Posts By Jenny Smiechowski
In June 2011, Ken Armstrong watched a YouTube video that would change the course of his life. The video was created by urban farmer Will Allen, founder of the sustainable agriculture nonprofit Growing Power, Inc. and avid proponent of aquaponic farming. A year later, in June 2012, Armstrong would break ground on his own aquaponic operation, Ouroboros Farms.
Armstrong and his business partner Kenji Snow started Ouroboros with a strong desire to join the future of farming. “We wanted to be innovators and a model for a new integrated, living ecosystem methodology of farming that partners with nature, rather than trying to overcome it,” said Armstrong.
Jake’s Country Meats is more than just a pig farm—it is a family legacy. After six generations of raising pigs in the Michigan countryside, the Robinson family has developed a special connection to the land and remains dedicated to their mission of bridging the gap between food production and consumption.
According to the Robinson’s youngest daughter Renee, her father, Nate Robinson, has pig farming “in his blood” and he does a top-notch job of raising his Heritage breed pigs on pasture.
Renee, who came back to work on the farm after earning a degree in Marketing from Western Michigan University, takes part in all aspects of the family business.
As a young man, Wallace Farms CEO Nick Wallace faced a health crisis that would radically alter the future of the Wallace family. “Wallace Farms started out of our parent’s garage in 2001 and it started because a year and a half earlier I had cancer— I was 19. Everyone was starting to ask questions as to how that could happen.”
What the Wallace family uncovered in their search for answers was unsettling information about our modern food system and the negative impact it was having on human health. “My dad heard [Sally Fallon from the Weston A. Price Foundation] talk and he came home and said ‘I think I know why you had cancer’ and we realized that the foundation of our food production had changed drastically in the last 20 to 30 years.”
In 2006, Shelly Herman and Irvin Cernauskas set out on a mission to make local and organic food available year-round in two major Midwestern markets: Chicago and Milwaukee. Cernauskas, who had been actively involved the environmental nonprofit community and in creating markets for local farmers, already had the connections needed to help create a stronger relationship between local farmers and urban consumers.
“The farmers were talking about how they want to spend more time farming and less time trucking their food all over the place,” said Herman. “At the same time we realized that people in the city or suburbs need a way to get fresh, healthy food in a year-round way.” To fill this growing need, Herman and Cernauskas started Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks, a local and organic food delivery service.
According to Green Spirit Farms‘ Research and Development Manager Daniel Kluko, the future of farming is heading in one clear direction: vertical. “If we want to feed hungry people this is how we need to farm,” said Kluko.
Kluko believes that vertical farming offers a very important benefit in today’s world of scarce land and resources— the potential for unparalleled plant density. After all, how else can a farmer grow 27 heads of lettuce in one square foot of growing space?
Green Spirit Farms was started by Daniel’s father Milan Kluko under his engineering company Fountainhead Engineering LTD. The idea for the farm emerged while the company was evaluating indoor, urban farm models in North America for a non-profit client—a process which piqued Milan Kluko’s interest about the viability of a vertical farming operation.