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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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5 Colleges Where Students Are Getting Creative with Sustainable Agriculture

October 30, 2014 |
Oberlin Farm. Image courtesy of Oberlin Farm.

Oberlin Farm. Image courtesy of Oberlin Farm.

by Rose Egelhoff

Across the country, sustainable agriculture is growing on college campuses. Carefully nourished soil on old athletic fields and other underutilized areas is becoming darker and richer, and nascent orchards are surviving the trial-and-error pruning of novices to mature and bear fruit. These student-led farms are providing local food, community, and practical agricultural experience to their young caretakers.

Here are 5 farms across the nation where students are working, learning and experimenting in sustainable food production.    Read More

From Four Acres Under Glass to 400, Two Brothers Turn Risky Hydroponic Venture into Sustainable Success

January 9, 2014 |
Photo Credit:Wayne St. Denis

Gianni Mucci (left) and Bert Mucci proudly display Mucci Farm’s hydroponic tomatoes.
Photo Credit: John Regnier

Shortly after immigrating to Ontario, Canada from Italy in 1961, brothers Tony and Gino Mucci planted their first vegetable crop on rented land. In 1969, they built a wood frame greenhouse, and in 1975, they put four acres of crops under glass—a risky venture during a time of high-mortgage rates, as well as high fuel and labor costs.

The investment paid off. Today, Mucci Farms continues to make investments in its profitable business, especially in the area of sustainability.

Located near Kingsville, Ontario, Mucci Farms is still family-owned and operated, growing and marketing 400-acres of hydroponic non-GMO produce across North America. Read More

Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Conference to Examine Unique Concepts of Sustainable Farming Visionaries

September 30, 2013 |

seedstock conference panelists

News Release: LOS ANGELES, CA—DaVinci, Einstein, Howard Hughes, Steve Jobs – each one a visionary whose unique view of life prompted innovations and inventions that – whether in art, science, industry or technology – continue to shape the evolution of our world. Today, faced with challenges of global warming and water shortages, visionaries in sustainable agriculture are creating unique farming concepts, products, and practices to address the food needs of a growing world population while at the same time developing viable local economic opportunities for entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and investors.

To learn firsthand from these agricultural innovators how a sustainable future can improve life for us all, plan to attend the 2nd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference – Farming: Fundamentals and the Future Tuesday and Wednesday, November 5 and 6, at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Read More

Reno, NV Startup Sees Opportunity in High Tech, Inexpensive Irrigation Control Systems for Small Farmers

January 31, 2013 |

When Reno, NV based sustainable agriculture enthusiast Eric Jennings noticed one morning that, yet again, his irrigation system had watered his sidewalk more than his backyard farm, he decided that it was time to put his engineering skills to good use. “Water is expensive and scarce in this area, and wasting it just bugged me so much that I started tinkering around in the garage” Jennings noted.  Most of the commercially available water irrigation control systems were either prohibitively expensive or excessively complex; “there was just nothing around designed for the small farmer” he concluded.

Around six months’ later, he’d created Pinoccio; a small, cheap microcontroller with an embedded WiFi unit that could be combined with a soil moisture sensor to control irrigation remotely. Read More

Fish and Greens Grow Together on Rooftop Farm in Winter Gardens, Fla.

January 30, 2013 |

Photo Credit: Green Sky Growers.

Traveling from farm to market has never been a shorter trip than it is for the produce grown by Green Sky Growers, a rooftop aquaponic farm, in Winter Gardens, Fla. The farm’s main client is a restaurateur housed in the same building. Delivering fresh produce is a mere one-minute commute in an elevator.

The unique aquaponic operation arose through the personal vision of Bert Roper, an aquaculture expert from Winter Gardens, Fla., whose ancestors settled the area more than a century ago. Although Roper passed away in late 2012, his legacy lives on. It’s visible in the lush, edible greenery that draws nutrients from a rooftop pond atop a multi-rise, 3,000 sq. ft. warehouse. Read More

With Focus on Innovation and Profit, California Farmer Grows Unique Berries for Every Season

January 21, 2013 |

Photo Credit: Pudwill Farms.

It’s 10:30 AM at the Saturday Santa Monica farmer’s market and the 600 plus baskets of Pudwill Farms blackberries and raspberries are already sold out. A few flats of plump, crisp looking blueberries are left but they’re going fast, too. One customer asks when those “incredible alpine strawberries” will be back. “Soon,” promises Roy Soto, the vender, with a knowing wink. It’s the middle of winter and this is why the public and the finest California restaurants revere Pudwill – for producing a varied selection of flavor-boisterous berries year round.

“We’ve got at least 12 varieties of blueberries, 10 or more of red raspberries, six of blackberries, three of golden berries, three of black raspberries, five or six different varieties of currents, and black and white mulberries” says Randy Pudwill, who runs the farm now, his voice brimming with pride. Read More

Video: Keynote Address on Importance of Embracing Sustainable Ag from Colin Archipley of Archi’s Acres

January 10, 2013 |

At the Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference at UCLA Anderson School of Management this past October, we had the pleasure of having Colin Archipley deliver the keynote address. In his presentation, Colin, a decorated marine sergeant and founder, along with his wife Karen, of Archi’s Acres and the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program, discusses the importance of embracing sustainable agriculture and its essential role in feeding a growing world population.

Read More

A Head of Lettuce from 1,000 Miles Away, or a Sack of Greens from the Vertical Urban Farm Across Town?

January 2, 2013 |

Photo: FarmedHere

In a perfect world of competitive business, twenty-first century startups have some high hurdles to overcome: the ideal is to offer a product that is beneficial for the consumer, leaves a negligible carbon footprint, has a sustainable operating model and contributes socially and economically to the community at large.

FarmedHere might be the poster boy for such a business.

The two-year-old startup grows salad greens, herbs and fish in a multi-stack, vertical agriculture setup, using aquaponic and aeroponic cultivation methods in an abandoned industrial warehouse about seven miles from downtown Chicago. Read More