Posts By Melinda Clark
Private Equity Co. Connects Investors with Organic Farmland; Creates Land Access Program for Young FarmersSeptember 27, 2012 | Melinda Clark
In every deliberation one must consider the impact on the seventh generation – Great Law of the Iroquois.
In addition to getting its name from North America’s native ancestors, Iroquois Valley Farms also adopted this ancient wisdom as its impact statement. Says Iroquois Valley Farms cofounder Dave Miller, “that’s exactly what we want to have – a long-term generational impact.”
In addition to providing a haven for economical foodies in southern California, quick casual restaurant Tender Greens is working to play another important role in the community through its Sustainable Life Project (SLP). Starting in just a couple of weeks, SLP will train groups of young adults transitioning out of foster care in fields ranging from agriculture to culinary arts. The program aims to cultivate in them an “appreciation not only for the taste of organic produce, but also in its potential as a career path,” by helping participants develop the interest, skills and confidence to successfully pursue higher education or careers related to sustainable food.
Emphasizing Local Farm Ingredients, Craft of Cooking, Fast-Growing SoCal Restaurant Chain Stays True to RootsSeptember 9, 2012 | Melinda Clark
For Erik Oberholtzer, cooking and eating high quality, local, sustainably produced foods is “part of his DNA.” Oberholtzer co-founded Tender Greens, a rapidly-growing “slow food done fast” restaurant chain that serves affordable, sustainable, delicious meals across southern California. With big plans for growth in the works, Tender Greens faces the difficult, but exciting challenge of staying true to its roots while expanding across the state.
After culinary school and an impressive career as an executive chef at luxury resorts in Hawaii and San Francisco, Oberholtzer ended up in Los Angeles, where he met business partners Matt Lyman and David Dressler. The three of them decided it was time to venture out on their own – and they were very aware of a niche that needed filling.
“Tender Greens was a reaction to the lack of really good affordable causal options in Santa Monica,” says Oberholtzer.
A brand-new “niche e-marketplace,” Sproutrade is looking to connect farmers, growers and agriculture companies around the world. The platform, which just went live in July 2012, along with sister product Crowdstocker, aims to bring buyers and sellers of particular products together on a local and international scale. Their founder, Laura Wei, has been busy attending funding meetings, but she was able to correspond with Seedstock through email.
Aquaponics Skeptic Turned Believer Hopes to Bring Growing Method to Homes and Urban Areas Across AmericaAugust 1, 2012 | Melinda Clark
In an emerging field like aquaponics, there are few who can call themselves experts. Sylvia Bernstein is one who can. In addition to authoring Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together, which has been in Amazon’s top ten gardening books since it came out in October, she is the founder and current vice chairman of the Aquaponics Association and the president and founder of The Aquaponic Source. The Aquaponic Source is a resource for everything aquaponics, from systems and supplies to information, tips, fish and an online community.
Startup Uses Crowd-sourced Data to Map Food Supply Chain in Effort to Help Consumers Find Sustainable FoodJune 19, 2012 | Melinda Clark
What do you get when you cross Yelp, Wikipedia and Twitter, GIS and sustainable agriculture? The answer is Food Sprout.
Food Sprout is an ambitious attempt by Linda Chang and Andrew Naber to map the world’s food supply chain. It aims to be a Wikipedia-like platform that brings transparency to the food chain by tracing the movement of our food. On it, consumers, farmers, restaurants, distributors, and anyone else who has a hand in bringing food from seed to stomach can track, share and receive information about their food’s origins.
Sam Simon, the President of Hudson Valley Fresh, a not-for-profit cooperative consisting of eight dairy farms – and 1,200 cows – in Dutchess, Columbia and Ulster Counties in New York State, believes that all milk is not created equal. And through adherence to strict standards of quality, humane treatment of animals, segregated milk processing and the resultant songs of praise for the cooperative’s products from countless consumers and retailers, Hudson Valley Fresh appears to bear out Simon’s belief.
The premium quality milk and milk products produced by the cooperative – including half and half, heavy cream, sour cream and ice cream mix – are sold locally in the Mid-Hudson Valley, Long Island, New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.
What do you get when you feed a special ‘wine’ distilled from food waste to a giant sock filled with earthworms, seed and ground up coconut husks? You get a bounty of organic produce. This is not a joke, but rather a potential solution to address major worldwide issues related to food waste and food security. It is also the basic idea behind VermiSoks, a triple bottom line company that has developed a sustainable closed loop growing solution that converts food waste into a specially formulated liquid mixture used to grow organic produce.
Los Angeles-based Sustainable Ag Venture Seeks to Create Network of Urban Farms to Feed and Foster CommunityApril 9, 2012 | Melinda Clark
What do cuisine, land use, architecture and renewable energy have in common? A lot, according to Urban Green, a company working to connect these “inter-related disciplines.”
Urban Green operates three urban farms and a 4,800 square foot food facility in Los Angeles, CA. The farms employ a variety of growing practices, from traditional permaculture at the first site, which has been running for six years, to hydroponics at a new project in downtown Los Angeles. Urban Green takes a holistic approach to all of its projects, using not only permaculture practices, but reusable and biodegradable containers for its cuisine and renewable energy sources whenever possible.
Certification Org. Pushes Consistent Commitment to Sustainability in Agriculture at Every Step of ProductionMarch 22, 2012 | Melinda Clark
With incredibly comprehensive guidelines on environmental stewardship, social responsibility and animal welfare, Portland-based Food Alliance is making it easier to identify producers who demonstrate a true commitment to sustainability.
Food Alliance is a nonprofit that develops stewardship guidelines to help define sustainable agricultural practices and provides third-party certification of sustainable agricultural and food handling practices. It began in 1993 as a joint project of Oregon State University, Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to create market incentives for the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. In 1997, it was incorporated and began creating its first guidelines, initially for fruit and vegetable growers.
Efraim Bason, founder and Chairman of the Board of Local Ocean, a sustainable aquaculture company that has built and operates the world’s first commercial zero-discharge 100% recirculating aquaculture system, is no stranger to business. He owns a diverse portfolio of businesses ranging from a health and beauty products distributor to a real estate company. Now the self-described fisherman with a deep passion for the ocean is adding aquaculture to his repertoire.
Bason first learned that it was possible to farm saltwater fish in an aquaculture system about five years ago, when he moved back to Israel after living in the U.S. He was fascinated by two small aquaculture tanks at the University of Israel. Says Bason, “It was amazing, and I said if this could work, it could change the world. It can change the industry, it can save the ocean, and it can help people, with new jobs, green jobs.”
At first glance, Omega Garden’s product list might be a little confusing, with its Volksgarden® and Farmdominium™. But the Canadian-based hydroponics company isn’t selling bio-fuel vehicles or green housing complexes; rather, they’ve created a hydroponics system that may revolutionize not only urban agriculture, but agriculture in general. And 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for Omega Garden – so stay tuned.
The Volksgarden® is a rotary hydroponics system in which plants are installed in a circular unit, growing toward a light source at the center. It has approximately 20 square feet of growing area, and holds up to 80 plants. Its most successful crops include a variety of herbs, leafy lettuces, chards, peppers, strawberries, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers and some flower varieties.
To Improve Quality of Life and Access to Fresh Food Urban Farming Co. Blankets NYC with Edible Green RooftopsFebruary 28, 2012 | Melinda Clark
While ‘city farming’ may seem more like an oxymoron than a practical career goal, Brooklyn Grange aims to make it a stable profession – and bring tasty, sustainable produce to New York at the same time.
Brooklyn Grange is a 40,000 square-foot rooftop farm in Queens, New York. Though the company’s name might lead one to believe that it’s located in Brooklyn, the company actually built its flagship farm on Northern Blvd in Queens after the original farm site in Brooklyn fell through. It’s currently in the process of adding a second farm in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, doubling its acreage – and bringing it that much closer to achieving its goal of blanketing New York City with edible green rooftops.