Sustainable Agriculture Startup Profiles
Standing on a dirt track runway in Southern Sudan watching Dinka Women lug 90kg bags of food aid back to their homes in the middle of nowhere, an idea occurred to Rachel Zedeck, Founder and Managing Director of Kenya-based startup Backpack Farm (BPF): “If these women can carry these huge bags of maize and beans back to their villages, why can’t we package something that they can carry back to their village to help them farm.”
Seedstock Digest: Hydroponic Greenhouses Atop Super Markets, An Aeroponic System in a Grade School Classroom, Rooftop Aquaponics and more!June 16, 2011 | Robert Puro
It’s Urban ‘Ponic Wednesday at Seedstock and that means we are featuring articles that we wrote on urban agriculture startups that are making use of hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic systems. So check them out and get your ‘Ponic on!
In spring 2009 Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez were in their final semester at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business headed toward careers in consulting and banking when a remark made by a professor about the potential for growing mushrooms with used coffee grounds piqued their interest. With a desire to create a socially responsible and sustainable business that could make use of the millions of tons (~24 million tons per year) of used coffee grounds that go almost entirely to waste each year, the two classmates decided to further investigate the idea. What emerged from their research and consultations with mycology experts was Back to the Roots Ventures (BTTR), a startup company focused on sustainably farming gourmet mushrooms in used coffee grounds.
Eight miles off the shores of Panama, past the horizon line in 220 feet of water where 15 – 20 foot seas are the norm, sits one of the most unique and sustainable open ocean aquaculture operations that Seedstock has ever come across. Run by US-based aquaculture startup company Open Blue Sea Farms, the operation currently consists of a number of technologically advanced offshore pens in which a fish species known as Cobia is harvested carefully and humanely in pristine ocean waters. For reference, Cobia is a white meat fish that resembles a small shark in appearance and can grow to a maximum length of 78 inches and weight of 150 pounds.
“Most of the time you don’t hear of an aquaculture center in the middle of cornfields in the Midwest.” – Norman McCowan, President of Bell Aquaculture
Aquaculture, or fish farming under controlled conditions, is growing faster than all other food producing sectors worldwide. According to the FAO, aquaculture has maintained an average growth rate of 9.2% per year since 1970 and as of today accounts for nearly 50% of total fish production by weight. The industry, which is dominated by operations in Asia, is just now starting to take off in the US.