Chain Models; Indoor Growing and the Pursuit of Market Demand; and, Urban Farming and the Expansion of Local Food Access.

In addition to the Sleiman, Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, Gus Schumacher, and Seedstock conference veterans Dwight Detter of Whole Foods Markets and Erik Olberholtzer, co-founder of Tender Greens, a stellar group of new panelists and speakers will make their Seedstock debut to share their insights and innovations. These include:

  • Bob Harrington is president of Specialty Produce, a food service and retail fresh produce supplier to over 600 restaurants and hotels in San Diego. Since opening in 1977, Specialty Produce has continued to expand, offering deliveries 7 days a week, organics, a farmers’ market program, online ordering for customers, and an extensive website based on information harvested straight from the source.
  • Dan Gibbs is the CEO of Home Town Farms, an indoor vertical farming operation in San Marcos, CA that grows certified organic crops and produces more than 1.5 million pounds of produce each year from its three acres of growing space.
  • Ed Glebus, CEC, is the Associate Director and Executive Chef for SDSU Dining Services at San Diego State University and holds the prestigious Certified Executive Chef certification from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Classically trained in Italy’s Slow Food cooking techniques, Chef Glebus aims to delight the campus community each day with delicious and nutritious offerings.
  • Tarek Hijazi joined Sundial Farm in 2012 to assist with all facets of the greenhouse operations and utilizes his combined knowledge of Systems Management and Regulatory Affairs provide Sundial Farm the know-how to implement effective growing methods to produce an organic, environmentally healthy harvest.
  • Rishi Kumar is an ecological designer, urban farmer, and educator. Since 2011, he has operated The Growing Home, an urban farm and model of suburban sustainable living based near Los Angeles.
  • Amy McCann, co-founder and CEO of Local Food Marketplace, blends her two passions of local food and technology to bring business best practices and innovative solutions to local food, including introducing the first and only white label mobile app for food hubs.
  • Robert Tse creates and implements innovative strategies to benefit California’s regional and rural economies by integrating policies, resources and initiatives through federal, state, local government and public-private partnerships. He is the USDA lead for the Strong Cities – Strong Communities, (SC2) White House pilot initiative in Fresno.
  • Damian Valdez leads farm production efforts at [email protected] Urban Farm, a one-acre working farm located in the heart of downtown San Diego that serves as the outdoor classroom for the Sustainable Urban Agriculture program at San Diego City College. Along with his staff, Valdez trains young, urban farmers while growing nutritious food for the community, encouraging self-reliance and a thriving local economy.

The discounted Early Bird Ticket registration deadline is Thursday, September 4. To purchase tickets and learn more about the conference, please visit:

For sponsorship opportunities, please send inquiries to: sponsor [at] seedstock [dot] com. If you are interested in participating as a conference speaker, please send your request to: participant [at] seedstock [dot] com.

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