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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Minneapolis Landscape Business Works to Make City Ordinances Compost-friendly

April 16, 2014 |
Images courtesy of Giving Tree Gardens

Images courtesy of Giving Tree Gardens

With a penchant for all things rotting, Russ Henry has built a sustainable business, literally from the ground up.

Giving Tree Gardens is an organic landscaping service in Minneapolis well known for its high quality compost. Specializing in native species planting, pollinator-friendly designs and organic gardening education, Giving Tree Gardens has been building a sustainable business and a positive influence in the Twin Cities since 2005.

Russ Henry, owner of Giving Tree Gardens, spent many years in the landscaping world before starting his own company. Read More

Center for Sustainability at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to Host Compost Training Course on March 24 – 28

March 3, 2014 |

Image Credit: Hunter Francis, Director of the Center for Sustainability, Cal Poly Agriculture, Food and Enviromental Sciences (CAFES)

The Center for Sustainability, Cal Poly Agriculture, Food and Enviromental Sciences’ (CAFES) training course is a 4-Day Professional Development Certificate Series in large-scale composting. Additionally, there will be a 1-Day Industry/Grower Compost Symposium that will take place on Friday, March 28. More details are below:

Professional Development Certificate Series (Monday -Thursday)

A four-day comprehensive training on large-scale composting. This workshop will lead participants through the entire composting process from site selection and management techniques, to compost utilization and marketing strategies. Workshop includes a combination of classroom, laboratory and hands-on exercises including recipes, troubleshooting, regulatory issues, and end product evaluation. One day will be devoted to a tour of regional composting and organics recycling facilities. An optional ‘Certificate of Technical Ability’ will be available upon completion of the course. Read More

Container Farming System Co. Aims to Take Strain off Agricultural System while Improving Yields

December 9, 2013 |
eartbboxpost

Image Credit: EarthBox

In 1994, Mickey Lynch was working on a project in Florida to turn waste products from landfills into usable materials. This project brought him into contact with many farmers, including Blake Whisenant, who had recently lost a large tomato crop due to flooding and was developing a raised system to protect the crop and offer more control over the growing environment. The pair began a collaboration that resulted in EarthBox, a container farming system that reduces waste and takes the guesswork out of farming.

Frank DiPaolo, general manager of EarthBox, credits much of the success of the product over the years to its simplicity. Water is reserved at the bottom of the container. Layered over the water is an aeration screen, which prevents root rot and mold, and over that is a peat-based growing media, which draws up the water as it is needed. The EarthBox also works with a fertilizer strip and a mulch cover, which prevents weeds and conserves water. The system requires about a third of the water and half of the fertilizer as in-ground methods, according to DiPaolo. Read More

Growing Up and Out in Salt Lake County: Bell Organic, Draper, Utah

August 26, 2013 |
Photo credit: Bell Organic

Photo credit: Bell Organic

“Climbing was great training for farming. They are both really exhausting, painful, frightening experiences that look impossible on the face of them but somehow you get it done.” David Bell, Bell Organic Farm

Located 12 miles north of Salt Lake City, Bell Organic farm of Draper, Utah is what happens when you outgrow your garden and tap an ever expanding marketplace for fresh organic produce. For David and Jill Bell it all started with a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes.

In 1997, David Bell ran a successful rock climbing business and his wife Jill spent her days waitressing in a local restaurant. They began growing their own vegetables in the backyard, producing far more tomatoes than needed. A local restaurant owner put them in touch with his chef who immediately purchased their excess veggies. Soon after, a local market owner who imported his tomatoes from a greenhouse in Holland wanted to make a purchase. Read More

Awareness of Environmental Impact, Embrace of Sustainability, Defines 4th Generation Deardorff Family Farms

August 5, 2013 |
Photo credit: Deardorff Family Farms

Photo credit: Deardorff Family Farms

The Deardorff family has been in the produce business since 1937, helping local farmers in Venice, Hollywood, and Los Angeles distribute their produce. As the city of Los Angeles swelled in the early 1960’s, the Deardorffs followed many of their growers north to Ventura County and began to work the land themselves on their own 50-acre ranch. Since then Deardorff Family Farms has passed through four generations and grown immensely. Today, cousins Scott Deardorff, and Tom Deardorff II farm 2,000 acres of sustainably grown celery, tomatoes, greens, and mixed vegetables throughout Ventura County. They market their produce through wholesale distributors, at local markets, and directly to consumers. Read More

Organic Farm Thrives Amidst Illinois Monoculture

July 30, 2013 |

bluemoon farmVisiting Blue Moon Farm is a visual delight—an oasis of diverse organic vegetable production in a sprawling landscape otherwise filled with fields of conventionally grown corn and soybean. Long rows of kale, bok choy, and other greens dot the landscape while greenhouses filled with tomatoes and melons stand in stark contrast to the surrounding monoculture.

Jon Cherniss has been tending this land since 1997, finding ways of increasing profitability and longevity while maintaining a commitment to organic farming methods, which are often eschewed in favor of short-term gains in Central Illinois. Read More

Vertical Farming Venture Achieves Sustainability and Success in New Buffalo, Michigan

June 10, 2013 |
Basil and Lettuce, neighbors in different vertical growing systems at Green Spirit Farms. Photo credit: Green Spirit Farms.

Basil and Lettuce, neighbors in different vertical growing systems at Green Spirit Farms. Photo credit: Green Spirit Farms.

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. Read More

Rooted in the Desert, First Time Farmer Demonstrates Profit Potential of Small Scale Farming

June 5, 2013 |
Kelly Saxer of Desert Roots Farm. Photo Credit: Suzanne Heyn.

Kelly Saxer of Desert Roots Farm. Photo Credit: Suzanne Heyn.

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. Read More