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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Ag Technology

Tech Tools for Food Hubs: Oregon Firm Builds Sustainability Through Software

September 25, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Local Food Marketplace

Photo courtesy of Local Food Marketplace

Local Food Marketplace provides a software platform for food hubs that allows them to reach customers, aggregate production and compete with traditional distribution. 

“We help food hubs all the way from the planning process and working with their producers to figuring out what their availability will be on a weekly basis,” says Amy McCann, who co-founded the business in 2009. “We also help with writing sales sheets, creating invoices for customers and managing the distribution to the food hub’s customers.“

McCann says her personal experience working in the food hub environment helps her offer more than just tech support to her customers.  Read More

Seattle Farmer Creates Web-based Direct Sales Marketplace for Organic Produce

July 29, 2014 |
Janelle Maiocco, farmer, chef and food blogger, founded Seattle-based Farmstr in September 2013. (photo courtesy of Janelle Maiocco/Farmstr)

Janelle Maiocco, farmer, chef and food blogger, founded Seattle-based Farmstr in September 2013. (photo courtesy of Janelle Maiocco/Farmstr)

Seattle-based farmer, chef and blogger Janelle Maiocco founded Farmstr in September 2013 as an online marketplace centered on sustainability. Through its web site, customers can purchase food and produce directly from sustainable farmers, ranchers and fishers. The young startup announced a $1.3 million capital raise in May, 2014.

Through Farmstr, customers benefit because they can buy high-quality, locally-produced food for (often) less than its retail price. And producers benefit, as local farmers who largely operate on a small scale are able to sell their offerings in a timely manner.

Maiocco, a Seattle resident, has roots in dairy farming, and agriculture played a significant role in her growing-up years. A self-professed foodie, she is a trained chef and writes extensively about food and agriculture on her blog, “Talk of Tomatoes.”

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Detroit Aquaponics Business Combines High-Tech Ag, Social Justice Mission

July 17, 2014 |
Image Credit: David Sands

Image Credit: David Sands

Many of Detroit’s urban agriculture ventures have a down-on-the-farm feel to them, but not the CDC Farm & Fishery. If anything, with its tubes and tanks, the business seems downright futuristic. You see, the Farm & Fishery is among the first aquaponic operations to set up in Detroit following the passage of an urban agriculture ordinance last year.

Aquaponic is a term that describes enterprises where aquatic creatures are raised and their wastewater is recirculated to help grow plants that in turn filter it for reuse. Located in a two-level building in the North Central Woodward area of the city, the grow station is now raising tilapia fish and cultivating herbs and microgreens to sell to area businesses. Read More

5 Tech-savvy Hacks and Apps to ‘Smartify’ Indoor Agriculture

July 16, 2014 |

phillipsOne of the most tech-savvy areas of the sustainable agriculture revolution is indoor agriculture – growing in warehouses, containers and greenhouses using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic systems.  The industry has seen a wave of new technology commercialized of late, here’s some of the coolest:

1. Philips’ Lighting Recipes

The cynical view of the LED lighting that many indoor farms use to encourage plant growth is that it’s too expensive to buy and run, and too tricky to adjust the lighting to your plants’ needs.  Yet, LED prices are forecast to halve by 2020, according to market research firm Lux Research, and tech geeks are now making lights cheaper and easier to run. Read More

Montreal Startup Uses Tech to Build a Sharing Economy for Gardeners

June 18, 2014 |
Nicolas Cadilhac of PlantCatching works at a recent plant exchange at Montreal Botanical Garden. (photo by Ann Boisvert)

Nicolas Cadilhac of PlantCatching works at a recent plant exchange at Montreal Botanical Garden. (photo by Ann Boisvert)

Most, if not all, gardeners have experienced frustration over the amount of waste involved with gardening. Examples include unused soil, dead plants and compulsive purchases that don’t take root.

Wanting to address this problem, hobby gardener and computer science engineer Nicolas Cadilhac of Montreal, Quebec decided to mix his information technology acumen and love for gardening by creating a web site that would match gardeners to a surplus of unwanted plants and other garden materials. Thus in 2012, Cadilhac launched PlantCatching. Read More

MIT Students Start Tech Company for Growing Food in the Home (But it’s Not Click-and-Grow)

June 17, 2014 |
Grove Labs founders Gabe Blanchet and Jamie Byron Photo courtesy of: Grove Labs

Grove Labs founders Gabe Blanchet and Jamie Byron
Photo courtesy of: Grove Labs

About a year ago, Gabe Blanchet and Jamie Byron, both students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, started kicking around the idea that people could feed themselves in a healthy and sustainable way by growing their own food in their homes. They envisioned this method as a kind of home “grove” that would work for urban environments and also for those who live where winters inhibit growing food outdoors year-round.

That idea developed into co-founding a company called Grove Labs. Blanchet and Byron are now CEO and CTO, respectively. Read More

Croatian Startup Offers Cloud-based, Data-driven Dairy Farming Tool

March 28, 2014 |
Farmeron co-founder Matija Kopic (left) with fourth generation farmer and rancher Jeff Fowle of Etna, California (photo by Dave Saunders Director of Sales and Business Development, Farmeron)

Farmeron co-founder Matija Kopic (left) with fourth generation farmer and rancher Jeff Fowle of Etna, California (photo by Dave Saunders Director of Sales and Business Development, Farmeron)

Years of observing and assisting his father on his family’s farm in Croatia informed Matija Kopic about the intricacies of running a dairy farm.  The problem Kopic identified is not a shortage of data, dedication or diligence – but time.  After leaving the farm and gaining information technology expertise, Kopic set out to remedy the problem with powerful software and a start-up he named Farmeron.

Founded in Osijek, Croatia, the capital of the country’s well-known farming region Slavonia, Farmeron is a cloud-based comprehensive management tool for dairy farmers.

Farmeron’s American presence includes a headquarters in Palo Alto, California and offices in Columbus, Ohio and Minneapolis, Minnesota, with plans to expand into the southeast and southwest. Read More

Fisheries Biologist and Mechanical Engineer Collaborate on Maine Aquaponics Farm

March 13, 2014 |
Image courtesy of Fluid Farms

A variety of greens are seen growing at Fluid Farms’ greenhouse, an aquaponics facility in North Yarmouth, Maine. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Gaudet)

Agriculture is an ecosystem and needs to be treated as such.

That was the conclusion reached by business partners and former college roommates Tyler Gaudet and Jackson McLeod, who grow greens and raise fish at Fluid Farms.

Fluid Farms grows in a 5,000-square foot aquaponics greenhouse in North Yarmouth, Maine. The farm sells a variety of greens to area restaurants, and will sell their first fish (tilapia) this year.

The pair avoids the “sustainability” moniker, due to their belief that no form of production agriculture is 100 percent sustainable. Instead, they strive for a system that is not strictly dependent on inputs and outputs. Read More