Urban agriculture ventures of all different stripes – from commercial hydroponic enterprises and rooftop aeroponic farms to community gardens planted atop formerly vacant lots – are not only disrupting the food system, but also generating community and economic capital.
To give you an up close and personal look at a series of innovative urban farming operations that have emerged to tackle challenges to food access, meet marketplace demand for local food, and increase food security, Seedstock has put together the ‘Future of Food – Urban Ag Field Trip’.
Scheduled for Friday, January 27, 2017, the field trip will look at the impact of urban farming in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, and include lectures on such topics as the past, present, and future of urban agriculture, vertical farming, and sourcing local food from urban farms.
Food is food because it’s meant to be eaten. But all too often, what’s intended for the table ends up in the dumpster. To address the issue, a growing movement of developers is creating easy-to-operate tech tools to help people produce volumes of food with less surplus and rescue food that would typically go to waste.
Farmers just received a bit more help from the technology sector with a new app created by George Lee, founder of FarmPlenty, located in San Mateo, CA.
With credentials as a software engineer at both Google and Twitter, Lee quit his job at Twitter to focus on consulting and technology development in sustainable agriculture.
According to Lee, more focus is needed on pressing issues of public health and climate change. Although agriculture is topping his list right now, Lee also cares deeply about education, the environment, health and poverty alleviation.
Press release – WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Microsoft officials today announced the winners of the USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge, in which contestants used USDA agriculture production open data to develop online tools that can help make the American food supply more resilient in the face of climate change.
“In yet another example of how public and private resources can be leveraged together to address significant global concerns, the winners of the USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge have used open government data to create an impressive array of innovative tools to help food producers and our communities prepare for the impacts of climate change and ensure our nation’s ability to provide plentiful, affordable food,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “For more than 100 years, USDA has compiled data on the farm economy, production, and the health of crops around the country, and it is exciting to see such modern, useful tools spring from these information sources.”
A company in California is using technology to engage people in local agriculture and support the local farming economy. Ag Link, based in the San Joaquin Valley, has created a website and smartphone app, Ag Link Connect, for consumers looking for local food and farms, as well as fun local activities and agriculture related events. By partnering with other agencies, Ag Link hopes to create a statewide network that will increase the reach of local agriculture organizations.
Ag Link Connect was created by Rob and Jana Nairn, native Californians who grew up on farms and have degrees in agricultural marketing. Their business started as an e-commerce platform to connect schools to local farms in support of farm-to-school programs in California.
“As we were developing a business model of connecting growers to schools, we came across a lot of growers whose products didn’t fit into this market but were interested in what we were doing,” Jana explains. “We started looking for opportunities to fit their needs.”