Press Release – LAS VEGAS (Jan. 29, 2014) — Technological advancement in agriculture is re-defining how, where and when food is grown. Harnessing innovation within aeroponics, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), automated nutrient systems, new tracking technology and carefully engineered indoor environments, agriculture can now be grown year-round with no soil and limited water in the harshest climates on earth. This technological revolution in agriculture is explored at the second annual Indoor Agriculture Conference May 14 – 15 at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve Desert Living Center, where global industry experts convene to discuss advancements in this rapidly evolving industry.
Co-hosted by Newbean Capital and the Black Emerald Group, and sponsored by Hort Americas, the conference highlights the accelerating greenhouse, container and vertical farming trend that is sweeping urban centers and inclement environments around the world.
Since 2008, Brooklyn’s Gotham Greens has been working hard to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers.
As an urban farming pioneer, the for-profit company has established two large commercial farms in the city to meet the demand for fresh, wholesome, local produce. In the process, it has served as a pioneer in the rapidly evolving world of urban agriculture.
“Inspired by innovation and technology, we are driven by a sense of duty to address ecological issues facing our agricultural system,” explains Viraj Puri, co-founder and CEO of Gotham Greens. “The objective is to provide city residents with fresh, local produce, year-round.”
Across the country, small-scale local and sustainable food enterprises are emerging: urban farms, food hubs, community gardens, and more. All of these operations, however small, help create a new, more localized agricultural paradigm. But in order to overhaul our entire food system, President and Co-founder of The Food Commons Larry Yee says we need to think much bigger.
“Our overall objective is to demonstrate a whole new food system for local and regional food,” said Yee. “I don’t know of anyone else who is actually trying to create a whole system with all the necessary infrastructure for a highly effective, efficient local food system. There are people who are working on pieces of it, but we were crazy enough to try to tackle the whole thing.”
As the largest “farm-to-fork” rooftop garden in the region, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s McCormick Place West Rooftop Garden has garnered quite a following in Chicago and across the Midwest since it was planted in late June. The gardening project was started to bring attention to local sustainable agriculture and to create jobs for people in the community.
SAVOR…Chicago, McCormick Place’s food service provider and funder, uses the fresh produce grown at McCormick Place for its restaurant and catering operations.
Embedded in the bucolic Evans Valley just outside of Rogue River, Oregon is The Farming Fish, a 40-acre certified organic farm. Thirty of the acres remain wild and wooded so owners Michael Hasey and Olivia Hittner can harvest native edibles like mushrooms, berries, and ferns, while the remaining 10 acres are made up of pastureland for livestock, vegetable row crops, an orchard, and an aquaponic farming operation.
Although Hittner realizes aquaponic farming is not a “silver bullet,” she and Hasey do see it as an integral part of our agricultural future. In a world of scarce resources, aquaponic farming conserves natural resources like water while still producing a greater food output, says Hittner. As a result, Hittner sees aquaponics as a way to close the hunger gap and preserve resources for future generations.
Ryan Chatterson has figured out that special combination of skills needed by today’s aspiring aquaponic farmer: the ability to grow and the ability to market.
Chatterson began his five-acre Florida-based aquaponics farm, Chatterson Farms, to feed his family and community with nutritious produce he calls “better than organic.”
“We follow organic standards but use no pesticides (they will kill the fish), 90% less water and can provide more food from a smaller footprint (than traditional agriculture),” explains Chatterson. “We have zero waste discharged from our facility and are extremely energy efficient which leaves more room for profit and growth.”
In addition to selling high-end greens at the local farmers’ market, Chatterson provides 35-50 families per week with fresh vegetables for their table through a home delivery club.
The American food system safety regulations have not experienced a major overhaul since the height of the Great Depression in 1938. On January 4, 2011 President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). On January 4, 2013 a new produce safety rule, ‘Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,’ was proposed and looks likely to go into effect. Some farmers are concerned that the new regulation will have an adverse effect, making sustainable practices harder to follow and cost more to implement than many small producers can afford. So what’s the truth behind this federally mandated food system shakeup?
The FSMA is a vehicle for not only reacting to public health issues, but also for preventing them from occurring in the first place. Instead of waiting for producers to execute a voluntary recall of a tainted crop, the government can now force such a recall.
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is now accepting grant applications for its Fund-a-Farmer Project! The Fund-a-Farmer Project provides small grants to qualifying humane farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. Grants of up to $1,500 will be awarded for projects that (1) help farms transition to pasture-based systems, (2) improve the marketing of their humane products, or (3) more generally enrich the conditions in which farm animals are raised. Working, independent family farmers that raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows and/or beef cattle are eligible to apply for any of the three types of grants.