Aglanta Conference 2019
I wanted to do a quick post on an awesome experience I had recently. I had the good fortune of being able to attend the Aglanta Conference. It is an urban agriculture conference in Atlanta Georgia. I can say that it was an awesome experience! I learned quite a bit and got to meet people and see presentations on urban agriculture. In this post I will grow through some of the key learning I had from Aglanta!
Learning 1: Minimizing Power Cost
One of the coolest things I learned from the Aglanta Conference this year was that you can negotiate your power rates with the power company as a grower. For those of you who grow indoors commercially take the time to speak with your power company. In many cases urban growers are utilizing old industrial buildings and that works out in their favor. Adding power capacity to support urban ag can be expensive but since the grower is utilizing existing power grid locations it is easy and doesn’t add cost.
The second thing you should do is see when your power company’s peak and slow times are during the day. Since indoor plants that rely on grow lights can receive light at anytime it actually pays to use power when the power company doesn’t as high of a power load. The grid is built to support the highest power usage in a day and taking capacity that is under-utilized provides you the urban grower with an opportunity to save.
Learning 2: Circular Economies Can Be Great
You may ask yourself what is a circular economy? A circular is economy is one that maximizes the value of an item while it is in use. Once the item is no longer usable it is either repaired or recycled. This creates a system where resources are conserved and use is maximized. By creating a circular economy we can reduce resource consumption and waste because the waste material becomes a useful resource at the end of its life cycle.
Circular Economies can be seen very well in gardening and agriculture. Think about no till farming as an example. The product in this case is the crop and the remaining unused used a parts are recycled after the plant’s growth is maximized. This creates a system where the plant waste is minimized and also just so happens to be one of the most sustainable ways to produce plants. I believe we should all look at ways to create circular economies because they can be much more sustainable then the linear economy.
Learning 3: Localization is Key
One main idea that I got from the Aglanta Conference was that localization of the food system is of huge benefit to the community. This is something that I had learned prior to this conference but it really was emphasized during the conference. You may ask yourself what is the advantage of food localization? Here is a quick list as I see it and I have learned
- Localization decreases the resources used on food transport
- Localization improves the shelf stability because less days are spent traveling
- It builds a local economy that goes past the food generated
- Localization brings the community closer to its food and those who produce it
- It can reduce the carbon footprint of the food produced
- Localization reduces the number of food deserts there are in urban areas
That is just 6 quick bullets on why localization is great for everyone in a community. To me it is something that we need to do in our cities and suburbs. I know that local food may not allow a community to produce all of the food that it needs because of the efficiency of commodity crops with current methods. However it can allow for many nutritious foods available to everyone locally. One other point I would like to raise is that if we utilize space in cities and suburbs we are helping the growing capacity of food which increases food stability. It also gives us more people who know how to grow their own food. All of these great things that will improve the food system! So I challenge you to go out and start planting, even if it is an herb garden or a couple of tomato plants. I look forward to see where you grow.
For more details on Aglanta 2019 check out their website here:Aglanta!