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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Katie Venit

Chicago Urban Farming Partnership Focuses on Empowering South Side Neighborhood

March 27, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Eat to Live Englewood.

Photo courtesy of Eat to Live Englewood.

The Englewood community on Chicago’s South Side has endured much of the impact of urban disinvestment over the past 30 years.

Now, thanks to a coalition of community partners, bare lots are being turned into productive fields as part of Chicago’s urban agriculture movement.

Angelic Organics Learning Center, a non-profit based in Caledonia, Illinois, has partnered with other longtime influential not-for-profits in the community such as Real Men Charities and Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living as well as the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development to form the Eat2Live garden and farm . Read More

City of Baltimore Adopts Policies and Programs to ‘Grow Local, Buy Local, Eat Local’

March 26, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of City of Baltimore

Photo courtesy of City of Baltimore

Baltimore has long been working towards a more sustainable city. In 2009, it developed the Baltimore Sustainability Plan, which included a number of broad recommendations to move the city towards a sustainable future.

And in November 2013, it took a large step towards one of those goals—food sustainability—with the adoption by the Baltimore City Planning Commission of Homegrown Baltimore: Grow Local, a three-pronged plan to “grow local, buy local, and eat local.”

The city sees its role as supporting the local food movement that is already underway, rather than trying to create it.

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Startup Crowdfunds To Launch Aquaponic Prototype for Small Spaces

February 26, 2014 |

aqualibriumJosh Rittenberg, Ben-Yam Barshi, and Jared Kasner needed capital to fund the production of their modular home aquaponics system, the Aqualibrium Garden. They had created a prototype, but the industrial molds were very expensive. So the trio turned to Kickstarter, launching a campaign for 30 days in fall 2013.

“It’s really a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” Rittenberg says of the Kickstarter campaign, calling the experience amazing but also harrowing.

“We were all round the clock answering emails.” Because Kickstarter has an international audience, they would get the emails in the middle of the night from countries like French Polynesia, and they had to be sure to answer every email. Read More

Montana Aquaponics Venture Grows Slowly by Keeping it Simple

February 14, 2014 |
Mark Winchel tends to his aquaponics system. Photo courtesy of Aquaponics North.

Mark Winchel tends to his aquaponics system. Photo courtesy of Aquaponics North.

Growing produce year-round in northwest Montana may sound complicated, but the owner of Aquaponics North, Mark Winchel, is keeping it simple.

Before turning to aquaponics, Winchel ran a horticultural business for 23 years and has learned that one of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur could make is trying to grow too fast, too soon—putting the cart before the horse, as he says.

“We know better now,” says Winchel. “We’re just doing this one step at a time. That goes all the way down our business plan, from what we’re going to grow and how to set our systems up; just very simple, as few steps as possible.” Read More

New Maryland Farmer Re-starts Successful Family Microgreen Business

January 29, 2014 |
Coole Beans Farms' carrots and beats. Photo courtesy of Dixie Blades

Cool Beans Farms’ carrots and beets. Photo courtesy of Dixie Blades

This is the story of start-up farm that is actually a start-over.

For most of his life, David Lankford, along with his wife Sharon, ran a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore called Davon Crest II, which was particularly well known in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas for quality microgreens grown year-round in heated greenhouses.

When David decided to get out of the day-to-day farming business to work for a company that produces farming software, he offered the farm to his sister, Dixie Blades.

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