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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Detroit Program Turns Underutilized Spaces Into Incubation Kitchens

July 11, 2014 |
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Photo provided by Detroit Kitchen Connect

Finding a place to prepare one’s product is a challenge faced by many food startups.  In the Motor City, A nonprofit program called Detroit Kitchen Connect is solving that problem by linking up local food businesses with underutilized neighborhood kitchen spaces.

“Folks who are interested in food entrepreneurship, novices opening their small food businesses, they need placement spaces where they can create product in a commercially-licensed facility,” Director Devita Davison tells Seedstock.

“So Detroit Kitchen Connect answers that demand for these small micro-processing facilities for entrepreneurs to grow, to scale and start to make it as a food business.” 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

Days Away from First Harvest, Sustainability is Lynchpin to Bay Area Aquaponic Startup

September 26, 2013 |
Interior of Viridis Aquaponics greenhouse in Watsonville, CA. Photo credit: Viridis Aquaponics

Interior of Viridis Aquaponics greenhouse in Watsonville, CA. Photo credit: Viridis Aquaponics

Beginning an Aquaponics business takes hard work, the right partnerships and a patient nature when it comes to organic pest control. Viridis Aquaponics is a burgeoning startup based in Watsonville in the San Francisco Bay area. The farming business has been quite a learning curve for co-owner and former construction businessman Jon Parr. A mutual friend introduced Parr to Drew Hopkins. Finding they had complimentary business skills, they began devising a business plan for a sustainable greenhouse-based farm. That plan found an investor and soon became the eight acres of grow space that now houses Viridis Aquaponics, Inc. The company is days away from its first harvest. Read More

Waste Reuse, Health and Nutrient Density Core to Arizona-based Aquaponic Operation

May 20, 2013 |
Mark Rhine and Marlo Ibanez, co-owners of Rhibafarms. Photo Credit: Rhibafarms.

Mark Rhine and Marlo Ibanez, co-owners of Rhibafarms. Photo Credit: Rhibafarms.

Five years ago Mark Rhine and his business partner Marlo Ibanez, co-owners of Rhibafarms, had a broadband company in Phoenix, Arizona. They fielded a $225,000 a month payroll, traveled constantly and ate junk food only as an afterthought. Then they cashed in their company, bought a farm – Rhibafarms – and saw their health turn 180 degrees.

“We both lost a ton of weight, lowered our blood pressure and cholesterol and stopped taking medication,” Rhine said. “All because we started eating the organic food we grow. So all we want to grow now is very nutrient-dense food.” Read More

Ag Gains as Company Transforms 2 Million Tons of Organic Waste to 29 Million Bags of Soil

March 4, 2013 |

Anaerobic digesters at Harvest Power’s Energy Garden in Bay Lake, Florida. Photo Credit: Harvest Power.

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. Read More

Tucson, AZ Aquaponics Startup Keeps it Local, Grows Fish and Produce in the Desert

February 25, 2013 |

Sweet persian melon grown by Local Roots Aquaponic Family System.

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.” Read More

First Time Farmers in Hopewell, NJ Embrace Unique Business Model, Hope to Grow Sustainable Farm Movement

February 25, 2013 |

Robin and Jon McConaughy, owners of Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, NJ. Photo Credit: Double Brook Farm.

Like many people jumping aboard the local food revolution, Robin and Jon McConaughy’s sustainable farming journey all started with an article that took a peek behind the conventional farming curtain. Ten years ago, as Robin McConaughy was flipping through the New York Times’ Sunday newspaper, she came across Michael Pollan’s article “Power Steer”, which chronicled the life of a conventionally raised cow from birth to dinner table.

“It disgusted me. It was such an eye opener,” reflects McConaughy, who says that neither she nor her husband have farming backgrounds. “I actually thought people farmed on green fields. I never [considered] what the meat from the supermarket actually was.” Already having a desire to own some land where their now 10- and 12-year-old boys could grow up forming a first-hand understanding of nature, McConaughy and her husband Jon found Pollan’s belly-turning piece to be the final push in a healthy, sustainable direction.

In 2003, the McConaughys purchased their 60-acre farm in Hopewell Township, N.J., and got to work raising some animals for their family’s consumption. Read More

TEDx Manhattan Shines Light on Sustainable Ag Issues from Seed Saving to Food Waste

February 21, 2013 |

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. Read More