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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Jenny Frech

Startup Profile: SweetSpring Offers Sustainable Solution to Farmed Salmon

October 31, 2011 |

Consumers are up in arms over the environmental damage that results from conventional salmon farming, and many grocery retailers including Target have pulled farmed salmon from their stores in favor of wild and sustainably sourced product.

Environmental fall out from traditional, high-density open pen salmon farming includes the transmission of parasites like sea lice to wild populations, escaped salmon, lack of waste management, release of chemicals like antibiotics, wasted feed, and a high mortality rate.

To meet consumer demand for Salmon in a way that does not harm the environment, SweetSpring Salmon has developed a solution to sustainably farm Salmon using a land-based controlled environment in combination with a natural breeding program that allows Coho salmon to be raised in freshwater. Read More

Startup Profile: Manure Digester Co. Sustains Farmers by Providing Alternate Revenue Source

September 20, 2011 |

Skagit County, Washington is home to thousands of dairy cows, and their manure. In the manure, Kevin and Daryl Maas see the preservation of their community’s rural heritage. Two manure digesters built by their company, Farm Power Northwest, transform the waste and potential pollutant into a clean, renewable energy source.

“Farming is moving in the wrong direction” from small family farms to large corporate operations, says Kevin Maas. Today milk travels thousands of miles to its destination. Farm Power NW aims to “keep farms small, and stop the trend.” Read More

Farmer Training Program Helps Refugees Plant New Roots

August 10, 2011 |

The seventeen immigrant women involved in the New Roots for Refugees farmer training program don’t understand why their small urban garden plots draw so much attention. Farming is a natural part of their lives.

The training program is run by the Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, an organization that helps to resettle refugees in the Kansas City area and provide case management, English as a Second Language and job development. The idea for the program emerged in 2004 while Sherissa McDonald, an employee of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, was running a group to help refugee women acclimate to their new surroundings. When the topic of gardening arose, the group expressed a desire to have an area of land to cultivate. So that year the women planted small community gardens outside of the Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas offices. Read More

Farmer John Embraces Biodynamics to Heal the Farm and Build Community

July 29, 2011 |

In the documentary, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, John Peterson says that he “began to see the farm as a living organism.” Upon further reflection Peterson, the founder of Rockford, Illinois-based biodynamic farm, Angelic Organics, says that he’s always seen the farm that way. He says that the works of Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner helped to crystallize his thoughts around this idea. Read More

Gunthorp Farms Survives and Thrives on Creativity

July 20, 2011 |

Greg Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farms

In 1998, the bottom fell out of the hog market. There was a surplus in supply. Pork was selling as low as 14 cents per pound. It was also only the fourth year that Greg and Lei Gunthorp had been managing their hog operation in LaGrange, Indiana.

The pressure was on. While 90% of hog farmers have gone out of business since 1980, Gunthorp Farms has added land, expanded markets, and hired help. They’ve been able to do so because Greg Gunthorp farms differently.

This year, Gunthorp will sell 1,500 hogs, 70,000 chickens, 15,000 ducks, and a small number of turkeys. As a vertically integrated operation, Gunthorp oversees every part of the process, from field to plate. This includes raising the animals, growing feed, processing and cutting meats, and direct marketing to restaurants, retail establishments, and customers. Read More