Monday, January 27, 2014

Asheville Urban Farms travels to Abu Dhabi for conference on food emergency solutions utilizing agricultural innovations

Asheville Urban Farms (AUF) opened in West Asheville and began producing vegetables and herbs for distribution to local restaurants. Unlike most farms in our region, AUF grows plants indoors using controlled environment agriculture (CEA) methods. AUF has tested 8 hydroponic (“without soil”) systems to see what works and what doesn’t for a highly sustainable system.

“AUF was always intended to be an exhibition farm for international countries and agricultural innovators in the U.S. to partner with,” explains Sherrye Coggiola of C3L Associates, the parent company of AUF. She and husband Anthony created the local AUF as a model and resource to address food production barriers on a global scale.

From February 3­–5, 2014, Sherrye and Anthony as well as Dr. Elizabeth Porter, and John Wear will travel to Abu Dhabi for the first annual Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA). “Our goal is to look at partnering with innovators in agriculture as we move away from field farming to indoor environments, such as containers, green houses, controlled environment agriculture,” says Anthony. AUF purchased some equipment from innovators at U.S. companies, and built other pieces.

Since AUF is an educational model, its practitioners (or “farmers”) here in Asheville test equipment specifically designed for CEA. It is C3L’s hope that these assessments will help in C3L’s emergence as an international resource for solutions in food emergency regions. This conference will bring AUF one step closer to achieving this goal.

At GFIA, C3L Associates and its partners will communicate directly with representatives from these food emergency areas, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Africa, to develop custom and integrative turn key solutions that these representatives can adopt. Also in attendance at the conference are farmers from the UAE, members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and representatives from 12 African nations seeking solutions for food emergency states.

Additionally, C3L will engage with companies who provide innovations in areas like bioenergy, water conservation, and grain storage. “At AUF, we’ve validated, we’ve tested, we’ve tried different systems,” says Anthony. “There are a lot of parts and pieces folks out there, but there’s really not an integrative model. We’re going to this conference to find innovators and bring the best solutions into a package.”

Upon their return, Sherrye and Anthony will spend the remainder of the year traveling the United States and Canada connecting with other U.S. companies who are interested in becoming a part of turn key solutions to food emergencies or attending GFIA in 2015.

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