Seedstock Names Former CA Secretary of Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura, as Sustainable Ag Conference KeynoteJuly 23, 2014 | Robert Puro
(Los Angeles, CA, July 23, 2014) Seedstock today announced that former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (2003-2010) Arthur Gen “A.G.” Kawamura, will deliver the keynote address at the 3rd Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Conference – “Reintegrating Ag: Local Food Systems and the Future of Cities.”
The program, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 11-12, 2014, will focus on the economic, environmental and community benefits that result from the development of robust local food systems.
“As a progressive urban farmer, A.G. Kawamura has had a lifetime of experience working within the shrinking rural and urban boundaries of Southern California,” said Seedstock co-founder Robert Puro. “With his extensive knowledge of California’s agricultural landscape, and the challenges and opportunities associated with the development of strong local food systems, he will bring a unique and enlightening perspective to our conference audience.”
When academic theory meets real world application, the possibilities are endless. Just ask Jonathan Engelsma, professor of computer science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Engelsma, with fellow faculty John Ferris and Anne Marie Fauvel, aided students in the creation of a digital beehive scale and software application. The SolutionBee application, about to hit the apiary supply market, provides beekeepers with an opportunity to help scientists research the serious issue of bee health.
Local food growers, consumers and entrepreneurs in the Lansing, Michigan area have had good cause to celebrate as of late. Last September, Allen Neighborhood Center, a community development agency that doubles as Mid-Michigan’s nonprofit food hub, opened the doors of a warehouse they’d spent months renovating.
Located directly behind their community center on the city’s northeast side, that building, the Allen Market Place, now serves as an incubator kitchen and indoor market. It’s also linked to an online market called the Exchange, that connects regional farmers and food producers with commercial and institutional buyers in a 75-mile range of Lansing.
Cedar Point Church in Maryville, Tennessee started growing its hydroponic garden for two reasons: to develop a program offering a sustainable and healthy food source to its church family, and to build a sense of partnership between church members and the community.
While the garden is still in its early stages (it was started about three months ago), Kurt Steinbach, the church’s lead pastor is enthusiastic about the growing produce. Currently, Harvest Farms Co-op, the name of the church’s hydroponic gardening operation, grows several varieties of tomato, bell pepper, hot banana peppers, Anaheim peppers, green leaf lettuce varieties, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans. In late June, the co-op was preparing for its first harvest.
Many of Detroit’s urban agriculture ventures have a down-on-the-farm feel to them, but not the CDC Farm & Fishery. If anything, with its tubes and tanks, the business seems downright futuristic. You see, the Farm & Fishery is among the first aquaponic operations to set up in Detroit following the passage of an urban agriculture ordinance last year.
Aquaponic is a term that describes enterprises where aquatic creatures are raised and their wastewater is recirculated to help grow plants that in turn filter it for reuse. Located in a two-level building in the North Central Woodward area of the city, the grow station is now raising tilapia fish and cultivating herbs and microgreens to sell to area businesses.
One of the most tech-savvy areas of the sustainable agriculture revolution is indoor agriculture – growing in warehouses, containers and greenhouses using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic systems. The industry has seen a wave of new technology commercialized of late, here’s some of the coolest:
The cynical view of the LED lighting that many indoor farms use to encourage plant growth is that it’s too expensive to buy and run, and too tricky to adjust the lighting to your plants’ needs. Yet, LED prices are forecast to halve by 2020, according to market research firm Lux Research, and tech geeks are now making lights cheaper and easier to run.
Edward Silva is a student at the University of California, Davis studying international agriculture, and is a founder of Henlight.
Recently, I experienced something that does not seem to happen often: over 120 youth from more than 20 countries around the world actually came to a consensus that entrepreneurship is the most overarching issue affecting youth globally. More specifically, entrepreneurship as it relates to food and agriculture. This overwhelming validation for agripreneurs is the result of a larger global experiment called the Y20 and signals a hopeful future for food and agricultural entrepreneurs globally.
Urban gardening is a long-time tradition in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, according to the new City Farms Coordinator Harold McCray.
“Its original purpose was in response to urban hunger and malnutrition—that was its root,” McCray says.
The idea to include community gardens within Baltimore’s parks developed later, according to McCray. Former Mayor William Donald Schaefer suggested a garden network, beginning as a horticulture division of Recreation and Parks which became City Farms. In 1978, the first City Farms garden, located in Clifton Park, took root.
“Our challenge is not only feeding people who are hungry today, but how do we work proactively to address the causes of hunger and poverty?,” asks Kathryn Strickland, Executive Director of the Food Bank of North Alabama. “That’s why we’re interested in supporting economic development within in our local food system; to help create meaningful jobs and healthy food access to really get at the root cause of the hunger and poverty,” says Kathryn Strickland.
What started as a single volunteer sitting behind a desk in a local senior center in 1984 has blossomed into an organization that helps feed 100,000 people over an 8,000 square mile service area in Northern Alabama, with the help of 200 partnering agencies. As Strickland explains, the food bank doesn’t only want to reduce hunger; it wants to give local residents, farmers and stakeholders the tools to connect the dots of a local food system.
Finding a place to prepare one’s product is a challenge faced by many food startups. In the Motor City, A nonprofit program called Detroit Kitchen Connect is solving that problem by linking up local food businesses with underutilized neighborhood kitchen spaces.
“Folks who are interested in food entrepreneurship, novices opening their small food businesses, they need placement spaces where they can create product in a commercially-licensed facility,” Director Devita Davison tells Seedstock.
“So Detroit Kitchen Connect answers that demand for these small micro-processing facilities for entrepreneurs to grow, to scale and start to make it as a food business.”