Organic Agriculture or Conventional Agriculture?

A question that has come across many people in agriculture is whether organic agriculture is more sustainable or better than our conventional agricultural practices. There are many factors to keep in mind when questioning which is more sustainable.

What is Organic Agriculture?

First let’s start with mentioning that organic foods are not healthier than foods that are not organic. The idea that organics somehow have added nutrients or health benefits is false and misguided.

Organic agriculture is a practice in agriculture that works towards being more sustainable for the environment, it was never meant to add more health benefits to the consumer. It is a fast growing sector in the agriculture industry, where it attempts to improve and maintain fertility, soil, and biodiversity, and reduce the erosion in the soil. Something to keep in mind is that organic agriculture has more restrictions when it comes to inputs.

Some practices that are common in organic agriculture include cover crops, green manures, and crop rotation. Pesticides that you would normally use in conventional agriculture may not be allowed in organics, some methods they use include biological control, crop rotations, and other techniques. However, organic agriculture relies heavily on tillage to deal with weeds. This practice is not sustainable, as it leads to soil erosion and the loss of residues and nutrients that the next crop could have utilized. Organic agriculture is known for bringing less yields than conventional agriculture as well.

To market your products as organic, you must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to the USDA, there are five steps to becoming certified organic. First you must create an organic system plan, then you must implement this plan and have it reviewed by a certifying agent. Following this, you must receive inspection, this inspection will review your farm or facility to ensure you meet every requirement. Following inspection, a certifying agent must review the inspection report where your current operations after implementation will be compared to your initial organic plan. Finally, you will receive a decision from the certifying agent, if operations meet the requirements, the certifying agent will issue an organic certificate.

Conventional Agriculture

Not practicing organic agriculture does not mean that these practices cannot apply to your farm or facility. Cover crops, green manures, and crop rotations can be utilized in conventional agriculture. Essentially, you could follow every requirement for organics and not be certified. You must keep in mind that if you are not certified, you cannot use the USDA Certified stamp on your products. There are few exceptions when it comes to advertising that should be looked into as well.

Something to note, which is probably the largest difference between organic agriculture and conventional agriculture is that conventional agriculture uses synthetic chemicals and fertilizers to increase yields and profits. These synthetic chemicals and fertilizers are not used or allowed in organic practices. Conventional agriculture is very broad, you can definitely decide what to add and not add to your crops. Conventional agriculture does not mean there is not sustainability or concern for the environment and soil. Practices like no-till, conservation tillage, cover crops, mulching, crop rotation, drip irrigation, and other irrigation that use water efficiently. Agroecology definitely plays a role in sustainable practices, which can be applied to conventional agriculture.

There is so much to consider when talking about sustainability, especially in agriculture where it is necessary to feed the growing population but does leave an impact on the environment. As our goals should be to preserve the environment for as long as we can, we also must think about feeding the world. Food insecurity is a large issue and we must keep working towards making food more readily available while doing the least amount of damage to the environment.

What do you think? Is organic agriculture more sustainable than conventional agriculture? Can we survive on organic agriculture alone?


Environmental Topics: Sustainable VS Conventional Agriculture. (2020.). Retrieved from farming uses synthetic chemicals,the ecology of a landscape.

McEvoy, P. B., Watts, S., Rwilymz, Hahahathisguy, Anne, Mel, . . . Yew, P. (2017, February 21). Organic 101: Five Steps to Organic Certification. Retrieved from

National Institute of Food and Agriculture. (2020.). Retrieved from

What is Organic Farming? (2020, November 20). Retrieved from

What is Sustainable Agriculture? (2020). Retrieved from

Creating Your Own Urban Farm

When most people think agriculture, they do not usually think growing crops in buildings, rooftops, and any available land in cities. We usually think rural farms, whether large or small or family owned. Little do people know that they could have their own farm in their communities.

Although it may seem simple to just grow plants where ever, there are some things to consider.

What to Consider

Whenever you are growing produce, you must consider the growing season. You must also consider the soil or if you will buy gardening soil and if you will plant the seeds directly or transfer them afterwards. If you decide to grow the crops directly into the soil, you should test that soil. This is because some urban areas have elevated levels of metals and other contaminants.

Some great produce option to grow in an urban garden or farm includes tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, peppers, peas, and onions. Those are just some of the many options in urban agriculture!

Urban farms do not only include rooftops and buildings. There are a few things to consider, what method to utilize is an important aspect. Other than rooftops and buildings, you can utilize vacant lots, indoor areas, balconies, backyards, community areas, and educational institutions. The options are not limited to this list, there are many options to choose and research. Some practices that are common to urban agriculture include hydroponics, aquaculture, aquaponics, vertical farming, raised beds, rooftop farming, and community gardens. These are all options to consider when working towards urban agriculture.

Legal Considerations

Urbanizing agriculture is a great option, especially with the growing need for more food and the limited amount of land allocated to agriculture. It is also a great way for communities to work together and know where their food comes from. It is also a great tool for education, especially in youth.

We must consider that we cannot go around planting where we wish. When in public areas, we must consider zoning regulations. If this is something you are seriously considering urban farming, you should research your local and state laws and regulations. There are many resources on the USDA website as well. Whether you are considering your backyard or somewhere more public you should look into what your laws and regulations are for your area.


Urban agriculture has many benefits. First and foremost, the community is more aware of where their food came from. It is also a sustainable option, using viable land and space for agriculture, not only is there more food availability there is also a profit for farmers who sell their produce to local farmers markets. There is also opportunity for community development on a large project like a community garden, and opportunity in education for youth, FFA students, and local colleges.

Another incentive is with further research, there are grants available for projects like this. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has many resources on grants for agriculture. In the state of California, an assembly bill was passed to give an incentive to urban farmers, AB 551 allows landowners in urban areas to receive tax incentives for using land for agricultural uses.


Sayner, A. (2020, October 22). Urban Farming Ultimate Guide and Examples. Retrieved from

Top 10 Vegetables for the Urban Garden. (2009, August 15). Retrieved from

University of California, D. O. (2020). Laws, Zoning and Regulations. Retrieved from

University of California, D. O. (2020.). Starting an Urban Farm? Retrieved from

University of California, D. O. (2020.). The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act (AB551). Retrieved from 2014, California implemented Assembly,create urban agriculture incentive zones.

Urban Gardening Techniques. (2020.). Retrieved from

Interested in Backyard Poultry Production? Here are the health risks

Raising backyard poultry is a popular way to participate in urban micro-livestock production. Many are drawn to this practice as a way to provide themselves with sustainable, ethically sourced meat and eggs. However, increasingly people are taking up urban poultry production to increase their own self-sufficiency. In fact, the current COVID-19 pandemic has seen the trend take off in response to the difficulty grocery stores faced in keeping supplies stocked.

Many cities have poultry keeping regulations in their books or have adjusted them due to demand. Most backyard flocks range anywhere from 2 to 10 birds. These birds are easily accessible as prospect owners can purchase chicks for anywhere between $5-$10 at local feedstores or even online to be shipped directly to their homes. Additionally, there are countless books, online resources, and virtual communities that specialize in backyard poultry keeping so even learning about the process is easily done with a little research.

However, while the popularity of raising backyard poultry has increased so has the rate of health risks associated.

What is the human-health risk?

As with most domesticated animal species, poultry can be carriers for various conditions that post a zoonotic risk. Zoonotic risks are in reference to parasitic, bacterial, or viral diseases that humans can become infected with when exposed to a sick animal.

Salmonella is one of the most common zoonotic conditions in relation to poultry keeping. The CDC reports that this year alone has seen at least 544 cases of backyard poultry related infections nation-wide (66% of 1659 cases of reported salmonella infections).

According to the agency, people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach crops that can last 4 to 7 days. While most people recover without treatment, young children, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised may develop severe conditions that require hospitalization. What makes it so easy to pass along is that health birds may be carriers without looking ill.

The CDC recommends that backyard poultry owners practice proper hygiene to avoid possible salmonella infections by:

  • Not cuddling or kissing birds
  • Washing hands after handling poultry or supplies (especially before handling food)
  • Storing eggs in the refrigerator and cooking them thoroughly

What risks do backyard poultry pose to a community?

On the larger community scale, backyard poultry health risks come down to the transaction of diseases in between flocks. Neighbors or friends can transfer parasitic, bacterial, or viral diseases from one flock to another by sharing supplies, not properly quarantining birds, or by not changing their clothes/shoes when and after visiting another property with poultry.

During the Virulent Newcastle Disease outbreak from 2018-2020, most of Southern California was placed under a mandatory quarantine for all poultry and the CDFA sought to control and exterminate the disease. However, it was a long battle as many people were uneducated about the disease and contributed to its spread by moving and transporting birds within and beyond the boundaries of the quarantine zone. A case of the disease was reported even as far as Redding, California as an owner transported his unknowingly sick birds into the area. The image below shows the extent of the CDFA’s quarantine zone and active cases (shown as red dots) from the time of May 2018 – August 2019. The quarantine regulations were not lifted until June 1, 2020.

Poultry diseases can be regulated in a community by everyone practicing proper hygiene and control measures. Vaccines are also available for purchase and birds should be vaccinated for common diseases and those that an endemic to their area. Birds purchased from hatchery sources have been automatically vaccinated. However, the issues come from multi-generational flocks in which the owners were not aware of vaccines.

Raising backyard poultry can be a rewarding practice for anyone who wants to becomes involved in urban livestock production for whatever reason. It is important, however, that future poultry owners do their research and understand the risks associated and how they can keep themselves and their community of poultry keepers safe.

A Second Life for Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles have been receiving plenty of negative press lately, and most of it has been well deserved. Plastic bottles typically have a one time use and then are either recycled or discarded, filling up landfills and our ocean. Recycling can help with the problem, but unfortunately only about 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled.

The Dirty Side of Plastic

-According to the Recycling coalition:

-Plastic takes up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.

-Recycling plastic takes 88% less energy than making plastic from raw materials.

-Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times.

-Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles every year.

The Solution?

With 35 billion plastic bottles finding their way into landfills each year there is plenty of opportunity for improvement. One way that plastic bottles can be reused has the potential not only to minimize waste and pollution, but also provide food and income. Vertical farming using used plastic bottles has shown to be an effective, efficient and low cost method of plant production that can be adapted to a number of different environments.

Horizontal hanging bottles increase available growing area
A small section of wall provides ample room for plants in plastic bottles

How to Setup

There are a number of different methods that work with using plastic bottles in vertical farming. The basic concept is to mount the bottles in a manner that gives the desired crop enough space to grow, but close enough that the water can pass through from the top container down to the bottom ones. This helps to minimize water and nutrient waste as well as providing irrigation with as few parts as possible.

One of the main benefits of using plastic bottles in vertical farming is that it requires very little space to do so. In urban areas the availability and cost of land is often a major hurdle in setting up any type of farm or garden. With this method an exterior wall on a small building or house can be enough space for hundreds of plants that can be used to grow a multitude of crops. The very low materials cost is also a benefit in removing barriers to urban farming, as most of the needed materials can be found for free.

The Downsides

In setting up a vertical plastic bottle garden there are some limitations to consider. First is the aesthetics. While most people like the idea of reducing waste and reusing products, they may be less enthused to have their house covered in old Sprite bottles. Second, this method is not suitable for all types of crops. Smaller plants and leafy greens do very well, but large plants and ones with deep root systems are not suited for this type of growing. Location will also play a big role in what you can grow, and the length of the growing season Ideally the garden should be on a south facing wall to receive as much sunlight as possible. Finally, while this type of plastic bottle reuse helps to transform waste into a useful product, it only addresses the symptoms of a significant problem, and that is our continued demand for one-time use plastic products.

Despite some of the downfalls associated with plastics, I believe plastic bottle vertical farming has the potential to help with issues of food justice and equality. It provides a low cost, easily obtainable method to grow your own fruits and vegetables, without needing an open plot of land.

A short film on Green Walls in Kenya


Bringing about Change

A man watering his vertical garden. Jakarta Fisheries, Agriculture and Food Security Agency

As cities run out of space and countries begin the long road ahead of increasing the demand towards agriculture to meet the needs required to feed the billions of people in the world. The United states has seen the growth of countless start ups that aim to help bring food to the communities around them. Andrea Oyuela describes more initiatives that have taken place since the start of the year in How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation. Andrea lists several initiatives around the world all with the goal of bringing change to the way we think of agriculture.

Gotham Greens

Inside a Gotham Greens’ Rooftop garden.
Image result for Gotham Greens Expands to Baltimore
Aerial view of Gotham Greens Baltimore rooftop farm.

The change that has been in the works for a while now is coming from Gotham Greens. This company is another rooftop greenhouse however, where they are different is that this hydroponic is the first of its kind. They looked to large rooftops where they can grow for the community, but what better way to make your mark in a city than to commercialize. In Foodtank’s interview with Gotham Greens, their CEO and co-founder, Viraj Puri states that “the facility will use 100 percent renewable energy and recycled irrigation water.” If Puri is able to stand by what they say this will be a huge benefit to the city of Baltimore. Not only are they going to be supplying large amounts of fresh produce but also without taking water from those communities its surrounds itself with.


At Bowery, we dream of a world where agriculture gives back to the people and planet more than it takes. But to achieve this, we need more than incremental change.

Vision – Bowery Farming

Bowery’s take on urban agriculture is similar to many we have seen before however they took on their take with a challenging twist. They achieve their success through the use of no pesticides and no GMO’s. They look to give the best, although not organic, produce they can grow. The company is also battling the growing challenges the world faces of food and water insecurities. They aim to use as little as 30 % of water that is used normally to grow the crops. While also being able to produce all year round (Bowery). As the company continues to grow they aim to help the food insecurities in their communities by providing fresh produce at lower than market prices.

How Bowery is able to grow year round.

More to come

This is only two of countless organizations, companies, non-profits, that are all doing their part to bring the farm closer to the urban setting. They may all come in different mediums however, their end goal will all be the same. The problem that the world poses against us all will and can be solved by the help of communities around the world and the leaders in the agricultural industry.


Gotham Greens Expands to Baltimore. July, 2018. Retrieved Dec. 10, 2020, from Gotham Greens Expands to Baltimore – Food Tank

New Modern Farming Company Turns Agriculture Upside Down. Retrieved Dec. 10, 2020, from New Indoor Farming Company Is Growing “Post-Organic” Produce – Food Tank

Bowery. Retrieved Dec. 10, 2020, from Home – Bowery Farming

Helping Angelinos One Food Delivery At A Time

Food on the Go

 The Let’s Feed LA Program has been providing emergency food support to Los Angeles County residents impacted by COVID-19. In a collaborative effort between the Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition, Roots of Change, and Wholesome Wave through Let’s Feed LA, Angelinos can have fresh locally grown produce and food options delivered to their homes free of charge. Tangelo is the app based food platform that is bringing these organizations together to provide the LA community with food assistance. 

The Programs Making a Difference

The Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition is one of the nation’s leaders in making programs to tackle obesity, promote food nutrition education, and active living. They have worked with the CA Department of Public Health to bring SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) into existence over 15 years ago. 

Roots of Change is a collaborative network that brings together the government, businesses, and organizations with an interest in food accessibility and regenerative agriculture. Roots of Change is a driving force in pushing forward sustainable food policies in California. 

Wholesome Wave has worked closely with community based organizations to raise and reinvest funds. They provide public assistance programs such as Produce Prescription Program, Healthy Choice Initiatives, and SNAP Doubling. Each of these programs help individuals find their solution to nutrition insecurity. 

The Let’s Feed LA Program provides LA County residents access to meal programs such as student meal distribution, LA Food Bank Centers, 211 Food Inventory, and World Central Kitchen. It provides delivery services for residents of age 60+ and/or with disabilities that experience high risk COVID-19 infection. 

Tangelo is an internet platform that connects all the programs and organizations that assist families have healthy food on your table. This platform collaborates with larger organizations, community based organizations, and local growers. Angelinos facing food and nutrition insecurity during the pandemic can receive support through this internet platform. 

How it Works

Tangelo makes it simple to have healthy food delivered to your doorstep. 

Step 1:

Download the app on the App Store (Apple)  or Google Play (Android) 

Step 2:

Answer a questionnaire about how you may have been affected by COVID-19. By imputing your information, it will then determine your eligibility to receive program benefits. 

Step 3:

After being approved, a $600-$900 credit will be added to the app’s digital wallet. This credit allows you to purchase a variety of food boxes found in the app’s market. They offer a selection of seasonal fruits & vegetables, animal, vegetarian, or vegan based proteins, grain & pantry, and snack boxes of your choosing. 

Step 4: 

Select as many food boxes as needed, box options range from $25 to $50 depending on size and food quantity. The  available credit you qualify for may be used to purchase the food boxes. After placing an order, you will be notified when the boxes will be delivered.  

The Impact of it All 

All these programs, organizations, local growers, and food providers are making it their goal to bring people facing food and nutritional insecurity accessible healthy food to their table. In these troubling times many Americans, especially those in low income communities, need assistance. These programs give a great opportunity for many low income families and others struggling to benefit from. Private funding for these programs has proven that helping local community organizations can have an impact on several lives; As someone who personally participates in the Let’s Feed LA program and Tangelo, I am grateful that these programs are accessible to me and other members in my community. COVID-19 cases rise each day the restrictions are heavily enforced and living in the vicinity of those that are high risk, I rely on Tangelo’s food accessible delivery services to keep me on a path of healthy eating. 


Wholesome Wave. Retrieved 12 9, 2020, from

 Join Tangelo. Retrieved 12 9, 2020, from

Roots of Change. Retrieved 12 9, 2020, from

Center for Wellness and Nutrition. (n.d.). Public health Institute. Retrieved 12 9, 2020, from 

Agriculture Literacy and Urban Agriculture

Brown cows do not produce chocolate milk. A phrase many people in agriculture laugh at but many people outside of agriculture believe to be true. To be more accurate 7% of Americans believe that brown cows produce chocolate milk (Dewey, 2019). This is due to something called agriculture illiteracy. Being so far detached from your producers that you fail to understand how they produce the food you enjoy. Who cares, right? You should and here’s why.

7% of Americans think chocolate milk comes from brown cows | KTXS

Being further from your producer increases carbon emissions through transportation. Ann Vileisis wrote a book called, Kitchen Literacy (2007), and it describes how the average distance from farm to fork has deepened from down the street to an average of 1,500 miles away. Now the average American consumer is only experiencing food as an “industrial product” that looks nothing like the food it contains. According to the USDA, the most popular fruit is the orange but in the form of orange juice and the leading vegetable is processed potatoes in the form of potato chips and french fries (as made from frozen and some fresh potatoes) (see also Figure 1).

Figure 1 – USDA ERS Graph

Potatoes and tomatoes are the most commonly consumed vegetablesAnother impact of agriculture illiteracy is caustic agriculture legislature. Special interest groups can move agriculture legislature quite easily because the general public is not very knowledgeable of how agriculture works. The biggest example is in California when Prop 2 in 2008 concerning egg laying hens and their living conditions. It was sold as a law to fight animal cruelty and fighting for more humane products that would only impact large corporations, not the little farming operations. After the law passed, large operations were able to adapt and smaller ones were not able to make the necessary changes and stopped operations. Prices surged on eggs raised in California and consumers gravitated away from them toward cheaper, out of state eggs raised outside of the new laws. Funny enough this is exactly what voters were warned about prior to the election (Prop 2, 2020). California egg raising operations petitioned that all eggs sold in California must be subjected to the same rules to make the market fair. They amended it in 2010 to include this new provision and it upset operations outside the state that depended on the California market share.  

New state law upends egg industry, affecting supplies and cost
Local grocery store explains to customers about the dramatic price increase.

Urban agriculture helps build an interest in agriculture in a population that would ordinarily be apathetic. It creates a tangible and real-life experience that urbanites are missing out on. When coupled with agriculture education in classrooms and after-school programs, the gap between farm and fork is cinched up and a more informed consumer is developed. Urban agriculture bonds science, math, and social studies in a package more desirable than any textbook or video could provide because a visit to even a small, but local, urban farm can make a much more lasting impression on younger minds. To know that french fries come from potatoes rather than a factory or that no cow produces chocolate milk, regardless of color, is a powerful tool for understanding potentially costly laws on the ballot and helping make a cleaner Earth by sourcing our food a little closer to home.

$115,000 Mars Food grant funds nutrition education in DC | Street Sense  Media
Elementary school children enjoying a field trip to a local urban farming operation in D.C. area.

Works Cited:

Dewey, Caitlin. “Analysis | The Surprising Number of American Adults Who Think Chocolate Milk Comes from Brown Cows.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Apr. 2019,

“Proposition 2.” Institute of Governmental Studies – UC Berkeley, 19 Aug. 2020,

Vileisis, Ann. Kitchen Literacy. 2008.

“Potatoes and Tomatoes Are the Most Commonly Consumed Vegetables.” USDA ERS – Chart Detail,

Sweet gold mines and bucket Fungi

I was wondering what you can actually do with urban agriculture. What I learned is that you are definitely not limited to traditional outdoor gardens or farms. There is untapped potential in the world of urban agriculture especially when urban agriculture revolves around adapting. From beekeeping to processing and the ABCs of options you can choose to take your brownfield. This post will hopefully give two out of the box ideas for your brownfield or roof top or where ever you find yourself.

            If you were to go at it at your own (supposing you know your GAPs) it would be best to identify who are going to be your target customers. Who would like to contribute/ donate/ etc. to your farm project? Secondly seek out and engage with your community, get people involved and identify what the community would like and what the community would like to grow and brainstorm and network to get the plans off the ground. After this think who are you going to sell to? Are you going to sell to the community or are you going to going to sell to restaurants? Farmers market? Think about how you are going to make this plan profitable. Let us say you do not even have this planned because you still are not sure what you want to grow or produce in your brownfield. Well we see what you can do in this starting with beekeeping in urban agriculture.


            According to UC ANR here is what you will be spending for a 1000 colony operation in dollars

  • Hive Equipment
    • 1,000 bottom boards @ $8 each $8,000
    • 1,000 covers @ $8 each 8,000
    • 2,000 deep boxes @ $12 each 24,000
    • 20,000 deep frames @ $0.35-0.65 10,000
    • 20,000 deep foundation @ $0.06 1,200
    • 1,000 medium depth boxes @ $8 each 8,000
    • 10,000 medium depth fames @ $0.40 each 4,000
    • 10,000 medium depth foundation @ $0.40 4,000
    • 100,000 frame eyelets @ $2.00 per 1,000 200
    • 2,000 queen excluders (optional) $9.00 each 18,000
    • 6,000 metal rabbets @ $0.08 each 480
    • 50 fume boards @ $9.00 450
    • 1 bee blower (optional) @ $325 each 250
    • 75 gallons paint @ $16-21 per gallon 1,500
    • 1 staple gun and compressor 500
    • Bees 1,000 packages @ $25.00 25,000
  • Honey Handling Equipment
    • Automatic uncapper 1,700-3,000
    • Frame conveyor 600
    • Conveyor drip pan 250
    • Cappings melter 1,000-2,000
    • Extractor 1,900-7,800
    • Settling tanks (each) 170-250
    • Spin float (replaces melter) 3,300
    • Honey sump 325-800
    • Honey pump 170-190
    • Flash heater (optional) 1,000
    • Barrels (each) new: l6; used: 8
    • Barrel truck 160-250
    • Hand truck 125-525
    • Glass jars (if not selling bulk honey) 17,300
    • Bottling equipment (if not selling bulk honey) 940
  • Vehicles
    • Flatbed trucks (each) 16-1800
    • Bee booms (each) (mounted) 2,500
    • Forklifts (each) new: 16-18,000; used: 8-10,000
    • Pickups 14,000
  • Warehouse 6,000
  • Land @ $3,000/acre 20,000
  • Rent (house and shop/year) 15,000-17,000
  • Labor
  • Self-30,000 Help, full time, each 20,000
    • Help, part time, each 1,630
  • Overhead
  • Utilities (year) 2,400
  • Insurance varies
  • Workman’s compensation, health insurance 13,000

Mushroom Farming

            Growing mushrooms is a relatively easy venture. Mushroom profitability is determined on your own knowledge of the growth of the strain of mushroom as well as how to maximize your production for max profitability. According to Small Biz Trends, you can still operate the grow and have a full-time job while harvesting a 25 pound per square foot every year. Luckily for us these farms are already all over the world and in the article from we can see that farms in the UK, Austria, USA, and Australia have begun working on urban mushroom farming in different ways.

Growing Power in Milwaukee is growing in something other than coffee grounds as a medium. According to Milkwood:

  • as space filling niches – the mushroom bags are both hung from the tops of the hoop houses, utilizing empty space, and the shiitake logs are hung at various levels above their aquaponics systems, with the shiitake logs being dunked in the aquaponics ponds periodically for force a flush of mushrooms from the logs. (no image available)
  • occasional product niche – when the various batches of mushrooms are ready, they are added to the veggie boxes and market stall, and when they are not ready, they are not.

For oyster mushrooms they use pasteurized straw instead of coffee bean wastes as a substrate.

            Now why are coffee beans coming up so often in this section? Well coffee bean wastes are readily available and free in many places as many recycle them such as cafes. They are also full of nutrients that mushrooms especially for oyster mushrooms, they are full of mycelium and oyster mushrooms love it as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, and iron. Also, and I think most importantly coffee grounds come pre-sterilized. Sterilization makes for a contamination prevention and for healthier and prevent growing something else.

Works Cited

Bradley, K. (2016, May 30). Urban Mushroom Farming – 4 Great (yet small) Enterprises. Retrieved from Milkwood:

LIV. (2019, November 12). The Impact of Cannabis Cultivation on Marijuana Farming. Retrieved from Robotics and Automation News:

Mussen, E. C. (1994, March/April). Starting a Small Beekeeping Operation. Retrieved from Univeristy of California Davis Small Farms:

Is Vertical Farming a Sustainability Solution?

Farming is a noble practice that has allowed humankind to expand and grow. When thinking of such a practice, some may have the image of planting a seed in a flat field of soil. However, this image can be misleading for various reasons because culture and regions can play a factor in the type of farming technique used. Even before innovative farm systems like aquaponics and hydroponics became popular, there were already very distinct farming techniques created long ago by some cultures. From the paddy rice fields of China to the chinampas from Mexico, innovation has always been needed to conquer disadvantages. In these modern-times, vertical farming can be one of those innovations that may be needed to meet the demands of an ever-growing human population without further damaging our plant. 

What is a Vertical Farm?

Vertical farming is the technique of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. In most cases, these techniques are maintained in controlled-environment agriculture. The goal is to optimize plant growth without the need or use of soil. Some notable soilless farming techniques that are implemented alongside vertical farming include aeroponics, hydroponics, and aquaponics. The implemented system can vary but in general, the cultivation of the crops is constantly having its temperature, lighting, irrigation, airflow, and nutrients monitored and adjusted. There is even the option to implement and combine other sustainable systems with Vertical farming to create a zero-fossil fuel system. A good option being solar panels to run the lights, pumps, and other systems. 

Why is it imported?

The ever-growing human population has resulted in an increasing need for resources. One of the most valued resources being land due to various reasons like agriculture. Just recently a great example of this value was put to the test with the burning of the Amazon Rainforest for extra farming space. Modern agriculture has allowed for the expansion and growth of human civilization. Providing a consistent food supply to many but having a drastic impact on the surrounding ecosystems. Land space is valuable, especially today, for all the various possibilities that can be held and created in that space. As a result, there is habitat loss, pollution, genetic diversity loss, water waste, and much more due to the land being taken for human use. The same applies to large acres of farmlands used for food production. A Drive to San Francisco from Los Angeles is a great way to understand the scale of these farming operations used by humans. The farmland would stretch as far as the eye could see and continued for miles. At times, it could feel like being stuck in an endless loop. The scary thing is that even more land will be needed to maintain the future human population. If less land could be used to grow the same amount of food compared to the major farm, then it could be possible to someday revert the damage done to some ecosystems. The first step is to inform more people about this system’s potential.

Work Cited

Federman, Posted by Sarah, et al. “Vertical Farming for the Future.” USDA, 14 Aug. 2018,

Horvath, Meghan. “Vertical Farming: What Is Vertical Farming?” Vertical Farming | What Is Vertical Farming?,

LeBlanc, Rick. “What You Should Know About Vertical Farming.” The Balance Small Business,

“Vertical Farming.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Dec. 2020,

An Innovative Way of Growing Food

Aquaponics: The next big thing in agriculture - AgFunderNews

In today’s blog, I wanted to reiterate what we learned in our most recent learning unit, and that is innovative ways of growing food in different environments. I would like to start of by referencing a video called What is Aquaponics? How it Works & Why an Aquaponic Setup Can Fail.The word, Hydroponic, comes from Latin roots and means working water. Simply put, it is an alternate agriculture system that allows growing plants without soil.When most people think of hydroponics, they think of plants grown with their roots suspended directly into water. This is just one type of hydroponic gardening known as N.F.T. (nutrient film technique). There are several variations of N.F.T. used around the world and is probably the most used method of growing hydroponically. What most people don’t realize is that there are countless methods and variations of hydroponic gardening.With hydroponics, the plants are grown in a growing medium and a perfectly balanced pH level that can be adjusted through nutrient solution and is delivered to the roots in a highly soluble form. This allows the plant to uptake its food with very little input of extra fertilizers and having to deal other elements that are in the soil. When plants are grown in soil, they have to find available nutrients throughout the soil, this energy spent by the roots in this process is energy better spent on vegetative growth as well as fruit and flower production.If you grow two genetically identical plants using soil for one and hydroponics for the other, you will almost immediately see the difference this factor makes. Faster, better growth and much greater yields are just some of the many reasons that hydroponics is being adapted around the world for commercial food production as well as a growing number of home  gardeners .On the other hand, aquaponics has a symbiotic relationship with aquaculture (raising fish) because that growth of fish and plants together are one in this integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. There is also one more factor in this system, the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) and composting red worms that thrive in the growing medium. They do the job of converting the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates and the solids into vermicompost that that are food for the plants. In combining both systems aquaponics capitalizes on the benefits and eliminates the drawbacks of each.