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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By Melinda Clark

Private Equity Co. Connects Investors with Organic Farmland; Creates Land Access Program for Young Farmers

September 27, 2012 |

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.” Read More

L.A.-based Tender Greens Takes Action in Community, Readies Launch of Sustainable Life Project

September 12, 2012 |

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. Read More

Emphasizing Local Farm Ingredients, Craft of Cooking, Fast-Growing SoCal Restaurant Chain Stays True to Roots

September 9, 2012 |

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. Read More

Online Platform Sprouts to Facilitate Global Local Agricultural Network

August 15, 2012 |

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. Read More

Aquaponics Skeptic Turned Believer Hopes to Bring Growing Method to Homes and Urban Areas Across America

August 1, 2012 |

Photo: Courtesy of Sylvia Bernstein

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. Read More

Startup Uses Crowd-sourced Data to Map Food Supply Chain in Effort to Help Consumers Find Sustainable Food

June 19, 2012 |

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. Read More

NY-based Dairy Cooperative Holds Members to Highest Standards, Lets Milk Speak for Itself

June 6, 2012 |

Photo: Hudson Valley Fresh

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. Read More

In Feat of Alchemy, Phoenix, AZ-based Startup Transforms Food Waste into Organic Produce and Profit

April 18, 2012 |

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.  Read More