CSA’s have taken the leap into the 21st century. Community Supported Agriculture has for years been the refuge of the urban food-conscious looking for reliable, locally-sourced whole food. But small-scale operations can’t always reach a critical mass and some people can’t always take advantage of Farmers Markets. Enter Azoti.
Developed by tech entrepreneur David Ranallo, Azoti provides the internet platform that efficiently connects local farmers with local companies – and all of their employees – for quick distribution of fresh, sustainably-raised food, to a populace hungry for healthier choices.
“We need to de-commoditize food,” Ranallo said. “Azoti can help farmers with marketing, manage wellness programs for employers and fill orders for customers all at once. And when we can help farmers forecast demand, we’ll see cheaper Farmers Market-quality food.”
After $50 Million Buyout, Entrepreneurs Return to Farm to Further Ideals of Sustainable Food MovementApril 17, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
In today’s cyber-driven universe, technology wunderkinds don’t normally go from $50 million buyouts by Google back to the farm. But that’s exactly what Rob Spiro, co-founder of the farm-to-fridge grocery delivery start-up in San Francisco, Good Eggs, did.
Spiro and his colleagues from Silicon Valley founded the company a mere 18 months ago, with the idea that their experience in the tech world could be put to good use in furthering the ideals of a sustainable food movement. After selling their social search service, Aardvark, to Google in 2010, Spiro, et al thought to lasso the burgeoning grassroots drive for local, organic food direct-to-consumer in the Bay Area.
Most folks, farmers or otherwise, had their first introduction to vapor farms in the hit movie series “Star Wars.” Vapor farming is no longer a thing of science fiction. In fact, its an emerging industry that could change the way the world views water. We interviewed three of the top rated atmospheric water generation (AWG) system producers in the industry to better understand not only the technology, but its potential for sustainable agriculture. Atmospheric Water Systems, Inc. (AWS), EcoloBlue, Inc. and Island Sky Corporation happily explained their systems and the potential of AWG for modern farming.
Atmospheric water is exactly what it sounds like: water from the earth’s atmosphere. Everything contains water and everything has a dew point, the point at which vapor in the air condenses into liquid form.
Charles Nichols and Samir Ibrahim think solar energy is the key to helping small-scale farmers succeed. Together, Nichols and Ibrahim co-founded SunCulture and created the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit to help Kenyan farmers farm more sustainably.
The Irrigation Kit that they developed uses solar water pumping technology and high-efficiency drip irrigation. Because the pump is solar it works well in Kenya’s climate, especially the country’s drier regions, noted Ibrahim.
Farmscape, a company that installs and maintains urban gardens throughout Los Angeles, CA, decided to take two spectacular things – fresh produce and a dinosaur – and create an app out of them. The app, Agrisaurus, is designed to take the guesswork out of small-scale gardening and farming, and help farmers plan and plot produce sites.
On March 12, Agrisaurus became available for anyone to download. I recently got in touch with Rachel Bailin of Farmscape and Agrisaurus, and found out why Farmscape’s founders thought the app would help gardeners, and how the app works.
The hydroponics industry has the power to eradicate world hunger – if we’d only take it seriously, says agricultural expert Matthew Geschke. But that can be hard to do. Hydroponics trade shows cultivate a party atmosphere that caters to grow-your-own stoners. Decorated with kegs and half-naked women, there is very little talk of saving the world. For Geschke, a hydroponics designer who desperately wants to be accepted in mainstream agricultural circles, it’s an embarrassment that relegates a critical farming alternative to the shadows.
Geschke explains that, as is commonly accepted among agricultural circles, a well-designed hydroponic system is “capable of producing seven to 10 times more produce than traditional agriculture in the same given footprint, assuming all necessary demands are met.” These systems, which grow plants in water using mineral nutrient solutions without soil, are built to recreate the plants’ natural environment. This is what makes it such an efficient and sustainable operation.
Rather than ‘Figure Out More Ways to Blow People Up’, Former NASA Engineer Seeks Solution to Feed WorldFebruary 21, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
When NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011, a lot of the engineers and systems technology staff ended up heading to defense industry contracting firms. But Douglas Mallette, founder and CEO of Cybernated Farm Systems, says he wanted to help feed the world rather than “figure out more ways to blow people up.”
So he founded Cybernated Farm Systems with the idea of building a fully self-generating and sustainably-operating greenhouse growing system that could feed precisely 634 people for 30 years, leave a small carbon footprint and provide nutritious, organic, fresh food in a world of rising poverty and hunger.
Landscape Maintenance Co., Toro, Sees Opportunity in Drip Irrigation to Help Farmers Use Water More EfficientlyFebruary 5, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
Known for decades for their landscape maintenance equipment found on nearly every golf course on the planet, Toro is looking to change the way farmers think about irrigation and husbandry of an essential, endangered resource: water. The company moved into agricultural drip/micro irrigation innovation about 15 years ago, when they bought out the El Cajon-based company Hardie Irrigation.
“Since then, Toro started getting into water management and has really developed its micro-ag division, focusing on drip irrigation,” Toro Marketing and Communications Manager Sky Anderson said. “Water is always going to be a farmer’s first concern, so how can he use it more efficiently and economically?”
Reno, NV Startup Sees Opportunity in High Tech, Inexpensive Irrigation Control Systems for Small FarmersJanuary 31, 2013 | Nicola Kerslake
When Reno, NV based sustainable agriculture enthusiast Eric Jennings noticed one morning that, yet again, his irrigation system had watered his sidewalk more than his backyard farm, he decided that it was time to put his engineering skills to good use. “Water is expensive and scarce in this area, and wasting it just bugged me so much that I started tinkering around in the garage” Jennings noted. Most of the commercially available water irrigation control systems were either prohibitively expensive or excessively complex; “there was just nothing around designed for the small farmer” he concluded.
Around six months’ later, he’d created Pinoccio; a small, cheap microcontroller with an embedded WiFi unit that could be combined with a soil moisture sensor to control irrigation remotely.
When Bill and Karla Chambers founded Stahlbush Island Farms in 1985, their goal was to not only grow certified organic produce but also to integrate sustainability into all aspects of their operation. In 1997, Stahlbush Island Farms was certified sustainable by Food Alliance (FA).
“Sustainability is a journey, not an end point,” says Stahlbush Island Farms marketing executive Emily J. Hall. “It’s about having an ongoing philosophy regarding how you operate as a company, and making the right choices every day.”
In a world where climate change continues to wreak more and more havoc on growing seasons and arable land becomes increasingly scarce and expensive, viable farming alternatives are the Holy Grail of sustainable agriculturists.
Local Garden of Vancouver, BC, a subsidiary of the vertical farming technology company Alterrus, is the latest challenger to the intractable problem of providing local fresh produce for future urban communities.
The company (they only launched production three months ago) is using the VertiCrop™ growing system created by Alterrus to raise baby greens, arugula, basil, spinach, kales and bok choy in a system that cultivates 10 times the amount of crops as traditional agriculture in the same amount of space, but uses 90 percent less water and terrain. And it does so on top of a parking garage in the middle of downtown Vancouver.
Started more than a year ago by Cousins William and Nathaniel Trienens along with another cofounder, lead developer Gabriel Odess-Gillett, CitySprout is an online social marketplace that was developed to allow communities without easy access to locally grown food, or the population to support a CSA, to more easily connect with local farmers.
The company’s communications director Jesse Mayhew explained that the idea behind CitySprout originated in a discussion about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) between William and a Westport, New York, farmer friend in Lake Champlain where Trienens grew up.
Meet the future of retail grocery shopping: SPUD, which stands for Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery. The company provides you with a means to buy organic, locally sourced, guaranteed-tasty, weekly groceries, without adding a microgram to your carbon footprint.
It’s like your local Farmers Market pulls up stakes and sets up camp on your front lawn, except that you only have to glance at your computer to make your selections, and everything might cost a little bit less. No drive to a crowded market, no aimless search for that elusive parking spot,