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Agritecture Vertical Farming Workshop

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Agritecture Vertical Farming Workshop

Keep Growing
— Agritecture

The UPC team had an incredible opportunity to participate in the 2015 Agritecture Workshop on behalf of the Association for Vertical Farming. The workshop was held at Columbia University in New York, and it attracted a passionate group of scientists, engineers, designers, architects, and entrepreneurs from around the globe who seek to use urban agriculture as a vehicle for social, economic, and environmental change. The event began with remarks from Dickson Despommier, author of the Vertical Farm. Despommier is widely regarded as the father of the movement, and was an immense inspiration for the UPC team and many other aspiring urban agricultural entrepreneurs across the globe. Despommier spoke about the inception of this idea in the walls of his Columbia classroom, and how it has blossomed into a global movement. Urban agriculture is the future of food production, and innovation in this field is of vital importance to the resiliency of our cities. 

Three multidisciplinary teams were formed and given 24 hours to build a feasible model including architectural renderings, business plan, and financials for an urban agricultural development in 12 locations across the NY. Julie's team selected a brown field site owned by the National Grid company for the purpose of remediation. J.J.'s team selected a site in Far Rockaway, a community that was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. All groups utilized a mix of innovative technology, ecological processes, and community development strategies to help empower these downtrodden communities. Below is a video of the "Rockaway Collective," team, pitching their concept to a group of industry experts and venture Capitalists.  

The UPC team was incredibly honored to participate in a special event with such an amazing group of brilliant minds. We would like to extend a special thanks to our hosts, Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder of Agritecture, and Max Loessl, Founder of the Association for Vertical Farming. Similar to Tesla, Henry and Max are collecting invaluable industry data and building an open source database tool to share with the planet in order to progress the industry forward. As we strive to build a more sustainable future for our planet, we must unite and facilitate innovative collaboration.

As our friends at the AVF and Agritecture say, "keep growing."

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Visiting Cylburn Aquaponics Lab

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Visiting Cylburn Aquaponics Lab

UPC is in the process of working with real estate developers and local government entities to locate an ideal space for our operations. UPC has the versatility to act as both an anchor institution and a production facility. Our vision is a combined production and retail concept that is woven into the fabric of the Baltimore community.

Last Week, the UPC team had the opportunity to visit the Cylburn Aquaponics Farm, operated by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The project was developed by experts from renowned food systems think tank, The Center for a Livable Future (CLF). This initiative is spearheaded by aquaculture expert Dave Love, and farm manager, Laura Genello. Cylburn acts as both a research lab and an educational farm for the community. The farms hosts anyone from school age children to commercial growers interested in alternative growing methods. The CLF also offers a summer program, that acts as a crash course in aquaponic growing. UPC is arranging to partner with Cylburn and the CLF to test our vertical growing methods and various crop varietals in their greenhouse. Consumer education and interaction are vital as we grow our company. This opportunity will provide valuable insight into how the community interacts with our product.  

Laura lead us on a tour of the farm, and explained the intricacies of the system, and how it recycles and circulates water / nutrients to grow a wide variety of plants. Laura harvests the produce, and sells it at the Waverly Farmers Market on saturdays. The farm also raises tilapia which, and their waste serves as nutrients for the growing process. Laura explained how tilapia are an ideal fish species for aquaponic production because of their resiliency and growth rate, however, they the cost of heating the tanks for this tropical, Nile fish, is high. Below is a video of the farm and how the process worked

UPC is excited to work with Laura and the CLF to test our vertical growing methods and learn from their wealth of expertise in the field.

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