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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Posts By Pamela Ellgen

Working with Farmers in the Middle, Northeast Foodhub Strengthens Local Food System via Produce Aggregation

July 10, 2013 |
Michael Rozyne lyman

Michael Rozyne (left), founder of Red Tomato with John Lyman of Lyman Orchards. Photo Credit: Red Tomato.

When shoppers pick up a head of locally-grown kale at the grocery store, they’re often perplexed to find that it costs more than what looks like the identical product trucked in from miles away.

“The consumer feedback is ‘Why isn’t it less expensive?’” says Laura Edwards Orr, director of Resource Development for Red Tomato. “It’s one of the great paradoxes—it’s so much more complicated. What the consumer doesn’t see is that the local farmer paid for a truck for the entire day, whereas larger growers can spread the cost of logistics over much larger volume. Logistics and cost are the key barriers in the local food chain.” Read More

Nevada High Altitude Farm Stretches Bounds of Sustainable Ag Innovation, Educates Others in Effort to Expand Market

April 18, 2013 |
hungry mother organics

Photo Credit: Hungry Mother Organics.

Thanks to its harsh climate and high altitude, Northern Nevada requires that farmers develop innovate agricultural methods and practice to sustainably grow produce. Seedstock recently spoke with Jacob O’Farrell, Special Projects Coordinator at Hungry Mother Organics about the challenges of farming in the Sierra Nevada foothills and how the state can improve its movement toward sustainable agriculture.

How did Hungry Mother Organics begin?

We started out as a family farm over 20 years ago in Virginia and relocated to Nevada ten years ago. Thereafter we worked with an inmate rehabilitation program and used prison labor to set up hoop houses at the Northern Nevada Correctional Facility. We continued expanding and eventually launched a retail location where we offer organic produce, heirloom seeds, Read More

Tucson, AZ Aquaponics Startup Keeps it Local, Grows Fish and Produce in the Desert

February 25, 2013 |

Sweet persian melon grown by Local Roots Aquaponic Family System.

The idea of eating only locally-grown, seasonal food sounds appealing. Until you move to the desert. With an average annual rainfall of less than 13 inches, Tucson, Arizona is somewhat less than hospitable to traditional, soil-based agriculture. And fish? Forget it.

But, it was not the land that drew Stéphane Herbert-Fort to the Sonoran desert. It was the sky. He came to the University of Arizona to study astronomy and graduated with a PhD in 2011. Midway through his grad studies, however, he unearthed a deeper ambition than life as an academic.

“As a longtime fan of sustainable technologies and organic gardening, I wanted to join the two and make an impact on urban agriculture in Tucson. It was the perfect time for a change. Aquaponics fulfills my passions: to grow as much food as possible, simply and sustainably.” Read More

2,500 Acre Organic Farm in Arizona Rooted in Compost and Community Thrives on Social Responsibility

February 4, 2013 |

Duncan Family Farms in Buckeye, Arizona. Photo Credit: Pamela Ellgen

The principles of organic farming permeate every aspect of Duncan Family Farms from the seeds they plant in the ground to those they sow in the local community.

“We believe that the primary responsibility of Duncan Family Farms is to produce clean, healthy, life-giving food,” says founder and self-proclaimed “dirt nerd” Arnott Duncan. “We are also committed to making a strong contribution to an improved environment and to giving back to our community.”

Arnott and his wife Kathleen started the farm over two decades ago, and that vision has remained the cornerstone of their operation since the very beginning. Read More

Two Young Farmers Discuss Their Sustainable Farming Enterprise, Offer Advice to Aspirants

January 21, 2013 |

Sarah Wertz and Matt Hyde of Rabbit Run Farm in Skull Valley, AZ. Photo Credit: Rabbit Run Farm.

The following is a candid conversation with young farmers, Matt Hyde and Sarah Wertz about their operation, Rabbit Run Farm in Skull Valley, Arizona.

What compelled you, especially as a young couple to get into sustainable farming?

We both enjoy working outdoors and eating good food.  The farming lifestyle represents our values and beliefs. Also, we took the class Small Scale Agriculture at Prescott College held at Whipstone Farm in Paulden, Arizona. Following the class, we talked with the farmers Cory and Shanti and asked if we could work for them the following season. We really enjoyed it! The next season, Byrnie at Ridgeview Farms offered us land to use as kind of a trial for farming on our own The next season we were offered the farm manager position at Jenner Farm in Skull Valley and moved our farming operation there. We’ve been farming ever since. Read More

Farmer’s Vision for Sustainable Agriculture Blossoms into Thriving Urban Farm in Phoenix, AZ

January 14, 2013 |

Crooked Sky Farms. Photo Credit: Monica Gonzalez.

In the late 90’s, Frank Martin set up a card table in the gravel parking lot of the local post office and sold zucchini he had grown in his garden. So began the Prescott Farmer’s Market and Frank’s transition from passionate gardener to profitable farmer.

“At that first market day, I made $60 and thought, ‘Whoa, I made bank!’” he recalls, laughing.

Around that time, he met some students from Prescott College who had heard about a new idea, this thing they called “community supported agriculture.” For a school project, they organized local farmers who wanted to participate in the CSA and assigned each grower five items to harvest each week. Read More