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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Jessica Vernabe

Online Food Exchange Connects Local Buyers and Producers to Strengthen Food System in Northeast

December 8, 2011 |

When buyers start relying on farms in their own communities for purchasing food, the logistics can get tricky in areas such as order processing, inventory management and timely transportation.

That’s why entrepreneur Jonathan “JD” Kemp started the Organic Renaissance Food Exchange, or ORFoodEx, in 2009. It’s a Boston-based company that serves the New England food market and that aims to eventually expand on a broader scale. The idea, he said, is to help local buyers form efficient and direct relationships with local producers in order to reinvigorate and re-regionalize the current food system, which Kemp says is flawed. Read More

UN Agency Publishes Paper on “Energy-smart” Agriculture at Climate Change Conference

November 30, 2011 |

There is a major need for global food systems to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and shift to “energy-smart” models in order to meet global food demands, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The organization released the report entitled “Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate” in Durban during the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

The report said there is a challenge to “decouple food prices from fluctuating and rising fossil fuel prices.” However, it also said that since the food sector both requires energy and can produce it, the sector can take advantage of the energy-food connection by using more sustainable farming and production methods. Read More

Penn State Launches Urban Farming High Tunnel Project with Community Partners in Philadelphia

November 29, 2011 |

Pennsylvania State University’s Penn State Extension office is teaming with community partners in Philadelphia to put up high tunnels, which are considered an inexpensive way to extend the growing season for fruits and vegetables, the university announced.

The university’s College of Agriculture and Sciences sought funding for the acquisition and construction of 10 high tunnels. The funding was sought out, specifically, by the college’s faculty in the Department of Horticulture and extension educators in the university’s Penn State Extension office in Philadelphia.

High tunnels are made of a galvanized metal pipe frame, which is covered by plastic sheeting. Inside temperatures are controlled manually by rolling the structure’s plastic sides up and down, which allows the grower to improve yield and quality. Read More

Innovative Greenhouse Design Startup Leverages Wind and Air to Power Sustainable Farmers

November 28, 2011 |

David Chelf’s love for growing healthy and flavorful food dates back to his adolescence.

It was that love combined with a physics background that led the founder of Airstream Innovations, Inc. to create the wind-assisted, air-supported greenhouse, and invention he says helps farmers grow more sustainably. Chelf, the company’s president, originally invented the product in late 2005 for his own crops.

(Chelf is also the owner of Wicked Wilds, a company he founded in 2003 that focuses on growing organic fruit and vegetable varieties with the maximum level of flavor.)

The Airstream Innovations greenhouse model, which is made with a reinforced plastic, relies on controllable air pressure and ventilation. Read More

Startup Profile: Interra Energy Forges Path to Sustainable Agriculture and Energy with Biochar

November 22, 2011 |

After Interra Energy, Inc. President Thomas Del Monte started researching the “carbon negative” energy process of biochar used for sustainable agriculture, he knew he was onto something big.

That is what launched the third-year law school student into an MBA program at the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego, where he transformed interest and knowledge into a biochar-focused company. Interra Energy, which is currently in its research and development stage, is based on a plan to bring new edge to an ancient agricultural practice, Del Monte said. Read More