Apr 1, 2021
Whiskey Hill Farms earns SARE Grant to study urban farm yields

Blume Industries, Whiskey Hill Farms and the Sustainable Systems Research Foundation in Santa Cruz received a USDA Western Division of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, or SARE, Farmer Rancher Grant.

logoWhiskey Hill Farms is a USDA-certified organic farm in Watsonville, California, that employs regenerative soil science and ecological techniques for greenhouse and open-field farming, according to a press release from the company. Blume Industries is an integrative biological technology company designing and manufacturing regenerative Ag Tech systems and equipment.

“I’ve consulted to the USDA Agricultural Research Service for years, but this is the first time we’ve applied for and been awarded USDA grant funding,” said David Blume chief technical officer for Blume Industries and Owner of Whiskey Hill Farms. “It’s very satisfying to see our long-term research and development work in regenerative agriculture systems recognized by such an important agency of the Federal Government.”

Blume and Whiskey Hill Farms, working in collaboration with SSRF are launching a program to demonstrate methods of increasing food yields from urban and peri-urban farms through the deployment of small-scale agricultural technologies, and teaching local farmers how to develop and install them to increase revenues.

According to SARE, the grant for $25,000 will cover a project to be completed by the end of March 2022. Blume, as the principal investigator, will conduct the research:

“Field research and training will take place at Whiskey Hill Farms in Watsonville, California to deploy and quantify the efficacy of several modular and scalable technologies for local food production through small scale hydroponic systems, real-time predictive irrigation sensors and controls, and web-based knowledge exchange. It will provide education and training in these technologies to participating farmers and develop a curriculum for application of small-scale technologies. This is a collaboration with the Sustainable Systems Research Foundation in Santa Cruz.”

“Out of one hundred proposal submissions reviewed by the Western SARE Technical Review Panel, our proposal was ranked ‘Exceptional’ and selected for grant” said Tom Harvey, chief operational officer for Blume Industries. “We view this award as a validation of the contribution BI and WHF are making to advance integrated Regenerative Ag and combining it with cutting edge renewable Energy Technology.”

Since 2009, Blume Industries and Whiskey Hill Farms, have jointly operated a privately funded research and development incubator developing integrated regenerative solutions for coordinated food, fuel and waste management designed systems whose metrics demonstrate increased profitability. Blume systems dovetail seamlessly with powerful climate change remediation strategies that harvest carbon, climate and renewable energy tax credits. Application for this SARE grant is their first pursuit of institutional funding.

The Sustainable Systems Research Foundation (SSRF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit green think tank that seeks to address complex and wicked environmental and sustainability problems at the community and regional levels. SSRF designs, develops and deploys projects and programs that are local, replicable, scalable and promote community development. Visit: https://sustainablesystemsfoundation.org/.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is a decentralized competitive grants and education program operating in every state and island protectorate funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.  SARE’s mission is to advance – to the whole of American agriculture – innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education.


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