Posts By Pamela Ellgen
In 2016, at the height of the California drought, Julian Cantando and Clayton Garland envisioned a more sustainable farming model than traditional soil-based agriculture, which has always thrived in California.
“Last year was the seventh year of the drought, the lake was down, and the threat of not having water was real, at least for other farmers who aren’t on a well. It was kind of a bleak situation,” Cantando says.
He and Garland were classmates in the Horticulture Program at Santa Barbara City College and often discussed going into business together.
There’s something romantic about an upcycled shipping container being transformed into a sustainable indoor growing operation. It takes would-be garbage from rotting in a port and turns it into a farm system that has the potential to lengthen growing seasons, reduce local food insecurity, and stabilize a farmer’s annual income stream. And, for some it works.
But not always. Eric Amyot was an early adopter of container farming who purchased one of the best retrofitted shipping containers available in 2014 and started SmartGreens, a Canadian operation that grows and delivers fresh greens direct to consumer.
Amyot and his team quickly exhausted the capabilities of the shipping container farm. “The concept and the approach itself were adequate in the sense that it was a good foundation,” he says. “What was lacking was what was needed to grow food consistently and adequately. The turnkey wasn’t as turnkey as we required.”
When Holly and Terry Delaney poked their heads into the kitchen at the Salvation Army where a friend was undergoing a one-year program toward self-sufficiency they were disappointed to see mostly frozen and canned goods being served. When you’re in recovery and trying to get healthy, you should be eating healthy food, they thought.
With the budget constraints of a nonprofit organization in mind, the pair approached local farmers in their community, the Santa Ynez Valley in California’s Central Coast, who agreed to let them glean produce from their fields or pick up food that didn’t sell during farmer’s markets and distribute it to local charities. One by one, new farmers agreed to contribute, and within a year, the Delaneys realized they had a viable nonprofit organization themselves. They registered Veggie Rescue as a 501(c)(3) in 2011.
Working with Farmers in the Middle, Northeast Foodhub Strengthens Local Food System via Produce AggregationJuly 10, 2013 | Pamela Ellgen
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.”
Nevada High Altitude Farm Stretches Bounds of Sustainable Ag Innovation, Educates Others in Effort to Expand MarketApril 18, 2013 | Pamela Ellgen
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,