US (AK): Startup community brainstorms to save nonprofit vertical farm

Managers of an Anchorage hydroponic farm at risk of shutting down in March made an unusual move to save their operation.

Seeds of Change, near Arctic Boulevard and 26th Avenue, occupies a 10,000-square-foot warehouse designed for high-tech agriculture. During its first year of operation, it served 18 young employees through a program for at-risk youth at the Anchorage Community Mental Health Service.

"Our program has not generated enough revenue to be self-supporting," said Ryan Witten, the community development manager at Seeds of Change. "We were told we have funding through the end of March, by the ACMHS board."

They reached out to the University of Alaska Business Enterprise Institute for ideas on saving Seeds of Change.

That led to calling on Nigel Sharp, the University of Alaska Anchorage Global Entrepreneur in Residence.

Sharp, the university's first GEIR and one of only a handful in the nation, has held startup weekends, technology sprints and other events to guide tech-savvy startups since arriving in Alaska last June. But this was the first chance to put together a think tank of expertise moving from theory to a hands-on rescue of a distressed business.

Read more at Anchorage Daily News (Naomi Klouda)

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