Connecticut Investment Banker Dabbles in Hydroponics to Help Meet Demand for Local Produce

Chestnut Hollow sells hydroponic greens at farmers' market. Photo credit: Harold Blackwell

Chestnut Hollow sells hydroponic greens at farmers’ market.
Photo credit: Harold Blackwell

It is no surprise that Harold Blackwell launched his venture into commercial agriculture with a sound business plan.

An investment banker by day, Blackwell started gardening outside as a hobby, something to do during his off hours to de-stress from the workday. But he could only take that so far in Connecticut, when outdoor gardening pauses during the winter.

To solve this problem, he began with small pots of herbs grown indoors, and then expanded into a small hydroponics set-up. He was pleasantly surprised at the quality of his results, and after a few years had the fortune to meet a commercial hydroponics grower in Bridgeport who showed him the ways of growing hydroponically at a commercial scale for a living. Read more

Nonprofit Combats Poverty in Orphanages by Teaching Aquaponics, Food Preservation

: A view of an aquaponics facility in Mexico built with help from Aquaponics & Earth (photo taken by Teresa Musser)

: A view of an aquaponics facility in Mexico built with help from Aquaponics & Earth (photo taken by Teresa
Musser)

In 1979, John Musser embarked on an expedition into the rugged far reaches of America’s southern neighbor to visit Mexican orphanages, where he witnessed both hungry children and food waste.

Upon his return, Musser founded the Texas-based non-profit Aquaponics & Earth and stepped up to the challenge of helping orphans in Mexico and across the world secure adequate nutrition. Through hardware and education, Musser’s organization enables orphanages to become self-sustaining, freeing themselves from dependence on food aid. Read more

New Hydroponic Organic Gardening Kit Seeks ‘Paradigm Shift for Produce’

Photo courtesy of Mobile Farming

From garden towers to upside-down tomato hangers, the concept of a ‘grow your own’ kit is nothing new.

But the folks at Mobile Farming think they may finally have created a hydroponic gardening system that’s affordable, realistic and accessible to everyone with Garden Stand. The unit is American-made, MIT-patented and grows enough organic vegetables and herbs to feed a family of four. And according to its creators, we can expect to see it on the retail market as soon as summer 2014. Read more

Youngstown, Ohio Hydroponic Operation Specializes in Growing Greens and Urban Ag Education

Arugula Image Credit: The Lettuce People

Arugula
Image Credit: The Lettuce People

In her first year as a farmer, incessant rain left Katie Phibbs with flooded fields, no crops, and a stack of bills to pay. After this challenging foray into traditional farming, Phibbs decided to try a more creative and less unpredictable approach to farming: hydroponics.

Phibbs founded The Lettuce People, an urban hydroponic farm in Youngstown, Ohio which grows various types of lettuce, arugula, chard, and basil. Read more

Sharing and Community Drives Expansion of Hydroponic Farming

Dr. Patricia Rorabaugh teaches students from across the country in January 2013 at the University of Arizona’s Intensive Tomato Production course. Photo Credit: University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center

Dr. Patricia Rorabaugh teaches students from across the country in January 2013 at the University of Arizona’s Intensive Tomato Production course. Photo Credit: University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center

Mitch Hagney is Chief Executive Officer of LocalSprout, a hydroponic farm based in San Antonio, Texas. 

Farming has always created communities, but new technologies are creating communities of farmers in new ways.

As greenhouses free farmers from the constraints of their local climate, more and more consumers are increasing their demand for local produce. Together, these trends are opening up space for small farms to open up right where they’re planning on selling.

According to IBISWorld, in 2013 two companies, Eurofresh and Village Farms, accounted for 34 percent of all hydroponic produce sales. The next closest company produced 3 percent of all sales. Most hydroponic farms occupy less than an acre of land, and average revenues for each farm are just below $200,000. Read more

Urban Farming Startup Sees Opportunity in Aeroponic Tower to Increase Local Food Production in New Orleans

Image Credit: VertiFarms

Image Credit: VertiFarms

Fresh produce in New Orleans usually arrives from places like California or Florida. One company wants to change that.

Vertifarms began providing aeroponic farms for New Orleans food businesses in 2011, when company co-founders Doug Jacobs and Kevin Morgan-Rothschild began partnering with Florida-based FutureGrowing to bring aeroponic tower systems to restaurants, markets, grocery stores, and non-profit organizations that want to grow their own local crops.

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Beyond Freight: Startup Transforms Shipping Container into Turnkey Solution for Hydroponic Farming

LocalSprout’s Freight Farm located in downtown San Antonio. Photo Credit: Mitch Hagney

LocalSprout’s Freight Farm located in downtown San Antonio. Photo Credit: Mitch Hagney

Mitch Hagney is Chief Executive Officer of LocalSprout, a hydroponic farm based in San Antonio, Texas. 

When a hydroponic farm grows a head of lettuce, the story doesn’t start with a seed.

Every part of the environment has to be provided for the seeds before they germinate, including everything that nature usually gives away for free.

To make a plant’s conditions ideal, the farmer must also be a plumber, an electrician, an engineer, and a chemist. Even those growers with lots of experience often lack the construction expertise that building a hydroponic farm requires, so they turn to those whose sole business is building.

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Water Regulations Prompt SoCal Orchid Farm’s Foray into Hydroponic Vegetable Growing

Source: Sundial Farm

Source: Sundial Farm

Not many hydroponic farms are established in the middle of an orchid nursery, but for South Coast Orchids’ owner Dennis Keany and his family, hydroponic vegetables were the answer to the question: what do you grow when you can’t use much water?

The family’s 4.5-acre orchid nursery located just North of San Diego now shares greenhouse real estate with butter lettuce, kale, and bok choy that is sold under the brand name Sundial Farm.

In Southern California, water is a precious, highly regulated resource. According to Sundial Farm manager Sean Keany, state regulations began changing about ten years ago to conserve the area’s aqueduct-fed water source. Water conservation and access to fresh, clean produce are Keany family values and when the state advised going hydroponic, the decades-old orchid farmers were ready to move forward. Read more

Missouri Couple Transforms Turn-of-century Farm into Aquaponics Enterprise

utterbackfarmsweb

Image Credit: Utterback Farms

Success has come fast for Beverly and Dave McConnell of Utterback Farms in Middletown, Missouri. Almost overnight, the couple has established an aquaponic farm and are just months away from making a profit.

The McConnells inherited the farm, which was established at the turn of the last century, from Beverly McConnell’s parents. It was Beverly’s avid gardening hobby, inherited from her Depression-era grandmother, which led the couple to enter the world of commercial growing in their retirement.

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Houweling’s Combined Heat and Power Project is California’s First to Qualify for Assembly Bill 1613

The GE J624 Two-Stage Turbocharged Gas Engine at Houweling's supplies power and heat to the company's greenhouse providing both lower carbon dioxide emissions and increased overall efficiency of over 90 Percent

The GE J624 Two-Stage Turbocharged Gas Engine at Houweling’s supplies power and heat to the company’s greenhouse providing both lower carbon dioxide emissions and increased overall efficiency of over 90 Percent

News Release – Since officially unveiling an 8.8 megawatt Combined Heat and Power (CHP) onsite energy project in August 2012, Houweling’s Tomatoes of Camarillo, CA has increased its onsite power generation capacity to 13.2 megawatts. As of November 1st, Houweling’s will be the first CHP installation to meet the requirements for participation in California Assembly Bill 1613.

AB 1613, began with a 2005 California Energy Commission (CEC) study investigating the CHP market and policy options for increased penetration in California. The result was the 2007 Waste Heat and Carbon Emissions Reduction Act, commonly referred to as AB 1613. This program operates under strict criteria designed to reduce waste energy, meet a minimum efficiency of 60%, and reach NOx emissions of no more than 0.07 pounds per megawatt-hour. Ultimately it provides qualifying projects a favorable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the state utilities. Read more