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Agriculture has seen huge advances as innovative technologies shape how we grow, process, and market all kinds of products. For some, the organic sector conjures images of traditional or old-fashioned approaches to growing food, rather than a hotbed of innovation. However, organic systems may actually provide the perfect conditions for inventive minds to work and progressive ideas to take shape.
Necessity is the mother of invention in all types of agriculture, but particularly the organic sector. When constraints are placed on production or processing practices, we are forced to find a different way. Whether the goal is to manage weeds or to get a product to market, organic practitioners often need to be extra creative to get the job done.
The result is a slew of innovation—ranging from unexpected simplicity to mind-blowing complexity. Technology certainly plays a role in these advances, but new applications of ecological knowledge, novel uses for familiar products, and alternative business models also offer exciting potential to change the ways we do things.
In these pages, we offer samples of innovative approaches, from app development to snack food development, and from satisfying demand for a niche product to financing a long-term enterprise. Special thanks to readers Pauline Halstead and Paul Ireland, who submitted their own stories of innovation, as well as to those who shared their stories and ideas on request.