Like so many other local food producers, Kristine and Ryan Jepsen of Iowa began with an interest in “good food.” Not just food that tastes good, but food that is environmentally and economically sustainable.
The majority of the 26 billion pounds of beef consumed in the United States each year comes from factory farms. These farms have come under fire from environmentalists and animal rights activists citing issues of pollution and inhumane treatment of animals.
The Jepsens have a different way of doing business.
Their Grass Run Farms is a meat wholesaler that sources beef from 20 different farms, including their own.
What began as a business plan drawn up for fun has spawned Aqua Vita Farms, central New York’s first aquaponic farm.
Aqua Vita Farms was founded by Mark Doherty and seeks to provide wholesale food distributors with safe, high value, aquaponically grown seafood and produce. Retrofitting and construction on the company’s indoor farming facility, a 13,000 square foot building in Sherrill, N.Y. that was formerly a polishing facility for Oneida Silverware, kicked off in May of this year. The company, which currently raises bluegill fish, and grows lettuce, leafy greens and herbs in its custom-made aquaponic systems, had it first harvest shortly thereafter in August.
It can be difficult to break down a system and thoroughly examine its component parts without losing sight of the whole picture. Dorn Cox can do just that. As executive director of New Hampshire-based nonprofit GreenStart, he’s working to develop biologically based local food and energy systems designed to return carbon to the soil. To do this, he looks at where and when carbon is entering and leaving the soil – and how to keep it there with as few inputs as possible.
Researchers at the Huntington Ranch are experimenting with innovative farming techniques focused on ecosystem-based growing and using multi-level polyculture to create “edible landscapes.” Such landscape systems require less upkeep, have a lower environmental impact, and are less expensive in the long run.
Located on fifteen undeveloped acres of land at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, the Ranch features a vegetable garden, dozens of fruit trees, an avocado grove, a “food forest,” and a half-acre zone featuring demonstration spaces for container gardening and pruning workshops. The Ranch functions as an outdoor classroom, demonstration garden, and research lab for sustainable urban agriculture.
Visiting a farm where pigs and hogs are raised, or even living anywhere near an ‘industrial’ hog farm, can be a decidedly unpleasant olfactory experience. But when visiting Herbert Pantua’s 1.6-hectare farm, where he raises 200 hogs and some 300 chickens, people say “they can only pick up the scent of fresh basil, oregano, lavender and many other herb varieties,” according to an Inquirer news report.
It turns out that Mr. Pantua is a strict and rigorous practitioner of his own, homegrown organic farming operation, growing vegetables and herbs and raising his livestock solely with fermented crops as feed as opposed to synthetic feeds. Pantua, in other words, is raising vegetarian hogs.