Posts By Abbie Stutzer
NY Sun Works, a non-profit organization that builds innovative science labs in urban schools, partnered with a small group of parents at PS 333, The Manhattan School for Children, to found The Greenhouse Project Initiative in 2008.
“Through our Greenhouse Project Initiative, we use hydroponic farming technology to educate and teachers about the science of sustainability,” says Manuela Zamora, NY Sun Works director and director of education programs.
The Greenhouse Project was founded because parents and educators within New York City’s K-8 public school system were concerned about what they perceived to be shortcomings in the systems’ environmental science program.
Landon Jefferies knew he wanted to pursue farming as a career, but the options in the city were limited.
So after spending a year working farmers’ markets for The Food Trust, a Philadelphia organization that works to ensure access to affordable, nutritious food and information, and three seasons as the manager of Wyck Home Farm, a Philadelphia historic home, garden and farm, he and partner Lindsey Shapiro set about launching Root Mass Farm in rural Berks County, Pennsylvania in the summer of 2011.
When room to farm in a city is scarce, look up.
Montreal-based Lufa Farms built Canada’s first commercial hydroponic urban rooftop greenhouse in 2011. In the late summer of 2013, Lufa opened a second, larger rooftop greenhouse in Laval, Quebec.
Although Lufa always intended to add another greenhouse to its operation once the 2011 site opened, the company wanted to observe how the first project did first, says Lauren Rathmell, greenhouse director and founding member.
“The goal was to have by the end of our first year of production 1,000 subscribers, which is about what our first site can support by itself,” she says. “The trajectory from there was to have a goal of having 3,500 subscribers by the end of 2013.”
Jeremy Dore was banking on the idea that everyone can use a little help when it comes to planning next year’s garden when he came up with the idea for the Garden Planner app.
The idea for the app was sparked when he and his family started growing more of their own food in 2005.
Living Water Farms in Strawn, Illinois is a family affair. Denise Kilgus established the hydroponic farm with her husband Kevin and their daughter and son-in-law, Natalie and Mark Schneider, in April of 2008.
Before the Kilguses founded the farm, the couple had practiced large-scale gardening for over 28 years in central Illinois. When the family started gardening, they grew only enough food for themselves. But as the years went by, they began growing on a larger scale and founded The Stewards of the Land, LLC, a local organization to help promote sustainably grown, local produce in Chicago.
As the largest “farm-to-fork” rooftop garden in the region, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s McCormick Place West Rooftop Garden has garnered quite a following in Chicago and across the Midwest since it was planted in late June. The gardening project was started to bring attention to local sustainable agriculture and to create jobs for people in the community.
SAVOR…Chicago, McCormick Place’s food service provider and funder, uses the fresh produce grown at McCormick Place for its restaurant and catering operations.
Bluebonnet Hydroponic Farms has been in business since 2000, when Emile Olivier and his wife moved to the U.S. from Canada. Emile wanted to capitalize on his family’s small-scale backyard gardening hobby, so the couple started the farm with cash infusions from previous endeavors and with a small inheritance.
Soon, the project became a family affair when Catherine Anderson, Emile’s daughter, and David Anderson, Catherine’s husband, began to work on the farm.
The family decided to utilize hydroponics as the technology would allow them to obtain higher yields on a smaller spatial footprint than conventional agriculture. David’s father-in-law also perceived that there was a demand and niche market for hydroponic produce.
Since the launch of Green Bridge Growers almost 15 months ago in South Bend Indiana, the organization has focused on growing produce sustainably with aquaponic methods while recruiting young adults with autism to work at the farm.
Jan Pilarski, co-founder and CEO at Green Bridge Growers, started the organization with the aid of her son, Chris Tidmarsh, who has autism.
“My son Chris and I share an interest in growing food sustainably, but came to that independently and by different paths,” Pilarski said. “In the workshops and conferences we participated in three years ago related to food justice and sustainable farming, we were exposed to aquaponics. That model of sustainable, year-round growing appealed to us both.”