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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Startup Creates Solar Powered Irrigation Kit to Help Kenyan Farmers Farm more Sustainably

March 21, 2013 |

Charles Nichols and Samir Ibrahim think solar energy is the key to helping small-scale farmers succeed. Together, Nichols and Ibrahim co-founded SunCulture and created the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit to help Kenyan farmers farm more sustainably.

The Irrigation Kit that they developed uses solar water pumping technology and high-efficiency drip irrigation. Because the pump is solar it works well in Kenya’s climate, especially the country’s drier regions, noted Ibrahim.  Read More

Water Conservation, Passion for Great Food and Sustainability Fuel Family’s Foray into Hydroponics

February 27, 2013 |

Amelia and Ben Von Kennel, owners of Amelia’s Farm in front of their 6,000 square-foot, commercial, hydroponic greenhouse. Photo Credit: Amelia’s Farm.

A simple passion for great tasting food and sustainability fueled the founding of Amelia’s Farm, a hydroponic farm based in Bells, Texas. Amelia Von Kennel, co-founder and executive vice president, and Ben Von Kennel, co-founder and chief executive officer, established the Farm in October 2011. The couple sold their house in Dallas, Texas, and moved their family ranch to Bells, Texas. Since the move, the Von Kennel’s focus has concerned strengthening the Amelia’s Farm brand, and building a 6,000 square-foot, commercial, hydroponic greenhouse. The Farm grows pesticide-free, non-GMO produce all year round.

I recently had a conversation with Amelia Von Kennel. She discussed how the couple started farming, why she and Ben value healthy food and how the Farm stays sustainable. Read More

Rather than ‘Figure Out More Ways to Blow People Up’, Former NASA Engineer Seeks Solution to Feed World

February 21, 2013 |

When NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011, a lot of the engineers and systems technology staff ended up heading to defense industry contracting firms. But Douglas Mallette, founder and CEO of Cybernated Farm Systems, says he wanted to help feed the world rather than “figure out more ways to blow people up.”

So he founded Cybernated Farm Systems with the idea of building a fully self-generating and sustainably-operating greenhouse growing system that could feed precisely 634 people for 30 years, leave a small carbon footprint and provide nutritious, organic, fresh food in a world of rising poverty and hunger. Read More

Pioneering Organic Rice Grower, Lundberg Family Farms, Sees Sustainability as Pragmatic Imperative

February 11, 2013 |

Photo Credit: Lundberg Family Farms.

Seventy-five years ago, Albert and Frances Lundberg moved from the John Steinbeckian Dust Bowl of Nebraska to California to try their hand at farming land that had not yet been destroyed by pretty much the same challenges farmers face today – drought and poor soil management.

Albert had seen the results of shortsighted farm husbandry and passed along his philosophy of sustainable agriculture to his four sons, Eldon, Wendell, Harlan and Homer, who established Lundberg Family Farms, and pioneered organic rice growing in America.

Third-generation farmer, Jessica Lundberg, summed up the enterprise’s ongoing commitment to sustainability as more than an abstract liberal value. It’s a pragmatic imperative.

“When my grandparents left dried-up Nebraska and came to Northern California, they had new-found appreciation for being stewards of the land,” Lundberg said. “Soil is a living organism and must be treated well.” Read More