Urban farming is of great importance to promote local and sustainable food systems, not only increasing access to fresh and healthy produce, but also reducing transportation costs, help reducing runoff associated with heavy rainfall, and providing communities with opportunities to learn about nutrition and growing food. The positive impact of urban agriculture on environmental, economic, and social benefits to urban and suburban communities is endless.

Speaker Information:

Marc Oshima (Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at AeroFarms). Marc Oshima is an incredibly passionate champion to improve our food system around the world, co-founding AeroFarms with the deep desire to make nutritious, delicious produce more accessible to communities. AeroFarms is a mission-driven company and certified B-Corporation, leading the way for indoor vertical farming and transforming agriculture. AeroFarms has been recognized by Fast Company for their World’s Most Innovative Companies in Food and Brands that Matter, recognizing companies that authentically lead with their mission, and by Time for Best Inventions in Food. Marc is also Board Chair for the CEA Alliance, helping unite indoor growers to elevate standards for the industry.

Leigh Whittinghill, Ph.D. (Assistant Agricultural Scientist, from Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station). Dr. Whittinghill’s doctorate research at Michigan State University focused on the use of green roof systems for food production, examining both crop yields and the potential impact that crop production could have on the known benefits of green roofs. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, she helped to examine the impact of a full-scale rooftop farm on green roof runoff water quality and quantity. At Kentucky State University, Dr. Whittinghill expanded this research to include the examination of runoff water quality from ground-level containers and raised bed systems as well. She also examined the production of several high-value crops in these systems including several varieties of greens and saffron. Dr. Whittinghill’s current research at CAES will continue to examine urban food production practices to increase food production, decrease environmental impact, and find solutions to urban food production problems. Her current projects include identifying the optimal fertilizer application strategy for kale and collards to balance support of yield and crop quality in later harvests with the risk of nutrient leaching, examining the quality of repeat harvested greens grown on urban and rural farms, the use of small plastic pools as containers for cucumber production, and examining nutrient losses from urban farms.


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