Posts By Melonie Magruder
What does a sustainable-minded farmer grow in Alaska where the average mean temperature is less than 30 degrees Fahrenheit most of the year? If you are Christopher and Crystal Boze at Green Winter Farms of Palmer, Alaska (about 45 minutes north of Anchorage), the answer would be basil – grown in a 40-foot-long shipping container and a 500-square-foot metal building called “the Space Station.”
“Normally, the earliest outside planting date around here is May 31st,” Crystal Boze said. “And by mid-September, everything’s gone or frozen.”
Boze and her husband quit their day jobs and launched Green Winter Farms three years ago. Their hydroponic system, set up in less than 1000 square feet of growing space, and warmed with LED grow lights, is astonishingly fertile – their yield of about 1.7 pounds per square foot of basil provides 14 local grocery stores, seasonal farmers markets and one local restaurant year-round with fresh basil.
Five years ago Mark Rhine and his business partner Marlo Ibanez, co-owners of Rhibafarms, had a broadband company in Phoenix, Arizona. They fielded a $225,000 a month payroll, traveled constantly and ate junk food only as an afterthought. Then they cashed in their company, bought a farm – Rhibafarms – and saw their health turn 180 degrees.
“We both lost a ton of weight, lowered our blood pressure and cholesterol and stopped taking medication,” Rhine said. “All because we started eating the organic food we grow. So all we want to grow now is very nutrient-dense food.”
Jennifer Piette said the idea for her Out of the Box Collective was born from the European food culture in which she lived for more than 20 years, working as a screenwriter and film producer.
“Where I lived (in France, Portugal and England), there were fresh markets right around the corner,” Piette said. “You cooked. Here in America, we have a completely different relationship with our food.”
Piette was referring to modern-day proclivities for processed and packaged meals (Piette calls it “phony food”), and produce and meat sourced from factory farms. The volume is impressive, but the quality dubious.
CSA’s have taken the leap into the 21st century. Community Supported Agriculture has for years been the refuge of the urban food-conscious looking for reliable, locally-sourced whole food. But small-scale operations can’t always reach a critical mass and some people can’t always take advantage of Farmers Markets. Enter Azoti.
Developed by tech entrepreneur David Ranallo, Azoti provides the internet platform that efficiently connects local farmers with local companies – and all of their employees – for quick distribution of fresh, sustainably-raised food, to a populace hungry for healthier choices.
“We need to de-commoditize food,” Ranallo said. “Azoti can help farmers with marketing, manage wellness programs for employers and fill orders for customers all at once. And when we can help farmers forecast demand, we’ll see cheaper Farmers Market-quality food.”
After $50 Million Buyout, Entrepreneurs Return to Farm to Further Ideals of Sustainable Food MovementApril 17, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
In today’s cyber-driven universe, technology wunderkinds don’t normally go from $50 million buyouts by Google back to the farm. But that’s exactly what Rob Spiro, co-founder of the farm-to-fridge grocery delivery start-up in San Francisco, Good Eggs, did.
Spiro and his colleagues from Silicon Valley founded the company a mere 18 months ago, with the idea that their experience in the tech world could be put to good use in furthering the ideals of a sustainable food movement. After selling their social search service, Aardvark, to Google in 2010, Spiro, et al thought to lasso the burgeoning grassroots drive for local, organic food direct-to-consumer in the Bay Area.