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.

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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.

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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

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