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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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An Urban Farm Born of the Recent Recession Takes Flight in Austin, Texas

October 24, 2016 |
Paula and Glenn Foore decided to start a farm on their land in east Austin that they initially used for a landscaping business. They started Springdale Farm in 2009. Photo courtesy of Mel Cole.

Paula and Glenn Foore decided to start a farm on their land in east Austin that they initially used for a landscaping business. They started Springdale Farm in 2009. Photo courtesy of Mel Cole.

Glenn and Paula Foore say their urban farming style uses common sense and basic practices.

“We’re wanting, and we are getting, back to where we came from,” Glenn Foore says, referring to decades past when he says more families picked fresh vegetables from their own gardens.

The couple owns and operates Springdale Farm within the city limits of Austin, Texas, and grow about 75 different types of vegetables — including tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, arugula, zucchini, broccoli. The Foores grow the vegetables all 52 weeks of the year on just under five acres of land in the central Texas climate.

They started Springdale Farm in 2009, but the Foores bought the land where the farm sits in 1992 through an economic development program in east Austin. The land served as the site of their landscaping business as a part of the city’s program, which incentivized small businesses to come to east Austin through low-interest loans as long as the companies employed eastside workers. Read More

Sustainable Ag Org. in Ohio Sees Increased Role in Supporting Influx of New Farmers

December 11, 2013 |
Source: Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Source: Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Ohio farmers new to sustainable agriculture can get a leg up on the learning curve with the help of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

The non-profit organization, established in 1979, works to promote and support the sustainable agriculture community in Ohio from producers to consumers including those new to farming. OEFFA assists new farmers through a variety of networking events, an apprenticeship program, and an investment fund created to encourage the expansion of sustainable farming practices.

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Outgrowth of People’s Food System, Veritable Vegetable Broadens Horizons for Organic Farmers

August 27, 2013 |
Photo credit: Veritable Vegetable

Photo credit: Veritable Vegetable

With roots in San Francisco’s storied People’s Food System, Veritable Vegetable has helped organic growers distribute their produce for nearly 40 years. While farmer’s markets and food co-ops are recent phenomena in some parts of the country, northern Californians started seeking an alternative to supermarkets and agricultural food giants in the 1970s. The People’s Food System was a network of collectives in the San Francisco Bay Area that sought to connect local food producers to neighborhood co-ops and community markets. In 1974, some members established the Veritable Vegetable Collective, which focused solely on produce distribution. Over the years, Veritable Vegetable has evolved from a worker-run collective into a for-profit company that serves growers and markets in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Hawaii. Read More

Growing Up and Out in Salt Lake County: Bell Organic, Draper, Utah

August 26, 2013 |
Photo credit: Bell Organic

Photo credit: Bell Organic

“Climbing was great training for farming. They are both really exhausting, painful, frightening experiences that look impossible on the face of them but somehow you get it done.” David Bell, Bell Organic Farm

Located 12 miles north of Salt Lake City, Bell Organic farm of Draper, Utah is what happens when you outgrow your garden and tap an ever expanding marketplace for fresh organic produce. For David and Jill Bell it all started with a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes.

In 1997, David Bell ran a successful rock climbing business and his wife Jill spent her days waitressing in a local restaurant. They began growing their own vegetables in the backyard, producing far more tomatoes than needed. A local restaurant owner put them in touch with his chef who immediately purchased their excess veggies. Soon after, a local market owner who imported his tomatoes from a greenhouse in Holland wanted to make a purchase. Read More

Couple Establishes Farm to Feed Friends, Family and Neighborhood Naturally Grown Food

August 19, 2013 |

changing seasons farmLaura Casey of Changing Seasons Farm in Fall City, Washington is a very busy women. Not only does she run a small sustainable farm operation, but she works as an Environmental Scientist almost full-time on the side. Laura and her husband Dave do not employ workers, but instead collaborate with friends and family who help out on the farm.

I recently spoke with Laura to find out more about how the farm runs, what sustainable practices she employs, her Naturally Grown certification and more. Read More

California Aquaponic Operation Seeks to Play Role in Evolution of Farming

August 12, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Ouroboros Farms

Photo Credit: Ouroboros Farms

In June 2011, Ken Armstrong watched a YouTube video that would change the course of his life. The video was created by urban farmer Will Allen, founder of the sustainable agriculture nonprofit Growing Power, Inc. and avid proponent of aquaponic farming. A year later, in June 2012, Armstrong would break ground on his own aquaponic operation, Ouroboros Farms.

Armstrong and his business partner Kenji Snow started Ouroboros with a strong desire to join the future of farming. “We wanted to be innovators and a model for a new integrated, living ecosystem methodology of farming that partners with nature, rather than trying to overcome it,” said Armstrong. Read More

Awareness of Environmental Impact, Embrace of Sustainability, Defines 4th Generation Deardorff Family Farms

August 5, 2013 |
Photo credit: Deardorff Family Farms

Photo credit: Deardorff Family Farms

The Deardorff family has been in the produce business since 1937, helping local farmers in Venice, Hollywood, and Los Angeles distribute their produce. As the city of Los Angeles swelled in the early 1960’s, the Deardorffs followed many of their growers north to Ventura County and began to work the land themselves on their own 50-acre ranch. Since then Deardorff Family Farms has passed through four generations and grown immensely. Today, cousins Scott Deardorff, and Tom Deardorff II farm 2,000 acres of sustainably grown celery, tomatoes, greens, and mixed vegetables throughout Ventura County. They market their produce through wholesale distributors, at local markets, and directly to consumers. Read More

Organic Farm Thrives Amidst Illinois Monoculture

July 30, 2013 |

bluemoon farmVisiting Blue Moon Farm is a visual delight—an oasis of diverse organic vegetable production in a sprawling landscape otherwise filled with fields of conventionally grown corn and soybean. Long rows of kale, bok choy, and other greens dot the landscape while greenhouses filled with tomatoes and melons stand in stark contrast to the surrounding monoculture.

Jon Cherniss has been tending this land since 1997, finding ways of increasing profitability and longevity while maintaining a commitment to organic farming methods, which are often eschewed in favor of short-term gains in Central Illinois. Read More