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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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sustainable agriculture methods

Grow. Eat. Repeat. Startup Sees Cash in Compost

June 23, 2016 |
Grow.Eat.RepeatCompostCollectionBucket

A Grow.Eat.Repeat compost collection bucket demonstrates which materials customers should include and exclude. The Savannah, GA company processes up to 20 tons of food scraps per month. Photo courtesy of Grow.Eat.Repeat Instagram feed.

Growing up in the corn and soy fields of rural Indiana, Andy Schwartz has seen first-hand what large-scale farming can do to soil quality. But it wasn’t until he managed farms of his own and made his own compost that Schwartz realized the role large-scale composting could play in keeping the quality of soil high and protecting the environment.

“When I made enough compost for myself and the food waste kept coming in I realized that I had to come up with a plan,” he says. “The plan was and is to keep valuable organic materials out of the landfill and use them to create a healthy growing medium for plants. Heirloom tomatoes and peppers from my garden are a much better outcome for food waste than producing methane gases and harmful leachates in a landfill.”

Determined to “feed the food that feeds you,” Schwartz studied successful composting projects around the country and launched  Grow.Eat.Repeat,  a compost pick-up company in Savannah, Georgia. With more than 300 restaurants, 100 hotels, and 50-plus schools in the city, Schwartz had no trouble identifying his primary market. Read More

A 2-acre Farm in a Box: Kits Deliver Off-grid Farming Components in Shipping Containers

May 1, 2016 |
Netafim’s Typhoon thinwall dripline in the field. Courtesy Netafim.

Netafim’s Typhoon thinwall dripline in the field. Courtesy Netafim.

San Francisco-based Farm From a Box supplies all the components needed to create a two-acre off-grid farm,  packed in a shipping container that will then serve as a farm building. It recently announced a new partnership with Netafim, an Israel-based irrigation firm with offices in 120 countries, to supply the irrigation components. 

Farm From a Box is the brainchild of partners Scott Thompson and Brandi DiCarli. Their kits include renewable power systems, internet connectivity, basic farm tools, micro-drip irrigation systems and water pumps that can be adapted to fit either a ground well or municipal water supply. 
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SoCal Pasture-raised Livestock Operation Finds Success by Getting People to the Farm

April 28, 2016 |
Murrieta, CA-based Primal Pastures is a family farm that sells pasture raised chicken, pork, lamb, beef, honey, and wild seafood. (Photo Credit: Kathi Bahr)

Murrieta, CA-based Primal Pastures is a family farm that sells pasture raised chicken, pork, lamb, beef, honey, and wild seafood. (Photo Credit: Kathi Bahr)

“We’re trying to take farming practices back 100 years, but put the business model 10 years ahead,” says farmer Paul Greive of Murrieta, CA-based Primal Pastures.

Greive and three of his in-laws founded Primal Pastures in 2012, starting with pastured free-range chickens. The small family farm has since expanded its offering and, in addition to poultry, now sells pasture raised pork, lamb, beef, honey, and wild seafood to its customers.

Primal Pastures is not an organic farm, but Greive takes pride in the fact that he and his fellow farmers employ regenerative and environmentally responsible farming practices that “go beyond sustainability.”This includes letting animals carry out their natural behaviors on pasture through rotational grazing to help restore equilibrium to soil. Read More

A Sustainable Food One-stop Shop: New Orleans Business Combines Urban Farm and Grocery Store

March 25, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Hollygrove Market & Farm.

Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Hollygrove Market & Farm.

Hollygrove Market & Farm (HM&F) has shortened the food distribution chain to zero by combining an urban farm with a grocery store.

For many area residents in New Orleans’ 17th Ward, HM&F is their only source of affordable, local fresh food. HM&F goes out of its way to provide healthy food choices by letting customers choose from purchasing  single items or CSA-style food boxes.

HM&F began as part of the Carrollton-Hollygrove Community Development Corporation. In the past they have enjoyed support from area organizations including the New Orleans Food & Farm Network and the Master Gardeners of New Orleans. Read More

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Celebrates 30 Years of Sustainable Farming Advocacy

November 4, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of Michael Fields Agriculture Institute

Photo courtesy of Michael Fields Agriculture Institute

Founded in 1984, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit advocacy organizations for sustainable agriculture. Teaching children sustainable farming, public programming and lobbying for sustainable agriculture policy at the state and federal level are the daily work of the MFAI. Funded by federal grants and donations, the MFAI also assists retiring farmers in how best to manage their farmland and aids growers in the organic certification process. Read More

Awareness of Environmental Impact, Embrace of Sustainability, Defines 4th Generation Deardorff Family Farms

August 5, 2013 |
Photo credit: Deardorff Family Farms

Photo credit: Deardorff Family Farms

The Deardorff family has been in the produce business since 1937, helping local farmers in Venice, Hollywood, and Los Angeles distribute their produce. As the city of Los Angeles swelled in the early 1960’s, the Deardorffs followed many of their growers north to Ventura County and began to work the land themselves on their own 50-acre ranch. Since then Deardorff Family Farms has passed through four generations and grown immensely. Today, cousins Scott Deardorff, and Tom Deardorff II farm 2,000 acres of sustainably grown celery, tomatoes, greens, and mixed vegetables throughout Ventura County. They market their produce through wholesale distributors, at local markets, and directly to consumers. Read More

To Counter Strain on Groundwater Supply, California Berry Grower Employs Innovative Water Management Strategies

July 9, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Driscoll's

Photo Credit: Driscoll’s

Driscoll’s strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are famous throughout the nation as some of the sweetest handful of anti-oxidants you can find. Grown in the Parajo Valley of California’s central coast region, Driscoll’s has been operating as a family business for more than 100 years.

But generations of expanding agriculture have put a severe strain on the groundwater supply that irrigates the region. Water is being pumped at twice the rate that the aquifer can safely provide, and as a result of over-pumping, seawater intrusion continues to diminish and contaminate the basin’s water supply. Driscoll’s – like farmers across the nation – is faced with finding innovative methods to counter the shrinking water supply.

Seedstock spoke with Emily Paddock, Driscoll’s water resource manager, to find out what they are doing about the challenge. Read More

Portland, OR-based Urban Farm Seeks to Spread Sustainable Ag through Education and Healthy Food

July 3, 2013 |
Members of Zenger Farm Shares Community Supported Agriculture program pick up their produce at the farm, courtesy Zenger Farm.

Members of Zenger Farm Shares Community Supported Agriculture program pick up their produce at the farm, courtesy Zenger Farm.

Portland, Oregon’s Zenger Farm is striving to be a national model for urban, sustainable agriculture education while meeting the needs of people in its backyard: the low-income neighborhoods of Lents and Powelhurst-Gilbert.

The urban farm works to provide sustainable food and agriculture education, food access, and support for emerging food businesses in the area.

Though the farm is not currently certified, plans are underway to pursue organic certification within the next year, according to Sara Cogan, Farm Manager for Zenger Farms. Sustainable agriculture methods used on the farm includes drip irrigation, strict avoidance of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and creation of habitat to support diverse populations of beneficial insects. Read More