Posts By Trish Popovitch
In a world filled with contaminated food outbreaks, low-quality fresh produce at the grocery stores and an emerging class of sustainable producers, the time to improve fresh food logistics is now upon us.
That’s why innovative and award-winning minds at Infratab Inc., incorporated in 2002 and headquartered in Oxnard, California, have spent years researching how to keep food fresh from field to consumer. The company offers small farmers, produce truck fleet owners and farmers’ markets Freshtime, a perishable food monitoring system at an affordable price.
Home to over 80 food trucks, approximately 25 mini-farmers’ markets, seven large farmers’ markets and 200 community food-producing gardens, the City of Minneapolis continues to lead the country in fostering urban agriculture and local food businesses.
“Community gardens make people work side by side,” says Jane Shey, coordinator of Homegrown Minneapolis, a city-led urban agriculture initiative that launched in 2009.
“It’s a community building exercise and I don’t think we can underestimate the value of that.”
The DeHerrera family has worked the land of Longmont, Colorado for six generations. Utilizing just three acres of that farmland, niece Hannah DeHerrera and her husband Simon began Flipside Farm In 2013, growing fresh winter produce for area families.
So far this startup has met with numerous weather related challenges. By adapting their business model and making use of urban space, Flipside Farm just completed its second harvest, demonstrating that fresh vegetable production doesn’t have to stop because of snow and flood.
Determining what crops to offer has been a combination of experimentation with growing conditions and understanding the local market. A call to the farmer’s market informed DeHerrera that many of the traditional crops were already saturating the local market.
In the fall of 2009, on the 30th anniversary of Los Angeles County’s first farmers’ market, then mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa announced a task force of community stakeholders to draft a healthy sustainable food agenda for the county.
Out of that task force came the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, which held its first official meeting in 2011.
The mission of the organization is to make Southern California a Good Food region for everyone—where food is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable. LAFPC has five full-time staff members, one part-time staff member and two interns. They provide resources for small business owners, residents and policy makers throughout Los Angeles County, and are funded by private philanthropic groups, nonprofit in-kind matching funds and the countless volunteer hours of their many supporters.
Ten Acre Organics began as the abstract vision of a few friends in Austin, Texas.
“We wanted to use social capitalism to make a positive impact,” says Michael Hanan, co-founder. “We started looking at where the greatest opportunities to do that were. We saw that growing and sharing the healthiest food possible was really one of the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities facing our generation.”
Hanan and fellow classmate Lloyd Minick began the farm in earnest in 2012. Currently, the farm is housed on a tenth of an acre residential plot in Austin. Although it is tiny, the startup hopes its method of integrated, closed loop farming that combines field plants, aquaponics, live animals and a small CSA can act as a model for productive urban farming around the nation.
Jack Waite, founder of Agua Dulce Farm in Austin, Texas, is truly is a jack-of-all-trades.
By combining his varied background in accounting, engineering, botany and nonprofit management, he has realized his dream of running an aquaponics farm. In recent weeks, this interesting startup reached full operational capacity. Along the way, the farm’s journey has been tested with challenges and sprinkled with luck.
After looking everywhere inside Austin’s city limits for a potential facility, Waite was fortunate enough to find a friend who had a friend who had an unused three-acre farm in the city limits. The owner wanted to contribute to the sustainable ag movement but wasn’t able to do it personally. Waite entered into a very reasonable 30-year lease and began turning the land into a viable aquaponics farm.
On the verge of opening their new Quebec store, Canadian startup Urban Barns looks set to be a leader in the sustainable grocery store industry, both in Canada and the United States.
After careful planning and four years of intense research and development, Urban Barns launched in 2012 with a goal of growing produce as close to customers as possible. Initially, Urban Barns wants to sell sustainable leafy greens to the wholesale market. They believe their patented growing cubes are the perfect way to do that.
After years of research and design, tracking delivery routes, studying the local market and looking for a way to improve on agricultural standards, Oceanside, CA startup Famgro Farms developed an ultra-efficient, stackable “macro farm” system that optimizes space for hydroponic growing.
“I leverage technology, material handling and hydroponics together in a way that has not been done before, to make a meaningful impact on the ability to produce food, anywhere, anytime, pesticide-free and for a lower cost,” says Steve Fambro, who founded Famgro Farms in 2010.