Adam Brock is the co-founder of GrowHaus, a unique nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado. GrowHaus is a half-acre space encompassing different aspects of the food system under one roof including food production, food distribution, and food education, with a focus on revitalizing their local community through rebuilding food sovereignty.
Tune in to this episode as Adam takes us through the four-year process of building this unique community by connecting with the neighborhood as well as the different classes they have developed over time– including Seed to Seed summer program for teens, micro business training, service learning, and even permaculture classes to the general public.
Adam walks us through the GrowHaus business model – its structure, the mission, and the funding of nonprofits. He gives us a brighter perspective on social entrepreneurship that combines non-profits & for-profits, in a non-traditional “regenerative” legal structure. Adam also describes the actual systems at the GrowHaus including a hydroponics farm, an aquaponics farm based on the UVI model of deep water culture system (DWC, or raft), and some of the crops they’re growing, including a mini food forest with perennials and fruit trees.
Learn more about topics including the permaculture paradigm as key to their success, GrowHaus’ community demographics, getting help from “cultural translators,” and the permaculture application into their systems – the “Growasis,” a tropical food forest, and a mushroom facility. Other things mentioned are the Permaculture Design Magazine, fertigation, and intersecting aquaponics with the food justice and permaculture movements as a powerful tool for food sovereignty.
A highly viable aquaponic setting right in the middle of the most polluted zip code in the entire state of Colorado – How has GrowHaus been able to successfully do this? Let’s find out!
Read Full Show Notes
48: Food Sovereignty, Social Entrepreneurship, & Building a Growasis Permaculture Farm with Adam Brock of GrowHaus
Here’s what you’ll learn from this episode:
- What is food sovereignty?
- How did GrowHaus come to life?
- Transforming an industrial space into a thriving community hub
- Teaming up with a group of dedicated people including JD and Tawnya Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics
- Check out Adam’s great mentors within this movement, and the permaculture path that led him here
- What they’re integrating at GrowHaus to develop more food sovereignty in the local community:
- Food production
- Food distribution
- Food education
- Check out these various classes they’re offering to the community and the general public
- Listen to why Adam describes the traditional nonprofit as a degenerative structure
- Discover GrowHaus’ unique structure of combining nonprofit and for profit: nonprofit work based on community needs with for profit work based on the value they’re providing to people who can pay for it
- Learn about the different technical, financial, social, and internal challenges at the GrowHaus
- What demographics makes up the GrowHaus community?
- GrowHaus’ biggest successes
- The importance of cultural translators
- Know more about the actual systems happening at the GrowHaus
- Check out what they’re growing in their greenhouse
- Integrating permaculture through the “Growasis” – check out how and why they’re creating one
- Intersection of aquaponics with the food justice and permaculture movements
- Why Aquaponics is a powerful tool for food sovereignty
- How Aquaponics solves the issue of polluted soils in urban post-industrial neighborhoods and communities
“I see aquaponics as a really powerful tool for what we call food sovereignty. There’s this idea that food security is just providing the calories for people in the community that might be currently experiencing hunger. But food sovereignty takes it to the next level where it’s the community deciding what kind of food they’re eating and how much, what variety, and how it’s connected to their traditional heritage and their climate.” – Adam Brock
“The very first principle of permaculture is observe and interact. You really can’t understand any complex system whether we’re talking about an ecosystem or a group of community members without really becoming a part of it and integrating ourselves into it.” – Adam Brock
“We’re trying to integrate people, planet, and profit. Yes we have this social mission… but we can’t do that if we’re not generating enough of our own income to sustain ourselves.” – Adam Brock
“You shouldn’t let the legal structure guide what your mission is. It should be the other way around. Come up with your business plan and figure out the structure from there.” – Adam Brock
“Every community is going to have to find what works for them. It’s not the specific business model or programs that we’re running that are what makes this successful, it’s the approach.” – Adam Brock
Resources/links to websites:
Definitions of Food Sovereignty:
“the right of people to determine their own food and agriculture policies;
the democratization of food and agriculture.”
“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability.”
Born and raised in Denver, Adam is a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, with a concentration in Ecological Design. His studies included a semester of sustainable design at the Ecosa Institute in Prescott, Arizona; a Permaculture design course led by Andrew Faust; and a Permaculture Teacher Training course led by Dave Jacke.
From its founding in 2006 to 2008, Adam was an active member of the NYU Sustainability Task Force, a joint body of students, faculty and administrators. While at NYU he organized campus-wide initiatives aimed at energy conservation, low-impact living, and urban agriculture. Off campus, he served as a GIS specialist for the Pratt Center for Community Development and New York City’s Million Trees Project, as well as a sustainability consultant forGreen Irene and the Planet Green television show Wa$ted.
Now re-rooted in Denver, Adam is dedicated to helping backyard gardeners, policymakers, and entrepreneurs alike understand the paradigm of natural abundance and incorporate it into their work. He works with numerous local sustainability groups, including Transition Denver, Denver Urban Homesteading, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Progress Group, the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, and Green Spaces. Adam is Director of Operations at The GrowHaus. He currently lives in the Ruckus Refinery, a collective house located in City Park West.