Farmers Web is an 18-month-old start-up that aims to link local farms with local buyers through a wholesale “management tool,” and vibrant online marketplace that allows you to “shop and sell local online, anytime.”
The brainchild of co-founder and CEO, Jennifer Goggin, Farmers Web was born in downtown Manhattan from decidedly non-bucolic roots.
“I went into finance after college (Columbia University – political science), but my heart just wasn’t in it,” Goggin said. “So we decided that promoting small agriculture was something we could grab hold of.”
A simple passion for great tasting food and sustainability fueled the founding of Amelia’s Farm, a hydroponic farm based in Bells, Texas. Amelia Von Kennel, co-founder and executive vice president, and Ben Von Kennel, co-founder and chief executive officer, established the Farm in October 2011. The couple sold their house in Dallas, Texas, and moved their family ranch to Bells, Texas. Since the move, the Von Kennel’s focus has concerned strengthening the Amelia’s Farm brand, and building a 6,000 square-foot, commercial, hydroponic greenhouse. The Farm grows pesticide-free, non-GMO produce all year round.
I recently had a conversation with Amelia Von Kennel. She discussed how the couple started farming, why she and Ben value healthy food and how the Farm stays sustainable.
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.
Growing shiitake oyster mushrooms for Michael Alt’s family’s restaurant proved to be a tricky operation in snowfall manic Syracuse, NY. Maintaining ideal conditions required a complicated set-up of seemingly endless triggers, humidifiers, fans, dehumidifiers and miscellaneous controls. At his day job, Alt was making radar technology for the US Department of Defense as a software engineer – stuff like forward facing detector installations for Afghanistan bases. It seemed far from related to his mushroom cultivating hobby, but then one of his hardware tech co-workers came in with something that had the potential to change everything for Alt’s growing operation.
It was a remote weather monitor and door controller for the guy’s chicken coop, set up through a short wave radio. This was a few years back when Alt didn’t know that something like that was even possible to rig up.
Shopping at Farmers Markets or participating in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system of picking up weekly produce boxes from a local farm are both great ways to enjoy locally grown produce. But once the growing season is over, generally, so are the Farmers Markets and the CSAs. So, how can people buy local produce and other farm products year-round? From out of this dilemma, the seed for a new business idea was planted.
In 2009, Andrew Adams saw the need in his Bend, OR community to get local, organic foods during the “off season.” So, he decided to fill that niche. He believed that if he created a link between local farms and local folks, people could be supplied with a year-round bounty of fresh, organic foods. Out of this idea, grew Agricultural Connections (AC).
Two young mechanical engineers, Brian Falther, 24, a 2010 graduate of Kettering University (Flint, Mich.) and Austin Lawrence, 21, a senior at Kettering University, have teamed up to bring small aquaponic grow systems into people’s homes, with each system being connected to an online farm community. Their concept is at once a virtual world with online interaction and connectivity and an authentic reality where real, clean, healthy food grows in a large collection of personal micro-aquaponic systems in homes throughout the world. They call their idea Future Tech Farm.
“The way we have been describing our home grow system is as a ‘node’ of the farm. The sum of all the nodes equals the farm. In essence, the Future Tech Farm is a singular decentralized and distributed farm—what we are calling a farming platform with a physical and virtual representation,” says Falther.
With 90% of its Crop Pre-sold and a Land Lease Rate of $1 Per Year, a Vertical Farm Rises in WyomingJanuary 16, 2013 | Trish Popovitch
If you’ve ever ventured west into the beautiful rolling hills and breathtaking rock formations of windy Wyoming you may note an absence of green fields. Home of wandering elk herds, wild mustangs and ubiquitous antelope, Wyoming boasts the freshest air and streams in the nation. Fertile soil is another thing entirely. That’s why the ‘outside of the box’ thinking of the folks at Vertical Harvest, a three story vertical hydroponic greenhouse operation that will be located in the town of Jackson, means so much to the equality state.
Stewart and Cheryl Fry, owners of C&S Hydro-Huts, have a vision. The two hydroponic farmers, from Otis Orchards, Wash., want to reduce those truckloads of California-grown lettuce, peppers and tomatoes bound for the east side of the state. Both are long-time residents of Otis Orchards, a tiny rural community located a few miles west of the Idaho state line.
Their efforts are bearing fruit, as the couple have already succeeded in replacing 1,500 heads of California-grown lettuce a week with locally grown, greenhouse-produced butter-head lettuce. Wholesalers distribute the company’s hydroponic produce to an assortment of local restaurants and produce markets.
When Gina Cavaliero and Tonya Penick watched their contracting firm collapse, they had a personal and professional epiphany that would change the course of their lives and work. “It was just awful. We were laying off a lot of people. I was spending sleepless nights trying to find a recession-proof business,” says Cavaliero. In 2008, as their business was failing, the two business partners were introduced to aquaponics by Morning Star Fisherman, a non-profit organization with a mission to use aquaponics as a means to relieve world hunger. “We were amazed and enthralled by it,” she says.
At the same time, the healthy food movement was gaining more momentum, and the business partners were eager to jump on board. “It all culminated at the same time,” she explains.
A Head of Lettuce from 1,000 Miles Away, or a Sack of Greens from the Vertical Urban Farm Across Town?January 2, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
In a perfect world of competitive business, twenty-first century startups have some high hurdles to overcome: the ideal is to offer a product that is beneficial for the consumer, leaves a negligible carbon footprint, has a sustainable operating model and contributes socially and economically to the community at large.
FarmedHere might be the poster boy for such a business.
The two-year-old startup grows salad greens, herbs and fish in a multi-stack, vertical agriculture setup, using aquaponic and aeroponic cultivation methods in an abandoned industrial warehouse about seven miles from downtown Chicago.
Fifteen years ago, before the modern urban agriculture movement really got going, Mary Seton Corboy and Tom Sereduk found themselves in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, starting a farm in the abandoned lot of a former galvanized steel plant. When they began looking for a property for their farm in 1997, they soon realized that what was mostly available was rundown industrial space. They ran with it.
When they first discovered the property, it was abandoned space; now it is the site of Greensgrow Farms, an initiative of the Greensgrow Philadelphia Project, which helps to develop green businesses, while filling abandoned spaces and revitalizing its neighborhood. “We are structured as a non-profit organization. Greensgrow Farms is our major project, and here we run a nursery, farm stand and CSA throughout the year. Our non-profit arm looks at ways to bring fresh produce into underserved neighborhoods, with the hope of eventually creating small businesses,” says Mary Seton Corboy, founder and Chief Farm Hand at Greensgrow Farms.
Although the Swartz family has been farming for three generations, Joe Swartz’s Sky Vegetables in Amherst is very different from the typical farm of his father and grandfather.
When his grandparents, John and Anastasia Swartz immigrated to the United States from Poland, they settled on a 40-acre homestead where they raised dairy cows, tobacco, onions, vegetables, and five children. Their sons, Walter and John Swartz took over the farm and expanded production to 300 acres of rented land in Amherst and surrounding towns.
Hydroponic Urban Ag Startup Seeks to Create Scalable, Sustainable and Affordable Model to Feed CitiesDecember 4, 2012 | Melonie Magruder
Cityblooms is a food revolution waiting to happen. The Santa Cruz startup is now developing a comprehensive system to grow hydroponic microgreens on a commercial scale, but it came from humble beginnings.
The company was founded in 2001 by Nicholas Halmos, then an undergrad at Brown University. He was working on a junior year entrepreneurial project, when he and his friends decided to experiment with hydroponically grown tomatoes, and a light bulb turned on.
“I have been into urban agriculture longer than most,” Halmos said. “Even though I never particularly had a green thumb and we had no idea what we were doing.”
He started by buying a tomato plant at Home Depot, washing off the soil and encouraging hydroponic growth in a setup in his bathroom. The plant exploded with fecundity and Halmos began having dreams of feeding an urban nation.