Posts By Trish Popovitch
In a recent New York Times op-ed, Bren Smith, a shellfish and seaweed farmer on the Long Island Sound, states that “the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn’t making a living.”
Smith’s article is positioned as a call-to-action for sustainable farmers across the nation to come together and force national reform. Claiming that too-competitive farmers’ markets and CSA’s and the proliferation non-profit farming operations conspire to price the small grower out, Smith states that his “experience proves the trend.”
But does it?
Seedstock spoke with several of the small, local farmers we’ve covered over the last several years to get their take on Smith’s piece.
If you keep bees, have an interest in bees or have ever heard the often muttered phrase ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ or CCD, you may have heard of Jonathan vanEngelsdorp.
Research scientist for the University of Maryland and former State Apiarist for Pennsylvania, vanEngelsdorp is the director of a nationwide bee data collection project, the ‘Bee Informed Partnership’ or BIP. BIP collaborates with backyard beekeepers and industry stakeholders to conduct bee-centric research. The goal is to make healthier bees and ensure that natural pollination ceases to decline. Over the last few years a lot of misnomers have sprung up in regard to the health of bees, and vanEngelsdorp and his team are working hard to educate Americans about thee state of our pollinators.
Aquaponic-philes everywhere can look forward to three days of tours, trips and technical know-how at the September conference of the Aquaponics Association. This year’s conference will be held in San Jose, CA and runs from September 12 -13. The conference plays a significant role in normalizing and promoting what could be the future of American farming.
Meg Stout, engineer and the current chairman of the Aquaponics Association, feels she is a neutral leader in a time when aquaponics is becoming ever more prevalent and ever more competitive.
It was on a business trip to Amsterdam that Glenn Behrman, a savvy New Yorker with business dealings across the globe, saw the future of agricultural production at the indoor farming research facility of PlantLab.
When he returned to the States, he and his partner and friend of 35 years Alan Helene got to work creating a mobile growing system called Growtainer that he believes could change the world of agriculture.
When academic theory meets real world application, the possibilities are endless. Just ask Jonathan Engelsma, professor of computer science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Engelsma, with fellow faculty John Ferris and Anne Marie Fauvel, aided students in the creation of a digital beehive scale and software application. The SolutionBee application, about to hit the apiary supply market, provides beekeepers with an opportunity to help scientists research the serious issue of bee health.
“Our challenge is not only feeding people who are hungry today, but how do we work proactively to address the causes of hunger and poverty?,” asks Kathryn Strickland, Executive Director of the Food Bank of North Alabama. “That’s why we’re interested in supporting economic development within in our local food system; to help create meaningful jobs and healthy food access to really get at the root cause of the hunger and poverty,” says Kathryn Strickland.
What started as a single volunteer sitting behind a desk in a local senior center in 1984 has blossomed into an organization that helps feed 100,000 people over an 8,000 square mile service area in Northern Alabama, with the help of 200 partnering agencies. As Strickland explains, the food bank doesn’t only want to reduce hunger; it wants to give local residents, farmers and stakeholders the tools to connect the dots of a local food system.
From seed propagation to food justice, Susan Weincke has all the bases covered in her urban agriculture curriculum. Teaching at North Madison High School in Portland, Weincke blends practical experience with plant science to bring sustainable agriculture to a new generation of urban dwellers.
After working on educational and commercial farms and owning her own landscaping business, Susan Weincke became the Garden Coordinator at Madison High School in 2010. Through the government’s Career and Technical Education program, Weincke became a co-teacher at the school, assisting in science education. Today, having completed her Master’s in Education, Weincke is the agriculture teacher for Madison, using a school garden and outdoor classroom to bring her lessons on sustainability to students in grades 9 through 12.
“The reality is that there is just less water available for agriculture than there’s ever been. As you look to the future, the amount of food production that’s needed and the amount of water we’ll have to do it, is going to require that we grow the food with less water than we do today.”–Matt Liotta, PodPonics
Selling their tubs of mixed greens wholesale to major retailers such as Krogers, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, PodPonics has become a name to know in the world of commercial-scale hydroponic produce.