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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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sustainable agriculture practices

Aquaponics Startup Serves Up Rainbow Trout with Side of Veggies

July 13, 2016 |
Redemption Fish Company in Salem, MA is a budding aquaponics business raising fish and produce to stem the tide of collapsing fisheries in New England. Photo courtesy of Andy Davenport.

A view of one of Redemption Fish Company’s young aquaponics tanks. The Salem, MA based company is a budding aquaponics business raising fish and produce to stem the tide of collapsing fisheries in New England. Photo courtesy of Andy Davenport.

Selling seafood in New England has never been a problem. But with local fish populations collapsing, and the appetite for seafood remaining the same, providing fish to sell is becoming more dire than most people may realize.

“Living in New England, we are assailed with seafood left and right—it is a humongous part of the culture up here—and a delicious one at that,”  Redemption Fish Company co-founder Andy Davenport says. “With the constant pressure on the oceans and recent restrictions on fishing, such as the Cod populations in the Gulf of Maine, we figured we would help lighten the load and provide people a local option to [help] the hurting oceans and the current farmed fish option that’s from hundreds of miles away.”

To be clear, Davenport and his business partner Colin Davis aren’t your typical New England fisherman. They met as roommates in Cambridge, Massachusetts while Davenport was working in the biotech industry and Davis ran a farm-to-table grocery business. With their backgrounds, it may make sense that aquaponics was a natural outgrowth of their friendship. Read More

Yes, Cattle Do Still Roam the Rolling Pastures of Orange County, CA

July 7, 2016 |
Frank Fitzpatrick, owner of Silverdo, CA-based 5 Bar Beef overseeing his herd of pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle. Photo courtesy of 5 Bar Beef.

Frank Fitzpatrick, owner of Silverado, CA-based 5 Bar Beef overseeing his herd of pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle. Photo courtesy of 5 Bar Beef.

Today, amidst the urban sprawl and paved over groves and ranches of yore, Orange County, CA residents might be surprised to learn that it is still possible to find cattle happily nibbling on grass and grazing the rolling pastures of 5 Bar Beef, a Silverado, CA-based ranching operation located in the Santa Ana Mountains. Residents can purchase 5 Bar Beef’s grass-fed, pasture-raised beef at several farmers’ markets in the county and online.

5 Bar Beef is something of a throwback, but the sustainable holistic grazing practices in use on the 800-acre ranch are entirely evidence-based — and Frank Fitzpatrick, owner and head cowboy in charge, believes that the techniques he uses offer hope for California’s water crisis and the planet at large. Read More

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

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

Small Farm Pursues Diversified Agriculture in the Shenandoah River Valley

October 30, 2013 |
Lars Prillaman and Leslie Randall from Green Gate Farm Source: Green Gate Farm

Lars Prillaman and Leslie Randall from Green Gate Farm. Source: Ourterrain.org

Brought together by a shared love of sustainable agriculture, Lars Prillaman and Leslie Randall launched 8.5-acre Green Gate Farm in the small, historic town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Prillaman and Randall see agriculture not as an efficiency and profit-maximizing endeavor, but as an intricate process guided by natural cycles, ethical responsibility, and community enrichment, and work hard to maintain a farm that realizes their vision of what agriculture should be.

That being said, these young, new farm owners have been tremendously successful for a first-year start-up.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about making money doing it,” says Prillaman, “If I didn’t make money doing it I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Thus far, the pair runs a thriving CSA which currently has a wait-list for next season, sells to a popular local restaurant, has tables at two farmer’s markets, and has received accolades from established farmers who are impressed and astonished with their first year success. 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

Organic Farm Thrives Amidst Illinois Monoculture

July 30, 2013 |

bluemoon farmVisiting Blue Moon Farm is a visual delight—an oasis of diverse organic vegetable production in a sprawling landscape otherwise filled with fields of conventionally grown corn and soybean. Long rows of kale, bok choy, and other greens dot the landscape while greenhouses filled with tomatoes and melons stand in stark contrast to the surrounding monoculture.

Jon Cherniss has been tending this land since 1997, finding ways of increasing profitability and longevity while maintaining a commitment to organic farming methods, which are often eschewed in favor of short-term gains in Central Illinois. Read More

Farm Kid Turned Anthropologist Returns to a Life in Sustainable Agriculture

July 29, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Missy Smith.

Photo Credit: Everblossom Farm.

As a fourth generation farmer, Elaine Lemmon has a fond relationship with dirt. But growing up, she didn’t plan on becoming a farmer later in her life. When the real world called, she answered, studying anthropology and archeology at Penn State University. But, her studies would later steer her back to farming. “I soon got disenchanted with how science-for-profit really wasn’t good science,” says Lemmon. “The part of archeology I really loved was working outside and working in the soil.”

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