The Potential of Urban Agriculture Innovations in the City, from Hydroponics to Aquaponics
How large a role will local food demand play with respect to the growth of indoor and controlled environment urban farming ventures? What are the costs involved in starting a small scale commercial hydroponic/aquaponics farm? What are the opportunities (community and economic) for high-tech controlled environment growing in urban environments such as Orange County? What tools or assets would give an entrepreneur the best chance for success in launching a vertical farming venture in the city?
To learn the answer to these questions, and more, you won’t want to miss the ‘The Potential of Controlled Environment Agriculture in the City’ panel at the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Local Food Systems slated for Nov. 10 at California State University, Fullerton. The following expert speakers will address the challenges and opportunities present in employing innovative agricultural growing systems in cities:
Erik Cutter is Managing Director of Alegría Fresh, an urban farming company engaged in promoting and deploying zero waste regenerative food and energy solutions using hybrid soils and integrated technologies. In 2009, Mr. Cutter founded EnviroIngenuity with a group of forward-thinking professionals to take advantage of the growing demand for more efficient, cost effective sustainable energy solutions, employing solar PV, hi-efficiency LED lighting, green building and zero waste food production systems. More than 35 years of travel throughout the US, Mexico, South America, Africa, French Polynesia, the Peruvian Amazon, Australia and New Zealand gave Mr. Cutter expert insight into the unique investment opportunities that exist in each region, focusing on sustainable living models and the increasing availability of super foods as a major new market opportunity.
Chris Higgins is General Manager of Hort Americas, LLC (HortAmericas.com) a wholesale supply company focused on all aspects of the horticultural industries. He is also owner ofUrbanAgNews.com (eMagazine) and a founding partner of the Foundation for the Development of Controlled Environment Agriculture. With over 15 years of experience, Chris is dedicated to the commercial horticulture industry and is inspired by the current opportunities for continued innovation in the field of controlled environment agriculture. Chris is a leader in providing technical assistance to businesses, including commercial greenhouse operations, state-of-the-art hydroponic vegetable facilities, vertical farms, and tissue culture laboratories. In his role as General Manager at Hort Americas he works with seed companies, manufacturers, growers and universities regarding the development of projects, new products and ultimately the creation of brands. Chris’ role includes everything from sales and marketing to technical support and general management/owner responsibilities.
Ed Horton is the President and CEO of Urban Produce. Ed brings over 25 years of experience from the technology industry to Urban Produce. His vision of automation is what drives Urban Produce to become more efficient. With God and his family by his side he is excited to move Urban Produce forward to provide urban cities nationwide with fresh locally grown produce 365 days a year. Ed enjoys golfing and walking the harbor with his wife on the weekends.
Chef Adam Navidi – In a county named for its former abundance of orange groves, chef and farmer Adam Navidi is on the forefront of redefining local food and agriculture through his restaurant, farm, and catering business. Navidi is executive chef of Oceans & Earth restaurant in Yorba Linda, runs Chef Adam Navidi Catering and operates Future Foods Farms in Brea, an organic aquaponic farm that comprises 25 acres and several greenhouses. Navidi’s journey toward aquaponics began when he was at the pinnacle of his catering business, serving multi-course meals to discerning diners in Orange County. Their high standards for food matched his own. “My clients wanted the best produce they could get,” he says. “They didn’t want lettuce that came in a box.” So after experimenting with growing lettuce in his backyard, he ventured into hydroponics. Later, he learned of aquaponics. Now, aquaponics is one of the primary ways Navidi grows food. As part of this system he raises Tilapia, which is served at his restaurant and by his catering enterprise.
Nate Storey is the CEO at Bright Agrotech, a company that seeks to create access to real food for all people through small farmer empowerment. By focusing on equipping and educating local growers with vertical farming technology and high quality online education, Nate and the Bright Agrotech team are helping to build a distributed, transparent food economy. He completed his PhD at the University of Wyoming in Agronomy, and lives in Laramie with his wife and children.