On Thursday, September 17, USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden led a panel of veteran farmers and veteran training organizations, including Marianne Cufone on behalf of Recirculating Farms Coalition. The group discussed, via an online chat through Google+ Hangout, opportunities available for returning service members who are looking for long-term careers in farming and ranching.
Many veterans show interest in agriculture because they feel that working on the land helps them successfully transition to civilian life and provides them with a way to continue serving their community. As part of the beginning farmer and rancher community, many veterans are eligible for a wide variety of USDA programs and resources.
The event allowed RFC to highlight the assorted benefits of water-based growing methods for veterans. During the talk, Marianne Cufone noted, “[w]e learned these growing methods are especially useful for more senior or disabled vets – they are very versatile in design and so inspire creativity, they can be inside or outdoors and so offer flexibility, growing food often leads to healthier eating, and socializing, and in terms of physical requirements these systems are usually vertical – in towers, or elevated in beds – so they don’t require much bending and there is no weeding!”
Keba Konte of the Guerilla Cafe in Berkeley, California and business partner Eric Maundu are growing fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs through aquaponics – raising fish and plants together in one closed loop, recirculating system – in urban Oakland, CA. Their hope is to provide truly local, sustainable food for the Guerilla Cafe, and beyond. Bryant Terry highlights their city farm on Urban Organic, a three part series that features cutting-edge chefs, urban farmers and social innovators who are bringing urban agriculture to neighborhoods in the U.S. that need them most. See the video below!
The Arc Eatery in Meriden, Connecticut has a new recirculating farm, growing vegetables and fish using aquaponics!
Adding a recirculating farm to supply fresh local food makes this already unique restaurant even more interesting. For the past four years, the Eatery has been a successful deli and catering service (see their daily menu here), run by 19 residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is a project of the Arc of Meriden, an organization that provides comprehensive, full-service, community-based opportunities for people with disabilities, like job training, such as running the Eatery.
The Arc Eatery is a favorite lunch spot, and they cater to all the businesses in Meriden’s Research Parkway industrial park.
Eventually, the Eatery plans to grow tilapia or trout that will be new menu items, and vegetables will be sold at the local farmers’ market as well as cooked and served in the deli.
Check out the video below about the Arc Eatery and it’s new recirculating farm!
Recirculating farms are popping up all over the U.S. Do you know about any in your community? If so, please tell us! We are putting together a map of recirculating farms so people can find them and be able to get their products more easily.
Some colleges are now teaching recirculating farming. At CUNY’s Brooklyn College (in Brooklyn, NY), Dr. Martin Schreibman, Professor and Director Emeritus, founded the Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center lab. There they grow thousands of tilapia, in tanks — right inside an on-campus college building. Students of Brooklyn College can take an urban farming class that teaches how to raise and breed fish in an indoor farm that uses continuously cleaned and recycled water.
Dr Schreibman also has smaller aquaponic systems set up in an office and classrooms that grow plants and fish together.
Experimenting with recirculating farming for more than 15 years, Dr Schreibman has even had some of his fish go to outer space. In 1998, he worked with Dr. Volker Bluem of Germany to develop a small system for the space shuttle Endeavor, to help test whether growing fresh seafood in space could be an option for long trips.
Here, he talks about aquaponics and his work at Brooklyn College
Dr. Schreibman also helps new farmers set up their own recirculating aquaculture and aquaponic systems. He can be reached at:
Cabbage Hill Farm Foundation in Mount Kisco New York is a multi-use non-profit farm. One of its main attractions is an aquaponic green house that grows a variety of herbs, vegetables, plants and fin fish like trout and tilapia.