The owners of aquaponics-focused Future Farm Food and Fuel, LLC know how to maximize their resources.
The company’s operations take place out of a 27,000-square-foot greenhouse in Baldwin, Wisc., which houses fish tanks and growing bays that contain herbs and vegetables. Tubes run back and forth between the tanks and growing bays, recirculating water, otherwise known as effluent.
New Orleans-based Recirculating Farms Coalition Seeks Solution to Food Deserts in Sustainable Production SystemsJanuary 17, 2012 | Noelle Swan
Marianne Cufone says she was drawn to New Orleans because of its incredible heart and resilience. Cufone is the executive director of New Orleans-based Recirculating Farms Coalition (RFC), a non-profit organization comprised of a collaborative group of farmers, educators and various organizations committed to building eco-friendly farms that use clean recycled water to grow local, accessible, fresh food and create stable green jobs.
A native of Tampa, she explains that she also chose New Orleans as the coalition headquarters because “one of the things that is noticeably absent in the area is the availability of healthy food. We are all about growing healthy fresh food in places where it is needed.”
Pierre Sleiman of Go Green Agriculture has turned a seed of teenage curiosity into a full-grown farm.
The Sleimans have never been farmers. When a friend proposed the idea of a hydroponically grown farm to Pierre’s father about ten years ago, he quickly brushed off the idea. However, fifteen-year-old Pierre saw potential.
“From that point on, I have been interested in turning it into a viable business,” Sleiman said. For several years, he explored hydroponics—a method of farming where plants are grown in nutrient rich water rather than in soil. He said that he found most of the existing hydroponic farms to be large-scale facilities that shipped their products over large distances. He had a different vision: small-scale greenhouses focused on just one product—locally distributed butter lettuce.
Nearly three years ago, Jon Friedman and Brad McNamara left their careers in marketing to research the pressing issue of food miles, or the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer. “It seemed crazy that we were shipping in lettuce from California. We figured there had to be a better way,” said Friedman. To address this issue, Friedman and McNamara launched Boston-based Freight Farms, a company that aims to convert used shipping containers into modular, portable crop production units toward the end of transforming urban surroundings into a sustainable food source, increasing access to fresh local food in any environment, and creating local economies.
For Atlanta, GA-based startup, PodPonics, lettuce is everything. More than 12 chefs in the area have gone on record to say PodPonics’ greens are the best they’ve ever tasted, said Dan Backhaus, the company’s sales and marketing strategist.
“For them to get excited, you have to have pretty darn good lettuce,” he said.
PodPonics’ lettuce, by the way, is grown inside of used shipping containers that are converted into modular controlled-environment growth pods. The pods contain a proprietary growing system that combines hydroponics, advanced LED lighting, irrigation and nutrient technology with process control.