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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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local food systems

Chicago Startup Offers Healthy, Organic Foods in Vending Machines

April 4, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Farmer's Fridge

Photo courtesy of Farmer’s Fridge

As a traveling salesman, Luke Saunders knew first hand just how hard it can be to find fresh food on the go.

“I was the person who would pick up prepared food for the road because I knew that when I got there, there wouldn’t be good options,” he says. “If I ever got to a place and I had forgotten to plan ahead, the options were limited for healthy food.”

His solution? Farmer’s Fridge: vending machines stocked with fresh, healthy salads and snacks. Read More

New Initiative Seeks to Advance Farm-to-Institution Procurement in Michigan

March 17, 2014 |

postIncreasingly, food service directors and purchasing officers in schools, hospitals, and other institutions are being tasked with the mission of finding local producers of the food items they buy on a regular basis.  They are doing this to support regional food systems, local economies, and the health of their constituents. Read More

Lawrence, Kansas Works to Develop Urban Farming and Local Food Infrastructure

March 6, 2014 |
Kevin Prather, Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farmer, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Kevin Prather, Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farmer, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Home to the University of Kansas and the City of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas is in the midst of developing a thriving local food and urban agriculture movement.

In 2010, the county formed a Food Policy Council to identify opportunities, challenges and benefits for a sustainable local food system.

Eileen Horn, sustainability coordinator for Douglas County and the City of Lawrence, serves on the Council with 24 others, including farmers, representatives from food retail establishments, Kansas State University Extension, Lawrence Public Schools, the Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market and the Douglas County Health Department. Read More

Seedstock’s “Grow Riverside” Sustainable Agriculture Conference Enhances Event with Nationally Known Experts

February 26, 2014 |

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Spearheading the movement to assist cities develop more urban sustainable farming within their environs, the “Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!” conference continues to expand its stellar program lineup with notable authorities in resource management, agricultural growth strategies and public policy. The March 19-20 event presented by Seedstock in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside will be held at the Riverside Convention Center.

Appearing as opening night keynote is Richard Conlin, who created Seattle’s local food initiative while serving as a City Councilmember. Conlin will talk about how to develop and establish urban sustainable agricultural policies – from land-use to funding efforts.

“Local food policy is a key element in creating environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and improved public health,” Conlin said. “I hope my experience can help provide guidance on how to put this into practice.” Read More

Congressman Mark Takano to Address Seedstock’s “Grow Riverside” Sustainable Agriculture Conference

February 6, 2014 |

Congressman TakanoPress Release – Seedstock today announced Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41) as the opening day luncheon speaker for the “Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!” conference. The March 19-20 event, to be held at the Riverside Convention Center, will assist cities in examining and developing solutions to reconnect with their agricultural roots as well as evaluate potential economic and public health benefits of sustainable urban agriculture.

Representative Takano presently serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs and the Science, Space and Technology committees. Prior to being elected to Congress, Takano spent 23 years as a high school teacher in the Inland Empire and more than 20 years on the Riverside Community College Board of Trustees. The Congressman, an advocate of “slow food” – an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986 – will share his perspective on this fast food alternative and the quest to preserve traditional and regional cuisine through the farming of plants and seeds characteristic of the local ecosystem.

“The progressive sustainable urban farming innovations to be presented at this event will prove an invaluable asset to Riverside and its environs,” said Congressman Takano. “I am greatly impressed with the forward-thinking leaders of this historically rich agricultural region and look forward to witnessing the future success of the collaborations that are certain to be generated as a result of the Grow Riverside conference.” Read More

New and Noteworthy Speakers Added to Slate for Urban Ag-Focused ‘Grow Riverside’ Conference on March 19 – 20

January 29, 2014 |

grow riverside 175Notable experts in urban agriculture, new farm financing, local food systems development, vegetable crop cultivation, food hubs and digital technology have been added to what’s shaping up to be a blockbuster slate of speakers for the Urban Ag-focused Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond! Conference (, which will be held at the Riverside Convention Center on March 19 – 20, 2014 in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside.

The conference will focus on the development of urban agriculture and local food system strategies and solutions that cities, Riverside in this particular case, can use to reconnect with their agricultural roots and create economic opportunities that investors, citizens, growers, government officials and other major stakeholders can leverage to foster a robust and sustainable local food future. Read More

Nashville Entrepreneur Experiments with Micro-scale Rooftop Hydroponics

January 21, 2014 |
Courtesy of Jeffrey Orkin

Courtesy of Jeffrey Orkin

On the roof of a condo in downtown Nashville, Urban Hydro Project founder Jeffrey Orkin is redefining the meaning of space-efficient urban agriculture.

Orkin has turned a former rooftop utility room into a 135-square foot hydroponic grow room where he raises various types of lettuce, basil, arugula, dill, kale, cilantro, mustard greens, and more. In December 2012, Orkin launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds he needed to build the grow room. Those who donated to the campaign were promised certain amounts of lettuce, basil, and arugula in return, and Orkin has been busy over the past year distributing these greens to his supporters. Orkin has also been busy selling his produce to residents of the condo unit he grows in, other community members, and local restaurants in the Nashville area. Read More

New York Distributor Brings the Farmers’ Market to the Supermarket; Increases Local Food Access

January 3, 2014 |
Dan Horan, President & CEO of Five Acre Farms Image Credit: Five Acre Farms

Dan Horan, President & CEO of Five Acre Farms
Image Credit: Five Acre Farms

Dan Horan had a notion back in 1989 that started with a college essay and turned into a business plan: enlist the cooperative efforts of various small farms in the region to supply supermarkets with locally produced foods. The idea of bringing the farmers’ market to the local supermarket was planted, he says.

“Fast-forward to 2010,” says Horan. “I sold the company I was involved with and hired my first employee.”

The name for Horan’s new venture, Five Acre Farms, came from the principle of small, local agriculture serving its local communities, according to Horan.

“Our focus was on the mainstream customer,” says Horan, “improving their access to local food where most of the shopping is happening—in the supermarkets. Less than 10 percent of people can support the farmers’ market. We wanted to be in the mainstream shopping centers.” Read More