Posts By Abbie Stutzer
ProduceRun co-founder and president William Pattison is no stranger to farming. His family has worked the land for four generations.
“ProduceRun started on our own family farm,” Pattison says. “We wanted a better way to be found, sell and distribute our farm products to the public. I feel that our technology can make a real difference for farmers, making it easier for them to do business, and creating easier access for buyers.”
Eric Kelly, founder of Charm City Farms, has always appreciated the great outdoors. Since he was a kid, Kelly dreamed of working outside with his hands and communing with critters. But when he became an adult, reality set in—he had to get a 9-to-5 job.
But Kelly’s life took a turn after he was in a car accident. He decided to make a change. So, he left his job and hiked part of the Appalachian trail. “I tried to reconnect to myself,” he says. “I already liked plants and had a great relationship with animals, but I wanted to learn more.”
Hawaii-based Vertical Farming Enterprise, MetroGrow, Seeks to Increase Island’s Local Food ProductionMarch 28, 2016 | Abbie Stutzer
Urban, vertical farming is alive and well at MetroGrow Hawaii in Kakaako, Honolulu.
MetroGrow began growing produce in 2013 when Kerry Kakazu, MetroGrow’s founder, acquired the farm’s urban facility, although Kakazu had wanted to grow fresh, sustainable food for quite a while.
“I had been interested in hydroponics as a hobby since my education was in plant physiology, and I was interested in technology,” Kakazu says. “But I didn’t think a vertical farm could be economically feasible because of the energy cost of lighting at the time. The events that triggered the start of the farm were the rising interest in local food production, the introduction of LEDs to lower the energy cost of lighting, and wanting to be involved with the local restaurant industry.”
The 2016 Food Justice Summit on Maui in January brought together like-minded people to discuss how to fight for local food systems globally and how to combat large companies that dominate the world’s food system with genetically engineered crops tested in Hawai’i.
“Six corporations dominate the world’s seed, pesticide, and biotech industries,” says Elif Beall, executive and communications director of Hawai’i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA). “Most people don’t realize that Hawai’i is a global epicenter for these corporations as they develop and test their GE crops.”
Heroic Food is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing military veterans with the training they need to become sustainable farmers in New York’s Hudson River Valley
“I talk to veterans every day who dream of farming but lack the skills, experience, and resources to get started,” says Leora Barish, executive director of Heroic Food. “They want healthier lives for themselves and their families; they want to be stewards of the land they defended, and they want to continue serving their communities by providing food for hungry Americans.”
According to Barish, farming can help veterans transition to civilian life, heal from trauma, and forge viable careers. The veterans who work at Heroic Food receive comprehensive training in a residential, supportive setting designed to lead to farm employment and entrepreneurship.
Two years ago Claude Galipeault approached Georgia’s Armstrong State University Biology Department head Matthew Draud with a novel research idea: testing the economic sustainability of aquaponics.
Draud’s curiosity was piqued and he decided to visit Galipeault to check out his aquaponic system, which he had constructed in his basement.
“I quickly identified with his mission – it was focused on inventing technologies to make aquaponic systems more economically sustainable,” Draud says. “Since that meeting, I brought the idea of a collaboration to university officials, who were supportive assuming I could find the funding. I discovered that The Forum Group Charitable Foundation had funds dedicated to research into the profitability of aquaponics systems and eventually secured a $100,000 donation to support our project.”
Since March 2012, the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance has worked to help people within the Navajo Nation stay healthy throughout their lives. But in 2014, the DCAA took their advocacy a step further by enacting a two percent tax on unhealthy foods and a five percent tax break on healthy foods.
“As a response to the diabetes epidemic, the dominant culture of unhealthy foods in our stores, and our Navajo Nation being a 99 percent food desert, we decided to address unhealthy foods in our community,” says Denisa Livingston, DCAA community health advocate. “The tax helps bring awareness to the epidemic and could draw more focus on reducing the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, and eventually, impact these incidences.”
The idea for Anchorage, Alaska-based hydroponic vertical farm Alaska Natural Organics was conceived when Jason Smith was working as a surveyor in the Frontier state. Smith and his wife had recently become interested in becoming healthier due to family health issues.
“We just became a little bit more aware of what we were putting in our bodies; reading more about it. And in this process we started trying to eat healthier,” he says. The couple tried to buy organic produce of all types whenever possible.
In doing so, Smith became very aware of the high price of produce in Alaska, and the unfortunate reality that the quality of fresh produce in the state is often poor.