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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Jessica Vernabe

Iowa State, Nation’s First Land-grant University Makes Strides in Sustainable Agriculture

February 29, 2012 |

The following story marks the start of a new article series in which Seedstock will profile land-grant universities across the United States with a specific focus on the role that sustainable agriculture plays in their curriculums, research projects, student initiatives and more.


In the world of agricultural education, Iowa State University has historical bragging rights.

The university calls itself the nation’s first land-grant university, which refers to the Morrill Act of 1862. The law allowed federal land to be donated to states so the states could sell it and use the proceeds to establish public colleges that focused on agriculture and mechanical arts. Read More

Five Acre Solar Panel Array, Water Conservation Help Hydroponic Tomato Operation Generate Sustainable Return

February 24, 2012 |

Casey Houweling, CEO of Houweling's Tomatoes at the Camarillo, CA greenhouse facility

The owner of Houweling’s Tomatoes has more than plump, red, juicy fruit on its mind—the hydroponics greenhouse tomato grower is also thinking about the planet.

Casey Houweling is the owner of the Delta, British Columbia-based company, which derives from a business his father started in 1956. While the company is headquartered in Canada, much of the sustainable magic happens at its Camarillo, Calif., year-round greenhouse growing facility, where renewable energy is produced, heat is generated and water is conserved.

At the glass greenhouse facility—which covers 125 acres of land—five acres of photovoltaic solar panels provide one megawatt of electricity, which is equivalent to removing 300 cars from the road, according to the company. Electricity is used on-site and also sold to the grid. Read More

Online Urban Farming Course Crosses Continents, Seeks to Boost Number of Farmers Producing Food Locally

February 21, 2012 |

A three-quarter acre parcel of land in the city can be transformed into a successful urban farming business when combined with the right training. Or at least that’s the opinion of startup company GroAction, which offers an online class on the topic.

About 470 people from around the world are now testing this theory.

They are doing so through the Portland, Oregon-based company’s free online urban farming course that launched this month in an effort to boost the number of farmers producing their own food locally. Read More

In Creating Fleet of Sustainable, Urban Farmers, Milwaukee-based Growing Power Seeks to End World Hunger

February 13, 2012 |

Will Allen, CEO and founder of Growing Power, Inc., has a straightforward goal – to end world hunger.

“It’s a lofty goal, but that’s how things should be,” said Allen, a sharecropper’s son who was a professional basketball player when he rediscovered his love for agriculture. “The only way to end world hunger is the local food system that we used to have. … Everybody would buy local food if it was available. We don’t have the infrastructure right now, so one of the things I wanted to do is prove that this could be done and this could be cash-flowed.” Read More

In Partnership with NYC High School, Cornell U. Builds and Enhances Sustainable Agriculture Technology

February 8, 2012 |

Students at culinary arts-focused Food and Finance High School in New York City learn more than just how to cook up a good fish fillet—they also learn how to grow the fish along with other foods using real-time, applied science and Cornell University technologies.

The high school is home to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CUCE), New York City Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Labs, where students learn how to grow their own tilapia and other fish species, more than 10 different types of lettuce, Chinese cabbages and herbs. The food is used in the campus cafeteria, in the school’s culinary classes and in its student catering program, said Philson A. A. Warner, founding director of the CUCE learning labs. Warner is also CUCE New York City’s coordinator of science, technology and sustainable agriculture. Read More