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

Growing Up Hydroponically – Practical Motives Drive Family Strawberry Farm to Increase Sustainability

Strawberry farmers must contend with numerous challenges from supplying plants with just the right amount of water to fending off numerous soil-borne pests. Coupling the plant’s innate sensitivity with staunch environmental regulations, it can be difficult for growers to balance sustainability and crop health. Temecula Valley Strawberry Farms (TVSF), though, has found a solution to sustainably and profitably grow strawberries using a unique vertical hydroponic system that benefits the environment and the local community without sacrificing yields. Read more

To Create Energy Efficient Vertical Farms, U. of Georgia Agronomist Focuses on Intelligent Light System

Erico Rolim de Mattos in his lab at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Image credit: UGA Public Affairs.

University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental doctoral student Erico Rolim de Mattos foresees a world where exploding human populations, global climate change and land overdevelopment has rendered mankind incapable of producing enough food to sustain humanity.

This scenario is a very real possibility, and it has captured the minds of specialists from organizations like NASA and the United Nations. Read more

Growing UP – Is Vertical Farming the Way of the Future?

Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier admits that when his book The Vertical Farm, Feeding the World in the 21st Century was released, he wasn’t entirely optimistic about the idea catching on immediately. After all, his proposition that cities and towns should develop local, indoor, entirely sustainable, multi-story farms is antithetical to the industrialized, globalized farm practices that became the norm in the last century. 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

Built ‘From the Light Up’, Hydroponic Technology Startup Seeks to Revolutionize Urban Farming

At first glance, Omega Garden’s product list might be a little confusing, with its Volksgarden® and Farmdominium™. But the Canadian-based hydroponics company isn’t selling bio-fuel vehicles or green housing complexes; rather, they’ve created a hydroponics system that may revolutionize not only urban agriculture, but agriculture in general. And 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for Omega Garden – so stay tuned.

The Volksgarden® is a rotary hydroponics system in which plants are installed in a circular unit, growing toward a light source at the center. It has approximately 20 square feet of growing area, and holds up to 80 plants. Its most successful crops include a variety of herbs, leafy lettuces, chards, peppers, strawberries, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers and some flower varieties. Read more

Vertical Greenhouse Co. Seeks to Bring Fresh, Affordable, Low Carbon-footprint Produce to Urban Areas

Rendering of a Plantagon Greenhouse

Plantagon is a Stockholm-based urban agriculture company that strives to balance commercial and values-based forces to simultaneously achieve profitability and ‘do good.’ To do this, it has introduced the Plantagon Greenhouse, a vertical greenhouse designed to bring fresh, affordable, low-carbon-footprint produce to urban areas. According to the company, the greenhouses’ efficiency and high productivity make them economically viable – it’s possible to finance each greenhouse from its own sales. Read more

Sustainable Ag Startup Sees Aeroponic Technology as Key to Re-integrating Agriculture into Urban Environs

Eating locally within a hundred mile radius is certainly an impressive feat. But imagine the convenience of picking fresh produce from a farm that’s only a hundred feet away, or even ten, while still living in a crowded city.

The Waters Wheel, a Los Angeles-based company, aims to do just that by bringing the farm to your doorstep or rooftop by using aeroponic tower farms – recirculating systems that use clean recycled water in place of soil to grow food. 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

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