Over 230 Assemble at Indoor Ag Conference in Vegas to Explore Solutions to Grow Industry in State & BeyondApril 29, 2013 | seedstock
Producing food in arid, desert climates requires resourcefulness, grit and, increasingly, innovative indoor growing technologies and solution. As cities and states across the country with less than ideal soil, water and weather conditions look to increase local food production, sure up supply chains and create new economic engines, indoor agriculture from hydroponics to aeroponics to aquaponics has lately become a hot topic.
As evidence of this burgeoning interest in controlled environment agriculture, this past Wednesday saw over 230 growers, technologists, investors and entrepreneurs converge upon the Historic 5th Street School in Downtown Las Vegas for the inaugural Nevada Indoor Agricultural Conference co-hosted by Seedstock, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and Nicola Kerslake of Real Assets Junkie.
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.
The hydroponics industry has the power to eradicate world hunger – if we’d only take it seriously, says agricultural expert Matthew Geschke. But that can be hard to do. Hydroponics trade shows cultivate a party atmosphere that caters to grow-your-own stoners. Decorated with kegs and half-naked women, there is very little talk of saving the world. For Geschke, a hydroponics designer who desperately wants to be accepted in mainstream agricultural circles, it’s an embarrassment that relegates a critical farming alternative to the shadows.
Geschke explains that, as is commonly accepted among agricultural circles, a well-designed hydroponic system is “capable of producing seven to 10 times more produce than traditional agriculture in the same given footprint, assuming all necessary demands are met.” These systems, which grow plants in water using mineral nutrient solutions without soil, are built to recreate the plants’ natural environment. This is what makes it such an efficient and sustainable operation.
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.
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.”
Growing shiitake oyster mushrooms for Michael Alt’s family’s restaurant proved to be a tricky operation in snowfall manic Syracuse, NY. Maintaining ideal conditions required a complicated set-up of seemingly endless triggers, humidifiers, fans, dehumidifiers and miscellaneous controls. At his day job, Alt was making radar technology for the US Department of Defense as a software engineer – stuff like forward facing detector installations for Afghanistan bases. It seemed far from related to his mushroom cultivating hobby, but then one of his hardware tech co-workers came in with something that had the potential to change everything for Alt’s growing operation.
It was a remote weather monitor and door controller for the guy’s chicken coop, set up through a short wave radio. This was a few years back when Alt didn’t know that something like that was even possible to rig up.
Hydroponics, the practice of growing crops in nutrient-rich water as opposed to soil, in concert with aquaculture, the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs, etc., creates a sustainable, symbiotic farming system called aquaponic farming. Aquaponic farming is not a new form of farming, but other than many of the readers of this website few people know about it. Three men, Gabriel Michels, Timothy Kirk and Nicholas Fox, who partnered to create Grass Roots Aquaponic Farms LLC, located in Oregon City, Oregon, hope to change that. The idea was planted years ago.
“Actually, I was inspired back in high school,” says Michels. “That was about 10 years ago. Nic and I were in the same class and our school got a grant to have a complete aquaponic setup. It was great! We grew all kinds of vegetables.”