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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By Helen Weatherall

Trust for Public Land Forays into Boston Urban Agriculture Land Deals

April 8, 2014 |
Residents of the Dudley neighborhood participate in a raised bed community garden build day at the DNI Community Land Trust. Photo courtesy of Dudley Neighborhood Inc.

Residents of the Dudley neighborhood participate in a raised bed community garden build day at the DNI Community Land Trust. Photo courtesy of Dudley Neighborhood Inc.

It is said it takes a village to raise a child. And what does it take to raise a commercial crop of leafy greens on a vacant lot in Boston? A different kind of village—one that includes experts practiced in the art of land tenure.

By bringing together such experts,  the Trust for Public Land is helping to facilitate urban agriculture in the City of Boston. Back in 1972, the organization’s founder, Huey Johnson, recognized that negotiating land deals calls for expertise in law, real estate and finance.  The trick to open space preservation, as he saw it, was to employ the strategies of modern business.  Forty some odd years later, TPL has seen through over 5,300 parks and conservation projects in the majority of the nation’s states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Read More

Croatian Startup Offers Cloud-based, Data-driven Dairy Farming Tool

March 28, 2014 |
Farmeron co-founder Matija Kopic (left) with fourth generation farmer and rancher Jeff Fowle of Etna, California (photo by Dave Saunders Director of Sales and Business Development, Farmeron)

Farmeron co-founder Matija Kopic (left) with fourth generation farmer and rancher Jeff Fowle of Etna, California (photo by Dave Saunders Director of Sales and Business Development, Farmeron)

Years of observing and assisting his father on his family’s farm in Croatia informed Matija Kopic about the intricacies of running a dairy farm.  The problem Kopic identified is not a shortage of data, dedication or diligence – but time.  After leaving the farm and gaining information technology expertise, Kopic set out to remedy the problem with powerful software and a start-up he named Farmeron.

Founded in Osijek, Croatia, the capital of the country’s well-known farming region Slavonia, Farmeron is a cloud-based comprehensive management tool for dairy farmers.

Farmeron’s American presence includes a headquarters in Palo Alto, California and offices in Columbus, Ohio and Minneapolis, Minnesota, with plans to expand into the southeast and southwest. Read More

City of Boston Adopts Urban Ag Zoning Ordinance, Seeks to Build Equitable Farming Community

March 14, 2014 |
Boston urban agriculture enterprise Higher Ground is now raising crops on Boston rooftops. Credit: Higher Ground staff

Boston urban agriculture enterprise Higher Ground is now raising crops on Boston rooftops.
Credit: Higher Ground staff

“Farming” may not be the first word that comes to mind when people think of Boston, but with December’s passage of Article 89, a new ordinance legalizing for-profit urban agriculture in the city limits, that may soon change.

This is how Edith Murnane, Boston’s Director of Food Initiatives would have it.  Appointed in 2010 by former mayor Menino, Murnane’s responsibility is to increase access to healthy and affordable food, expand Boston’s local food production, and build a strong local food economy.

“We want to make sure that all boot-strapper farmers that have one, maybe two nickels to rub together can participate,” says Murnane. Read More

Startup Converts Former Twin City Brewery Building to Aquaponic Facility

January 24, 2014 |
Fed by nutrients provided by cultivated tilapia, a crop of parsley thrives.  Photo by Fred Haberman

Fed by nutrients provided by cultivated tilapia, a crop of parsley thrives.
Photo by Fred Haberman

As perhaps much does in Minnesota in the wintertime, the aquaponics start-up Urban Organics began with ice.

Pond ice, that is.

That’s because Fred Haberman, a public relations expert, dedicated social entrepreneur, and founder of The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships got to talking with his “ice man,” David Haider.

It came to light that the two had a common dream: to bring farms to the Twin Cities’ food deserts.

Read More

Nonprofit Combats Poverty in Orphanages by Teaching Aquaponics, Food Preservation

January 14, 2014 |
: A view of an aquaponics facility in Mexico built with help from Aquaponics & Earth (photo taken by Teresa  Musser)

: A view of an aquaponics facility in Mexico built with help from Aquaponics & Earth (photo taken by Teresa
Musser)

In 1979, John Musser embarked on an expedition into the rugged far reaches of America’s southern neighbor to visit Mexican orphanages, where he witnessed both hungry children and food waste.

Upon his return, Musser founded the Texas-based non-profit Aquaponics & Earth and stepped up to the challenge of helping orphans in Mexico and across the world secure adequate nutrition. Through hardware and education, Musser’s organization enables orphanages to become self-sustaining, freeing themselves from dependence on food aid. Read More