Looking Back, Moving Forward: Upstart Farming in 2014

Posted by Amy Storey on December 31, 2015


Do you know the Upstart Farmers?

They’re a group of small against-the-grain farmers that are transforming their local markets and communities.

They grow with innovative technology and offer produce of such great quality that the markets around them can’t refuse.

Each Upstart Farmer works towards being better, larger, and smarter in small steps.

We asked the Upstart Farmers about the most exciting steps that they took in 2014.

Here are their answers...

Constant Growth


Vertifarms Vertifarms

"As far as positive news, we are excited to have worked with Touro Synagogues to establish the first ZipGrow tower growing site at a non-residential location in New Orleans. This client has expressed interest in expanding their number of towers in 2015. Also just yesterday I had a Spring system shipped to Europe and I am excited to show the old world how to grow with this technology."

-Kevin Morgan-Rothschild with Vertifarms



BayBerry FreshBayBerry Fresh"By far the biggest change this year was purchasing land to put greenhouses on. I was able to build a bigger, better, more practical greenhouse to increase production and cut costs. The land also had a shed allowing me to build a grow room further increasing year round basil production. The new land and production facility really brings together the whole business infrastructure in a way that is much more capable and professional."

- Haydn Christensen with Bayberry Fresh


BayBerry Fresh BayBerry Fresh's new commercial hydroponic greenhouse in Fort Collins, CO.



"I'm brand new to hydroponics and so far the best thing this year is getting my greenhouse under construction and finding Bright Agrotech."

- Patrick Wilcox

We know from our communication with the Wilcoxes that they are moving fast with their greenhouse. We're excited to see their farm take off in 2015.


Patrick Wilcox Greenhouse Upstart Farmer The Wilcox greenhouse under construction!



freight_farms_logo_pro_2Freight Farms

"The biggest positive change that happened at my farm this year was the redesign of our system to reduce energy consumption, improve workflow and increase consistency and quality. We made changes to the pumps, water tanks, lights and fans to better the growing climate for our plants. I believe that we are setting ourselves up for great success in 2015."

-Phil Cuddeback with Freight Farms



North Texas Aquaponics"This one is real easy - just the starting of the conversion to a commercial setup from a large home setup. Although the setup is still going on, we do have our large fish tanks and the starting of our grow towers. I am not saying this to make it sound like I am brown nosing but I bought 10 grow towers from Bright Agrotech to really test them in our environment. And to be honest I am getting rid of some of the other stuff I was going to do and going to go almost all towers for my aquaponic part of the farm."

- Tracy Holz with North Texas Aquaponics



New Markets, New Models


The Koru Collaborativethe koru collaborative

"The edible greenwalls and grow room I designed and built for Page Restaurant in Sag Harbor continue to look great and produce food for the restaurant."

- Teryl Chapel with The Koru Collaborative

The Koru Collaborative designs and builds one-of-a-kind systems for all kinds of businesses, including schools and restaurants. His aquaponic living wall at the restaurant Page 63 at Main continues to be a huge success.


Localize Farm
"I introduced my packaged basil in 1 oz. clam shells and am distributing to 6 local co-op grocery stores. Demand for them has been great and brand recognition with the packaging has been steadily increasing!"

-Ryan Sweeney of Localize Farms

Upstart Farmer Localize Localize's new packaged and branded basil.


Continuing Success


Fresh With Edge Upstart FarmerChris Lukenbill Fresh With Edge

"We had a multitude of positive changes this year. However, I would say that the biggest was our expansion into new markets with both restaurants and in home setups. Both of which have been very successful and we are already planning to expand the offerings on each for next year."

-Chris Lukenbill of Fresh With Edge



Live Display in Restaurant ZipGrow towers Fresh With Edge's living ZipGrow display in a local Rochester, MN restaurant.



Organic Edibles Upstart Farmer


Marilyn Yamamoto Upstart Farmers
"The biggest change for our Cowboy Trail Farm was to introduce and implement 54 ZipGrow towers (greenwalls) into two schools. We provided all the materials "kits" to build the structures that will hold 14 towers each (back to back). They will learn how to grow their own food, along with the science of hydroponic growing. It's amazing to see the smiles and excitement on their faces."

- Marilyn Yamamoto of Organic Edibles


Virginia Vegetable Company Upstart Farmer

Virginia vegetable company"I would say the biggest positive change for my farm has been figuring out who will actually buy my product and how to grow the cheapest and best way in my current conditions. I started my CSA because I found it was natural being a pizza delivery driver and delivery produce boxes full of whatever I have growing week to week and supplementing boxes from other local growers. I've mainly used ZipGrows to grow herbs and plan to do a mobile herb business..."

- Paul Meyer of Virginia Vegetable Company


Growing Their Farmers and Growing the Vision

This progress is a display of what the Upstart Farmers are capable, and we believe that this is just a shadow of what's to come in the New Year.

There’s not a doubt in our minds that the Upstart Farmers are going places.

Want to learn more about other Upstart Farmers?

Lean back and check out this 11 Farms Worth Watching post.

You’ll learn about some fascinating farms.

Check in tomorrow to learn about what 2015 will look like for our Upstart Farmers.

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