A few photos from Indoor Ag Con 2015Indoor Ag Con was an important event for our Upstart Farmers. Upstart Farmer Community Manager Perry Baptista says,
"The 3rd Annual Indoor Ag Con is the event for the indoor agriculture industry, bringing together hundreds of farmers, indoor growers, farm tech aficionados, chefs, suppliers, and enthusiasts. And among them all, we were joined by an amazing twelve Upstart Farmers. As you can imagine, there was a ton of news and insights."
At Indoor Ag Con we saw...
1) A growing movement
Upstart Farmers are the people who use ZipGrow commercially. By definition, they are creative with their methods and transformative to their communities.
As the Upstart Farmers movement grows and continues to stand out brighter and brighter among the hundreds of struggling small farmers who don't have this community, it acts like a beacon, signalling the message, "the time is now!"
There has never been a better time to be an Upstart Farmer. "There's more money and more market than ever," says Dr. Nate Storey. It's evident to us and to the Upstart Farmers: the opportunities to impact and scale up within markets are clearer than ever before.
But we've just said that lots of small farmers are struggling. So what sets the Upstarts apart?
2) A community unlike any other
Having like-minded people around you can make or break a venture.
Each team member of Bright Agrotech and each Upstart Farmer pour time and thought into the Upstart community to make it a tide pool brimming with new ideas and encouragement for other Upstart Farmers.
Indoor Ag Con fed that community by providing a place for the Upstart Farmers to share ideas and build relationships. Chris Michael, who works closely with many of our Upstart Farmers, says that there's no other community that can rival the Upstart Community for small farmers.
"Personally being able to interact and get the sense that the Upstart Farmers share so many values was encouraging. If I was a brand new farmer starting out, there’s no other spot I would be trying to get into other than the Upstart Farmer community. They are such a collaborative group of people that have this big vision, and they want to get better to make that vision happen. It’s so refreshing."
That collaboration is the secret ingredient to the Upstart Farmers' innovation, which is easily more than any other part of the indoor growing industry.
3) Accelerated innovation
Dr. Nate explains what this innovation looks like compared to farmers who operate on their own.
"Everyone I talked to was talking about 'their model'. Everyone is betting their farm on a single model. And our USFs are simultaneously trialing ten, twenty different models all at the same time. The people who are having success are able to communicate that to everyone else. So the acceleration of innovation of models and equipment with Upstart Farmers is twenty times the industry average. For our farmers that should be encouraging to know that if there is a better model, you’ll know about it right off the bat."
Typically this communication takes place at "Upstart Farmer Roundtables," Google Hangouts that the event manager, Perry, sets up twice a month. An online forum and open blog provide channels to share ideas and ask questions.
Indoor Ag Con gave us a chance to communicate in person. Several of the Upstart Farmers attended Indoor Ag Con this year, so the Bright Agrotech team got to share ideas and drinks face-to-face.
We got to hear about the different methods that our Upstart Farmers are working on.
Take Chris Lukenbill (below), who is working on a software to simplify the lives of other Upstart Farmers.
Fresh With Edge talks StartFresh
4) A glimpse into the future
Every year a lot of [indoor farmers] go out of business, if they ever get off the ground to begin with.
We’ve been at this conference for a couple years now. And we're going to be at the next one. And we’re going to be at the one after that.
Next year we’re going to show up with more staff, with more farmers, and someday, a significant portion of Indoor Ag Con attendees will be Upstart Farmers.
We can't wait and would love more hardworking Upstart Farmers in our community soon.
Check out some of the insights we gained during the panel discussion, here.
We'll walk you through it every step of the way.