AVF summit 2017 in Washington DC to Focus on Policy Challenges for Vertical Farming

News Release — Washington DC — The Association of Vertical Farming (AVF) is pleased to  announce the annual AVF Summit event to engage policymakers, industry experts, institutions, entrepreneurs and scientists to offer expert opinions and to provide a dynamic discussion platform. The Vertical Farming sector in agriculture is in a nascent state of development. While in Japan, the division has developed beyond this stage and claims a serious market share today in comparison to the US and the EU.

The challenges are the new-to-be-built business models, how to penetrate markets and support informed consumers. As with any pioneer period, things are hazy and unclear – food safety, high tech, novel food production, science, innovation,new architecture must all be considered as important components of the global trend. In an industry that has had the track record to be unattractive to young people for many many years, Vertical Farming has the power to to help transform the existing food supply chains by attracting young, informed and  tech savvy future farmers, that disrupt with innovation and bold risk taking.  

These changemakers need supportive policies to pave the way for mainstream adoption and market entrance. The upcoming US Farm Bill provides an opportunity to discuss challenges and solutions in policy such as novel new food production systems in commercial and residential zoning, tax incentives for efficient food production in suburban spaces, adopting the “rural” agricultural development clause into metropolitan spaces – to name a few of the crucial issues before us.

We invite you to come and to engage with policymakers, to discuss policies that will influence future legislation, and let innovation succeed in agriculture.  The AVF and its partners are pleased to announce the following speakers at the upcoming Summit:

Keynote: Sonny Ramaswamy NIFA

Bob Van Heuvelen VH STRATEGIES

Wim Grootscholten RIJK ZWAAN (TBC)

Roberta Andersen GLOBAL GAP

Gertjan Meeuvens HERE THERE AND         
                                    EVERYWHERE

Travis Williams FLUENCE BIOENGINEERING

Eric Ijtema CERTHON

Charles Wilson WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION        
                              CENTER

Henry Van Gameren PRIVA

Paula Gonzalez PMA (TBC)

For more information and participation, register here. SPACE IS LIMITED

To Grow Community and Jobs of the Future, Suburbanite Launches Vertical Farming Enterprise in Detroit

Inside the 7,000 square foot warehouse that houses urban vertical farming operation Artesian Farms. Using artificial light and seven 20 foot high vertical towers and racked trays, the farm produces around 75 pounds of lettuce and kale a week, and approximately 40 pounds of basil per week. Photo courtesy of Artesian Farms.

After spending time with street children in Brazil as part of a missionary trip, Jeff Adams, founder of Detroit, Michigan-based urban vertical farming enterprise Artesian Farms, felt compelled to change his community. “If we can go 7,000 miles to work with young people we won’t see again, what can we do in our own backyard?”

13 years ago Adams moved from the suburbs of Detroit to the urban neighborhood of Brightmoor—roughly four square miles on the outskirts of Detroit full of abandoned homes and derelict industrial buildings.

“My wife and I sold our house in the suburbs and moved to the Brightmoor neighborhood in the city of Detroit. What I noticed was in our community there was a lack of jobs for people who are 18 to 30 years old that had some limited skills and limited availability to transportation to get to a job,” says Adams. “I started looking for opportunities to employ people. I set up a business incubator and started looking around to see what we could do.” Read more

Utilizing Hydroponics, Three Families Unite to Provide Meaningful Work for Their Children with Special Needs

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(from left to right) Colby Myers, Andrès Guillen and Luke Gerhardt operate CALCan Enterprises LLC, a hydroponic greenhouse outside of Topeka, Kansas, that grows lettuce and arugula. Photo courtesy of CALCan Enterprises LLC.

On the outskirts of Topeka, Kansas in a greenhouse equipped with a hydroponic system, three families have come together to provide meaningful work for their children who have special needs.

Tim and Rhonda Gerhardt, Luis Guillen and Marisol Perez, and Kris and Chuck Myers own CALCan Enterprises LLC, a year-old produce business that grows lettuce and arugula utilizing hydroponics. The company’s produce can be found in the Kansas City area on the shelves of Whole Foods as well as HyVee grocery stores and in several area school districts

The business name is derived from the first letters in each of their adult children’s names — Colby Myers, Andrès Guillen and Luke Gerhardt, who put in 10 to 15 hours a week at the greenhouse and receive payment for their labor. Read more

Sustainable Agriculture Institute Arms Returning Veterans with Tools to Become Farmers of the Future

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Colin and Karen Archipley, the co-founders of Archi’s Acres and Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (AISA). Photo Courtesy of Archi’s Acres.

Returning 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 a sustainable agriculture training center called Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (AISA) to help ease the transition of service members from military to civilian life. The courses offered at the institute are open to civilians as well as veterans giving everyone a way to serve their local community while building a sustainable business that will support their family.

The AISA learning center is based in Valley Center, California, near San Diego, and offers its students instruction in everything from sustainable agribusiness and farming production methods to business development and planning during a six-week course on founders’ Colin and Karen Archipley’s farmland. Read more

A Hydroponic Urban Farming Family Affair

Dustin Lang didn’t set out to become an urban farmer. In fact, after high school he went on to study and practice corporate law. That is, until he was drawn back to the urban farm that he now runs together with his father Glen and father-in-law Jim Loy.

The aptly named LL Urban Farms in Raleigh, North Carolina, established by the Lang and Loy families in 2012, is a true family affair. The families first connected when their two eldest children, Dustin and Taylor Loy (now husband and wife), met in high school.

Coincidentally, at the time, both Dustin’s father and his future father-in-law were approaching retirement age and looking for viable small business opportunities to pursue. They looked at the potential of greenhouse agriculture and controlled environment systems, and despite the fact that neither of them had any previous professional experience in farming, decided to start a business to grow food for the local marketplace. Read more

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

GL-oc-conf-logo-ID-v1On 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

Vermont Hydroponic Venture Emerges Out of Barroom Conversation, and a Desire to Grow Year-round

Partners David Hartshorn (left) and John Farr (right) of Waitsfield, VT-based Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics. Photo courtesy of Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics.

Partners David Hartshorn (left) and John Farr (right) of Waitsfield, VT-based Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics. Photo courtesy of Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics.

Like many great plans, Vermont’s Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics operation began as a barroom conversation among friends. In the early 1990s farmer David Hartshorn and his now business partners, brothers John and Ted Farr, sat around discussing their dream of building a greenhouse to enable them to grow produce year-round. At the time, though, the energy costs required to bring the project online were so prohibitive that they tabled the idea.

Approximately twenty years later, though, the timing was right. In 2013, with a loan procured from the Vermont Economic Development Authority, Hartshorn and the Farrs launched Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics (GMHH) in Waitsfield, Vermont. Read more

A Hydroponic Twist on the Family Farm

David Quick,

David Quick, head farmer at Quickley Produce Farm, which is run by four generations of family members. Photo credit: Alisa Welch.

Quickley Produce Farm represents a modern take on the family farm. It’s not a farm that has been passed down from one generation to the next, but rather a newly formed high-tech hydroponic farming operation run by four generations of family members.

Located in Galena, Missouri in the heart of the Ozarks, the farm, which officially took root in 2011, is run by David and Terry Quick. The couple’s daughter, Alisa Welch, and son-in-law, Russ Welch, play a pivotal role in day-to-day operations, and their three children — Dusty, Dawson and Bristol – lend a hand. Terry’s mom, Pauline Hedrick, also pitches in to make the farm a true family affair.

The family’s lineage points to a strong background in farming and gardening, but more recent generations had been working in a different trade: construction. That all changed in 2008 when the economy began to slow. Read more

Hydroponic Farm in Alabama Finds Success with Focus on Health and Local Food Demand

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A view of the greenhouse at Owls Hollow Farm in Gadsen, Alabama. Photo courtesy of Owls Hollow Farm.

Rod Palmer of Owls Hollow Farm in Gadsen, Alabama, wants people to think a little more about what they’re eating.

If they continue to eat the same processed foods that have led to an epidemic of diabetes and obesity, then they shouldn’t be surprised if their health isn’t improving.

If they continue to buy expensive produce grown outside the U.S. at the supermarket, then they won’t be able to stretch their dollars that much.

Owls Hollow gives both residents and employees at local companies in nearby Birmingham a way to eat healthier while saving money.

Palmer comes from a background in home building, and he never focused on farming as a career. When growing up, everyone around him, including his family, lived on a small farm. It never seemed like something unique. Read more

From Christmas Trees to Hydroponic Produce, Farmer Holds onto Roots with Eye to the Future

Hydroponically grown red and green mixed varieties of lettuce at Mock's Greenhouse and Farm in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Photo credit: Mock's Greenhouse and Farm.

Hydroponically grown red and green mixed varieties of lettuce at Mock’s Greenhouse and Farm in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Photo credit: Mock’s Greenhouse and Farm.

For Paul Mock, founder of Mock’s Greenhouse and Farm in Berkeley Springs, WV, farming is more than a career; it’s a way of life.

“My family’s been farming for over a hundred years,” says Paul. “I’ve technically been in the business since I was five years old.”

The greenhouses, with their soilless growing systems, in which Paul Mock now spends his days stand in stark contrast to the Christmas tree farm he grew up on. After working on the family farm for most of his adult life, Paul moved off the farm in 2003 to start his own hydroponics greenhouse operation. His reasons for this dramatic change were straightforward.
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