Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier admits that when his book The Vertical Farm, Feeding the World in the 21st Century was released, he wasn’t entirely optimistic about the idea catching on immediately. After all, his proposition that cities and towns should develop local, indoor, entirely sustainable, multi-story farms is antithetical to the industrialized, globalized farm practices that became the norm in the last century.
To Exploit Market Opportunity and Advance Sustainable Agriculture, Startup Develops Innovative Robotic WeederApril 25, 2012 | Nicola Kerslake
Jorge Heraud, co-founder of Blue River Technology, a Stanford-derived startup that is leveraging concepts and technologies from the fields of robotics, machine learning, precision agriculture and more to advance sustainable agriculture, has deep roots in agriculture technology. Prior to starting the company, he spent 15 years at Trimble Navigation where at different points in his tenure there he headed up engineering for the company’s GPS Products and Precision Agriculture units.
It was while working at Trimble Navigation that Heraud started to evaluate what he wanted to do next. “I loved Trimble and could see myself spending another 15 years there, but then I thought, ‘am I really that guy who spends 30 years at the same company without ever having tried anything else?’”
Innovators Embrace Aquaponics to Strengthen Local Food Systems, Address Food Security Issues and MoreMarch 20, 2012 | Robert Puro
Imagine a sustainable closed loop farming system that is completely self-sufficient, economically viable, environmentally friendly and scalable to the point that it could help insure that the world’s future food needs are met. That is the realization that a bevy of sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs are working toward by experimenting with and embracing aquaponics.
Aquaponics combine hydroponics with aquaculture to create a more optimized and sustainable food production system by solving for problems that occur in the individual systems.
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.
Vertical Greenhouse Co. Seeks to Bring Fresh, Affordable, Low Carbon-footprint Produce to Urban AreasFebruary 15, 2012 | Melinda Clark
Plantagon is a Stockholm-based urban agriculture company that strives to balance commercial and values-based forces to simultaneously achieve profitability and ‘do good.’ To do this, it has introduced the Plantagon Greenhouse, a vertical greenhouse designed to bring fresh, affordable, low-carbon-footprint produce to urban areas. According to the company, the greenhouses’ efficiency and high productivity make them economically viable – it’s possible to finance each greenhouse from its own sales.
In Creating Fleet of Sustainable, Urban Farmers, Milwaukee-based Growing Power Seeks to End World HungerFebruary 13, 2012 | Jessica Vernabe
Will Allen, CEO and founder of Growing Power, Inc., has a straightforward goal – to end world hunger.
“It’s a lofty goal, but that’s how things should be,” said Allen, a sharecropper’s son who was a professional basketball player when he rediscovered his love for agriculture. “The only way to end world hunger is the local food system that we used to have. … Everybody would buy local food if it was available. We don’t have the infrastructure right now, so one of the things I wanted to do is prove that this could be done and this could be cash-flowed.”
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.
Trailblazing Organic Farm in Maryland, One Straw Farm, Puts Soil and Overall Health of Farm Ahead of Organic CertificationJanuary 20, 2012 | Kelly Hatton
In 1985, the word “organic” had yet to penetrate consumer consciousness. Joan Norman of One Straw Farm remembers fighting misconceptions of the word’s meaning when using it to classify the produce she and her husband, Drew, were growing on their 82-acre farm in Maryland. “In the beginning, if we said ‘organic’ people thought we were growing marijuana, or they thought they had to be vegetarian to eat our produce,” she said.
That changed in 1989. After a report that Alar, a chemical commonly sprayed on apples and other fruit crops, could increase cancer risk, public outcry led schools to stop serving apple juice and stores to take apple products off the shelves. “Everyone was asking for organic apples. Of course we didn’t have any,” Joan said. But One Straw Farm did have an abundance of other chemical-free food, and a growing base of customers seeking organic produce.