Sustainable Ag Startup
What if growing your own food was as convenient as running out for your morning cup of coffee? SeedTabs co-founder Wyatt Roscoe hopes to make it just that easy by selling organic seeds at popular locales like coffee shops, bookstores, and grocery stores.
According to Roscoe, SeedTabs owes its existence to a several pound seed order that was a bit excessive for his small garden. Roscoe and his brother Will decided to share their abundance of seeds and began passing out small bags of seeds to all of their friends. At first glance, says Roscoe, people were hesitant to accept these small bags of seeds. “These drug-like baggies of seeds received confused looks that quickly morphed into smiles of appreciation.”
A lot of farmers will tell you that the food grown through sustainable agriculture is only part of the equation. Creating infrastructure for small growers through food hubs, incorporating marketing and educational materials for customers and overhauling the perception of organic food in the United States are all essential parts of a successful food evolution. Indeed, there’s more to food hubs than just food. Just ask Kristen Suokko of Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, VA.
“We see Local Food Hubs nationally having impacts on a range of interrelated issues: food security, food safety (knowing where the food comes from), local economic vitality, land stewardship, and public health,” shares Suokko.
Greens & Gills, LLC Founder David Ellis comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Both his father and grandfather were independent business owners and he knew he would eventually follow in their footsteps— once the right idea presented itself of course. In Ellis’ case, the right idea came in the form of an urban, indoor agriculture operation using aquaponics.
According to Ellis, inspiration struck when he read about a Milwaukee company converting a vacant industrial space into an indoor, urban farm that would cultivate and sell local, sustainably grown fish and vegetables to the Milwaukee market. He visited the operation and the metaphorical seeds of his new business, Greens & Gills, were sown.
Local Orbit, an Ann Arbor, MI-based tech startup that facilitates the distribution of local, sustainably farmed food, is the brainchild of Erika Block, a trained playwright, theater director and technology consultant whose interest in food systems traces it roots to a performance art piece that never was called A History of Eating.
“While doing research for the project I started to learn about food systems,” says Block. “I said ‘hey, there’s some fundamental infrastructure problems and through the work I’d done (on other art projects) I’d become pretty engaged with mapping and social technologies and ways that you can connect people to collaborate in terms of storytelling online.”
Jennifer Piette said the idea for her Out of the Box Collective was born from the European food culture in which she lived for more than 20 years, working as a screenwriter and film producer.
“Where I lived (in France, Portugal and England), there were fresh markets right around the corner,” Piette said. “You cooked. Here in America, we have a completely different relationship with our food.”
Piette was referring to modern-day proclivities for processed and packaged meals (Piette calls it “phony food”), and produce and meat sourced from factory farms. The volume is impressive, but the quality dubious.