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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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organic farming

Sustainable Agriculture Institute Arms Returning Veterans with Tools to Become Farmers of the Future

December 1, 2016 |

Colin and Karen Archipley, the co-founders of Archi’s Acres and Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (AISA). Photo Courtesy of Archi’s Acres.

Returning military often find themselves struggling to return to normality after serving overseas. Colin Archipley, co-owner of Archi’s Acres in Escondido, CA knows exactly how they feel. He served three tours of duty during the Iraq War that began in 2003. Between his second and third deployment, Colin, along with his wife Karen, bought an inefficiently run avocado farm. Besides starting their own very successful living basil hydroponics farm on the site, the empathetic couple created a sustainable agriculture training center called Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (AISA) to help ease the transition of service members from military to civilian life. The courses offered at the institute are open to civilians as well as veterans giving everyone a way to serve their local community while building a sustainable business that will support their family.

The AISA learning center is based in Valley Center, California, near San Diego, and offers its students instruction in everything from sustainable agribusiness and farming production methods to business development and planning during a six-week course on founders’ Colin and Karen Archipley’s farmland. Read More

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

Impact Investment Firm Takes on Local Food Production to Increase Food Security in Hawaiian Islands

October 11, 2016 |

The Hawaiian Islands possess ideal climatic conditions to support year-round agriculture from consistently temperate weather to ample rainfall and abundant sunlight. Despite these favorable conditions, the islands rely on imports from the mainland and elsewhere for nearly 90 percent of the food that residents consume.

Last month, at the ICUN World Conservation Conference in Honolulu, Governor David Ige announced his pledge to double local food production by the year 2030. To help insure the success of this pledge, the Ulupono Initiative, a Hawaii-focused impact investing firm, has stepped into the fray to provide financial and advisory support to for-profit, non-profit and social ventures seeking to increase food security and production on the islands.

“We are pleased to hear about the governor’s announcement, and want to make it happen through investment means,” says Murray Clay, Managing Partner at Ulupono Initiative. “We are an impact investing firm, with one of the key areas of focus being local food production.” Read More

Community Connection Helps Small Organic Farm in Florida Overcome Challenges and Thrive

October 10, 2016 |
Community members helping out with the harvest at Geraldson Community Farm in Bradenton, Florida. Photo courtesy of Geraldson Community Farm.

Community members helping out with the harvest at Geraldson Community Farm in Bradenton, Florida. Photo courtesy of Geraldson Community Farm.

It’s one thing to manage a farm and all the challenges that it brings.

It’s another business challenge altogether to focus heavily on community involvement for your farm with special events, collaborations with area partners, farm tours, and brand promotion.

Yet Geraldson Community Farm, a certified organic farm in Bradenton, Florida has risen to both tasks with some adjustments along the way, says farm manager Christa Leonard.

The land itself where Geraldson is located has been agriculture-focused for decades, and the original owners sold the land to Manatee County with the caveat that it had to be used for agriculture. An arrangement was made with Florida West Coast Resource Conservation & Development, which funded the farm originally when it began in 2007. Leonard, a former behavioral therapist, got started with the farm as a volunteer and loved it so much, she stayed on. Read More

The New Mandatory GMO Labeling Law – What Does it Mean for Farmers and Consumers?

September 8, 2016 |

A Frito-Lay package with a voluntary GMO label. Photo Credit: Will C. Fry/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The campaign for mandatory GMO labeling laws has been going on for years. On July 29, President Obama signed a bill requiring labeling of foods that contain GMO.

As a result, over the next few years food producers will have to provide more information to consumers about the genetically engineered contents of their products. The Mandatory Labeling Bill places the onus on the USDA to develop not only the criteria for labeling, but also what the labels will look like.

Opponents of mandatory labeling argue that labeling genetically engineered foods will imply that those products are unsafe, which they say would be misleading since the FDA and other organizations have determined that genetically engineered foods are safe for human consumption. Those in favor of mandatory labeling, on the other hand, say that consumers have a right to know and to choose whether or not the food that they consume contains genetically modified ingredients. Read More

Southern California School District Takes Students Out of Classroom and Into ‘Farm Lab’

June 22, 2016 |
Organically grown lettuce heads being raised at Farm Lab for school lunch in the Encinitas Union School District

Organically grown lettuce heads being raised at Farm Lab for school lunch in the Encinitas Union School District. Photo courtesy of Farm Lab Director Mim Michelove

A public school district in Southern California is enhancing its curriculum with an interactive learning center known as “Farm Lab.”

The Encinitas Union School District is rolling out the mixed-use educational space on a donated 10-acre plot of land in the prominent horticultural hub of Encinitas, California. Central to the plan is a roughly five acre educational garden that will produce fresh organic produce for the district’s school lunch program. The lunch garden will eventually be complemented by a nutrition lab, a science lab, a maker’s lab for visiting students, an educational space for local organizations, a one acre community garden, and a one acre hands-on educational garden. The site is also bordered by a food forest that will be used to grow other organic produce for the community.

Farm Lab has been in the “pilot phase” since the end of the 2014-2015 school year and has so far leveraged its space as a tool for offering hands-on lessons and experiential learning to students at all nine elementary schools in EUSD. Farm Lab Director Mim Michelove says Farm Lab is using a “D.R.E.A.M.S.” approach to education that focuses lessons on Design, Research, Engineering, Arts, Math, and Science. The hope is that students can spend an entire day in a centralized location and experience a variety of educational activities that require more time than typical classroom lessons. Read More

Getting Creative in Colorado: An Oral History of the State’s Oldest Organic Farm

June 6, 2016 |
Jerry and Jacquie Monroe of Monroe Organic Farms,

Jerry and Jacquie Monroe, owners of Monroe Organic Farms, Colorado’s oldest organic farms. The Monroes have been practicing sustainable farming methods for nearly a century. Photo courtesy of Wander Media, J.R. and Ali Richards.

Monroe Organic Farms is Colorado’s oldest organic farm, and it has the rich history to prove it. Seedstock recently spoke with co-manager Jacquie Monroe to hear the story in her own words. Although Jacquie joined the farm’s family in 1984 when she married Jerry Monroe Jr. , she feels like she’s been farming alongside the Monroe’s since they got into the industry nearly a century ago.

The Monroes began farming in Kansas in the 1920s, but the family decided to move to Colorado to get away from the bad weather and tornadoes. Once settled, Lester, Jerry Monroe Sr.’s father, farmed a small place northwest of downtown Greeley.

“Jerry Sr. remembers selling produce door to door,” Jacquie Monroe says. “He remembers selling sweet corn, a baker’s dozen—13 ears for a penny—he was maybe 6 or 7 years old around 1933 or 1934.” Read More

Savannah’s Sandy Soil Gives Root to Thriving Organic ‘Superfoods’ Company

May 10, 2016 |
Verdant Kitchen's turmeric bound for Whole Foods. Courtesy verdant Kitchen.

Verdant Kitchen’s turmeric bound for Whole Foods. Courtesy verdant Kitchen.

Ross Harding and Howard Morrison decided to start a company together in 2012 after Harding hurt his neck. The problem? Neither were sure what they wanted to do. So, they met at Morrison’s family plantation—known as Lebanon Plantation, an acre of land that dates back to King George’s land grab in the 1700s—in Savannah, Georgia and had a talk. The friends discussed wellness, health, and good food.

After their conversation, the soon-to-be-business partners decided to use the land at the Plantation to organically grow two emerging “superfoods”—ginger and turmeric. Harding grew up in Australia close to fields of ginger, so he knew the spicy root would respond well to Georgia’s climate and the sandy soils near Savannah. Turmeric also grows well in warm, steamy climates. He says they chose the spices because they taste great and can easily be made into finished, value-added products. Read More