Armed with a Trowel, VSAT Program Aids Veterans in Launching Sustainable Startups

“We believe the next wars are going to be over food and water. So who better to train than our military in water conservation and food production?” – Karen Archipley

Archis+Acres+LogoReturning military often find themselves struggling to return to normality after serving overseas. Colin Archipley, co-owner of Archi’s Acres in Escondido, CA knows exactly how they feel. He served three tours of duty during the Iraq War that began in 2003. Between his second and third deployment, Colin, along with his wife Karen, bought an inefficiently run avocado farm. Besides starting their own very successful living basil hydroponics farm on the site, the empathetic couple created an incubator for transitioning veterans. What they created became known as the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training or VSAT program, a way to help veterans train for self-employment in the peaceful profession of hydroponic farming. Read more

Archi’s Acres and the World of Living Basil

“We wanted something that was sustainable, but was a really good deal for the customer. We call it bioponic. That means we use all organic practices. We have a definite crop production and we are always sold out.” – Karen Archipley

Karen and Colin Archipley of Archi's Acres. Photo Credit: Archi's Acres.

Karen and Colin Archipley of Archi’s Acres. Photo Credit: Archi’s Acres.

While deployed in Iraq, Colin Archipley used his down time to work on the avocado farm he and his wife Karen bought back in 2006. “His whole mission was to save our farm,” remembers Karen. The farm was purchased between Colin’s second and third assignment in Iraq. When he wasn’t out battling the tension in Haditha, Colin was on the phone figuring out how to make his farm successful. The desire to make a positive lasting difference in the world was hampered by outrageous San Diego water rates. They had to find a way to reduce their $845 water bill and make their farm efficient and sustainable. A switch to bio hydroponic agriculture, a change of main product and the luck of partnering with some big names in the world of organic food and Archi’s Acres was well on its way. Read more

KC-based Chef Incorporates Aquaponics into Restaurant Operation

Not many restaurateurs would commit to building their own aquaponics system in the basement of their restaurant. But Anton Kotar, owner of Anton’s Taproom in Kansas City, Mo., had experience raising tropical fish and tending plants in his home so he knew he could make the sustainable, aquaponic-restaurant concept work.

Anton’s Taproom opened in October 2012, and started serving food on November 1. And Kotar worked on the space, renovating the historic building and constructing fish tanks, 14 months before opening. Since opening, the restaurant has seen a lot of success, and the restaurant’s aquaponic and vertical farm system are running swimmingly. Read more

Waste Reuse, Health and Nutrient Density Core to Arizona-based Aquaponic Operation

Mark Rhine and Marlo Ibanez, co-owners of Rhibafarms. Photo Credit: Rhibafarms.

Mark Rhine and Marlo Ibanez, co-owners of Rhibafarms. Photo Credit: Rhibafarms.

Five years ago Mark Rhine and his business partner Marlo Ibanez, co-owners of Rhibafarms, had a broadband company in Phoenix, Arizona. They fielded a $225,000 a month payroll, traveled constantly and ate junk food only as an afterthought. Then they cashed in their company, bought a farm – Rhibafarms – and saw their health turn 180 degrees.

“We both lost a ton of weight, lowered our blood pressure and cholesterol and stopped taking medication,” Rhine said. “All because we started eating the organic food we grow. So all we want to grow now is very nutrient-dense food.” Read more

Chef in Brea, CA Embraces Aquaponics to Supply Restaurants, a Catering Business and Local Markets

Chef Adam Navidi, owner of Future Foods Farms and Green to Go.

Chef Adam Navidi, owner of Future Foods Farms and Green to Go.

Every small grower likes to find ways to reduce costs and cut out the middle man but Adam Navidi of Future Foods Farms and Green to Go has turned organic growing and serving his clientele into a planet friendly fine art. He grows a wide range of organic produce through the aquaponic systems on his farm. The produce is then sold at his restaurant. The restaurant scraps in turn are used to feed the fish on his farm. This sustainable circuit of good is developed from a combination of creative thinking, hard work and a passion for good food.

“As a chef that owns a catering company and a restaurant, I wanted to be able to provide my clients with the best produce possible. For a chef there is no better way for being in tune with your food than to grow it yourself,” explains Navidi. Future Foods Farms, the largest aquaponic farm in Southern California, sits on 25 acres of open country and began in earnest back in 2008. Comprised of ten large greenhouses, Future Foods Farms is home to a varied assortment of fruit and vegetables not to mention hundreds of tilapia fish. Vegetarian fish fed on California organic brown rice no less. Read more

Detroit Urban Farming Enterprise, RecoveryPark, Poised to Revitalize East Side and Create 18,000

recoveryparklogoThe east side of Detroit, like much of the rest of the city, is in dire need of recovery.

The land is dotted with vacant and abandoned homes. The economy is in tatters. Unemployment, infant mortality, poverty, crime, and drug abuse are major challenges facing the dwindling population.

This is the land capitalism left behind.

A new enterprise combining urban farming, substance abuse rehabilitation, and an alternative economic model is attempting to provide that recovery on the many fronts in which it is needed. Read more

Food Field Urban Farm in Detroit Heals Land, Sets Sights On Aquaponics and Economic Viability

Photo Credit: Food Field.

Photo Credit: Food Field.

Like many neighborhoods in Detroit, Boston-Edison, once home to Henry Ford, has seen better days. Abandoned, burned out structures are interspersed with vacant lots. Although an intact historic district survives, much of the neighborhood suffers from the post-industrial poverty and neglect that plagues much of rest of the city.

It is here that Noah Link and Alex Bryan, recent University of Michigan graduates, launched Food Field, an organic farm, in 2010. After working on several area farms and gardens, the pair was inspired to join Detroit’s burgeoning urban agriculture movement. Together, they drafted a business plan and applied to purchase land through the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority, a state-operated clearinghouse for tax-reverted public property. The Authority approved the plan, and after soil tests found no contamination (a common issue in post-industrial urban landscapes), they purchased a 4-acre parcel that was the former site of an elementary school. Read more

Could Atmospheric Water Generation Power the Farms of the Future?

Most folks, farmers or otherwise, had their first introduction to vapor farms in the hit movie series “Star Wars.” Vapor farming is no longer a thing of science fiction. In fact, its an emerging industry that could change the way the world views water. We interviewed three of the top rated atmospheric water generation (AWG) system producers in the industry to better understand not only the technology, but its potential for sustainable agriculture. Atmospheric Water Systems, Inc. (AWS), EcoloBlue, Inc. and Island Sky Corporation happily explained their systems and the potential of AWG for modern farming.

Atmospheric water is exactly what it sounds like: water from the earth’s atmosphere. Everything contains water and everything has a dew point, the point at which vapor in the air condenses into liquid form. Read more

Oregon-based Aquaponic Startup Seeks to Completely Close Loop

Hydroponics, the practice of growing crops in nutrient-rich water as opposed to soil, in concert with aquaculture, the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs, etc., creates a sustainable, symbiotic farming system called aquaponic farming. Aquaponic farming is not a new form of farming, but other than many of the readers of this website few people know about it. Three men, Gabriel Michels, Timothy Kirk and Nicholas Fox, who partnered to create Grass Roots Aquaponic Farms LLC, located in Oregon City, Oregon, hope to change that. The idea was planted years ago.

“Actually, I was inspired back in high school,” says Michels. “That was about 10 years ago. Nic and I were in the same class and our school got a grant to have a complete aquaponic setup. It was great! We grew all kinds of vegetables.” Read more

Vertical Farming Operation Takes on Challenge of Providing Local Food to Urban Communities

Photo Credit: Local Garden.

In a world where climate change continues to wreak more and more havoc on growing seasons and arable land becomes increasingly scarce and expensive, viable farming alternatives are the Holy Grail of sustainable agriculturists.

Local Garden of Vancouver, BC, a subsidiary of the vertical farming technology company Alterrus, is the latest challenger to the intractable problem of providing local fresh produce for future urban communities.

The company (they only launched production three months ago) is using the VertiCrop™ growing system created by Alterrus to raise baby greens, arugula, basil, spinach, kales and bok choy in a system that cultivates 10 times the amount of crops as traditional agriculture in the same amount of space, but uses 90 percent less water and terrain. And it does so on top of a parking garage in the middle of downtown Vancouver. Read more