Posts By Melinda Clark
In every industry, businesses look for new ways to connect – to the consumer, to the product, to each other. Sustainable agriculture, in particular, is an industry known for its connections: between the farmer and the soil, the consumer and his food, and the consumer and the producer of his food. But one connection that’s often overlooked is one of the most vital to the marketplace – that between the producer and the buyer. That’s where FoodHub comes in.
Developed by Ecotrust as part of their Food & Farms program, FoodHub is an online community of food professionals. It allows chefs, grocers and foodservice professionals to connect with and source from local farmers and food producers.
That along with a desire to create a successful business that will push the sustainable food movement forward was the aim of Roadside Food Projects founder Nick Wiseman when he and two associates decided to launch the business about six months ago.
Windowfarms will not save the world. But even in the big picture, every little piece counts.
That’s the thinking of The Windowfarms Project founder Britta Riley, a technology designer with myriad interests ranging from product development to social media to agriculture. Riley, along with Rebecca Bray, started Windowfarms in February 2009 as a way to foster consumer involvement, collaboration and innovation in food production and the environmental movement.
What exactly is a windowfarm? At the most basic level, it’s a vertical hydroponics system; rather than growing in rows, in soil, outdoors, plants within the system grow in columns, in water, indoors – in a window to be exact. The nutrients crops would get from the soil are instead dissolved in water and delivered to the plants with the help of an air pump.
On a more profound level, windowfarms are a powerful tool for changing the way consumers relate to their food.
The word ‘sustainable’ tends to get thrown around in the marketplace, which can be confusing to consumers who want to make conscientious food choices. That’s not the case when it comes to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). Through their farmers market, education and outreach programs, and framework of sustainable best practices, they’re helping set the standards for what the word can and should mean.
CUESA’s mission is to cultivate a sustainable food system by educating urban consumers and creating connections between them and local producers. Since 1999, CUESA has managed the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, a successful thrice-weekly market that requires its vendors to meet strict guidelines.
At first, Mark Elzinga, President of Southwest Michigan-based Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses, doesn’t sound like your typical organic farmer. “Why did we go into organics? For the money,” he says right off the bat.
While his attitude toward organic has changed over the years, his conviction that organic farming needs to be profitable to truly become mainstream has not.