Agriculture 2.0 Silicon Valley – venture capitalists listen to city farmers
March 24, 2010. Agriculture 2.0 Silicon Valley, co-hosted by NewSeed Advisors, US Venture Partners, and SPIN Farming, brought together hundreds of growers, entrepreneurs, investors, retailers, industry experts, and journalists, all united by the common goal of driving the growth of sustainable agriculture and healthful food systems.
Silicon Valley investors place bets on sustainable ag – big money on small ag – Event held on March 24
By Todd Woody
26 March 2010
“We want to create an opportunity for a market, not a movement,” said Roxanne Christensen of SPIN Farming, which promotes the creation of urban microfarms.
Of course, the killer app would be to power urban microfarms with renewable energy, noted Mike Yohay, founder of Cityscape Farms, a San Francisco startup developing rooftop greenhouses that use hydroponics and aquaponics technology to grow food without soil and fertilize it with fish waste.
I attended an agriculture conference this week at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto.
There were no pickup trucks in the BMW-packed parking lot, and few farmers with dirt under their fingernails could be found milling about the sleek hotel lobby. But the place was swarming with venture capitalists from some of Silicon Valley’s marquee firms looking to grow profits with investments in sustainable agriculture.
Welcome to Agriculture 2.0.
That was the name of the conference and represents a growing effort to scale up sustainable agriculture from a hodge-podge of hippies and back-to-the-land types into a viable big business by bringing together venture capitalists and startups doing everything from rooftop farming to high-tech soil mapping to identifying the best areas for growing crops.
The big idea is that venture capitalists can help disrupt industrial agriculture much as they have the computer, entertainment and energy industries by investing in sustainable ag and using information technology to connect producers and consumers.