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.”
Nevada High Altitude Farm Stretches Bounds of Sustainable Ag Innovation, Educates Others in Effort to Expand MarketApril 18, 2013 | Pamela Ellgen
Thanks to its harsh climate and high altitude, Northern Nevada requires that farmers develop innovate agricultural methods and practice to sustainably grow produce. Seedstock recently spoke with Jacob O’Farrell, Special Projects Coordinator at Hungry Mother Organics about the challenges of farming in the Sierra Nevada foothills and how the state can improve its movement toward sustainable agriculture.
How did Hungry Mother Organics begin?
We started out as a family farm over 20 years ago in Virginia and relocated to Nevada ten years ago. Thereafter we worked with an inmate rehabilitation program and used prison labor to set up hoop houses at the Northern Nevada Correctional Facility. We continued expanding and eventually launched a retail location where we offer organic produce, heirloom seeds,
Most folks, farmers or otherwise, had their first introduction to vapor farms in the hit movie series “Star Wars.” Vapor farming is no longer a thing of science fiction. In fact, its an emerging industry that could change the way the world views water. We interviewed three of the top rated atmospheric water generation (AWG) system producers in the industry to better understand not only the technology, but its potential for sustainable agriculture. Atmospheric Water Systems, Inc. (AWS), EcoloBlue, Inc. and Island Sky Corporation happily explained their systems and the potential of AWG for modern farming.
Atmospheric water is exactly what it sounds like: water from the earth’s atmosphere. Everything contains water and everything has a dew point, the point at which vapor in the air condenses into liquid form.
News Release – Las Vegas, NV, March 20 – The Nevada Indoor Agriculture Conference, which will bring together a diverse audience of thought leaders, industry professionals, entrepreneurs, farmers and investors to explore solutions and opportunities to increase indoor agriculture production in a sustainable manner has announced Paul Selina, Vice President of Applied Research for Village Farms, as the keynote speaker for the conference.
Village Farms is one of the largest growers and marketers of hydroponic greenhouse production in North America. Paul was instrumental in developing the Greenhouse Advanced Technology Expert System (GATES) for the company. The GATES system was created to perfect year-round vegetable and fruit greenhouse production in high-sun and low-humidity areas. Paul has been a integral member of the GATES team from the first greenhouse in Marfa, TX, in 2006 to the new 30-acre facility in Monahans, TX.
William ‘Bill’ VanScoy takes a few moments away from his family and his greenhouses full of freshly transplanted seedlings to explain how his traditional hog farming operation became one of the largest hydroponic fruit and vegetable farms in Ohio.
“With the reducing acres of usable land in the USA, hydroponics (currently) is one of the more promising ways to keep pace with the growing food demands of a growing world population,” states VanScoy. And keeping up with demand is how it all started for this green thumbed Ohio family.
In many urban areas across the nation, access to fresh, locally grown and produced food is difficult to come by, and South Florida is no exception. Seeing an opportunity to address challenges to local food availability in this area, The Urban Farmer, a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based organization that grows and sources locally grown food, was launched to meet the demands of South Florida residents for locally and sustainably grown food. While The Urban Farmer is still in startup mode, it’s garnering support and keeping afloat because of its founders’ love of educating – and feeding – Floridians awesome, local produce.
I recently got in touch with Stephen Hill, a principal at The Urban Farmer, to find out how and why the organization was founded, how Urban Farmer serves Florida and what the organization has planned for the 2013 season.
It was the mud-filled lake on Steve Van Haitsma’s century-old family farmland in Ottawa County, Michigan that made him realize he wanted to do things differently.
“The lake was once deep and held sturgeon,” says Kris Van Haitsma’s, Steve’s wife. “It had filled in with topsoil over the years from all of the farms around it.”
The Van Haitsmas were college sweethearts wanting a life off the beaten path when they started looking for a way to farm without harming the soil, and seized upon hydroponics. They bought their first used greenhouse in 2005, assembled it on the property while both working jobs elsewhere, and began their journey building a do-it-yourself hydroponic operation. And so Mud Lake Farm was born.
Nothing is impossible - so says a rock climber with his head pitched back staring up an ugly face of granite, a kayaker caught in a squall, a skier pointing tips down a sheet of black ice – or a man who has done all of this and then taken up farming Down East where topsoil is barely deeper than the pine pollen on windowsills in May. After chasing adventure in the guise of a Spanish literature scholar with a taste for Chilean deep powder, cliffs and white water, Eliot Coleman got himself some acreage.
Of course a lot happened in between, but the story of Four Season Farm and how it came to be began with Coleman turning his quest for adventure away from situational adrenaline surges to another sort of challenge: to extract sugar carrots from a fir wood rooted on ledge.
It was late 1960’s when Coleman came back down to earth. A decade earlier the back-to-the-land how-to book, ‘Living the Good Life’, by Helen and Scott Nearing had emerged and became something of a bible among the younger set.
Nevada Indoor Ag Conference Brings Together Innovators to Confront Challenges to Local Food ProductionFebruary 28, 2013 | Robert Puro
News Release – (Las Vegas) – Entrepreneurs, agriculture industry leaders and Nevada state officials plan to come together to propel forward the development of creative and sustainable indoor growing solutions. The Nevada Indoor Agriculture Conference will aim to increase local food production in the dry desert landscape that abounds in Nevada and, in turn, bolster the state’s internal food supply as well as the local economy. Indoor agriculture has the potential to meet future food demands, reduce environmental impacts, and create new economic engines.
To address these challenges, notables in sustainable and indoor agriculture will bring their leading-edge products and ideas to the Nevada Indoor Agriculture Conference on Wednesday, April 24. This one-day event at the Historic 5th Street School in Downtown Las Vegas, will focus on how the state can increase its indoor agriculture production in a sustainable manner and become a recognized hub for innovation in this space.
A simple passion for great tasting food and sustainability fueled the founding of Amelia’s Farm, a hydroponic farm based in Bells, Texas. Amelia Von Kennel, co-founder and executive vice president, and Ben Von Kennel, co-founder and chief executive officer, established the Farm in October 2011. The couple sold their house in Dallas, Texas, and moved their family ranch to Bells, Texas. Since the move, the Von Kennel’s focus has concerned strengthening the Amelia’s Farm brand, and building a 6,000 square-foot, commercial, hydroponic greenhouse. The Farm grows pesticide-free, non-GMO produce all year round.
I recently had a conversation with Amelia Von Kennel. She discussed how the couple started farming, why she and Ben value healthy food and how the Farm stays sustainable.
Rather than ‘Figure Out More Ways to Blow People Up’, Former NASA Engineer Seeks Solution to Feed WorldFebruary 21, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
When NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011, a lot of the engineers and systems technology staff ended up heading to defense industry contracting firms. But Douglas Mallette, founder and CEO of Cybernated Farm Systems, says he wanted to help feed the world rather than “figure out more ways to blow people up.”
So he founded Cybernated Farm Systems with the idea of building a fully self-generating and sustainably-operating greenhouse growing system that could feed precisely 634 people for 30 years, leave a small carbon footprint and provide nutritious, organic, fresh food in a world of rising poverty and hunger.
Rob Johnston, founder of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, got an early lesson in the importance of seed diversity back in 1972, when he formed a communal truck farm in southern New Hampshire, growing 15 acres of vegetables that were marketed through a co-op in Boston and New York.
A Japanese distributor in New York wanted specialty produce and Johnston had to go to Japan simply to find the seeds. The resulting odyssey into exotic seed sourcing awakened a different kind of seed, planted long ago in him by his grandfather, a Pennsylvania farmer who used to take Johnston out into the fields of a summer evening to “listen to the corn grow.”
He set up Johnny’s Selected Seeds (originally called Johnny’s Appleseeds, until he was informed that name was already trademarked) and issued his first seed catalogue in 1974.
Competition from the North Pushes Resourceful Rhode Island Hydroponic Farmer to Downsize and DiversifyFebruary 8, 2013 | Helen Weatherall
A job done right looks easy. Likewise Swiss chard that has celebrated five birthdays and boasts a girth of six inches looks normal at Mark Phillips’ Absalona Greenhouse Farm in Chepachet, Rhode Island. Twenty years now in the business of hydroponic farming, Phillips has mastered the art of soil-free growing. Of his accumulated knowledge what he didn’t learn from his plants themselves he mostly learned from listening to his gut rather than to opinions of others.
“I fell into it. I didn’t think I was going to work for myself,” said Phillips who earned an environmental studies degree in college. Unbeknownst to him his career was set in motion the day he took a job at a greenhouse the summer after graduating. But he took to the work and in 1990 decided to go into business for himself.