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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Abbie Stutzer

High Schoolers at Pasadena’s Muir Ranch Connect to Food, Support 150 Member CSA

July 11, 2013 |

John Muir Ranch in Pasadena, Calif., has only been in full operation since 2011, but during the past two years, the once small, test garden has grown into a large, vegetable and flower producing farm.

The Ranch resides at the John Muir High School campus. When Doss Jones, former biology teacher, master gardener and founder of Muir Ranch, planted the Ranch’s first plot, she only used it as a learning garden for one of the high school’s elective courses. “It was six rows. [At the time,] she was working with another master gardener and they had a little bit of grant money to try and build a curriculum, but the money, after two years, it was gone. They couldn’t really do much more with the garden [at the time],” Erika Redke, former CSA manager at Muir Ranch, said. Read More

In Santa Fe, Texas, Two Young Farmers Put in the Work to Realize Sustainable Vision

July 8, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Moon Dog Farms

Photo Credit: Moon Dog Farms

Alex McPhail and Casey McAuliffe founded Moon Dog Farms, in Santa Fe, Texas, in January 2013. Since arriving at the farm, McAuliffe and McPhail have worked quite hard – the farm’s land hadn’t been touched in years.

Although the co-owners were originally from Texas, the two left the state a few years ago to work various jobs at small, organic farms. At first, McAuliffe and McPhail worked on an organic farm in upstate New York. While the farmers were in New York, McPhail’s family approached the duo about buying some land his family owned. “They told us they had a plot of land [that had] essentially been neglected for the past 15 years,” McAuliffe said. Read More

Dallas-based Urban Farming Operation Seeks to Reduce, Reclaim and Repurpose its Way to Profitability

June 20, 2013 |
Heirloom watermelon patch in repurposed buckets planted on a Dallas rooftop by Eat the Yard. Photo Credit: Eat the Yard.

Heirloom watermelon patch in repurposed buckets planted on a Dallas rooftop by Eat the Yard. Photo Credit: Eat the Yard.

James Jeffers and Steve Smith, veterans and co-owners of Eat the Yard, in Dallas, Texas, founded the sprawling, urban farming operation a year ago after a night of good conversation and beer. Jeffers and Smith were already into eating healthy and growing organic, but wanted to really commit to growing their own produce. So, they committed – and ended up pulling up their yards and planting edibles and fruit trees. Soon, Smith and Jeffers began getting produce requests from local restaurants.

While Jeffers and Smith had a basic understanding of gardening when they started, the co-owners got a thorough education in farming from the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), a nonprofit that helps get returning veterans funded and into farming. The FVC teaches veterans how to get into sustainable farming and provides farming education as well as farm funding. In fact, the FVC helped the duo receive grants, which funded the organization’s purchase of a new tractor. Read More

Southside Aquaponic Farm: From Hobby to Small-Scale Business Operation

June 14, 2013 |

Southside AquaponicsPaul 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. Read More

Desert Research Institute’s GreenPower Program Engages Students with Hydroponics in a Box

June 11, 2013 |

desert research instituteHydroponics, 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. Read More