In Fight Against Food Poverty, L.A. Kitchen Embraces Imperfect Fruit and Intergenerational Workforce

Robert Egger, founder of L.A. Kitchen

Robert Egger, founder and CEO of L.A. Kitchen, a non-profit in Los Angeles that engages, empowers, and nourishes the local community. Photo Courtesy of L.A. Kitchen. Photo Credit: J Wiley Photography.

Fighting hunger is more than just about food for Robert Egger, founder and CEO of L.A. Kitchen, a non-profit in Los Angeles that engages, empowers, and nourishes the local community “by reclaiming healthy, local food that would otherwise be discarded, training men and women who are unemployed for jobs, and providing healthy meals to fellow citizens,” according to the organizations mission statement.

“Fighting hunger is a political act, a social act, an economic act,” says Egger. “I want to be a source and develop a model that shows how you can feed more people a better meal with less money.”

L.A. Kitchen is modeled after Egger’s first enterprise, D.C. Central Kitchen in Washington D.C. A chance experience of accompanying friends to feed the homeless there highlighted some inadequacies Egger couldn’t ignore, such as purchasing the food when so many people in the food industry he knew lamented over wasting food at the end of the night. Read more

SoCal Urban Farming Org Increases Supply of Fresh Produce to Homeless Shelter by Healing Soil and Residents

GrowGood Urban Farm Bell California employee Shelter resident

Velva, an employee of GrowGood, a CA-based nonprofit that has been working with the Salvation Army since 2011 to develop a garden-based program for the residents of the Bell Shelter that uses healthy food and gardening as a catalyst for healing. (Photo courtesy of GrowGood. Photo credit: Amy Gordon.)

Prior to the establishment of the GrowGood urban farm on a lot across the way from the Salvation Army Bell Shelter located in Bell, CA, the shelter, which serves nearly 6,000 meals per week, incorporated very little fresh produce into its menu.

“They were spending cents per meal on fresh produce. Food was donated, so no one was going hungry; but the nutritional quality was often low,” says Brad Pregerson, co-founder of GrowGood, a CA-based nonprofit that has been working with the shelter since 2011 to develop a garden-based program to not only increase the supply of fresh produce to the shelter, but also to provide its residents with meaningful work and act as catalyst for healing.

The Salvation Army Bell Shelter, which opened in 1988, was established with help from Pregerson’s grandfather, Harry, a federal judge and veteran, who perceived the dire need to provide housing for the growing Read more

SoCal University’s Aeroponic Garden Challenges Food System Status Quo

A new teaching garden at the University of Southern California uses aeroponics to grows its fruits, vegetables and herbs. Photo courtesy Erika Chesley/USC Auxiliary Services

A new teaching garden at the University of Southern California uses aeroponics to grows its fruits, vegetables and herbs. Photo courtesy Erika Chesley/USC Auxiliary Services

A prominent university in Southern California is utilizing aeroponics to challenge the food systems status quo on campus. The University of Southern California (USC) Teaching Garden was established this spring to supply fresh produce to the university’s on-campus restaurants, dining halls, catering services, and hotel, while also teaching students and staff about flavor and sustainability.

The garden utilizes aeroponic towers to produce chemical-free fruit, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers without traditional soil growing media. Instead, plant roots are sprayed with nutrient-rich water at regular intervals to provide nourishment. The aeroponic towers at USC’s facility come from LA Urban Farms, which utilizes patented Tower Garden technology.

Each aeroponic tower is made with food-grade plastic, has room for a nutrient-rich mineral solution at its base, and holds up to 44 plants. Using this method, the project is able to raise more than 2,640 plants in just 1,200 square feet with 90 percent less water than a conventional produce operation, a boon for a drought-prone megalopolis like Los Angeles. And since growing takes place vertically, land use is kept to a minimum.


If you are going to be in the Southern California area, the Seedstock ‘Future of Food – Urban Ag Field Trip’ will be visiting the garden on January 27, 2017 as part of its tour. Learn more and register here: http://seedstockurbanag.eventbrite.com


USC is the first university in the United States to utilize an aeroponic garden of this scale.

The project was spearhead by the university’s Executive Chef, Eric Ernest.

“This is a space we are co-creating together to help people understand food and food systems,” Ernest says. “We teach chefs about biodiversity and about how things are grown for different flavor experiences.”

Of course, the aeroponically-grown produce is also meant for consumption. The garden currently produces heirloom lettuces, watercress, arugula, mustard greens, kale, tomatoes, Swiss chard, snap peas, several varieties of peppers, and more, all from organic seed. Some of the microgreens are delivered in living form on grow-tables for use by chefs.

“Produce from this garden is grown by chefs for chefs,” Ernest says. “It starts a conversation and creates collaboration, and defines super-premium quality.”

Ernest says the USC Teaching Garden is a small-scale farm-to-fork effort and acknowledges that it will not make a significant direct impact on the broader food system.

“This does not change the food system on a global scale,” he says. “But we want to challenge food systems and enhance the conversation. The idea is to look for a way to challenge the status quo. Everything has to equal flavor.”

But because USC is an influential institution of higher learning, Ernest believes students who learn from and are influenced by the Teaching Garden will ultimately be the ones to foment change.

“We’re leveraging a unique portion of the university to advance lifelong food choices among students who will become decision makers,” he says.

Even though he knows food isn’t the university’s primary mission, Ernest notes that intersections exist between food and numerous other academic disciplines. This is one of the main reasons he pushed for creation of the USC Teaching Garden.

“It offers a bridge from academics to dining services,” he says. “Our goals are to use the garden to teach, cultivate knowledge, and spread this knowledge organically.”

Beyond education, the main objective of the Teaching Garden is supplying high quality produce to the university community.

“It’s all about an experience for our guests at the university and at the hotel and campus restaurants,” Ernest says. “We’re world-class chefs making world-class food. As long as we advance that agenda, everything else will fall into place.”


If you are going to be in the Southern California area, the Seedstock ‘Future of Food – Urban Ag Field Trip’ will be visiting the garden on January 27, 2017 as part of its tour. Learn more and register here: http://seedstockurbanag.eventbrite.com

‘Future of Food: Urban Ag Field Trip’ to Explore Urban Farming Operations in L.A. County

Urban agriculture ventures of all different stripes – from commercial hydroponic enterprises and rooftop aeroponic farms to community gardens planted atop formerly vacant lots – are not only disrupting the food system, but also generating community and economic capital.

To give you an up close and personal look at a series of innovative urban farming operations that have emerged to tackle challenges to food access, meet marketplace demand for local food, and increase food security, Seedstock has put together the ‘Future of Food – Urban Ag Field Trip’.

future-of-food-urban-farm-field-trip-los-angeles

Slated for Friday, January 27, 2017, the field trip will look at the community and economic development potential of urban farming. Tour stops include the USC Teaching Garden, Local Roots Farms, and The Growing Experience.

Scheduled for Friday, January 27, 2017, the field trip will look at the impact of urban farming in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, and include lectures on such topics as the past, present, and future of urban agriculture, vertical farming, and sourcing local food from urban farms.

Spots on the field trip are limited, and it will sell out. So grab your Early Bird Tickets before it’s too late!

Scheduled Field Trips Stops include:

  • The USC Teaching Garden is utilizing aeroponics to challenge the food systems status quo on campus. The University of Southern California (USC) Teaching Garden was established this spring to supply fresh produce to the university’s on-campus restaurants, dining halls, catering services, and hotel, while also teaching students and staff about flavor and sustainability. The garden utilizes aeroponic towers to produce chemical-free fruit, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers without traditional soil growing media.
  • Local Roots Farms is an indoor vertical farming company based in Los Angeles that designs, builds, deploys, and operates controlled environment farms. Situated in shipping containers, the farms (called TerraFarms) grow with up to 99% less water, 365 days a year, pesticide and herbicide free, and with absolute consistency in production. Their plug and play form provides an innovative solution to the retail and foodservice sectors by greatly reducing supply-chain risks such as price volatility and food safety exposure.
  • The Growing Experience (TGE) is a seven-acre urban farm in North Long Beach that is located on a previously vacant lot. TGE is unique in that it is owned and operated by the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACoLA), which manages 3,229 units of public and other affordable housing for the county’s Public Housing program. The urban farm utilizes traditional as well as aquaponics growing systems to help meet the needs of the community by increasing access to healthy foods.

Register Now for Early Bird Tickets!

http://seedstockurbanag.eventbrite.com

Select Confirmed Speakers include:

  • Rachel Surls – Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension and co-author of the book ‘From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles’.
  • Erik Oberholtzer – Co-founder and CEO of Tender Greens
  • Chef Eric Ernest – Executive Chef of USC Hospitality

farm-to-fork lunch hosted by Local Roots Farms featuring lettuce grown on site in the company’s TerraFarms will be provided by lunch sponsor:

Master Gardener Program Grows Food and Community Across L.A. County

Since University of California Cooperative Extension established the first Master Gardener Programs in the state in 1981, its army of certified volunteer gardeners, who are today spread across more than 50 counties, have supported programs aimed at educating California residents, especially those living in low-income communities, about growing their own food.

In Los Angeles, one such program that Master Gardener Program volunteers supported was the Common Ground Garden Program, which was established in 1976 with funds from a Congressional appropriations bill to support a national Urban Garden Program. Working in collaboration with the Common Ground Garden Program, the Master Gardener volunteers played a pivotal role in helping to set up several community and school gardens across the county.

After funding from the Urban Garden Program ceased, the Los Angeles County branch of the Master Gardener Program formally took over the task of training community gardeners.

“Our overall mission is to teach California residents science-based information about sustainable gardening practices,” says Rachel Surls, sustainable food systems advisor for the Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County and one of the contacts for the Master Gardener Program. “The focus is on non-commercial gardening—home and community gardeners.”

Since 1993, the Los Angeles County Master Gardener Program has trained 1,233 Master Gardener volunteers.

At the heart of the Los Angeles County curriculum is the goal of teaching people to grow food, but the knowledge and skills gained by program participants often lead to greater impacts in local communities. Master Gardener volunteer efforts in communities can result in more productive gardens, implementation of sustainable water use practices, and the creation of effective and well organized school and community gardens. In communities experiencing food insecurity, or poor access to healthy foods, the education and support that Master Gardeners bring to their gardens have the potential to positively impact the lives of the residents. According to Surls, the focus on social justice is a continuation of the history of the founding program and something she is proud of.

“Although our mission has broadened to include non-edible gardening, helping to empower underserved communities to grow their own food is still a strong focus,” Surls says. “We do this through partnerships with other organizations.”

One such program is Pacoima, CA-based MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity), whose mission is to “break the bonds of poverty by providing basic human needs and a pathway to self-reliance.” Members of the MEND staff have taken part in the Master Gardener Program and help organize educational training sessions in communities where gardens can make a difference, according to Surls.

Cynthia Hubach, a Master Gardener and the founder of the Elysian Valley Community Garden, has seen first-hand the difference a community garden can make for residents.

“EV (Elysian Valley) is in the midst of a development boom that has created tension among the residents and the newcomers. The garden is a place where people can come together and get to know one another,” Hubach said. “In this neighborhood, where there is lot of diversity, people are learning about different types of plants and methods for growing. The community gardeners really share their knowledge with each other.”

Hubach left her job as a TV producer to go back to school and earn a master’s degree in urban sustainability at Antioch University. In possession of a vacant lot, she wanted to start a community garden for the neighboring residents. With help from the LA Community Garden Council and eager community members, Hubach set up and began operating her community garden. Shortly thereafter, she joined the Master Gardener Program to learn more about actual gardening.

“The program is a lot of book work. You learn mostly about botany and get in deep with how plants work, how the seeds work, and irrigation,” Hubach says. “However, more than the physical elements of gardening, the program puts an emphasis on people who will make a contribution to the community, who will take the information gained and disseminate it to the most people, and who will create the greatest benefit.

“The greatest benefit for me was becoming immersed in a community of people who really want to engage with food access and urban agriculture,” she says.

Other Master Gardeners have started community gardens, including Florence Nishida, who co-founded LA Green Grounds with Vanessa Voblis and Ron Finley, a graduate of the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative. The Grow LA Initiative is a project that was started in 2010 as a response to the growing public interest in edible gardening. The initiative is a four-week mini-Master Gardener course to teach the basics of growing vegetables, with sessions held in churches, community gardens, and schools, according to Surls. After the four sessions, led by Master Gardener volunteers, the participants become certified UC Victory Gardeners. The members of Farm LA, a non-profit organization working to turn vacant lots into gardens, are also Victory Gardeners.

Since its inception, the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative has trained 2,740 Victory Gardeners at 185 garden locations. More than 300 Master Gardener volunteers taught those classes, which is a major requirement for those wishing to obtain and maintain Master Gardener certification. In fact, Master Gardeners must complete 50 hours of volunteer service their first year and 25 hours each subsequent year, as well as 12 hours of continuing education annually. According to Surls, the volunteer hours only count if the activity includes an educational component.

“In the most recent program year, 277 Master Gardeners logged 17,524 volunteer hours, helping 119,789 Los Angeles County residents to garden more sustainably,” Surls says. Those hours included work at 96 community gardens, 127 school gardens, 10 senior gardens, 8 shelter gardens, and 70 fairs and farmers’ markets.

Whereas the Victory Garden Initiative meets twice a year for four weeks, the Master Gardener Program meets every Saturday for 13 weeks between February and May. Of the 100-200 applications received, only 50 participants are chosen for the Los Angeles County division. Information about the application process for Los Angeles County or other counties throughout California can be found online. Applications must be submitted by January 9, 2017.


This post originally appeared on Seedstock.com: http://seedstock.com/2016/11/29/master-gardeners-across-l-a-use-skills-and-training-to-grow-food-and-community/

Grow Local OC Conference Delves into the Future of Urban Food Systems in Orange County and Beyond

grow local oc conference future of urban food systems orange countyOn Nov. 10-11 hundreds of attendees from across Southern California and beyond showed up for the inaugural Grow Local OC Conference: The Future of Urban Food Systems held Nov. 10-11 in Orange County, CA at California State University, Fullerton to learn more about the community and economic development potential of fostering local food systems in cities.

The conference attendees were treated to lectures from the foremost urban farming experts, entrepreneurs, and community advocates in the sustainable and local food system space. Topics explored by the speakers and panelists included the role that food plays in bridging the rural urban divide, the potential for urban farming to generate community and economic capital, the challenges faced by entrepreneurs seeking funds for their local food and farming ventures, the potential for controlled environment agriculture in cities, and the power of community development initiatives to increase access to healthy, local food.

The conference provided ample opportunity for the local food champions, entrepreneurs, and advocates in Orange County to continue to strengthen their base of support to increase food access, improve health outcomes, and meet the demands of a thriving local food marketplace. Read more

Self-Fertilizing Vertical Growing System Makes Home Gardening More Accessible

Sponsored Post: Garden Tower Project is the Barn Sponsor for the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference.

Colin Cudmore, the inventor of the Garden Tower, a garden container with perforated tubing technology that facilitates composting, the movement of Red wiggler worms and nightcrawlers within it, says he does not consider himself a gardener. Yet, Cudmore, and his two business partners, Tom Tlusty and Joel B. Grant, have designed and implemented full-scale production of a new gardening container concept that includes composting and worms, in a self-contained mini-ecosystem.

At the urging of his mother, Ann, a food activist in Bloomington, he attended a lecture by Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power on the subject of “Food Security” and “Food Deserts”. What he heard inspired the inventor to find a way to make gardening more accessible to people all over the world.

A Garden Tower 2. Photo courtesy of Garden Tower Project.

A Garden Tower 2. Photo courtesy of Garden Tower Project.

The idea germinated one weekend, as he visited a local farmer’s market in Bloomington, Ind. He noticed a couple of Amish farmers, who were selling seedlings and starter plants, but had few customers, despite the bustling crowd in the marketplace.

Curious, he asked the two farmers why no one had bought their starter plants. The answer surprised him. The farmers told him customers did not buy the plants, because the market’s patrons had lacked the time, space and felt they lacked the knowledge to grow their own food.

That revelation inspired Cudmore to dig deeper into the subject of home gardening,

which subsequently nurtured a vision: Turning patios, balconies, and decks into self-fertilizing gardens that would give food-deprived areas of the world a new weapon to fight hunger and poor nutrition around the globe.

The idea sprouted, and a vision took shape in the form of a garden container that would provide habitat for a healthy worm culture. What began as a desire to encourage gardening, would eventually lead the inveterate tinkerer to devise a completely self-sustaining gardening container that creates its own compost. The technology needs no electricity, so it may be used around the globe, Cudmore says.

Neither a gardener, nor an environmental scientist, Cudmore recalls he wasn’t sure how well the concept would actually work. So, he networked with permaculture experts, gardeners, and advanced master gardeners in the Bloomington area, asking them to test the process. As it turned out, it worked far better than he had ever expected. He tweaked the process further, “and it performs incredibly well,” he says.

The innovative breakthrough was inserting vermi-composting tube. This provides a compost highway, through which worms and nightcrawlers spread worm castings throughout the gardening container. The end result works so well, and creates so many worm castings, there’s enough rich organic fertilizer to spread over the neighbor’s garden beds, too, says Cudmore.

With the Garden Tower, anybody may grow 50 plants in one container, without using even one kilowatt of electricity, Cudmore says.

Tlusty spent five years working at the Chicago Board of Trade, and through that experience, he gained an understanding of the disparity effects caused by market speculation, in what he calls an “industrial” agricultural system. He observed market dynamics that have crushed small farmers.

“The beauty of this design is that it’s self-contained and the plastic covers the majority of the soil, so there’s very little evaporation. The water that’s not needed by the plants, drains out of the bottom, is captured and reintroduced back into the soil” he says. “So it’s incredibly efficient and extremely beneficial for areas of the world that are suffering from water scarcity, poor or sandy soil conditions, or toxic soil.”

Cudmore says the reason the design works so well is that roots have access to water and nutrients in a continual down-flow, on a regular basis.

The composting worms, and night crawlers, which are easily obtained in most areas of the world, travel through perforations that run the entire length of the column. As the critters move in and out of the column into the surrounding soil, those passageways become oxygen pockets that also revitalize the soil, says Cudmore. A nutrient-rich tea from the leachate is collected in a drawer at the bottom of the system.

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Company Information and Mission:

The Garden Tower Project, founded in 2012, is a socially-responsible business concept, based in Bloomington, Indiana. Focusing on the accessibility gap for wholesome food, the Garden Tower Project strives to create easy availability of fresh, organic food to populations who lack either the access, or the ability to grow their own food. The primary goal is to make this happen innovatively, collaboratively, and affordably.

Our Mission is to provide a superior portable, Non-GMO & heirloom supporting, gardening ecosystem. The Garden Tower is a revolutionary self-contained garden/composting system with the potential to transform home gardening, urban gardening, and world hunger programs. At the Garden Tower Project, we are passionate about healthy food for everyone. We believe in doing everything we can as a sustainable and responsible business to help those most in need. We are working towards a more resilient and sustainable economic future for individuals and communities. We believe that the Garden Tower can play a major role in this effort.

The Garden Tower is a uniquely viable solution for areas of the world where poor soil conditions, water scarcity, flooding and drought contribute to chronic hunger. Further, the Garden Tower is perfect for gardeners of all sorts, especially the millions who lack access to land to start a garden, those with physical restrictions, and beginning gardeners. Anyone who is ready for a faster, easier way to grow food will love it. Absolutely no gardening experience is necessary. The design is elegant in its simplicity, and initial setup is straightforward and easy.

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Garden Tower Project Vision

The Garden Tower Project has a vision of a world with healthy produce, accessible gardening, and food for all. The existence of a Centralized Agriculture system is faced with a variety of challenges both in the quality of food that’s produced, the impact on the environment, and ultimately being unsustainable. A move to Distributed Agriculture is a good solution to these problems, and we believe that The Garden Tower can be a means to that end.

Garden Tower Project – Partnerships

The Garden Tower Project seeks ventures and partnerships with local businesses, Not-For-Profits, Universities, Government and non-governmental agencies, Corporations and Public and Private sector agencies. We seek to educate individuals and communities on the benefits of “Distributed Agriculture”, as a path to increasing resilience during times of price shocks or disruptions to the food supply. Our plan is to teach the importance of concepts, such as, sustainability and diversity while demonstrating this by integration of our projects in the community.

The Garden Tower Project will allow individuals and communities to easily become more self-sufficient, sustainable and ultimately create a more resilient local economy. We share a vision of a world enhanced by easier gardening, healthier produce, and food security for all.

We believe there is great need for education and community involvement in protecting ourselves from contaminants in our monolithic, over processed and inefficiently transported food supply. Our food system is troubled today, but much great work is being done to create a more sensible, sustainable, and healthy food system tomorrow.

Garden Towers, when planted in any community, tend to grow and thrive along with that community bringing fresh, organic produce and a shared sense of beauty, awe and wonder, to those who are attentive.

*Feed yourself, feed your community, feed your world!*

The Potential of Urban Agriculture Innovations in the City, from Hydroponics to Aquaponics

How large a role will local food demand play with respect to the growth of indoor and controlled environment urban farming ventures? What are the costs involved in starting a small scale commercial hydroponic/aquaponics farm? What are the opportunities (community and economic) for high-tech controlled environment growing in urban environments such as Orange County? What tools or assets would give an entrepreneur the best chance for success in launching a vertical farming venture in the city?

To learn the answer to these questions, and more, you won’t want to miss the ‘The Potential of Controlled Environment Agriculture in the City’ panel at the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Local Food Systems slated for Nov. 10 at California State University, Fullerton. The following expert speakers will address the challenges and opportunities present in employing innovative agricultural growing systems in cities:

erik-cutter_1Erik Cutter is Managing Director of Alegría Fresh, an urban farming company engaged in promoting and deploying zero waste regenerative food and energy solutions using hybrid soils and integrated technologies. In 2009, Mr. Cutter founded EnviroIngenuity with a group of forward-thinking professionals to take advantage of the growing demand for more efficient, cost effective sustainable energy solutions, employing solar PV, hi-efficiency LED lighting, green building and zero waste food production systems. More than 35 years of travel throughout the US, Mexico, South America, Africa, French Polynesia, the Peruvian Amazon, Australia and New Zealand gave Mr. Cutter expert insight into the unique investment opportunities that exist in each region, focusing on sustainable living models and the increasing availability of super foods as a major new market opportunity.

chris-higgins-hort-americas-2014Chris Higgins is General Manager of Hort Americas, LLC (HortAmericas.com) a wholesale supply company focused on all aspects of the horticultural industries. He is also owner of UrbanAgNews.com (eMagazine) and a founding partner of the Foundation for the Development of Controlled Environment Agriculture. With over 15 years of experience, Chris is dedicated to the commercial horticulture industry and is inspired by the current opportunities for continued innovation in the field of controlled environment agriculture. Chris is a leader in providing technical assistance to businesses, including commercial greenhouse operations, state-of-the-art hydroponic vegetable facilities, vertical farms, and tissue culture laboratories. In his role as General Manager at Hort Americas he works with seed companies, manufacturers, growers and universities regarding the development of projects, new products and ultimately the creation of brands. Chris’ role includes everything from sales and marketing to technical support and general management/owner responsibilities.

Register here: http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

 

ed-hortonEd Horton is the President and CEO of Urban Produce. Ed brings over 25 years of experience from the technology industry to Urban Produce. His vision of automation is what drives Urban Produce to become more efficient. With God and his family by his side he is excited to move Urban Produce forward to provide urban cities nationwide with fresh locally grown produce 365 days a year. Ed enjoys golfing and walking the harbor with his wife on the weekends.

 
 

chef-adam-navidiChef Adam Navidi – In a county named for its former abundance of orange groves, chef and farmer Adam Navidi is on the forefront of redefining local food and agriculture through his restaurant, farm, and catering business. Navidi is executive chef of Oceans & Earth restaurant in Yorba Linda, runs Chef Adam Navidi Catering and operates Future Foods Farms in Brea, an organic aquaponic farm that comprises 25 acres and several greenhouses. Navidi’s journey toward aquaponics began when he was at the pinnacle of his catering business, serving multi-course meals to discerning diners in Orange County. Their high standards for food matched his own. “My clients wanted the best produce they could get,” he says. “They didn’t want lettuce that came in a box.” So after experimenting with growing lettuce in his backyard, he ventured into hydroponics. Later, he learned of aquaponics. Now, aquaponics is one of the primary ways Navidi grows food. As part of this system he raises Tilapia, which is served at his restaurant and by his catering enterprise.

Nathan Storey 2_28_12Nate Storey is the CEO at Bright Agrotech, a company that seeks to create access to real food for all people through small farmer empowerment. By focusing on equipping and educating local growers with vertical farming technology and high quality online education, Nate and the Bright Agrotech team are helping to build a distributed, transparent food economy. He completed his PhD at the University of Wyoming in Agronomy, and lives in Laramie with his wife and children.

 

Register here: http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

Only 6 Days Left Until the ‘Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference’

seedstock conferenceIf you’re curious about the potential for urban farming endeavors to generate community and economic capital, or how stakeholders – from farmers and food bank administrators to healthcare providers and community advocates – can build connections to foster robust local food systems, or how entrepreneurs utilize hydroponics and aquaponics to create new farm enterprises in cities, you won’t want to miss out on the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference.

The event, presented by Seedstock in partnership with the OC Food Access Coalition, is only SIX DAYS away. Scheduled for Nov. 10 – 11, 2016, at California State University, Fullerton (Hosted by U-ACRE), the conference will explore the community and economic development potential of fostering local food systems in cities.

Below is a summary of the conference details:

Day 1 – Conference Day 

Day 1 (Nov. 10) of the conference, attendees will convene at the Portola Pavilion at California State University, Fullerton in Orange County, CA for a series of panels and keynotes that will address such topic areas as:

  • Finding Funding for Local Food and Farming Ventures
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Food Access
  • Controlled Environment Agriculture, from Hydroponics to Aquaponics
  • Community and School Garden Development

Full Program: http://growlocaloc.com/conference/program

Register Now!

 http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

Confirmed Speakers:

Tim Alderson – Vice Chairman at Solutions for Urban Ag
Rachel Surls – Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension
Ed Horton – President and CEO of Urban Produce LLC
Karen Ross – Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
Nate Storey – CEO of Bright Agrotech
Farmer Glenn Tanaka – Owner of Tanaka Farms
Megan Penn – Executive Director of Orange Home Grown
Sonora Ortiz – Market Manager, Downtown Santa Ana Farmers’ Market
Rishi Kumar – Co-founder and Director of The Growing Club
Christina Hall – Executive Director of OC Food Access Coalition
Mary Abad – Deputy Executive Director, Slow Money SoCal
Aaron Fox – Asst. Professor, Urban & Community Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona
Kimi McAdam – Asst. Dept. Administrator for Food & Nutrition Service at Kaiser Permanente
Derek Lutz – Asst. Vice President at American AgCredit
Mark Lowry – Director of the Orange County Food Bank
Rickey Smith – Founder, Urban Green
Colin and Karen Archipley – Co-founders of Archi’s Acres and the AISA Program
Chef Adam Navidi – Founder, Future Foods Farms and Oceans & Earth Restaurant
Frank Fitzpatrick – Owner, 5 Bar Beef
Chris Higgins – General Manager at Hort Americas
Jeremy Samson – Chair of Slow Food OC
Anna Maria Desipris – The Ecology Center/Honeybee Hub
Erik Cutter – Managing Director of Alegria Fresh
Dwight Detter – Executive Director, Slow Money SoCal
Sara E. Johnson – Director of the Urban Agriculture Community-based Research Experience (U-ACRE) program

Register Now!

 http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

 

Day 2 – Future Farm Field Trip (SOLD OUT!)

The Future Farm Field Trip on Day 2 (Nov. 11) of the conference offers an excursion into the diversity of urban and state-of-the-art hydroponic and aquaponic agriculture operations in Orange County. Tour participants will be treated to lectures and sessions from pioneering farmers who are embracing innovative business models and growing systems to both increase food security and take advantage of the escalating demand for local food.

Scheduled stops include:

  • Urban Produce LLC – an indoor vertical farming operation based in Irvine, California that uses advanced hydroponic technologies in a controlled environment. Urban Produce currently grows and sells organic microgreens that are available throughout southern California
  • The Riverbed – an aquaponics community farm in Anaheim, California that uses minimal water to operate and produce over 2,000 pounds of food for underserved residents.
  • Alegría Farm – an urban farm that supports more than 60 cultivators growing over 50,000 plants utilizing hydroponic and natural, nutrient-dense configurations. The farm’s resource-efficient technologies demonstrate how urban microfarms can supply communities with locally grown, fresh produce while reducing transportation and preserving natural resources.
  • Future Foods Farms – one of the largest aquaponic farms in the state, Future Foods Farms is located on 25 acres in Brea, California. The farm produces all organically grown products in several 2,000-4,000 square-feet greenhouses.

Register Now!

 http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

 

Thank you to our sponsors:
Kaiser Permanente
Garden Tower Project
U-ACRE
OC Food Access Coalition
Bright Agrotech
Grow-Tech LLC
American AgCredit
Agra Tech, Inc.
Dosatron
Oceans & Earth
Tender Greens
UC Irvine
Orange Home Grown
Association for Vertical Farming

California Dept. of Food and Ag Secretary Karen Ross to Keynote Grow Local OC Conference; Event Kicks off in 9 Days

California Dept. of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross will Keynote 'Future of Urban Food Systems Conference' on November 10-11, 2016 at Cal State Fullerton. Photo courtesy of CDFA.

California Dept. of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross will Keynote ‘Future of Urban Food Systems Conference’ on November 10-11, 2016 at Cal State Fullerton. Photo courtesy of CDFA.

The organizers of the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference are incredibly excited to have Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Dept. and Food Agriculture deliver the conference’s keynote address, which will explore the importance of agriculture and the development of robust local food systems in cities.

Secretary Ross, whom Politico recently reported is at the top of presidential candidate Hilary Clinton’s USDA Ag Secretary list, will discuss how cities and urban oriented counties across California, and beyond, can develop greater capacity for urban ag and innovative growing endeavors, work more effectively with regional growers, increase food security and access, create an equitable food system in Orange County and SoCal, and more!

Secretary Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 12, 2011, by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. The Secretary has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California. Prior to joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009.

Secretary Ross is passionate about fostering the reconnection of consumers to the land and the people who produce their food, and to improving the access of all California citizens to healthy, nutritious California-grown agricultural products, celebrated for their diversity and abundance in serving local, national and global markets.

The Grow Local OC Conferenceslated for Nov. 10 – 11, 2016, at California State University, Fullerton (Hosted by U-ACRE), is only 9 DAYS away. Limited tickets remain for the conference day, so grab your tickets now to hear Secretary Ross’s address!

Register Now!

 http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

 

Additional Conference Details:

Day 1 – Conference Day 

Day 1 (Nov. 10) of the conference, attendees will convene at the Portola Pavilion at California State University, Fullerton in Orange County, CA for a series of panels and keynotes that will address such topic areas as:

  • Urban farming and its role in expanding local food access, benefiting community and growing local economies;
  • How hydroponic and indoor growers utilize sustainability, embrace innovative business models and push the limits of agricultural technology to expand the local food marketplace;
  • Local food policy;
  • The benefits of community and school gardens, and more!

Full Program: http://growlocaloc.com/conference/program

Confirmed Speakers:

Rishi Kumar – Co-founder and Director of The Growing Club
Rachel Surls – Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension
Tim Alderson – Executive Director at Seeds of Hope
Ed Horton – President and CEO of Urban Produce LLC
Kimi McAdam – Asst. Dept. Administrator for Food & Nutrition Service at Kaiser Permanente
Glenn Tanaka – Owner of Tanaka Farms
Derek Lutz – Asst. Vice President at American AgCredit
Mark Lowry – Director of the Orange County Food Bank
Rickey Smith – Founder, Urban Green
Colin Archipley – Co-founders of Archi’s Acres and the AISA Program
Chef Adam Navidi – Founder, Future Foods Farms and Oceans & Earth Restaurant
Frank Fitzpatrick – Owner, 5 Bar Beef
Christina Hall – Executive Director of OC Food Access Coalition
Megan Penn – Executive Director of Orange Home Grown
Sonora Ortiz – Market Manager, Downtown Santa Ana Farmers’ Market
Aaron Fox – Asst. Professor, Urban & Community Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona
Chris Higgins – General Manager at Hort Americas
Jeremy Samson – Chair of Slow Food OC
Anna Maria Desipris – The Ecology Center/Honeybee Hub
Erik Cutter – Managing Director of Alegria Fresh
Dwight Detter – Executive Director, Slow Money SoCal
Sara E. Johnson – Director of the Urban Agriculture Community-based Research Experience (U-ACRE) program

Register Now!

 http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

 

Day 2 – Future Farm Field Trip (SOLD OUT!)

The Future Farm Field Trip on Day 2 (Nov. 11) of the conference offers an excursion into the diversity of urban and state-of-the-art hydroponic and aquaponic agriculture operations in Orange County. Tour participants will be treated to lectures and sessions from pioneering farmers who are embracing innovative business models and growing systems to both increase food security and take advantage of the escalating demand for local food.

Presently scheduled stops include:

  • Urban Produce LLC – an indoor vertical farming operation based in Irvine, California that uses advanced hydroponic technologies in a controlled environment. Urban Produce currently grows and sells organic microgreens that are available throughout southern California
  • The Riverbed – an aquaponics community farm in Anaheim, California that uses minimal water to operate and produce over 2,000 pounds of food for underserved residents.
  • Alegría Farm – an urban farm that supports more than 60 cultivators growing over 50,000 plants utilizing hydroponic and natural, nutrient-dense configurations. The farm’s resource-efficient technologies demonstrate how urban microfarms can supply communities with locally grown, fresh produce while reducing transportation and preserving natural resources.
  • Future Foods Farms – one of the largest aquaponic farms in the state, Future Foods Farms is located on 25 acres in Brea, California. The farm produces all organically grown products in several 2,000-4,000 square-feet greenhouses.

Register Now!

 http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com