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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Q&A: Daron Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development for the Leichtag Foundation

September 14, 2015 |
Daron Joffe. Credit: Joshua Sherman

Daron Joffe. Credit: Joshua Sherman

This November’s Seedstock Conference keynote speaker is Daron Joffe.  As director of Agricultural Innovation and Development for the Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas, CA,  founder of Farmer D Organics and author of “Citizen Farmers,” he has lots to say about innovation in the community and local food sector.

In advance of the fall conference, Seedstock spoke with Joffe about his work at the Leichtag Foundation and his plan to develop community farms.

Seedstock: What is the most important thing you want Seedstock readers to know about Daron Joffe?

Joffe: I’m involved in a community farming initiative with a focus on social justice, social entrepreneurship and education from youth to farmers, and it’s a 20-year passion. I’m humbled and inspired by the amount of positive stuff going on in the movement. I’m especially excited about the role that a new nonprofit farm I’m helping to incubate here in Encinitas, CA has to play in the movement as a new thought partner and innovator in this broader context of community farming. What I’ve discovered is the power of farming to build community. Read More

Women in Food: Jo Ann Baumgartner and the Wild Farm Alliance Unite Conservation and Agriculture

March 2, 2015 |
Jo Ann Baumgartner. Image courtesy of Jo Ann Baumgartner.

Jo Ann Baumgartner. Image courtesy of Jo Ann Baumgartner.

Jo Ann Baumgartner’s interest in wild farming—the practice of integrating agriculture with local ecosystems to support both high crop yields and a healthy, biodiverse environment— started when she and her husband worked their own organic farm.

Baumgartner “came from an  understanding and love of wild nature,” and had always relished a chance vacation or outing that let her be in the outdoors. While farming, she began to see connections between the land she cultivated and the wild places she loved. While working on a book about California’s endangered species, she noticed that many creatures were rare precisely because of agriculture, which has replaced the natural habitat of many species with crops grown in monoculture. Read More

Seedstock Sustainable Ag Conference’s Urban Farm Field Trip to Tour Diverse Local Food Operations in Los Angeles

August 21, 2014 |

reintegrate agriculture urban logoAttendees of Seedstock’s 3rd Annual Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference will get a sneak peak at Los Angeles’ first multi-faceted food production business incubator for local entrepreneurs along with a tour of a blossoming 1.5-acre high school campus urban farming operation in Pasadena and a visit to a shipping container farm in the L.A. Art District.

The field trip, an excursion into the wide-ranging diversity of sustainable urban agriculture, will kick off Seedstock’s “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities” two-day event on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

In the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles, a former 56,000-square-foot industrial building is undergoing major renovations to ultimately house L.A. Prep, an accelerator for small food producers who have outgrown their startup spaces. The project, which broke ground this summer, will have its first tenants taking occupancy in early 2015. Read More

Seedstock’s “Grow Riverside” Sustainable Agriculture Conference Enhances Event with Nationally Known Experts

February 26, 2014 |

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Spearheading the movement to assist cities develop more urban sustainable farming within their environs, the “Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond!” conference continues to expand its stellar program lineup with notable authorities in resource management, agricultural growth strategies and public policy. The March 19-20 event presented by Seedstock in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside will be held at the Riverside Convention Center.

Appearing as opening night keynote is Richard Conlin, who created Seattle’s local food initiative while serving as a City Councilmember. Conlin will talk about how to develop and establish urban sustainable agricultural policies – from land-use to funding efforts.

“Local food policy is a key element in creating environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and improved public health,” Conlin said. “I hope my experience can help provide guidance on how to put this into practice.” Read More

Arizona Researchers to Compile First Ever High Resolution Global Cropland Map

August 13, 2013 |

Irrigated crop fields show up as red boxes on this satellite image of the Sonoran Desert. Image Credit: Northern Arizona University.

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers scattered around the country is gearing up to piece together the world’s first high-resolution map of global croplands, in a cross-institutional collaboration. The team’s goal is to answer the question, “Where is all of our food going to come from when global population reaches 9 billion people?” Researchers hope that having a detailed picture of what’s happening with croplands around the world will help to inform the net effect of regional demographic and geological changes. Piecing together that accurate of a map will likely take five years, $3.5 million (funded by NASA), computation of thousands of satellite images, and collaboration with crop experts all over the globe. Read More

Chipotle Leads Way in Sustainable Fast Food; Expands Market for Naturally Raised Meats

August 6, 2013 |

Anyone who has visited a Chipotle Mexican Grill knows their business model: pretty, tasty tacos and burritos prepared to order in an assembly line of tortillas, savory shredded meats, beans and an array of salsas to fit your heat tolerance.

What you might not know is that Chipotle is leading the way for “fast food” chains to transform their food sourcing to a more environmentally responsible model that taps local farmers, patronizes humanely-raised meat farms and gives customers a more healthful mouthful. Or, as Chipotle puts it, “Food With Integrity”. Read More

Vertical Farming Venture Achieves Sustainability and Success in New Buffalo, Michigan

June 10, 2013 |
Basil and Lettuce, neighbors in different vertical growing systems at Green Spirit Farms. Photo credit: Green Spirit Farms.

Basil and Lettuce, neighbors in different vertical growing systems at Green Spirit Farms. Photo credit: Green Spirit Farms.

According to Green Spirit Farms‘ Research and Development Manager Daniel Kluko, the future of farming is heading in one clear direction: vertical. “If we want to feed hungry people this is how we need to farm,” said Kluko.

Kluko believes that vertical farming offers a very important benefit in today’s world of scarce land and resources— the potential for unparalleled plant density. After all, how else can a farmer grow 27 heads of lettuce in one square foot of growing space?

Green Spirit Farms was started by Daniel’s father Milan Kluko under his engineering company Fountainhead Engineering LTD. The idea for the farm emerged while the company was evaluating indoor, urban farm models in North America for a non-profit client—a process which piqued Milan Kluko’s interest about the viability of a vertical farming operation. Read More

Urban Ag Organization Hopes to Get All Residents on Board to Keep Growing Detroit

May 8, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Keep Growing Detroit

Photo Credit: Keep Growing Detroit

Keep Growing Detroit, a nonprofit community gardening and urban agriculture support organization, has a mission to achieve nothing short of sovereignty for Detroiters.

Food sovereignty, that is.

The organization’s vision is one of a Detroit where Detroiters grow the majority of fruits and vegetables they consume. The group also serves Hamtramck and Highland Parks, autonomous cities surrounded on all sides by the City of Detroit. Read More