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China-based horticulture company Orisis has partnered with a new international joint venture to build an indoor vertical farm

By Liam O’callaghan
Fruit Net
June 14, 2019

Excerpt:

The farm is set to feature an internal, vertical design consisting of five layers with more than 1,600m2 of grow zone area. It will produce varieties of lettuce and leafy greens to supply food-service distributors, grocers, and consumers in the Shanghai area.

The farm will be located in Pinghu Zhejiang, a new agriculture economic development zone in China located about 100 kilometres southwest of Shanghai.

The Infinite Acres joint venture was announced earlier this week, and farm is the partnership’s first project.

Ocado, a UK-based online retailer, Priva Holding a Dutch horticulture technology company and US plant science firm 80 Acres Farm, each own one third equity in the venture.

Together the three companies aim to custom-design, build, install, and maintain automated indoor growing centres near large population centres.

“With its growing mega-cities and shortage of arable farmland, China like other nations, faces the challenges of providing healthy, fresh, just-picked produce to its people,” Livingston said.

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The controlled hive is capable of producing 100 lbs of honey in a year.

By Sam Thompson
Global News
June 13, 2019

Excerpt:

Winnipeg’s City Hall is usually a hive of political wheeling and dealing, but the building was abuzz Thursday with news of its latest visitors.

A controlled hive of European honey bees from local Beeproject Apiaries has taken over a portion of the second-floor roof for the summer.

The bees – who will forage on urban gardens, which include fruit trees and lilacs inside City Hall – will be part of two free beekeeping workshops that will be open to the public.

“This hive offers visitors and employees at City Hall an opportunity to experience urban beekeeping” said city environmental coordinator Lindsay Mierau.

“Beekeeping creates a connection between agriculture, economy, and urban life, making City Hall the perfect location for our fuzzy friends.”

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I think the future of urban agriculture will be in crickets and other insects, mushrooms and other fungi, algae and yeasts, and in vitro meat.

By Marc Brazeau
Science 2
June 13th 2019

Excerpt:

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t going to be vertical farms that are successful in producing and selling high-end lettuces, herbs, peppers, and tomatoes. There will be. It will be a limited, upscale market, but that niche will work. What I am saying is that those kinds of vertical farms will not ever achieve the kind of scale necessary to transform the food system in consequential ways. Nor do they do much to tackle the biggest challenges in the food system, which have to do with waste management and the nutrient cycle.

The kinds of urban ag that will transform the food system and significantly reduce the environmental impacts of food production will be those that are not fighting against the economics of cities but are leveraging the economics of cities. That means leveraging comparative advantage rather than trying to dismiss it. Most of all, it means leveraging the dense supply chains and waste streams of valuable inputs that already exist in cities, rather than trying to replace the rain, sun, space, and soil that already exist on rural farms.

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4.1-acre plot of land will be largest urban farm in San Antonio

By Max Massey
Jason Foster – Photojournalist
KSAT
June 12, 2019

Excerpt:

A large portion of the city’s East Side has been deemed a food desert by the U.S Department of Agriculture, but now several local groups are working together to make sure residents have proper access to fresh and healthy food.

The San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio College and Compost Queens are working in collaboration on a 4.1-acre plot of land that will become the largest urban farm in San Antonio.

“It will let people get the freshest possible food,” said Alicia Griffon, an East Side homeowner, who lives just around the corner from the urban farm. “For a short while, I was able to grow fresh tomatoes in my backyard, and there is no taste that compares to fresh tomatoes right off the vine.”

Now Griffon and her neighbors will have fresh fruits and vegetables at their convenience, which until now was a real problem.

“On this side of town, diabetes is the No. 1 health challenge we have, and that’s based upon diet,” said San Antonio Housing Authority President and CEO David Nisivoccia.

Nisivoccia said the East Side needs more healthy food options.

“One grocery store, mini marts on the corners for people to get their healthy foods, or get their food sources, I should say, wasn’t enough. So we thought to support this community and help the transportation of the East Side … an urban farm made perfect sense,” Nisivoccia said.

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The Two Coves Community Garden in Astoria, Queens. Zoran Milich/Getty Images

The plan would promote NYC farming and community green spaces

By Caroline Spivack
Curbed
Jun 12, 2019

Excerpt:

A new bill backed by nearly 50 elected officials would require the city to develop an urban agriculture plan that would promote farming and community green spaces across the city.

The bill, introduced by City Council member Rafael Espinal, Jr., would require the Department of City Planning (DCP) to take stock of the boroughs’ existing and potential urban agriculture spaces, and identify zoning and land use policies that could be tweaked to cultivate their growth. Such a plan aims to close the “freshness gap” by expanding the availability of fresh greens and fruits in low-income neighborhoods, Espinal stressed at a Tuesday City Council hearing.

“When we support urban farms and community gardens we are creating more equitable access to affordable and healthy food,” he said. “We have to strive past no New Yorker going hungry and go a step further to ensure that no New Yorker is starved of fresh food.”

If the bill is approved, city officials would have until July 1 to craft the plan and deliver it to Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and post it to the city’s urban agriculture website. The feasibility of creating an Office of Urban Agriculture would also be explored in the report, according to the bill.

City planning officials are on board with the idea, but want to ensure that specific issues facing the urban agriculture community are being addressed in the plan to ensure city resources are being used “efficiently and effectively,” said Alex Sommer, the deputy director of DCP’s Brooklyn office.

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Ellen Woodsworth poses at the dog park at 1608 West Georgia St. in Vancouver on June 17. Woodsworth opposes a property-tax break for developers who keep community gardens on lots intended for development. RICHARD LAM / PNG

Reclassifying vacant land as community gardens “may unfairly shift the tax burden” to other property owners, said a motion passed by Vancouver council in 2009.

By Dan Fumano
Vancouver Sun
June 17, 2019

Excerpt:

In circles where people discuss the more arcane points of Vancouver property taxation, community gardens are something of a perennial issue.

A decade ago, critics were raising concerns about the fairness of the system allowing developers to significantly reduce their property taxes by installing plant beds on undeveloped sites, thereby converting them into temporary gardens or parks.

And new data show how those community gardens have proliferated through Vancouver in the intervening years, to the point where they now sit on land assessed at a combined total of $525 million.

In February 2009, then-COPE Coun. Ellen Woodsworth introduced a motion directing staff to investigate an emerging trend of developers installing gardens on undeveloped properties, to have them reclassified from commercial to “recreational or non-profit” properties.

That reclassification could mean a property tax reduction of more than 70 per cent, Woodsworth’s 2009 motion said, adding: “While gardens fit into an important sustainability mandate, this reclassification may unfairly shift the tax burden to other commercial property owners.”

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“Sustainability is something that’s built at the heart of our Enfield Brewery – with our solar panelled roof, energy storing heating equipment and recycled rain water system already in place, Rootlab’s vertical farm will be an exciting new addition to our brewery.”

By London-Post
June 11, 2019

Excerpt:

Summertime is upon us, and that calls for the return of our seasonal beer, Strawberry Hells Forever. Crisp, refreshing lager meets juicy British strawberries, ripe for the picking.

To celebrate the launch of our first Seasonal Hells of 2019, we’ve partnered with GrowUp Community Farms, a London social enterprise, who are championing sustainable urban farming to grow the freshest, natural ingredients right in our city.

GrowUp Community Farms is raising awareness of new urban farming technologies with workshops and education projects at their Bermondsey hub. Vertical farming has been created to transform spaces into socially and environmentally productive places. The method allows for year-round organic crop production with less exposure to chemicals, using 90% less water than traditional farming to grow fresh, sustainable produce within our city. A donation of 20p from every can of Strawberry Hells Forever, will go to supporting GrowUp Community Farms and their mission to spread the word about the huge benefits urban farming has to offer.

We’ve teamed up with their sister company Rootlabs, who build London’s urban farms, to launch the UK’s first brewery-based urban vertical farm to our Enfield brew house. Rootlab’s will be installing a vertical farm to help us grow our very own crop of urban strawberries for future brewing.

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Mr Jack Ng (right), founder of Sky Greens, showing Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, around the vertical farm facility.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

A few urban farms including Panasonic’s indoor vegetable farm have expressed interest in the SS 632 certification.

By Shabana Begum
The Straits Times
June 11, 2019

Excerpt:

Buyers of mini-vegetables from the first vertical farm here can now be assured they were grown without the use of artificial fertilisers or pesticides.

Sky Greens, an urban farm in Lim Chu Kang, has been awarded the world’s first national standard for organic vegetables grown in urban environments, developed in Singapore to address key challenges such as limited land, lack of soil and water and higher operating costs from energy consumption and manpower constraints.

Sky Greens received the Singapore Standard 632 (SS 632) for organic primary produce certification from certification body Control Union Certifications on Tuesday (June 11).

The certification was developed by the Singapore Standards Council’s Food Standards Committee with the support of Singapore Manufacturing Federation-Standards Development Organisation and Enterprise Singapore.

Urban farms worldwide, including importers, exporters and retailers can apply for the SS 632 certification.

Dr Allan Lim, chairman of the Food Standards Committee, said while the certification would increase consumers’ confidence in local produce, it would also give Singapore’s agri-food industry a certain level of recognition.

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Video story: Singapore farm recognised for growing organic produce in urban areas 

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Jeanene Miller, right, runs Abundant Greens Urban Farm from her Ballard driveway. All sales are paid through the honor system with a lock box. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Miller’s Abundant Greens Urban Farms started with an obsession — in this case, tomatoes.

By Erica Browne Grivas
The Seattle Times

Excerpt:

We love to eat local in Seattle — and whether you raise chickens, bees, or dinosaur kale, you can’t grow more local than your own backyard. Many of us tend some fresh herbs or summer greens, but for extreme urban farming, visit Jeanene Miller. She runs two community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm shares and a seasonal nursery from her Ballard driveway.

A CSA or farm share is a subscription to a farmer’s season of fresh produce. Benefits include: getting nutritious, organically grown food at a price lower than the supermarket with a smaller carbon footprint, while supporting local farmers; cons include: risking crop failure or paying for food you don’t use.

Miller’s Craftsman house, wreathed in roses at the door, sits on Northwest 57th Street, just north of the Ballard Locks. In winter, you’d notice that instead of cars or a basketball hoop, three greenhouses cap the elbow of the long L-shaped driveway. The house is artfully painted in tones of basil, merlot and Parmesan — setting a perfect backdrop for the tomatoes to come.

From April through October, Miller’s driveway is brimming 24/7 with plant starts of over 100 rare varieties of tomatoes — likely the best selection in Seattle — as well as other veggies and herbs — and all sales are paid through the honor system with a lock box.

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Above: Infarm Auchan, Luxembourg

“Our farms are rooted across Europe in supermarket aisles, restaurant kitchens, and distribution warehouses.”

By Paul Sawers
Venture Beat
June 11, 2019

Excerpt:

Infarm, a Germany-based startup that distributes “modular farms” to grocery stores and other urban locations, has raised $100 million in a series B round of equity and debt funding led by Atomico, with participation from existing investors including Balderton Capital, Cherry Ventures, Astanor Ventures, and TriplePoint Capital.

The CO2 emissions produced by growing, farming, and transporting food around the world is significant, with some estimates pegging the food footprint (“foodprint”) at around one-quarter of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. By creating a system of vertical micro-farms in cities, which entails producing food indoors within a stack of glass cases in a controlled environment, Infarm is pushing to reduce the environmental burden that food production has on the planet.

Link.

Infarm.

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