Monroe Organic Farms is Colorado’s oldest organic farm, and it has the rich history to prove it. Seedstock recently spoke with co-manager Jacquie Monroe to hear the story in her own words. Although Jacquie joined the farm’s family in 1984 when she married Jerry Monroe Jr. , she feels like she’s been farming alongside the Monroe’s since they got into the industry nearly a century ago.
The Monroes began farming in Kansas in the 1920s, but the family decided to move to Colorado to get away from the bad weather and tornadoes. Once settled, Lester, Jerry Monroe Sr.’s father, farmed a small place northwest of downtown Greeley.
“Jerry Sr. remembers selling produce door to door,” Jacquie Monroe says. “He remembers selling sweet corn, a baker’s dozen—13 ears for a penny—he was maybe 6 or 7 years old around 1933 or 1934.”
Powered by fish effluent instead of soil, the aquaponics enabled CSA run by Oregon-based Möbius Microfarms‘ is not your run of the mill subscription program. You get your basil, arugula and/or a mix of spicy salad greens, but in a unique twist subscribers to the CSA also receive trays of live microgreens, which they can snip off to eat when it suits them. Möbius sells its microgreens live to avoid nutrient loss, spoilage, and waste.
Founded by Anne Phillip, Möbius started out by installing aquaponics systems in restaurants.
The business is named after the Möbius strip, a three-dimensional shape consisting of one continuous plane. An aquaponics system has one continuous loop—water rich with fish waste feeds plants, which in turn filters the water to be used again by fish.
The Hilltop Alliance, a Pennsylvania nonprofit, is working on a project that could drastically advance urban agriculture in the state. The organization wants to turn a vacant 107-acre lot into Hilltop Village Farm, a multi-use development that would include 120 townhomes, a 20-acre urban farm incubator, a youth farm and CSA. If the plan is successful, the farm could be one of the largest urban farms in the country.
The Hilltop Alliance was formed in 2009 as a multi-neighborhood community development organization.
In his groundbreaking book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” food writer Michael Pollan addresses the problem of choosing what to eat.
Now, Locavorious, a CSA in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has solved “the locavore’s dilemma” of how to eat locally during the cold months of winter.
Founded and owned by Rena Basch, Locavorious is a wintertime CSA. Instead of offering fresh produce, they prepare and package local produce when it is ripe and fresh, and store it in a freezer. Then CSA members pick up their harvest shares throughout the winter.
Basch started Locavorious in 2008 with 90 CSA subscribers receiving 2,000 pounds of food. Six years later, she provides 15,000 pounds of produce for 250 subscribers. Locavorious offers 20 different fruits and vegetables. With the exception of edamame, which is sourced from Ohio and Ontario, all are grown within the state and the vast majority is grown within a 100-mile radius of Ann Arbor. Locavorious has formed partnerships with numerous area farms to supply the produce. Last year 22 farms partnered with the CSA.
In the early 1990s, ReVision Family Home, a shelter for pregnant and parenting women in Boston, Massachusetts, began a community garden with the intention of providing fresh, nutritious food to the families at the shelter.
As it expanded, the community garden grew into ReVision Urban Farm, a half-acre urban farm that provides fresh, nutritious food not only to shelter residents, but to the entire Boston community.
In 2005, ReVision Family Home and ReVision Urban Farm merged with Victory Programs, a nonprofit agency dedicated to serving those who are homeless, have substance abuse issues, and/or other related illnesses and disorders. As a result, both the farm and the family home became programs among a diverse network of social services.
Nic and Jen Welty wanted to see more locally grown, nutritious foods offered to the students at their daughter’s school in Leelanau County, Michigan. Having previously worked as Farm Manager at Black Star Farms in nearby Suttons Bay, Nic Welty was poised to start his own venture. So, in 2008, the couple started their own company, 9 Bean Rows, and built a Community Supported Agriculture program with a focus on supplying local food to area schools. Soon, the couple snared a contract to supply the Leelanau County Public School System year-round with fresh salad greens.
From new farmers, aquaponicists and sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs to urban farming pioneers, microloan providers and crowdfunding evangelists, yesterday’s 2nd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation conference at UCLA Anderson School of Management provided clear evidence pointing to the desire, will and motivation to develop economically viable and sustainable farming solutions to insure that the food system of the future not only survives, but thrives.
The two-day event, which drew an audience of nearly 250 from as far afield as New Zealand, Mexico and Korea, kicked off on November 5 with a sustainable farm field trip to Houweling’s Tomatoes in Camarillo where attendees were treated to an in-depth tour of the company’s sustainable 125-acre hydroponic greenhouse. Following the tour of Houweling’s, attendees headed over to McGrath Family Farms for a farm-to-table lunch provided by Chef/farmer Adam Navidi of Green2GO Restaurant Market. Following the lunch, farmer Phil McGrath gave the attendees a tour of his 5th generation organic farm and explained how he has used sustainable growing practices and direct marketing to remain economically viable. One of McGrath’s keys to farming successfully: “Grow a huge diversity of things and grow in season.”
An Ohio native who moved to the bright sunny state of Southern California, Jeff Mott decided his life had a different purpose. That purpose meant leaving behind the SoCal lifestyle, buying an Amish homestead on the Virginia/Ohio border and initiating a lifestyle change that has not only proven to be profitable, but has also changed his entire perspective.
35 miles outside of Wheeling, West Virginia lies the Mott Family Farm, the Ohio-based haven of two former California residents, Jeff and Shelley Mott, who craved a back to basics approach to life, a slowing down of pace and an opportunity to share a love of growing that began in California. Land prices and moving closer to Jeff’s father were only part of the equation. Mott felt his California lifestyle was missing a sense of community.