Posts By Abbie Stutzer
Cedar Point Church in Maryville, Tennessee started growing its hydroponic garden for two reasons: to develop a program offering a sustainable and healthy food source to its church family, and to build a sense of partnership between church members and the community.
While the garden is still in its early stages (it was started about three months ago), Kurt Steinbach, the church’s lead pastor is enthusiastic about the growing produce. Currently, Harvest Farms Co-op, the name of the church’s hydroponic gardening operation, grows several varieties of tomato, bell pepper, hot banana peppers, Anaheim peppers, green leaf lettuce varieties, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans. In late June, the co-op was preparing for its first harvest.
States throughout America are embracing urban farming and gardening more and more every day, setting up shop in new cities and spreading the love of fresh greens to people across the state. One that has recently emerged into the urban community gardening scene is Nebraska.
Sarah Browning, extension educator of horticulture at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, says Nebraska has successful community gardens in many communities, both large and small.
“Here in Lincoln, there are several community garden areas managed by Community Crops,” Browning says. “These gardens are open to anyone in Lincoln to rent for a season. There are also several private community gardens, managed by church or neighborhood groups, that are open to use by their members.”
Raleigh City Farms, in Raleigh, North Carolina, was founded for a simple reason – the city didn’t have any urban farms.
In 2010, after the founders settled on a vision of what Raleigh City Farms would become, and the farm received its 501(c)3 status, and they began looking for land.
It took the original founders some time to find the farm’s land, and once they did, they had to get it rezoned for agricultural use. Finally, in 2012 they broke ground and by March 2012, volunteers came to the new farm’s site to start distributing compost.
Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery started operating in 2001 after founder Mindy Schwartz began acquiring and remediating vacant properties in Pittsburgh. Once the lots were fixed, she started gardening.
Hannah Reiff, Garden Dreams’ production manager, says that when the farm and nursery first began to operate, they didn’t sell much. In fact, Garden Dreams’ start was quite humble – the organization was just selling off some extra tomato seedlings. Now, though, the operation is impressive.
“Overall, Philadelphia has accepted urban agriculture,” says Amy Laura Cahn, staff attorney for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. Cahn works with existing community gardening projects to help preserve their legacy.
It’s no surprise that San Francisco has a strong urban farming community—and it’s one borne of the efforts of local government working closely with community groups.
San Francisco has implemented supportive city plans, policies, and codes that help facilitate urban agriculture within the city, according to Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture program manager at SPUR. SPUR, a non-profit organization, promotes good planning and government in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Smart Living Studios, Inc. was co-founded by Kristee Rosendahl, chief product officer, and Carl Alguire, CEO, in 2012. This was the same year the company introduced its first product, Smart Gardener, a free online application that’s designed to help people plan, grow and harvest their own organic food.
Since the company’s inception, private individuals who care about the future of the food system have funded the business.
“They learned about us through word of mouth, presentations or press about what we were doing and then reached out to us,” says Rosendahl.
Smart Gardener keeps gardening simple and makes recommendations for the right plants, where to plant them, how many to plant, and then sends a list of what to do that week. Tasks can include planting, mulching, feeding, thinning, watering, and more. The planner keeps records, too.
In early March, 2014, Raleigh-based food processing technology company Aseptia secured $28 million in Series C-Preferred Stock financing to support the growth of Wright Foods Inc., the manufacturing subsidiary of Aseptia. Lookout Capital, SJF Ventures, Prudential, and F.B. Heron Foundation provided the financing.
As a leading aseptic food manufacturer, Aseptia has developed an aseptic, sustainable, shelf-stable carton that can maintain a higher-quality food product, according to Michael Drozd, president and CEO of Wright Foods. The packaging can be found in most every grocery store.