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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Abbie Stutzer

Charm City Farms Brings Education and Fresh Food to Baltimore  

April 25, 2016 |
Foraging for Siberian Elm. Photo courtesy Charm City Farms.

Foraging for Siberian Elm. Photo courtesy Charm City Farms.

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.” Read More

Hawaii-based Vertical Farmer Sees Opportunity to Grow Upward with Rising Local Food Demand

March 28, 2016 |
Courtesy MetroGrow

Courtesy MetroGrow

In Hawaii, demand for locally grown food is pushing farmer Kerry Kakazu to grow upward. In 2013, Kakazu seeking to provide sustainable hydroponically grown food to a growing marketplace, launched his vertical farm, MetroGrow in Kakaako, Honolulu.

Initially skeptical of the economic feasibility of vertical farming, the stars eventually aligned and Kakazu determined that it was the right time to launch his operation.

“[…] I didn’t think a vertical farm could be economically feasible because of the energy cost of lighting at the time,” says Kakazu. “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.” Read More

Food Justice Summit Emphasizes Hawai’i as ‘Global Epicenter’ for GE Crop Testing

March 23, 2016 |
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Alliance For Progressive Action

Photo courtesy of Hawaii Alliance For Progressive Action

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.” Read More

Soldiers of the Land: Veteran Farmer Training Program Plans for Growth

March 2, 2016 |
Photo courtesy Heroic Food.

Photo courtesy Heroic Food.

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.  Read More

Economic Sustainability of Large-scale Aquaponics Subject of University Research

February 8, 2016 |
Maize High School in suburban Wichita, Kansas features an extensive hydroponics program. (photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

(Photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

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.” Read More