New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Category — Entrepreneurs

Meet Washington DC’s urban farmers growing food and profits

Ryan Palmer, left, and AJ Cooper, of Freedom Farms, re-enact “American Gothic” at Gail Taylor’s Fourth Street Garden. Photo by Barbara L Salisbury.

The Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014, for example, would establish incentives for leasing land to farmers in the city and tax credits for farmers who donate their food to local nonprofits.

By Whitney Pipkin
Elevation DC Media
July 22, 2014


Meredith Sheperd, owner of Love & Carrots, has expanded her business that helps residents launch and maintain edible urban gardens in the District since we last wrote about her. She now has nine full-time employees and some apprentices tending to some 85 food gardens of varying sizes in and around the city.

That’s not counting the garden owners who have “graduated” from the program and are now maintaining their own, which would add up to nearly 200. Sheperd has decided to cap the number of gardens her crew can maintain at a given time at 100 this year, to keep the logistics more manageable.

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July 30, 2014   No Comments

Selling from home in Denver

denverSee news video here.

The city charges a one-time fee of $20 for the licenses and state law caps sales for home-produced foods at $5,000 per item per year.

By Brandon Rittiman
July 15, 2014


The city passed an ordinance Tuesday designed to enable urban farmers to sell their crops from home, taking advantage of Colorado’s 2012 Cottage Food Act.

For Deb Neeley, it started with six cherry tomato plants she planted one summer.

They were a gateway. Soon she couldn’t get enough of growing her own food.

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July 24, 2014   No Comments

Opportunity sprouts from Detroit’s urban farms

Ruth Hart of Detroit Farm and Garden stacks potting soil. The firm supplies compost and fertilizer to some urban farms. Photo by David Guralnick / The Detroit News.

New market emerging for seed, fertilizer, equipment suppliers

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News
July 5, 2014


The city’s estimated 1,400 urban farms and gardens have created new markets for farm loan banks and equipment companies that supply them with everything from seed and fertilizer to compost and tractors — just as they’ve done for years with Detroit’s rural counterparts throughout the state.

A small supply store opened in southwest Detroit in 2012. But for the most part, Detroit farms remained an untapped market for the farm supply, equipment and loan industry — until now.

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July 5, 2014   Comments Off

Vancouver’s Urban Agriculture Entrepreneurs

rideuaAaron Quesnel delivers fresh greens year-round to restaurants throughout Vancouver. Photo by Nik West.

For those who aspire to farm in the big city, the terrain is rough and strewn with obstacles. But urban agriculture can also be a viable business for hardworking souls, such as Aaron Quesnel, with an in-demand product–microgreens used by some of Vancouver’s top chefs–and a good story to share

Richard Littlemore
BC Business
July 1, 2014


Quesnel is the founder and president of Sky Harvest, which is the optimistic-sounding name of a business that, in May 2013, started selling produce generated in a 13-square-metre indoor farm, located in an unlovely and under-used storefront building on Powell Street in East Vancouver.

Quesnel and a skeleton staff plant, grow, harvest and deliver microgreens, the “nutrient-dense, visually appealing and flavourful” early shoots from a host of salad-friendly vegetables. Sky Harvest currently offers 13 varieties, including arugula, kale, radish, sorrel, cilantro, sunflower and peas. They harvest most crops after only a week, when they’re past the point of being “sprouts” but not yet “baby greens.”

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July 5, 2014   Comments Off

Urban farms one solution for ailing food system, Colorado agriculture activist says

Evan Premer, owner of Aero Farm Co. in Lakewood, Colorado. Photo appeared in Modern Farmer.

Olson says banks will eventually lend money to urban farmers — if they see examples of urban agriculture success.

Elaine Grant
Colorado Public Radio
June 18, 2014


Now Olson wants to prove that farmers — specifically of what he calls “high-value” leafy green crops like kale, Swiss chard, and spinach — can grow produce more efficiently in urban greenhouses than on large rural farms. Consequently, they can make a better living, he says. Olson says a farmer makes about $1500 harvesting an acre of commodity corn; a grower of organic corn may make $15,000 from an acre harvest. In contrast, he claims an urban farmer growing leafy greens vertically in a greenhouse can earn a quarter of a million dollars in revenue per acre.

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June 28, 2014   Comments Off

Farm stands turn your backyard kale into cold, hard cash

Photo by Becky Warner.

Urban farms should bring both food and income to their neighborhoods.

By Heather Hansman
June 26, 2014


Warner and four other urban farmers grow food in five backyards in north Seattle. Since 2011 they’ve been selling it at their front yard farm stands and through a CSA. They call their dispersed urban farm City Grown, and it’s exactly that: Food both grown and sold in the city.

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June 27, 2014   Comments Off

Grow Dat’s City Park farm yields an unexpected crop: good jobs for youth in New Orleans

Johanna Gilligan.

Last year Grow Dat alumni were hired by the New Orleans Food Co-op, the online retailer Good Eggs, Rouses, and Eco Urban landscapers.

By Johanna Gilligan
The Lens
June 17, 2014
Founding director of Grow Dat Youth Farm, Johanna Gilligan is a native of Santa Fe who has lived in New Orleans since 1999.


What I didn’t imagine was that urban farming experience might also prepare them for food-sector employment that could provide a decent hourly wage, benefits, and opportunities to advance. Fast forward 10 years, and I see a new kind of food sector job emerging—not just late-night minimum-wage jobs in a fast food restaurant or earning $2.13/hour waiting tables, but opportunities to work with businesses who are growing, selling, and preparing local food.

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June 26, 2014   Comments Off

Frequent flyer invests in city farming in Vancouver

Ahmed Amlani of Inner City Farms was surprised by Simon Pek’s $500 investment. Photo Dan Toulgoet.

Traveller sought local recipient to offset carbon footprint

Cheryl Rossi
Vancouver Courier
June 19, 2014


Pek, a PhD candidate in the faculty of business at Simon Fraser University, took an alternative route to compensate for carbon emissions from his flights. Instead of investing in a conventional carbon offset program, Pek invested $500 in Inner City Farms, a small business with 20 urban plots in Vancouver yards.

Pek likes that Inner City Farms displaces produce for more than 50 families and eight restaurants that would be transported from afar, grows its food organically, farms by hand and provides city dwellers the opportunity to learn about farming.

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June 21, 2014   Comments Off

‘Pennycress’ for bio-diesel latest entry into Detroit urban agriculture scene

Warren P. Palmer, of Stonehill Investments (left) and James J. Padilla, Jr., of MetroAg Services are two of the people responsible for creating this lot of urban agriculture and hope to plant flowers once the Pennycress is harvested this summer. Photo by Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press.

The goal is to use pennycress seeds to produce safe, clean fuel oil.

By John Gallagher
Detroit Free Press
June 8, 2014


Pennycress is a member of the mustard family that is planted in the fall and grows over the winter to be harvested in late spring, said Lance Stokes, the head of Metro Ag Services, a for-profit company that is behind the pennycress project. The goal is to use pennycress seeds to produce safe, clean fuel oil.

“Those seeds are what we’re going to harvest and crush and extract the oil to get the bio-diesel,” Stokes said.

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June 17, 2014   Comments Off

Designing Modular Garden Blocks For Raised Beds

MBA course assignment that inspired them to create a set of interlocking garden blocks to make a raised garden bed.

A film by Rebecca Gerendasy
Cooking Up a Story
June 2014


I asked Mr. Holcomb if he had other ideas for his plastic garden blocks, and his eyes lit up.

“We have quite an extensive product roadmap for TogetherFarm. The amazing thing about having a modular system is that you can add on different components that all interlock with each other,” he said.

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June 5, 2014   Comments Off

‘Easy Garden Tracker’ on a Tablet for Urban Farmers

Ann Pentland Demonstrates Easy Garden Tracker.

Keeps records of all of your growing and sales activities

Easy Garden Tracker provides you with a simple yet powerful tool for planning and tracking all of your garden and farm activities. Quickly view harvest, sales, expenses, consumption, and donation, and other totals by the month, by the year, by location, by variety, or by other criteria that makes sense to you. Great for completing your tax returns! Runs on any computer, tablet, smart phone, or other device with a browser. Apple, Microsoft, Android, and other tablets are perfect for the field!

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June 2, 2014   Comments Off

Financial Snapshot of Mobile Fresh Markets in North America


Mobile fresh markets (MFM) are an emerging social innovation for increasing access to healthy food.

By Janine de la Salle
Urban Food Strategies
Spring 2014


Research Findings:
After researching 14 mobile markets with in-depth interviews conducted with five, findings showed diversity in operating models however, none of these were operating on a break even or profit basis. Research highlights include:

• Most markets use either converted buses or panel vans
• Most markets operate on a regular weekly schedule, stopping at each location at the same time each week.
• Most market operate seasonally, while some are year round, averaging 35 wks per year.
• The average market operates 4 days/week.
• The average market serves 8 locations.

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June 2, 2014   Comments Off

The Seeding Square – promises to make gardening simpler


A Seeding Square and a Seed Dibber

Excerpt from their Kickstarter site:

With our patented invention, the Seeding Square, we are making available what we hope will become the new standardized way of planting gardens, because with this tool, planting a garden becomes simple. With it gardeners are now able to get from their gardens; the highest yield possible, with very little space needed for the garden itself, all seeds are planted in perfectly straight grid formations, which makes weeds immediately identifiable …and it’s all done in a fraction of the time because it’s been color coded for ease of use!

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May 29, 2014   Comments Off

‘Sustainable Microfarms’ wants to make it easy for urban hydroponic farmers

A new technology (the Genesis Controller) that automatically monitors plants 24/7 and takes the required actions to maximize health and growth.

By Steven Bustin
May 7, 2014


Sustainable Microfarms is a hydroponics startup that is taking a systemic approach to disrupting while simultaneously empowering the agriculture industry and all the players involved. They are starting with a small but passionate consumer market, the urban hydroponic farmer. To say that Sustainable Microfarms is another hydroponics company is to say that Tesla is just another electric car. They have developed new technology (the Genesis Controller) that automatically monitors plants 24/7 and takes the required actions to maximize health and growth.

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May 18, 2014   Comments Off

Philips’ City Farming

Philips & Green Sense Farms usher in new era of indoor farming with LED ‘light recipes’ that help optimize crop yield and quality

Philips Press Release
May 9, 2014
Must see. Mike

Somerset, NJ – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG AEX: PHIA), the global leader in lighting, has partnered with Green Sense Farms (GSF), a Chicago-area commercial grower, to develop one of the largest indoor commercial farms using LED grow lights tailored to their specific crops. This innovative farming model allows them to harvest 20-25 times a year by using ‘light recipes’ optimized for their produce, using 85 percent less energy. The result will be an increase in crop yields and reduced operating costs, while providing consumers with locally grown, fresh vegetables throughout the year.

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May 15, 2014   Comments Off