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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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organic farming

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

Organic Farming Research Foundation Releases Grantmaking Review

February 29, 2016 |

organicfarmlogoIn November, the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) released a review of research and education projects it funded between 2006 and 2014. An update to their 2006 report, “Investing in Organic Knowledge,” the report offers detailed insights into the most recent period of the organization’s grantmaking.

OFRF has four main areas of focus: policy, education, grantmaking and community. During the 2006-2014 period, OFRF issued a total of $1,452,517 in grants, each averaging around $14,000. Read More

Go Green Agriculture Pioneers Large-Scale Organic Hydroponics

October 20, 2015 |
A five-acre hydroponics greenhouse in Encinitas, California is the centerpiece of Go Green Agriculture. It produces multiple varieties of lettuce, as well as basil and watercress. (photo courtesy Pierre Sleiman/Go Green Agriculture)

A five-acre hydroponics greenhouse in Encinitas, California is the centerpiece of Go Green Agriculture. It produces multiple varieties of lettuce, as well as basil and watercress. (Photo courtesy Pierre Sleiman/Go Green Agriculture)

Five years ago, with no farming experience, Pierre Sleiman founded Go Green Agriculture. Today, the Encinitas, California company is one of the largest organic hydroponic operations in the United States.

Go Green Agriculture, last featured in Seedstock here, grows a variety of certified organic crops hydroponically in its five-acre greenhouse. They include Butter Lettuce, Red Salanova lettuce, basil, and watercress.

Not only was Sleiman embarking on a new adventure when starting Go Green Agriculture — he was also leading the charge in large-scale hydroponics. Because there was a lack of established standards and best practices to guide organic hydroponics farmers, Sleiman became involved in the regulatory side of things by lobbying USDA and other organizations. Read More

Seedstock Names Former CA Secretary of Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura, as Sustainable Ag Conference Keynote

July 23, 2014 |
AG Kawamura

A.G. Kawamura

(Los Angeles, CA, July 23, 2014) Seedstock today announced that former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (2003-2010) Arthur Gen “A.G.” Kawamura, will deliver the keynote address at the 3rd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference – “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities.”

The program, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 11-12, 2014, will focus on the economic, environmental and community benefits that result from the development of robust local food systems.

“As a progressive urban farmer, A.G. Kawamura has had a lifetime of experience working within the shrinking rural and urban boundaries of Southern California,” said Seedstock co-founder Robert Puro. “With his extensive knowledge of California’s agricultural landscape, and the challenges and opportunities associated with the development of strong local food systems, he will bring a unique and enlightening perspective to our conference audience.” Read More

Organic farmers hone in on supply issues at Organic Trade Association Policy Conference

May 23, 2014 |

content_img.2106.imgWASHINGTON, May 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The voice of organic farmers rang loud and clear at this year’s Organic Trade Association’s Annual Policy Conference in discussions convened by OTA’s new Farmers Advisory Council (FAC) on how to address increasing concerns over short supplies in the rapidly expanding organic sector. Read More

California Real Estate Company Creates Organic Farmland With Unique Business Model

March 12, 2014 |

postFarmland-logo-largeCraig Wichner and Jason Bradford thought they wanted to be farmers.

In 2009, the pair took a road trip from Northern California to Oregon with a couple of friends eager to scout out land for their new farm. It quickly became clear, however, that the kind of farming they were interested in, where livestock and crops utilized the same land, was more than a little beyond their reach.

“We realized that if we were going to be driving the tractors and managing the livestock ourselves, we would need $10 million worth of farmland and that didn’t fit in our credit limits,” Wichner says.

That’s when they realized they would need a different kind of business model. Read More