Chicago-based Vertical Aquaponic Co. Hopes to Use Tech to Help Scale Urban Ag to Meet Future Food Needs

Photo: 312 Aquaponics.

312 Aquaponics is a Chicago-based startup with its sights set high. The company, founded by four ambitious young entrepreneurs develops proprietary aquaponic systems that it hopes to implement in sustainable, commercial-scale indoor urban farms in cities across the globe. Looking to the visionary business practices of Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs for inspiration and determined to turn profits in the early development years, CFO and co-founder Mario Spatafora believes the company has established a strong foundation on which it can build. Read more

Colorado Aquaponics Co. Rises from Ashes of Economic Downturn to Help Increase Access to Local Food

The onset of the economic downturn may have proven to be a blessing in disguise for one of Denver, Colorado’s poorest inner city neighborhoods. Like so many other accomplished professionals, JD Sawyer was laid off from his job as the Director of Operations for Johnson & Wales University Denver campus in 2009. With extra time on his hands and a desire to teach his three children sustainable farming techniques, JD read an article in the local newspaper about a low income neighborhood in the middle of Denver where people had very limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables – a right JD believes everyone should have.

“The article made me realize I had an opportunity to help teach people how to take charge of their own food production,” said JD Sawyer. “I realized we had the opportunity to grow food in our backyard where people needed it most.” Read more

Innovative Commercial Aquaponics Farm Emerges from Economic Downturn to Profit and Empower Others

When married couple Susanne Friend and Tim Mann first started Friendly Aquaponics, a commercial aquaponics farm and training facility, on the beautiful big island of Hawaii, they weren’t really thinking about providing for their family, much less saving the world.

“What started out very simply as the desire to make a good living by serving someone other than the very wealthy clients we had as a design firm has slowly turned into a crusade,” Friend said.

The company will soon reach its five year milestone, and Friend now feels like they are on a mission – a mission she did not fully understand at the beginning – to empower people to meet their own food needs at the lowest cost possible. Read more

Chicago Org. Aims to Transform Industrial Blight into Sustainable Urban Farm and Food Business Incubator

Chicago builder, John Edel has embarked upon a seemingly impossible mission: to convert a 93,500 sq. ft. pork processing plant into The Plant, a sustainable closed-loop food business incubator housing aquaponic farming systems, hydroponics, vertical farms, rooftop gardens, private kitchens, two breweries, a bakery, a catering company, and a five-station shared kitchen.

Oh yeah, and he plans to power the whole thing solely on food waste. “Nothing but food leaves the building. That’s the plan and the mantra,” Edel says. According to its website, The Plant will eventually divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year to meet all of its heat and power needs. Read more

SoCal Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs Discuss Business Models, Challenges & Opportunities

The world’s population is growing rapidly, and that calls for new ways of thinking about how to produce enough food while also conserving the earth’s natural resources. As a result, agricultural entrepreneurs today are striving to combine the best of traditional farming methods with new technologies in order to create food that is healthy, flavorful and locally grown.

And if that doesn’t sound like enough of a feat, there’s also the challenge of doing it all using a business model that won’t leave the farmer broke.

Southern California has become a region of growing activity for these types of ventures, and Seedstock has attempted to provide a glimpse of what that experience looks like. A panel of agricultural entrepreneurs from the region—including those using soil, hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods—gathered at UCLA on Wednesday to share their experiences. Read more

In Creating Fleet of Sustainable, Urban Farmers, Milwaukee-based Growing Power Seeks to End World Hunger

Will Allen, CEO and founder of Growing Power, Inc., has a straightforward goal – to end world hunger.

“It’s a lofty goal, but that’s how things should be,” said Allen, a sharecropper’s son who was a professional basketball player when he rediscovered his love for agriculture. “The only way to end world hunger is the local food system that we used to have. … Everybody would buy local food if it was available. We don’t have the infrastructure right now, so one of the things I wanted to do is prove that this could be done and this could be cash-flowed.” Read more

In Partnership with NYC High School, Cornell U. Builds and Enhances Sustainable Agriculture Technology

Students at culinary arts-focused Food and Finance High School in New York City learn more than just how to cook up a good fish fillet—they also learn how to grow the fish along with other foods using real-time, applied science and Cornell University technologies.

The high school is home to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CUCE), New York City Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Labs, where students learn how to grow their own tilapia and other fish species, more than 10 different types of lettuce, Chinese cabbages and herbs. The food is used in the campus cafeteria, in the school’s culinary classes and in its student catering program, said Philson A. A. Warner, founding director of the CUCE learning labs. Warner is also CUCE New York City’s coordinator of science, technology and sustainable agriculture. Read more

Wyoming Hydroponic Tower Co. Seeks to Facilitate Sustainable Food Production and Make Farming Less Expensive

Basil growing in a ZipGrow Tower

Nate Storey and business partner Paul Bennick want to make farming more efficient, sustainable and affordable for the private and commercial greenhouse grower. To do so, the partners founded Bright AgroTech, LLC, a mission driven company that develops modular hydroponic production towers to not only increase production in hydroponic and aquaponic systems, but also facilitate sustainable food production.

“We got into it to make farming less expensive,” Storey says.

The product that Storey, a PhD candidate in agronomy at the University of Wyoming, along with Bennick, a Wyoming Army National Guardsmen who served two tours in Iraq and grew up on a ranch, developed to reduce costs is called the ZipGrow Tower™. Read more

Re-Imagining Agriculture Event in Los Angeles to Focus on Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship

(Los Angeles, CA, February 2, 2012) – A growing crop of agricultural entrepreneurs is beginning to sprout in Southern California. Compelled by a desire to meet the food and energy demands of a world population forecast to peak at 9 billion by 2050, these entrepreneurs are endeavoring to re-imagine a more sustainable, healthy and profitable future for agriculture – from the development of high tech farms that utilize the latest hydroponic and aquaponic technology to grow food cleanly, efficiently and without chemicals to urban farming models that seek to bring scalable food production back to cities.

To explore this flight to innovation in agriculture, please join Seedstock, a sustainable agriculture media company, in association with the Entrepreneur Association and the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies on March 7, from 6pm – 9pm at the UCLA Anderson School of Management for the event, Re-Imagining Agriculture: Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship in Southern CaliforniaRead more

Atlanta’s Bioponica Seeks to Close Loop on Hydroponic and Aquaponic Farming

The term sustainable farming has been creeping steadily into the vernacular, popping up in business plans, on food blogs, and at local farmers’ markets around the country. David Epstein, D.O. and Kenneth Lovell, P.E. of Bioponica™ hope to usher new farmers into the world of sustainable agriculture through their unique design and method of soilless, closed-loop, farming.  Read more