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.

———— 

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

Just Two Weeks Remain to Register for ‘Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference’

grow-local-oc-conference-urban-farming-local-food-systems

The Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference presented by Seedstock in partnership with the OC Food Access Coalition is only TWO WEEKS away. Slated 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:

  • 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:

Karen Ross – Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
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 and Karen Archipley – Co-founders of Archi’s Acres and the VSAT 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

 

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

Rachel Surls, Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, to Deliver Keynote on State of Urban Ag in SoCal

rachel-surls

Rachel Surls, Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, will deliver a keynote on urban agriculture Southern California at the upcoming ‘Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference’ on Nov. 10-11 at Cal State University, Fullerton.

The organizers of the Grow Local OC Conference: The Future of Urban Food Systems, slated for Nov. 10 – 11 at Cal State University, Fullerton are excited to announce that Rachel Surls, the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, will deliver a keynote address on the state of urban agriculture in Southern California.

From backyard gardens, to urban agriculture, Rachel is involved in a variety of projects related to urban food systems. Since 2013, she has worked with UCLA students to conduct the “Cultivate LA” survey of urban agriculture in Los Angeles. She recently led a UCANR team that carried out a state-wide needs assessment of urban farming. Rachel is a member of the leadership board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, and has been active in their urban agriculture working group which has successfully advocated for policies that support growing food in the city.  Rachel and a co-author recently published a book on the local history of urban agriculture, titled “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles.

To hear Rachel discuss the state of urban farming in SoCal – from policy that is helping to pave the way for more urban ag development to  steps that cities can take to increase urban farming capacity –  register now for the upcoming Grow Local OC Conference, by clicking on the following link:  http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com.

Only Four Weeks Remain Until ‘Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference’

conference-speakers-and-field-trip-destinations

(left to right) Rishi Kumar, urban farmer and co-founder of The Growing Club; A view of Urban Produce’s high density vertical farming system in Irvine, CA; Karen Ross, Secretary, California Dept. of Food and Agriculture; The Riverbed aquaponic community farm in Anaheim, CA; Tim Alderson, executive director of Seeds of Hope.

The Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference presented by Seedstock in partnership with the OC Food Access Coalition is only FOUR WEEKS 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. The conference organizers are offering a Seed Saver Special Ticket Price for the next two weeks, so be sure  to register soon to take advantage of the discount.

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:

  • 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!

The day will be anchored by a keynote address from Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, on the importance of agriculture and local food systems in cities.

Confirmed Speakers:

Karen Ross – Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
Rachel Surls – Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension
Tim Alderson – Executive Director at Seeds of Hope
Glenn Tanaka – Owner of Tanaka Farms
Derek Lutz – Asst. Vice President at American AgCredit
Kimi McAdam – Asst. Dept. Administrator for Food & Nutrition Service at Kaiser Permanente
Mark Lowry – Director of the Orange County Food Bank
Ed Horton – President and CEO of Urban Produce LLC
Colin and Karen Archipley – Co-founders of Archi’s Acres and the VSAT Program
Chef Adam Navidi – Founder, Future Foods Farms and Oceans & Earth Restaurant
Frank Fitzpatrick – Owner, 5 Bar Beef
Rishi Kumar – Co-founder and Director of The Growing Club
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 at Cal State Fullerton

Grab your Seed Saver Special Ticket here:

http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

 

Day 2 – Future Farm Field Trip

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.

A limited number of Seed Saver Special tickets remain.

Register Now!

 http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

 

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

Register for the Upcoming Grow Local OC Conference and Qualify for a Chance to Win a Garden Tower

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

The Garden Tower, a soil-based vertical container garden system allows urban gardeners to grow 50 plants in just four square feet of space. Photo courtesy of Garden Tower Project.

Grow Local OC “Barn Sponsor” Garden Tower Project wants to help you jumpstart your urban farming efforts.

To do so, the company is offering anyone who purchases a ticket to the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems conference the chance to qualify to win a Garden Tower. Three winners among those purchasing tickets for the upcoming conference will be chosen at random and announced at the conference on Thursday, November 10. Winners will be able to choose to have the Garden Tower delivered to their residence, or to donate it to a local organization of their choosing.

The Garden Tower, a soil-based vertical container garden system allows urban gardeners to grow 50 plants in just four square feet of space. The tower, which utilizes perforated tubing technology to facilitate the movement of worms and nightcrawlers within it, also enables gardeners to seamlessly compost kitchen scraps into organic fertilizer that helps power the system. It can be placed on a porch, an apartment balcony, or a rooftop, and easily rotates for plant access and sunlight.

Background on the Garden Tower Project:

Colin Cudmore, the inventor of the Garden Tower, told Seedstock he does not consider himself a gardener.

Cudmore germinated the idea for the Garden Tower one weekend, as he volunteered to man a booth for a local farmers’ market in Bloomington, Indiana. 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 no knowledge of how to grow their own food.

That revelation inspired Cudmore to dig deeper into the subject of home gardening, and he later attended a lecture by Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power.

What he heard inspired the inventor to find a way to make container gardening more accessible to people all over the world. He 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.

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 told Seedstock.

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 verma-compost tubing. 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.

“I was mulling around with using fish waste as a flow-through byproduct to fertilize the soil. There was no easy or simple way to do that. And, I’m certainly not the first one to come up with the concept of vertical gardening, nor am I the first one to come up with a round barrel as the vertical garden. But, no one really had done the compost within the garden container,” Cudmore says.

Thomas Tlusty, one of Cudmore’s business partners along with Joel Grant, says, “the beauty of this design, is that it’s self-contained, in that the plastic covers the majority of the soil, so there’s very little evaporation. And all the water that’s not needed by the plants, drains out of the bottom, and it’s reintroduced back into the soil [through the verma-compost tubing]. So it’s extremely beneficial for areas of the world that are suffering from water scarcity, or poor or sandy soil conditions, or toxic soil.”

Register now for the Grow Local OC Conference for your chance to win a Garden Tower!

http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

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

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

 

OC Master Gardener Jeremy Samson to Discuss Community and School Gardens at Grow Local OC Conference

Jeremy Samson, co-director of Cultivate Together and Slow Food Orange County Garden chair, will be speaking at the upcoming Grow Local OC Conference on Nov. 10-11 at Cal State University, Fullerton.

Jeremy Samson, co-director of Cultivate Together and Slow Food Orange County Garden chair, will be speaking at the upcoming Grow Local OC Conference on Nov. 10-11 at Cal State University, Fullerton.

The Grow Local OC Conference: The Future of Urban Food Systems slated for Nov. 10 – 11 at Cal State University, Fullerton is excited to announce that Jeremy Samson, co-director of Cultivate Together and Slow Food Orange County Garden chair, will speak to conference attendees on the community development benefits of school gardens in Orange County.

Jeremy is an urban farmer, who works with several different organizations to improve the food system in Orange County with gardens. He is co-director of Cultivate Together, a non-profit focused on facilitating the creation and sustainability of neighborhood farms and community garden spaces. As an Orange County Master Gardener he is a member of the Speakers Bureau that teaches gardening classes around the county. After attending the Edible School Yard Academy in Berkeley last year, he now serves on the School Garden Team for the Master Gardeners and as the Slow Food Orange County Garden chair.

Gardening is one of Slow Food Orange County’s primary focus areas. When Jeremy moved to Anaheim a few years ago, he was surprised by the city’s dearth of public gardens.

“In 2012 there were no community gardens in Anaheim,” says Samson, who grew up in Maine and is well-versed in Slow Food culture.

He moved to Anaheim after serving in the U.S. Navy, quickly joined the Master Gardeners of Orange County, and became involved in gardening and sustainability endeavors. Soon after joining Slow Food Orange County, he became chair of its School and Community Gardens program.

“Slow Food Orange County put out a call for new board members,” he says. “It relies on the skill sets of volunteers, and my skill set is school garden programs.”

Samson has put his talents to good use, as Slow Food Orange County has played a key role in numerous garden endeavors. These include the installation of a new drip irrigation system in a church garden, giving an heirloom seed grant and cooking demonstration to Tustin Memorial Academy students, providing volunteers to the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, and collaborating with The Ecology Center’s Grow Your Own! program to bolster the efforts of teachers developing school gardens.

Jeremy also owns a small landscape design and consultation business specializing in edible and drought tolerant landscaping with an emphasis on resource conservation and wildlife habitat.

Register now to hear Jeremy speak about the local food systems benefits that accrue as a result of the development of community and school gardens:  http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

Dr. Nate Storey to Discuss Viability of Indoor Farming in the City at Grow Local OC Conference

Nate Storey, CEO and founder of Bright Agrotech, a

Nate Storey, CEO and founder of Bright Agrotech, a company that develops vertical and high density farming equipment, will discuss the viability of indoor farming in cities at the upcoming Grow Local OC Conference at Cal State University, Fullerton on Nov. 10 – 11.

The organizers of the Grow Local OC Conference: The Future of Urban Food Systems, slated for Nov. 10 – 11 at Cal State University, Fullerton are excited to announce that Dr. Nate Storey, the CEO of Bright Agrotech, a company that leads the industry in vertical and high density farming equipment, will be participating as a speaker.

Nate began to have the first stirrings of what would eventually become Bright Agrotech when he was a student at the University of Wyoming. The program is well-known for turning out leaders in the farming and ranching fields, and Nate is no exception. He self-funded the startup while pursuing his Ph.D. in Agronomy.

Bright Agrotech offers several services and products, including farm consulting and financial analysis. But they are best-known for their ZipGrow growing towers.

The ZipGrow system is comprised of food-safe plastic towers filled with growing media that replace the need for soil. The towers weigh eight pounds each and are engineered to be hung or set on any surface.

“Our towers are designed to put the user experience and the future experience in mind. When we developed the product, we weren’t just trying to build another stacked pot technique,” Storey told Seedstock earlier this year. “We wanted to create a design specifically for the unique growing variables inherent to vertical plane agriculture.”

Despite only being three years old, Bright Agrotech enjoys approximately 10,000 customers across the United States and around the world.

At the upcoming Grow Local OC Conference, Nate will discuss the potential for  launching indoor farms in cities, as well as the tools and training programs available to do so. Register now to hear him speak:  http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com