Posts By Deanna Krinn
The Georgia Sustainable Agriculture Consortium has a mission to bring local food back to Georgia, a state that currently relies on imports from the rest of the country for much of the food and produce that its citizens consume.
While the state’s largest economic sector is agriculture, a staggering 80 percent of the food that Georgians purchase comes from out of state, a University of Georgia expert told Georgia FACES News. The Consortium is proposing the creation of food hubs in order to shift the focus of agriculture back to local markets by making it easier for farmers to sell their produce locally and or regionally.
Penn State Receives $2.3M Grant to Investigate Impact of Cover Crop Cocktails on Organic AgricultureNovember 2, 2011 | Deanna Krinn
Researchers at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences were recently awarded a $2.3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine the effects of various “cover crop cocktails,” or cover crop mixtures, on organic agriculture production.
Jason Kaye, associate professor of soil biogeochemistry, said the study hopes to determine whether mixing multiple varieties of cover crops or planting a single species is better at amplifying ecosystem functions in a corn-soybean-wheat cash crop rotation that produces organic feed and forage.
A growing demand for organic and sustainably produced food has led the USDA to announce nearly two dozen new grants to research and extension programs that will help organic producers and processors more effectively market and grow their products.
The 23 grants total $19 million, and are funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through two unique programs: the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and the Organic Transitions Program.
“As more and more farmers adopt organic agriculture practices, they need the best science available to operate profitable and successful organic farms,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.
Wisconsin consumers seeking an easy way to find locally and organically grown food have a great resource to point them in the right direction: Wisconsin’s Farm Fresh Atlases.
The Farm Fresh Atlases have been around since 2002 and are produced yearly with five different editions for the various regions of Wisconsin. The Atlases are distributed at farmers markets, participating farms and businesses, tourism and convention bureaus, public libraries, and events like county fairs. The goal is to put “sustainable farms, farmers markets and local businesses and organizations that promote local food ‘on the map’,” according to the organization’s website.
What began as a business plan drawn up for fun has spawned Aqua Vita Farms, central New York’s first aquaponic farm.
Aqua Vita Farms was founded by Mark Doherty and seeks to provide wholesale food distributors with safe, high value, aquaponically grown seafood and produce. Retrofitting and construction on the company’s indoor farming facility, a 13,000 square foot building in Sherrill, N.Y. that was formerly a polishing facility for Oneida Silverware, kicked off in May of this year. The company, which currently raises bluegill fish, and grows lettuce, leafy greens and herbs in its custom-made aquaponic systems, had it first harvest shortly thereafter in August.
‘Connected Agriculture,’ the title of a recent report by Vodafone and Accenture seeks to highlight the growing importance of farmers’ access to mobile communication in isolated areas of some of the world’s poorest countries.
The report found that making mobile data services such as weather forecasts, commodity market information and mobile banking available to farmers in the developing world could potentially increase world farmers’ wages by an additional $138 billion by 2020. Such technology is especially important to farmers in these areas as they often lack the tools necessary to obtain accurate weather information for planting and harvesting, do not have access to information that would enable them to keep up-to-date with the most recent farming techniques, and are often confronted with the challenge of having to traveling to and from larger urban areas in order to complete simple banking transactions like obtaining micro-loans.
‘Start Farming,’ a program that seeks to develop new farmers, was developed by Penn State Extension in 2009 to address the the rising average age of farmers in Pennsylvania as well as the increasing demand for local and sustainably produced food.
The program offers a variety of courses throughout the year to beginning farmers interested in learning organic farming techniques, pasture management, financial management, land acquisition and marketing. The Penn State Extension program, ‘Start Farming’, is run in collaboration with Pennsylvania Farm Link, a nonprofit dedicated to the mission of “creating farming opportunities for the next generation,” and The Seed Farm, an agricultural business incubator in Lehigh County, PA.
Startup Profile: Indoor Farming Company Seeks to Harness Light and Revitalize Impoverished Urban AreasOctober 3, 2011 | Deanna Krinn
As the sustainable agriculture movement grows it continues to attract innovators and entrepreneurs from non-farming backgrounds. Steve Domyan, an electrical engineer by trade, is no exception. Domyan is the founder of Norwalk, Connecticut-based MetroCrops, LLC, a company committed to creating a network of urban, indoor, hydroponic farms located in impoverished high-density areas.
“I believe personally that innovation occurs when you bring different disciplines together,” said Domyan.
As fossil fuel supplies deplete and prices rise, demand for biofuel substitutes has increased. This growing demand for the development of renewable energy has even caused some to propose converting Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands to agricultural production to boost availability of such crops as corn and soybean for use as feedstock.
However, a recent study conducted by Michigan State University researchers found that converting these CRP lands to bioenergy production would negatively impact the environment as a result of the increased levels of C02 and greenhouse gas emissions that would be generated.
For Atlanta, GA-based startup, PodPonics, lettuce is everything. More than 12 chefs in the area have gone on record to say PodPonics’ greens are the best they’ve ever tasted, said Dan Backhaus, the company’s sales and marketing strategist.
“For them to get excited, you have to have pretty darn good lettuce,” he said.
PodPonics’ lettuce, by the way, is grown inside of used shipping containers that are converted into modular controlled-environment growth pods. The pods contain a proprietary growing system that combines hydroponics, advanced LED lighting, irrigation and nutrient technology with process control.
More local farmers were able to get their wares directly to consumers this year, according to a study released in early August from the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2011 National Farmers Market Directory.
Since 2010, the number of farmers markets across the country has grown by more than 1,000, allowing the largest number of farmers ever the ability to sell their products directly to their local community. A total of 7,175 markets currently operate in the U.S. compared to 6,132 in 2010.
Airports and fresh produce are traditionally not two things that go hand in hand. Between the fast food joints as far as the eye can see and the carts selling sandwiches and salads from who-knows-where, sustainable or locally grown food is not on the list of dining options in most major travel hubs in the United States.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is looking to change that with the opening of the O’Hare Urban Garden, an aeroponic garden located on the mezzanine level of the second-busiest airport in the world.
That’s how Fort Lauderdale Vegetables LLC, a company that is focused on the development of a sustainable urban farming system that will create a network of secure healthy food sources and provide local jobs and vocational training in the sustainable agricultural industry, came into being in 2010.