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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Missy Smith

Lancaster County Family Hatchery Meets Foodies’ Demands for Wholesome, Sustainable Birds

May 6, 2013 |

jm hatcherySimply put, Joel Martin loves his job. He and his wife Martha run a sustainable hatchery on their New Holland, Pa., family farm, where Martin says through his work, he has the privilege of witnessing the wonder of life.

JM Hatchery breeds domestic poultry for sale to customers in their local area, as well as to many people throughout the United States. After purchasing their Lancaster County property in 1984, Martin began raising Guinea Fowls for the Big Apple’s live poultry markets, where dealers would sell his Guineas to market-goers. In 1996, when Gingrich’s Animal Supply in Fredericksburg, Pa. approached Martin asking him if he would like to hatch Silkie chickens, he dove into the awe-inspiring world of hatching baby birds. Read More

Startup’s High Tech Oceansphere Poised to Increase Sustainability in Commercial Fish Farming

April 3, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Hawaii Oceanic Technologies.

Photo Credit: Hawaii Oceanic Technology.

The world’s over-fished oceans have reached maximum sustainable yield at about 90 million metric tons per year, and many fish species like tuna are facing extinction. Not only is seafood over-fished, but it is oftentimes imported and obtained through unsustainable fishing and economic practices.

Bill Spencer, president and CEO of Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc., recognized this problem and a number of others with the commercial fishing industry. “The United States imports 85 percent of the seafood is consumes, half of which is farmed, resulting in a $12 billion trade deficit, the second largest natural resource trade deficit behind foreign oil,” he relays. “The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has declared that we need to double farmed-seafood output within 30 years to meet demand.”

As a response to these statistics, Spencer and oceanographer Paul Troy set out to make the commercial fishing industry more sustainable, forming Hawaii Oceanic Technology in 2006. Read More

First Time Farmers in Hopewell, NJ Embrace Unique Business Model, Hope to Grow Sustainable Farm Movement

February 25, 2013 |

Robin and Jon McConaughy, owners of Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, NJ. Photo Credit: Double Brook Farm.

Like many people jumping aboard the local food revolution, Robin and Jon McConaughy’s sustainable farming journey all started with an article that took a peek behind the conventional farming curtain. Ten years ago, as Robin McConaughy was flipping through the New York Times’ Sunday newspaper, she came across Michael Pollan’s article “Power Steer”, which chronicled the life of a conventionally raised cow from birth to dinner table.

“It disgusted me. It was such an eye opener,” reflects McConaughy, who says that neither she nor her husband have farming backgrounds. “I actually thought people farmed on green fields. I never [considered] what the meat from the supermarket actually was.” Already having a desire to own some land where their now 10- and 12-year-old boys could grow up forming a first-hand understanding of nature, McConaughy and her husband Jon found Pollan’s belly-turning piece to be the final push in a healthy, sustainable direction.

In 2003, the McConaughys purchased their 60-acre farm in Hopewell Township, N.J., and got to work raising some animals for their family’s consumption. Read More

Startup Looks to Coconut Husks as Solution to Meet Challenge of Topsoil Depletion

February 12, 2013 |

Several years ago, George Vidal and Emilio Perito responded to a personal calling to simultaneously conduct business and to do their part in preserving our natural resources. Realizing that water depletion and eroding topsoil were becoming major problems, the two set out to start a company that would address these environmental concerns by creating products designed to increase sustainability in farming.

“In the United States, topsoil is vanishing at a rate of 10 times faster than it can be formed,” explains Vidal. “Our current agricultural practices have already stripped our topsoil of many nutrients and minerals, which have a direct effect on our produce and grain that is fed to livestock, which leads to fewer nutrients to our bodies.” Read More

Startup Seeks to Shape Future of Urban Agriculture with Fish, Automation and Well Designed Hardware

January 17, 2013 |

Photo Credit: Future Tech Farm.

Two young mechanical engineers, Brian Falther, 24, a 2010 graduate of Kettering University (Flint, Mich.) and Austin Lawrence, 21, a senior at Kettering University, have teamed up to bring small aquaponic grow systems into people’s homes, with each system being connected to an online farm community. Their concept is at once a virtual world with online interaction and connectivity and an authentic reality where real, clean, healthy food grows in a large collection of personal micro-aquaponic systems in homes throughout the world. They call their idea Future Tech Farm.

“The way we have been describing our home grow system is as a ‘node’ of the farm. The sum of all the nodes equals the farm. In essence, the Future Tech Farm is a singular decentralized and distributed farm—what we are calling a farming platform with a physical and virtual representation,” says Falther. Read More