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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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sustainable agriculture methods

Armed with a Trowel, VSAT Program Aids Veterans in Launching Sustainable Startups

May 30, 2013 |

“We believe the next wars are going to be over food and water. So who better to train than our military in water conservation and food production?” – Karen Archipley

Archis+Acres+LogoReturning military often find themselves struggling to return to normality after serving overseas. Colin Archipley, co-owner of Archi’s Acres in Escondido, CA knows exactly how they feel. He served three tours of duty during the Iraq War that began in 2003. Between his second and third deployment, Colin, along with his wife Karen, bought an inefficiently run avocado farm. Besides starting their own very successful living basil hydroponics farm on the site, the empathetic couple created an incubator for transitioning veterans. What they created became known as the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training or VSAT program, a way to help veterans train for self-employment in the peaceful profession of hydroponic farming. Read More

Part II: Larry Jacobs of Del Cabo Discusses Lessons Learned in Sustainable Farming

May 2, 2013 |
Larry Jacobs, founder of the Del Cabo Cooperative.

Larry Jacobs, founder of the Del Cabo Cooperative.

In Part II of a two-part interview with Seedstock.com, Larry Jacobs, NRDC’s 2013 Growing Green Award winner, offers his insights in what can be gained by working in tandem with nature.

What larger lesson have you gleaned from your work?

The lesson is what’s out there in nature –  how does nature do it? What can we learn from that? How can we take those ideas and either manipulate them and use them in our farming systems to accomplish the same kind of things that we’ve done as we’ve short circuited [the process] with off-the-shelf chemicals? If we do it by using systems that nature has evolved, we bypass the danger zone of creating things that nature hasn’t learned how to deal with. And we’re using materials and ideas that already exist on the planet. There’s microbes that already exist and know how to metabolize the stuff. The planet knows how to deal with these things as part of the system. Read More

Part I: Farming Change Agent Larry Jacobs Shares Vision on Sustainable and Organic Ag

May 1, 2013 |
Larry Jacobs, founder of the Del Cabo Cooperative.

Larry Jacobs, founder of the Del Cabo Cooperative.

Larry Jacobs, a visionary from California, pioneered a new form of agriculture three decades ago that demonstrated to skeptics food could be cultivated profitably without the use of farming chemicals and pesticides. He went on to found the Del Cabo Cooperative in Mexico, which continues to assist indigenous farmers in growing and selling their produce at a price that creates a sustainable livelihood for their families.

In part one of a two-part interview with Seedstock.com, Larry Jacobs, NRDC’s 2013 Growing Green Award winner, explains why he chose in 1980 to make the switch to organic farming. This occurred at a time when U.S. farmers who experimented with organic farming methods were not even on the radar screen, and were often considered residents of “Kookville,” Jacobs says. Read More

Former Landscape Architect Takes on Challenge of Launching Organic Farm in Romeo, MI

April 8, 2013 |
Lisa Jaroch of Cold Frame Farm and her husband in front of their cold frame hoop house.

Lisa Jaroch of Cold Frame Farm and her husband in front of their cold frame hoop house.

When landscape architect Lisa Jaroch decided to leave her job designing parks and greenways at Hamilton Anderson, a prestigious Detroit architecture firm, she was ready to move in an entirely new direction.

A hands-on landscape designer, she had always possessed a green thumb and a passion for sustainability – interests that led her to pursue a new life as an organic farmer.

“This is my encore career,” she says.  “It brings everything together for me.”

Jaroch left her job in 2011 to pursue certification through Michigan State University’s 9-month Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP) program at the Student Organic Farm. The 10-acre farm doubles as a hands-on learning laboratory and a local food producer, offering a 48-week CSA, a 7-month campus farm stand, and supplies MSU dining halls with fresh produce. Read More

High Altitude Organic Farm Thrives on Product Diversity, RSA and Business Model Innovation

March 26, 2013 |

Sierra Valley Farms owner, Gary Romano. Photo credit: Sierra Valley Farms.

Sierra Valley Farms has found that by being open to new ideas, keeping farming practices simple and diversifying its products, farming sustainably can be successful and rewarding, according to owner Gary Romano.

“I’m a third generation farmer,” Romano says. “My family were flower growers in the Bay Area. My mom’s side of the family were cattle ranchers in the Sierra. When I was a kid growing up, I was raised on the flower farm. We did it the old-fashioned way—allowing cover crops to grow, hand weeding—the natural way. I took that model to use here and it works.”

In 1990, Romano bought the last 65 acres of his family’s ranch, located in the high Sierra of Plumas County, California and decided to turn it into a farm. It was a three-year process for Sierra Valley Farms to become Certified Organic, the only organic farm within 100 miles, according to Romano. Read More