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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Sustainable Agriculture Startup Profiles

Days Away from First Harvest, Sustainability is Lynchpin to Bay Area Aquaponic Startup

September 26, 2013 |
Interior of Viridis Aquaponics greenhouse in Watsonville, CA. Photo credit: Viridis Aquaponics

Interior of Viridis Aquaponics greenhouse in Watsonville, CA. Photo credit: Viridis Aquaponics

Beginning an Aquaponics business takes hard work, the right partnerships and a patient nature when it comes to organic pest control. Viridis Aquaponics is a burgeoning startup based in Watsonville in the San Francisco Bay area. The farming business has been quite a learning curve for co-owner and former construction businessman Jon Parr. A mutual friend introduced Parr to Drew Hopkins. Finding they had complimentary business skills, they began devising a business plan for a sustainable greenhouse-based farm. That plan found an investor and soon became the eight acres of grow space that now houses Viridis Aquaponics, Inc. The company is days away from its first harvest. Read More

Seeing Opportunity for Local Food and Farmers, Entrepreneur Seeks to Launch Food Co-op in Riverside CA

September 25, 2013 |
William Cobb, founder of the Riverside Food Co-op. Photo credit: Riverside Food Co-op

William Cobb, founder of the Riverside Food Co-op. Photo credit: Riverside Food Co-op

A few years ago former Air Force veteran and commuter student, William Cobb, saw an opportunity to create a food cooperative in Riverside, CA. It was the combination of rich farmland and densely populated urban/suburban areas along with the absence of a sustainable and local food culture in Riverside that first caught Cobb’s attention. So, In 2010, he decided to move to Riverside permanently and began selling residents on the idea of a cooperative business model. They listened.

In 2011, the Riverside Food Co-op was formed. This grass roots effort to create a member owned local produce grocery store is quickly moving from a small endeavor into a community changing force for good.

“I feel like a food cooperative is the most basic kind of thing in the alternative economic and even food system paradigm that I was missing living here,” shares Cobb. Growing up in California, food cooperatives can become pretty ubiquitous. Read More

At Urban Rural Nexus, Food Distributor in Colorado Makes Connections that Grow the Local Food Marketplace

September 24, 2013 |

summer fall 500 croppedTo Elizabeth Mozer, owner/operator of Loco Foods distribution in Ft. Collins, Colorado, it’s all about connections.

Back when she was running the Lyric Cinema Café, she made a conscious choice to make sure her café was stocked with the same kinds of foods she would pack for her children’s lunches – something fresh, healthful and, most importantly, local.

“We were sort of a glorified concession stand,” Mozer said. “But we believe in supporting our local farmers. And where we’re located, somewhere between urban and rural, you can find a lot of farms.” Read More

Spotting Opportunity from Above, Airline Pilot Launches Rooftop Farming Startup in Hawaii

September 23, 2013 |
Rooftop farm in Waimanalo, Hawaii using FarmRoof technology. Photo Credit: FarmRoof

Rooftop farm in Waimanalo, Hawaii using FarmRoof technology. Photo Credit: FarmRoof

One day, as Alan Joaquin surveyed the landscape of his native Hawaii from his perch in the pilot seat of a Hawaiian Airlines jetliner, he had a revelation.

“I saw nothing but rooftops, and realized we could be growing food on them.”

Joaquin, an entrepreneur since his teen years with a strong interest in horticulture and environmental restoration, was looking for another place to literally “roll out” a modular urban farming system he had been developing.

Joaquin, now a commercial airline pilot, got his start in business in his teens and early twenties as a commercial landscape contractor focusing on ecological restoration, and developed an erosion blanket product to rehabilitate stream banks and facilitate native species restoration. Read More

With 3 Million Heads of Lettuce, Cleveland Hydroponics Operation Revitalizes Low Income Area

July 25, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Green City Growers.

Photo Credit: Green City Growers.

Heads of lettuce may not seem life changing, but when you grow 3 million of them each year, the result can reinvigorate an entire area.

Such is the idea behind Green City Growers Cooperative’s greenhouse in Cleveland. At three-and-a-quarter acres, the greenhouse spans the equivalent of three football fields.

“It’s one of the largest local food initiatives in the United States,” said Mary Donnell, Green City Growers’ chief executive officer. It also ranks as the nation’s largest food production greenhouse in a core urban area. Read More