According to Green Spirit Farms‘ Research and Development Manager Daniel Kluko, the future of farming is heading in one clear direction: vertical. “If we want to feed hungry people this is how we need to farm,” said Kluko.
Kluko believes that vertical farming offers a very important benefit in today’s world of scarce land and resources— the potential for unparalleled plant density. After all, how else can a farmer grow 27 heads of lettuce in one square foot of growing space?
Green Spirit Farms was started by Daniel’s father Milan Kluko under his engineering company Fountainhead Engineering LTD. The idea for the farm emerged while the company was evaluating indoor, urban farm models in North America for a non-profit client—a process which piqued Milan Kluko’s interest about the viability of a vertical farming operation.
At 7:15 on a late May morning, the Arizona sun has yet to bake everything in its path — including the vegetables growing at Desert Roots Farm, on the southeastern outskirts of Phoenix.
Owner Kelly Saxer’s staff is bringing in the day’s harvest, bagging carrots with huge leafy tops and weighing zucchini into bags. The vegetables will eventually make their way to the farm’s roughly 300 Community Supported Agriculture members awaiting the weekly vegetable haul.
Desert Roots sprawls over 25 acres that Saxer farms without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Instead of chemicals, she uses compost or manure and weeds by hand. Crop rotation allows the soil to rest between production.
“The year is heavy with produce. And men are proud, for of their knowledge they can make the year heavy. They have transformed the world with their knowledge.” - John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
Like all of us, writer and grower David Mas Masumoto is a product of his culture and his regional circumstances not to mention the owner of the famous Masumoto Family Farm peach orchards in the arid Central Valley of California. His love of the land punctuates his narrative as he shares his wisdom of organic farming, family ties and the story that is sustainable agriculture.
The Masumoto family has farmed peaches, on an 80-acre patch of land south of Fresno, since 1948. After finishing college, Mas Masumoto returned to his family farm and a few years later bought 40 acres of land from his father. In the mid-1980s he made the decision to farm organically.
Harvest Power is about dirt. It’s also about soil regeneration and managing the modern day intersection of waste, agriculture and energy, so that ongoing human consumption can be used as the engine to drive ongoing renewable energy.
In three and a half years, CEO Paul Sellew has created a company that diverts more than two million tons of organic waste material from landfills and turns it into some 29 million bags of soil, mulch and fertilizer products while producing 65,000 megawatt hours of heat and power-generating energy to run its facilities.
Harvest Power operates in 30 sites across the U.S. and Canada, using strategic partnerships with municipalities, haulers and state-of-the-art anaerobic digesters to create high value compost that is in turn used to create more high nutrition food that can be later be recycled into the system starting the whole process over again.
Colin Cudmore, the inventor of the Garden Tower, a garden container with perforated tubing technology that facilitates the movement of worms and nightcrawlers within it, says he does not consider himself a gardener. Yet, Cudmore, and his two business partners, Tom Tlusty and Joel B. Grant, are preparing for full-scale production of a new gardening container concept that includes the worms, in a self-contained mini-ecological system.
Cudmore germinated the idea one weekend, as he volunteered to man a booth for a local farmer’s market in Bloomington, Ind. He noticed a couple of Amish farmers, who were selling seedlings and starter plants, but had few customers, despite the bustling crowd in the marketplace.
The idea of eating only locally-grown, seasonal food sounds appealing. Until you move to the desert. With an average annual rainfall of less than 13 inches, Tucson, Arizona is somewhat less than hospitable to traditional, soil-based agriculture. And fish? Forget it.
But, it was not the land that drew Stéphane Herbert-Fort to the Sonoran desert. It was the sky. He came to the University of Arizona to study astronomy and graduated with a PhD in 2011. Midway through his grad studies, however, he unearthed a deeper ambition than life as an academic.
“As a longtime fan of sustainable technologies and organic gardening, I wanted to join the two and make an impact on urban agriculture in Tucson. It was the perfect time for a change. Aquaponics fulfills my passions: to grow as much food as possible, simply and sustainably.”
Last weekend’s sustainable agriculture themed TEDx Manhattan was entitled “Changing the Way We Eat”. A TEDx is an independent version of the incredibly popular TED Talks each of which is a day long series of brief presentations on “ideas worth spreading” around a specific topic. The New York version is one of the more popular ones, with the 200 person strong live audience supplemented by a further 3,000 people at viewing parties around the country.
The subject of the day’s talks ranged from White House pastry chef Bill Yosses on “the hedonistic culture of healthy eating” to a brief excerpt from the upcoming movie, “Food Chains”, which looks at the conditions endured by farm laborers.
Startup Pioneers New ‘H2H’ Process to Efficiently Convert Supermarket Food Waste into Liquid FertilizerFebruary 6, 2013 | Noelle Swan
Food waste is an enormous problem in the United States. An estimated 40 percent of all food grown here never nourishes anyone, but instead rots away in landfills. What if those nutrients could be captured, before they started to rot and returned to the soil, all in a matter of hours? That’s exactly what Daniel and David Morash say they can do at California Safe Soil, convert wasted food into a nutrient-rich soil additive. Sound like composting? It’s a similar concept but the Morash’s say that their process is faster, safer, and more effective. They have teamed up with researchers at UC Davis to try and prove it.
The concept is not entirely new. The idea of using digested food to fertilize plants is nearly as old as agriculture.
The principles of organic farming permeate every aspect of Duncan Family Farms from the seeds they plant in the ground to those they sow in the local community.
“We believe that the primary responsibility of Duncan Family Farms is to produce clean, healthy, life-giving food,” says founder and self-proclaimed “dirt nerd” Arnott Duncan. “We are also committed to making a strong contribution to an improved environment and to giving back to our community.”
Arnott and his wife Kathleen started the farm over two decades ago, and that vision has remained the cornerstone of their operation since the very beginning.
It’s enough to make you cry. Gills Onions is one of the largest family-owned onion farming operations in the nation. But the Oxnard-based facility doesn’t just grow the tears-provoking vegetable. They control every aspect of production from growing, harvesting, processing, packing and shipping the bulbs in handy, diced up packages to retailers, food service outlets and industrial manufacturers throughout the nation and Canada. And they do so using some surprising sustainable production practices that have lowered their operating costs over a million dollars a year.
Allen Gill had been farming in California’s Central Valley since the 1940s when he brought sons Steven and David into his Rio Farms business.
From Gardener to Organic Grower, New Jersey Farmer Finds Sustainability in Embracing the Local CommunityJanuary 8, 2013 | Hana Lurie
Al Esposito of Poplar Wood Farm does it all: from growing and selling organic produce and cut flowers to garden landscaping, as well as raising free-range chickens and goats. As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Al is currently the President of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, leading the non-profit organization with a goal to make healthy food an abundant possibility.
I recently spoke with Al to learn more about what inspired him to become a farmer, his involvement in NOFA and the future goals of his farm.
When our second American president, John Adams, visited England on a diplomatic mission, he famously walked right to the compost pile of his distinguished host’s barnyard, plunged in his hands and said, “Well, this may be good manure, but it’s not equal to mine.”
Like our early forefathers – who were farmers before they were politicians – companies like Ventura, California-based Agromin recognize the importance of good dirt to our nation’s ongoing health and prosperity. For some 20 years, Agromin has been taking municipal and county green waste from Orange County to Santa Barbara and converting it into a variety of soil amendments that are organic, nutrient-rich and friendly to the earth.
D.C. Startup Makes Urban Composting as Easy as Taking Out the Trash; Lush Soil Benefits Urban Farm ProjectsDecember 20, 2012 | Missy Smith
Tis the season for turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, hors d’oeuvres, a lot of desserts and cookies! In keeping with seasonal tradition, Americans are preparing to ‘wow’ their guests with all sorts of tasty delights. While food spreads at holiday parties can be very impressive, they can also be quite wasteful. How many of us have chucked a bunch of leftover goodies, because they sat out all day or because they didn’t get eaten?