An Accountant, A Farmer And A Teacher

Source: Agritecture | Kayla Waldorff

An accountant, a farmer and a teacher walk into a train depot...

Sounds like the beginning of a great joke doesn’t it? Funny enough, I met people in each of those professions as well as many others at the AgLanta Conference 2018. At this year’s conference, we focused on the role of agriculture in ‘smart cities’. To start the conference off, Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder of Agritecture, so eloquently asked the audience: “can a city really be smart without agriculture?”

The answer is no, absolutely not. At the conference, we focused on several components of “smart” agriculture that are explained more in depth here, and we strove to create a discussion around integrating agriculture into the future of our cities.

I can only imagine what my grandparents thought the future would look like, and through my research and experience I now have my own dreams of what a smart city will be. Back in 2013, as an undergraduate student at the University of Florida (Go Gators) I became involved in the Challenge 2050 Project. This program addressed the question of how do we feed a predicted population of 9 billion people by the year 2050? It’s a statistic we all know well.

Through that program, I became passionate about vertical farming, controlled environmental agriculture and food security because I felt that with our changing climate, growing population and limited resources, optimizing everything was critical to produce enough food.

After my graduate degree I found myself looking for a job and was approached by BrightFarms about their apprentice grower position. This position allows me to train to become a head grower of my own greenhouse as the company expands. I have been very fortunate to find a job and an industry that I am passionate about and wake up everyday wanting to go to work.

Through this process, from undergrad to now, I have grown so much in my self-awareness, leadership skills, and building a community of people around me that provide great insight, challenge my norms and are my champions as I progress in my career. Because Florida can grow many crops year round, it took a while of searching to find hydroponic greenhouses there.

Meanwhile, I found Agritecture, and as soon as I discovered the AgLanta Conference last year, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity to go. Keep in mind, I tore my ACL February 2017, so I hobbled with crutches on a plane, then to the conference location, then back to Florida, all in one day. I wanted to go that badly and it was well worth the effort.

Read more here