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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Jenny Smiechowski

California Start-Up Brings Precision Irrigation to Water-conscious Growers

March 30, 2015 |
Photo credits: Alan Wells

Photo credits: Alan Wells

If you are a farmer in California, there is one issue that should be on your mind at all times: water conservation. As California enters its fourth year of drought, recent estimates suggest that the state only has enough water in its reservoirs to last one more year.

Agriculture accounts for over 60 percent of California’s overall water usage. So as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis, Tom Shapland understandably has water conservation on his mind.

Shapland and his fellow research associates worked together on a technology that would allow farmers to more precisely monitor and administer water to their crops.  Their research resulted in the creation of a sensor that measures water usage, or evapotranspiration, and the formation of Shapland’s start-up company, Tule. Read More

Women in Food: Gwen Garcelon Works to Build Local Food System in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley

February 9, 2015 |

GwenGarcelonRoaring Fork Food Policy Council Founder and Director Gwen Garcelon has a lot of experience trying to effect change on complex issues. For ten years, she worked as a grassroots organizer for the D.C. based nonprofit Results, trying to end world hunger and poverty. Although she was laid off from this position when the recession hit in 2008, she has not lost her drive to tackle complicated and seemingly intractable issues. Most recently, she has set her sights on one of the most complex yet pressing issues we face: creating a more sustainable food system. Read More

Women in Food: Giulia Stellari Brings Big Data to Small Farms

January 8, 2015 |
Giulia Stellari. Photo courtesy of Giulia Stellari.

Giulia Stellari. Photo courtesy of Giulia Stellari.

When Giulia Stellari was seven years old she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up: a sheep farmer in Australia.

“I was really into animals and have always been into growing things, but lived in a very urban setting and so didn’t really have the opportunity to do that,” says Stellari.

Even though she didn’t pursue this dream, she eventually got back in touch with her agricultural leanings in a very different capacity. In 2009, Stellari cofounded AgSquared, a software company focused on small-farm planning, management, and record keeping. Read More

Urban Agriculture: What’s Really Making a Mark?

December 2, 2014 |
Photo Credit:  Laurell Sims

Photo Credit: Laurell Sims

It’s easy to label urban farming as the solution to serious societal problems like food deserts, economic development, and obesity. But not all urban farming is alike. Some methods are bound to be more successful, profitable, and impactful than others. The question is which ones are giving cities the “biggest bang for their buck,” so to speak, and which ones are more good for morale?

The answer to this question is complicated. Urban agriculture in U.S. cities is evolving to include operations on a wide spectrum that ranges from small-scale community gardens to high-tech aquaponic and vertical farms. Read More

Sustainable Food Toolkit Targets Next Generation of Community Food Advocates

October 16, 2014 |
Credit: Melanie McLean

Credit: Melanie McLean

Since children are the future, it is important to teach them about issues that matter, and sustainable food is at the top of that list. The sustainable food movement has gained a lot of momentum in recent years, but despite its growth there are still more than six million children in the U.S. living in communities that lack access to healthy, sustainable food. Often, these children (and other children across the country) know very little about where food comes from, which foods are healthy, and which foods are good for the environment. Read More