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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Food tech

To Bolster Local Food Market, Software Solution Streamlines Grower Seller Communications

June 20, 2016 |
Cole Jones, founder of Local Line. The company bills itself as "A commerce platform to build your brightest future in food." Photo courtesy of Local Line.

Cole Jones, founder of Local Line. The company bills itself as “A commerce platform to build your brightest future in food.” Photo courtesy of Local Line.

Growing produce isn’t a cakewalk—and selling greens? That’s not easy, either. That’s why Local Line wants to simplify communication between growers and sellers.

The idea for this streamlined company that bills itself as “a commerce platform to build your brightest future in food” was sparked in October 2013. That’s when Cole Jones met the company’s other co-founder, Cole McLay, at a pitch competition. McClay and Jones were both undergrads at the time—McLay was a fourth-year environmental studies student at the University of Waterloo, and Jones was a third year philosophy student at Wilfrid Laurier University. The original concept behind Local Line was to distribute local food from farmers to consumers, but the young, budding business partners soon changed their focus to supplying chefs.

In January 2014, Local Line was accepted to the Laurier Launchpad program. “The program taught us to talk to potential customers before trying to build or sell anything,” Jones says. Read More

Crowdfunding Tomatoes: Technology Platform Allows Consumers to Fund Produce

April 26, 2016 |
ProduceRun stand. Photo courtesy of ProduceRun.

ProduceRun stand. Photo courtesy of ProduceRun.

ProduceRun co-founder and president William Pattison is no stranger to farming. His family has worked the land for four generations.

“ProduceRun started on our own family farm,” Pattison says. “We wanted a better way to be found, sell and distribute our farm products to the public. I feel that our technology can make a real difference for farmers, making it easier for them to do business, and creating easier access for buyers.” Read More

Ag Tech Innovators Transform USDA Open Data into Tools to Strengthen Food Supply

January 27, 2016 |

7457.USDA_challenge_496x312Press release – WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Microsoft officials today announced the winners of the USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge, in which contestants used USDA agriculture production open data to develop online tools that can help make the American food supply more resilient in the face of climate change.

“In yet another example of how public and private resources can be leveraged together to address significant global concerns, the winners of the USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge have used open government data to create an impressive array of innovative tools to help food producers and our communities prepare for the impacts of climate change and ensure our nation’s ability to provide plentiful, affordable food,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “For more than 100 years, USDA has compiled data on the farm economy, production, and the health of crops around the country, and it is exciting to see such modern, useful tools spring from these information sources.” Read More

Barn2Door Looks to Apply Farmstr Lessons, Connect Farmers and Buyers Nationwide

March 31, 2015 |
Screenshot, barn2door home page.

Screenshot, barn2door home page.

The Seattle direct-to-consumer marketplace Farmstr, which launched in 2013, is no more.

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t enough for us to justify a large next round in order to compete with the very well-funded competition,” founder Janelle Maiocco told BizJournals.com in February.

But on March 15, 2015, Maiocco launched Barn2Door. Maiocco, who was followed to Barn2Door by several of her former Farmstr colleagues, will apply lessons learned from her time at the helm of Farmstr to her new business venture. Read More

North Carolina Startup Seeks To Crossbreed An Urban Farm With A Grocery Store

August 22, 2014 |
Rendering courtesy of the Farmery.

Rendering courtesy of the Farmery.

Imagine going into a store and picking out your dinner by literally pulling it up by the roots. Sound farfetched? It’s not. In fact, it’s the behind a North Carolina-based venture called the Farmery.

The project is an effort to blend the convenience of a retail grocery store and cafe with the freshness of an indoor urban farming system operation.

Several prototypes of the system are already up and running, and the Farmery team is now in final talks with investors to get a two-story, 16,000-square-foot version operational by fall of 2015, most likely in North Carolina. Read More

Montreal Startup Uses Tech to Build a Sharing Economy for Gardeners

June 18, 2014 |
Nicolas Cadilhac of PlantCatching works at a recent plant exchange at Montreal Botanical Garden. (photo by Ann Boisvert)

Nicolas Cadilhac of PlantCatching works at a recent plant exchange at Montreal Botanical Garden. (photo by Ann Boisvert)

Most, if not all, gardeners have experienced frustration over the amount of waste involved with gardening. Examples include unused soil, dead plants and compulsive purchases that don’t take root.

Wanting to address this problem, hobby gardener and computer science engineer Nicolas Cadilhac of Montreal, Quebec decided to mix his information technology acumen and love for gardening by creating a web site that would match gardeners to a surplus of unwanted plants and other garden materials. Thus in 2012, Cadilhac launched PlantCatching. Read More

North Carolina Online Food Hub Grows, Matches Sustainability and Profitability

May 6, 2014 |
Richard Holcomb and Jamie DeMent, co-owners of Bella Bean Organics, are shown with products from Bella Bean Organics and Coon Rock Farm. Photo courtesy of Cheryl DeMent

Richard Holcomb and Jamie DeMent, co-owners of Bella Bean Organics, are shown with products from Bella Bean Organics and Coon Rock Farm. Photo courtesy of Cheryl DeMent

Durham, North Carolina-based Bella Bean Organics specializes in fresh, locally-grown, sustainable and organic food via an online farmers’ market and food hub. The company recently expanded its operations, and is now extending deliveries to customers throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Owned by entrepreneurial farmers Richard Holcomb and Jamie DeMent, Bella Bean Organics supplies its customers with produce, meats, eggs and artisan specialty foods. The duo also owns Coon Rock Farm http://coonrockfarm.com in Hillsborough, North Carolina. The 55-acre farm supplies produce, meat and eggs to Bella Bean, in addition to more than 500 CSA customers, 5 farmers’ markets and Piedmont www.piedmontrestaurant.com, Holcomb and DeMent’s farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Durham. Read More

North Carolina Firm Expands Efforts to Replace the Can With Healthier, Greener Carton Packaging

April 15, 2014 |
Image courtesy of Wright Foods/Aseptia

Image courtesy of Wright Foods/Aseptia

In early March, 2014, Raleigh-based food processing technology company Aseptia secured $28 million in Series C-Preferred Stock financing to support the growth of Wright Foods Inc., the manufacturing subsidiary of Aseptia. Lookout Capital, SJF Ventures, Prudential, and F.B. Heron Foundation provided the financing.

As a leading aseptic food manufacturer, Aseptia has developed an aseptic, sustainable, shelf-stable carton that can maintain a higher-quality food product, according to Michael Drozd, president and CEO of Wright Foods. The packaging can be found in most every grocery store. Read More