Los Angeles-based Sustainable Ag Venture Seeks to Create Network of Urban Farms to Feed and Foster CommunityApril 9, 2012 | Melinda Clark
What do cuisine, land use, architecture and renewable energy have in common? A lot, according to Urban Green, a company working to connect these “inter-related disciplines.”
Urban Green operates three urban farms and a 4,800 square foot food facility in Los Angeles, CA. The farms employ a variety of growing practices, from traditional permaculture at the first site, which has been running for six years, to hydroponics at a new project in downtown Los Angeles. Urban Green takes a holistic approach to all of its projects, using not only permaculture practices, but reusable and biodegradable containers for its cuisine and renewable energy sources whenever possible.
When married couple Susanne Friend and Tim Mann first started Friendly Aquaponics, a commercial aquaponics farm and training facility, on the beautiful big island of Hawaii, they weren’t really thinking about providing for their family, much less saving the world.
“What started out very simply as the desire to make a good living by serving someone other than the very wealthy clients we had as a design firm has slowly turned into a crusade,” Friend said.
The company will soon reach its five year milestone, and Friend now feels like they are on a mission – a mission she did not fully understand at the beginning – to empower people to meet their own food needs at the lowest cost possible.
Chicago Org. Aims to Transform Industrial Blight into Sustainable Urban Farm and Food Business IncubatorMarch 15, 2012 | Noelle Swan
Chicago builder, John Edel has embarked upon a seemingly impossible mission: to convert a 93,500 sq. ft. pork processing plant into The Plant, a sustainable closed-loop food business incubator housing aquaponic farming systems, hydroponics, vertical farms, rooftop gardens, private kitchens, two breweries, a bakery, a catering company, and a five-station shared kitchen.
Oh yeah, and he plans to power the whole thing solely on food waste. “Nothing but food leaves the building. That’s the plan and the mantra,” Edel says. According to its website, The Plant will eventually divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year to meet all of its heat and power needs.
The world’s population is growing rapidly, and that calls for new ways of thinking about how to produce enough food while also conserving the earth’s natural resources. As a result, agricultural entrepreneurs today are striving to combine the best of traditional farming methods with new technologies in order to create food that is healthy, flavorful and locally grown.
And if that doesn’t sound like enough of a feat, there’s also the challenge of doing it all using a business model that won’t leave the farmer broke.
Southern California has become a region of growing activity for these types of ventures, and Seedstock has attempted to provide a glimpse of what that experience looks like. A panel of agricultural entrepreneurs from the region—including those using soil, hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods—gathered at UCLA on Wednesday to share their experiences.
At first glance, Omega Garden’s product list might be a little confusing, with its Volksgarden® and Farmdominium™. But the Canadian-based hydroponics company isn’t selling bio-fuel vehicles or green housing complexes; rather, they’ve created a hydroponics system that may revolutionize not only urban agriculture, but agriculture in general. And 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for Omega Garden – so stay tuned.
The Volksgarden® is a rotary hydroponics system in which plants are installed in a circular unit, growing toward a light source at the center. It has approximately 20 square feet of growing area, and holds up to 80 plants. Its most successful crops include a variety of herbs, leafy lettuces, chards, peppers, strawberries, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers and some flower varieties.