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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Jenny Smiechowski

Organic Aquaponic Farm Embraces Environmental and Economic Sustainability in Oregon’s Evans Valley

October 28, 2013 |
Jericho Romaine Lettuce growing in the aquaponic system at The Farming Fish in Oregon. Photo Credit: The Farming Fish.

Jericho Romaine Lettuce growing in the aquaponic system at The Farming Fish in Oregon. Photo Credit: The Farming Fish.

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. Read More

Hydroponic Urban Farm Provides Year-Round Supply of Healthy, Organic Produce to Massachusetts Mill Town

October 15, 2013 |
Hydroponic array inside of S&S Urban Acres operation. Photo Credit: Kreativ Studios.

Hydroponic array inside of S&S Urban Acres operation. Photo Credit: Kreativ Studios.

Hidden within Durfee Union Mills Building, a historic textile mill complex in Fall River, Massachusetts, lies a hydroponic haven dedicated to providing fresh, organic produce to the local community.

S&S’s Urban Acres is a family-run operation which formed around the notion that people should have access to safe, healthy, pesticide-free food. More specifically, the Squillante family started the farm because they realized that the nutrient-void, chemical-laden food they were eating was making them and millions of other people sick.

“There was a sickness in the family that led us to look into what is really in our food,” said Brad Dean, Urban Acres’ President and Operations Manager, “We soon realized that many vegetables we were eating could cause health problems.” Dean is the son of Greg Squillante, the owner of the Durfee Mills Union Building. The Squillante family owns about 30 small businesses in the building including Urban Acres. Read More

Organic Seeds with your Coffee? Sustainable Ag Startup Sets Sights on Cafe Market

October 8, 2013 |
Photo Credit: SeedTabs

Photo Credit: SeedTabs

What if growing your own food was as convenient as running out for your morning cup of coffee? SeedTabs co-founder Wyatt Roscoe hopes to make it just that easy by selling organic seeds at popular locales like coffee shops, bookstores, and grocery stores.

According to Roscoe, SeedTabs owes its existence to a several pound seed order that was a bit excessive for his small garden. Roscoe and his brother Will decided to share their abundance of seeds and began passing out small bags of seeds to all of their friends. At first glance, says Roscoe, people were hesitant to accept these small bags of seeds. “These drug-like baggies of seeds received confused looks that quickly morphed into smiles of appreciation.” Read More

Greenmarket Grooms the Next Generation of Farmers through its New Farmer Development Project

September 30, 2013 |
Photo Credit: GrowNYC

Photo Credit: GrowNYC

Most modern-day Americans never consider a career in farming. They may see it as impractical, nostalgic, or even unnecessary in a world full of mass-produced, easily-accessible, and seemingly endless food options. But with the downfall of the family farm and the declining integrity of American agriculture as a whole, the need for the next generation of farmers has never been greater than in recent decades.

In 2000, New York’s Greenmarket co-founder Bob Lewis not only recognized this need, but saw a potential solution: New York’s vibrant immigrant population. Despite the lack of farming fervor in the U.S., the agricultural lifestyle still thrives in many countries. As a result, immigrants often come to the U.S. with a wealth of farming know-how and experience, but with no productive outlet for their skills. Read More

Chicago Couple Opts for Peasant Life; Moves to Country to Fulfill Dream of Organic Farming

August 21, 2013 |
Julia and Todd McDonald of Peasants' Plot. Photo Credit: Peasant's Plot

Julia and Todd McDonald of Peasants’ Plot. Photo Credit: Peasant’s Plot

Among city-dwellers, there are those that dream of a different life. This dream often brings them out of the city, back to the land, and, in some cases, leads them to a life of organic farming. When Todd and Julia McDonald met they shared such a dream. Living in Chicago, Todd and Julia often entertained the idea of becoming organic farmers.

“I distinctly remember one of our first conversations in which we both disclosed our ideas for our futures, what we wanted to be ‘when we grew up.’  [Todd] said ‘I don’t have any great ambition. I just want to be an organic farmer,’” said Julia McDonald. Read More