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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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sustainable farm

Tiny Texas Startup Has Big Plans to Create Ten-Acre Sustainable Ag Model

February 13, 2014 |
Michael Hanan harvests aquaponic basil at Ten Acre Organics. Photo courtesy of Ten Acre Organics.

Michael Hanan harvests aquaponic basil at Ten Acre Organics. Photo courtesy of Ten Acre Organics.

Ten Acre Organics began as the abstract vision of a few friends in Austin, Texas.

“We wanted to use social capitalism to make a positive impact,” says Michael Hanan, co-founder. “We started looking at where the greatest opportunities to do that were. We saw that growing and sharing the healthiest food possible was really one of the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities facing our generation.”

Hanan and fellow classmate Lloyd Minick began the farm in earnest in 2012. Currently, the farm is housed on a tenth of an acre residential plot in Austin. Although it is tiny, the startup hopes its method of integrated, closed loop farming that combines field plants, aquaponics, live animals and a small CSA can act as a model for productive urban farming around the nation. Read More

New and Noteworthy Speakers Added to Slate for Urban Ag-Focused ‘Grow Riverside’ Conference on March 19 – 20

January 29, 2014 |

grow riverside 175Notable experts in urban agriculture, new farm financing, local food systems development, vegetable crop cultivation, food hubs and digital technology have been added to what’s shaping up to be a blockbuster slate of speakers for the Urban Ag-focused Grow Riverside: Citrus and Beyond! Conference (http://growriverside.com), which will be held at the Riverside Convention Center on March 19 – 20, 2014 in partnership with the City and Community of Riverside.

The conference will focus on the development of urban agriculture and local food system strategies and solutions that cities, Riverside in this particular case, can use to reconnect with their agricultural roots and create economic opportunities that investors, citizens, growers, government officials and other major stakeholders can leverage to foster a robust and sustainable local food future. 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

Despite Vow Never to Farm, Iowan Returns to Prove Merits of Farming Sustainably

October 9, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Coyote Run Farm

Photo Credit: Coyote Run Farm

Matt Russell, one of Coyote Run Farm’s owners, grew up on a farm in Iowa. And before Russell went to college, he swore he would never do two things: Become a farmer, and live in a small community. Well, a few years out of college was all it took to change Russell’s mind. He moved back to Iowa with Patrick Standley, the Farm’s other owner, and founded the 110-acre Coyote Run Farm in Lacona, IA, in January of 2005. “I wanted to set roots in Iowa,” Russell said. “When we felt like we had enough money to buy a farm, we started looking in the fall of 2004.” The farmers found land through a real estate agent within six weeks of starting their search.

When Russell finally did decide to go into farming, he wanted to make certain his farm business model would mitigate risk. “I wanted to figure out a way to increase the net as a percentage growth. Instead of growing bigger, I wanted to have lower growth and lower input.” Read More

The Santa Monica Farmers Market – Where Every Farmer Has a Story to Tell and Bounty to Share

September 19, 2013 |
Panoramic shot of the storied Santa Monica Farmers Market. Photo Credit: Santa Monica Farmers Market

Panoramic shot of the storied Santa Monica Farmers Market. Photo Credit: Santa Monica Farmers Market

The Santa Monica Farmers Market is celebrated throughout metro Los Angeles as perhaps the best, most family-friendly and most diverse of markets in the county. Launched in July, 1981, the beachside town’s farmers market began with a mere 23 vendors. Since then, it has grown to include some 85 farmers from as far north as the Oregon border all the way down to Tijuana, and has expanded to run four days a week in three different locations across the city.

Laura Avery has been running the market almost since its inception and said she has been feeding her own family, her children and her grandchildren on the bounty found in the colorful market stalls.

“We started this market through a program then administered through the California Food and Agriculture Department, and they went out and recruited farmers for us,” Avery said. “It’s thanks to Jerry Brown, who was governor then and who passed the Retail Marketing Act that allowed us to operate, even though all the big retailers and shippers were totally against it.” Read More

Finding our Farm

September 16, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Missy Smith.

The farmhouse in Elliottsburg, PA. Photo Credit: Missy Smith.

Moved to answer a calling to help turn around our broken food system and reverse environmental damages, Missy Smith, Brett Ziegler and their children are embarking on a sustainable farming mission in Central Pennsylvania. Follow them as they start Barefoot Hill Farm, a journey that will begin with renovating an old farmhouse and revitalizing previously vacant farmland and will continue with growing and raising organic food, reaching out to their local communities to spread the healthy eating gospel and acting as good stewards to beautiful farmland. Missy will document the ups, the downs, the triumphs and the setbacks that come with starting a modern organic sustainable farm.

Funny enough, when we first realized our strong desire to get back to the land, the first thing we did was connect with technology. Our farm journey began with a lot of internet researching: What it takes to run a farm. What we needed to get started. How we can secure farming land.

Much of our research kept coming up with the same two answers: land and money—two resources that we had in quite a limited supply. At that point, we were living in Bucks County, Pa., an area that is historically rich in agriculture, but had been developed in lightening speed over the almost thirty years we lived there. Each time I entered my hometown of Quakertown on visits home from Millersville University, I noticed that more and more land was being gobbled up in the name of housing developments, retail stores and restaurants. 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