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USA Pavilion Innovation Program

Expo Milano 2015

Expo Milano 2015

The Urban Pastoral Team just returned from an incredible month in Milan, Italy, showcasing our company at the World Expo. Urban Pastoral was 1 of 10 teams selected to participate in the USA Pavilion's hallmark Innovation Program, "Feeding the Accelerator." The notion of how our planet will sustainably feed 9 Billion people in 2050 is extraordinarily complex. Therefore, the U.S. State Department teamed up with the James Beard Foundation, Microsoft, FedEx, and urban design firm, Atelier Slice, to leverage the forum of the Expo to pinpoint entrepreneurs from around the globe who were tackling this problem from vastly different angels. 

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At its core, innovation is the intersection of multidisciplinary minds. It creation occurs through friction, and illusory barriers collapse. To capture this notion, Savinien Caracostea, Atelier Slice Partner, and Curator of Feeding the Accelerator directed a film titled, "Mentor Minds," which is a series of short interviews with thought leaders from a wide range of fields discussing creativity, food, architecture, and expression. 

Savinien also filmed the entrepreneurs who brought all of these concepts together in the manifestation of their businesses, demonstrating the philosophy behind Feeding the Accelerator.

Our team had the opportunity to engage the conversation around food in the global arena. We collaborated with world renowned chefs, architects, investor, government leaders, and tech innovators to better understand our business model in a multidisciplinary construct.

It was an incredible opportunity to be involved in such an incredible gathering, and the amount of work that went into this Expo was astonishing. However, the work is just beginning, and we are creating a legacy of innovation so that the Expo will not simply be remembered as an event, but a nexus for global change.   

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#MadeinBaltimore Vendor Fair

June 8th, Humanim Social Enterprise, City Seeds, held the #MadeinBaltimore Vendor Fair, at the historic Lexington Market. The fair connected local food businesses with prominent institutional buyers such as Johns Hopkins, MICA, and the City Government. There was an eclectic group of food entrepreneurs, ranging from coffee roasters and bakeries like Zeke's and Dooby's, to juicers and fermenters like Gundalow and HEX.

Mayor-Rawling-Blake was also in attendance, interacting with the vendors and speaking to the audience. The Mayor, along with City Seeds Director, Deborah Haust, spoke about the importance of buying local and stimulating the Baltimore economy. Food entrepreneurs are not only feeding the city, but also creating jobs and empowering local communities.


UP had a blast showcasing our Vertical Farming wall, and demonstrating to the crowd how we will change the landscape of urban food production in Baltimore. We were also excited to announce the launch of our first modular facility, BoxUP. We partnered with Humanim, American Communities Trust, and the Abell Foundation to demonstrate next generation urban food production on the site of the Baltimore Food Hub. BoxUP plans to be operational by the end of the summer.

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Vertical Farming Showcase at Johns Hopkins

The Urban Pastoral team showcased our vertical growing system on the Johns Hopkins campus over alumni weekend. There were over a thousand alumni in attendance, and our team was able to engage the community to demonstrate the importance of local and sustainably grown food. 

It was a great experience for the team. Baltimore has a vibrant community that supports sustainability and local foods, and we had curious attendees of all ages stop by. Food is the common thread that connects every person on the planet. Food in many ways is deeply entrenched in our cultures and is a defining piece of who we are. A smell, a recipe, or a feel, can evoke powerful emotions. It is our mission to demonstrate connectivity through food, and empower our community by building a local food economy.

UP has two showcases coming up on April 27th, and June 8th. On April 27th, the UP team will be speaking at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for the Social Innovation Lab Impact Forum. On June 8th, UP will be apart of the Baltimore Food Hub Vendor Fair, at Lexington Market. More exciting details to come regarding the Food Hub.  

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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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