FLINT — Finding new ways to produce healthy, sustainable food sources for a growing population is a necessity. Austin Lawrence, a current Kettering University student, and Brian Falther, a 2010 Kettering University graduate, are motivated to offer a solution to food sustainability nationwide, starting in Grand Rapids.

Falther, who is living in Grand Rapids, and Lawrence, a Mattawan High School graduate from Kalamazoo, are currently in the running for a $5,000 seed investment from Start Garden, a $15 million Grand Rapids-based venture capital fund for innovative ideas that could potentially turn into businesses.

Falther and Lawrence met through the Kettering Entrepreneur Society and have been collaborating since. They hope to secure the investment to help them as they launch Urban Tech Farm: Project Grand Rapids, which they describe as, “A project to organically grow crops through automation, sustainability and efficiency.”

Currently, Falther and Lawrence are conducting research on growing techniques like aquaponics — using fish and recycled water to grow food in an interdependent loop system without the use of fertilizers or pesticides. Eventually, they would like to design a prototype vertical aquaponics farm in a repurposed shipping container and after proving sustainability, expand to warehouses and other vacant industrial buildings in cities.

Anyone who has a Facebook account can “endorse” their project at http://startgarden.com/ideas/detail/tech-farm-grand-rapids. Voting is open until noon on Thursday, June 28.

Facebook users can endorse the ‘Urban Tech Farm: Project Grand Rapids’ project here: http://startgarden.com/ideas/detail/tech-farm-grand-rapids

The project’s Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/ProjectTechFarmGrandRapids

Lawrence and Falther are also blogging about their research at http://urbantechfarm.com/


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