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An increasingly viable solution for climate change is Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), implemented across the U.S., in states likes Hawaii.
The water, energy, and food security nexus is a real and present problem.
Here are some highlights from the website of The Agrarian Group:
As a species, we face the most complex and deadly problems we have ever encountered. Erratic weather events caused by climate change destroy crop yields each year. Pesticides have ruined our soil and water scarcity has become a national security issue. 70% of food cost is linked to fossil fuels, and prices are only expected to rise. The average food item travels 1500 miles to reach it's destination. However, despite everything we do, 40% of all food in the United States is thrown away post-harvest.
The Agrarian Group was started as an answer to a question - How will we feed the projected 9.1 Billion people that will reside on earth in 2050? To achieve this, we need to increase our already stressed agricultural production by 70%. How do we grow better?
Agtech solutions can help solve the challenges we face.
Here is an example of Agtech Solutions in Idaho:
BOISE — The logo for Boise Vertical Farm shows a leaf dipped into water, creating ripples. It’s a nod to the business’ hydroponic operations — the farm’s produce is grown largely without soil, using only water — but it’s also a reference to the communitywide ripple effect of substance abuse, and the farm’s theory that a community answer is needed to address the problem.
Jeff Middleton understands that ripple effect. He’s 10 years into recovery, and he and his business partner, Crystal Spencer, with whom he founded Boise Vertical Farm, feel America’s current, punitive method of dealing with substance abuse needs to change. The criminal justice system needs to acknowledge that ripple effect, Spencer said, “although it’s the individual that we point our finger at and say, ‘You have a problem.’”
That’s why the two, who met while working for St. Luke’s Health System, intend to staff Boise Vertical Farm with people who are in recovery from drug and alcohol use. While individual people need to get clean and sober, the wider community needs to provide them with opportunities to take their lives back.
“You lose everything,” Middleton said of battling addiction. “You lose your references, you lose your past references completely.”
The point of Boise Vertical Farm, then, is to provide people with a chance to create references and rebuild their resumes. It has a social mission, and it’s a nonprofit, but the pair still intend to run it as a business. The onset of the new coronavirus outbreak slowed the startup down, but Middleton and Spencer said the project recently achieved nonprofit status, and secured a greenhouse in Boise. The project is staffed by volunteers, but ultimately they hope to employ about six people at a time.
The coronavirus also disrupted their business model. Previously they were selling produce to restaurants, and while they do still partner with some — such as Mai Thai in Boise — restaurant closures meant they had to find a broader customer base. So they looked to online sales, farmers markets, caterers, even meat providers. All told, however, they anticipate they’re six to nine months away from a true grand opening.
And they’re adamant about the fact that they are providing only the professional portion of a person’s recovery — they’ve been in talks with Recovery for Life and the Idaho Department of Correction about those agencies providing treatment for the farm’s employees.
The farm’s concept is similar to others throughout the country, and it’s gained popularity in the last two decades. Middleton got the idea to found the farm in 2017, he said, when he was walking through Jackson Hole, Wyoming, one night on a skiing trip. He came upon a greenhouse lit up against the night, and, as it turned out, it was a farming operation that specifically hired people with physical disabilities. Given his own experiences in recovery — knowing how hard recovery could be, how few employment options might be available to someone — he decided to adapt the model but work specifically with those recovering from substance abuse.