Posts By Melonie Magruder
Hydroponic Urban Ag Startup Seeks to Create Scalable, Sustainable and Affordable Model to Feed CitiesDecember 4, 2012 | Melonie Magruder
Cityblooms is a food revolution waiting to happen. The Santa Cruz startup is now developing a comprehensive system to grow hydroponic microgreens on a commercial scale, but it came from humble beginnings.
The company was founded in 2001 by Nicholas Halmos, then an undergrad at Brown University. He was working on a junior year entrepreneurial project, when he and his friends decided to experiment with hydroponically grown tomatoes, and a light bulb turned on.
“I have been into urban agriculture longer than most,” Halmos said. “Even though I never particularly had a green thumb and we had no idea what we were doing.”
He started by buying a tomato plant at Home Depot, washing off the soil and encouraging hydroponic growth in a setup in his bathroom. The plant exploded with fecundity and Halmos began having dreams of feeding an urban nation.
“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food” – Hippocrates
To that nugget of wisdom, Paul Greive of Primal Pastures likes to add: “If food is your medicine, then farmers are your doctors.” Greive and his extended family own and operate a small farm in Temecula, California that raises organically-fed chickens that are so “free-range,” the young farmers haul their chickens to greener pastures regularly, allowing their jumbo-sized broilers to roam, peck and scratch over generous plots of constantly renewed grassland on their five-acre farm.
It’s part of their goal to provide the healthiest meat poultry available in Southern California – food that they feel good about providing their children and (eventual) grandchildren.
John Davis, owner and CEO of Carlsbad Aquafarm in California, believes that his business model will not only save the planet’s oceans, but that it will also provide future generations with the opportunity to enjoy fresh, delicious shellfish at a time when wild-caught shellfish from local waters is degraded by pollution and their numbers decimated by over-fishing.
For 20 years now, Carlsbad Aquafarm has raised mussels, clams, oysters and brine shrimp in a modest warehouse facility tucked up to the shores of Agua Hedionda Lagoon in North County San Diego. Jet skiers and water sports enthusiasts are within shouting distance of the quiet shellfish nursery. Davis leases his six-acre aquafarm from San Diego Gas and Electric, owner of the Encina Power Plant, and their relationship is symbiotic.
Meet the future of retail grocery shopping: SPUD, which stands for Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery. The company provides you with a means to buy organic, locally sourced, guaranteed-tasty, weekly groceries, without adding a microgram to your carbon footprint.
It’s like your local Farmers Market pulls up stakes and sets up camp on your front lawn, except that you only have to glance at your computer to make your selections, and everything might cost a little bit less. No drive to a crowded market, no aimless search for that elusive parking spot,
Larry Thorne is a third-generation Southern California farmer. His father first cultivated sweet corn, tomatoes and melons in fields that ranged from Topanga Canyon to the county line, back when a new tractor cost you maybe $1500. Thorne himself has farmed his small acreage for his own family’s consumption for the past 30 years.
But after a pressure-cooker real estate career, Thorne decided to chuck the corporate life and plunge full-time back to his roots. A couple of years ago, he started commercially farming 15 or so acres in plots around Malibu after he realized, he said, that he wasn’t really happy.