One of the most compelling and intriguing ideas that comes up over and over again in talking to government and business leaders about Fresno is the idea that this should be a laboratory for innovation in agricultural technology (or to use the catchy phrase, “the silicon valley of Ag Tech”). Look at the unique combinations – a huge diversity of crops (compare the 350-400 different crops grown here to the vast fields of corn/soy/wheat that you might find in the mid-west), coupled with the intense challenges of a fully irrigated agricultural system that is also frequently hit with water shortages (allocation reductions). You’ve also got the costs of energy – both to pull water up from the wells (those suckers can be 2,000 foot deep in western Fresno Co), and to power the food packaging and processing plants that represent 3 times as much of the food dollar as the farming itself….. well, when you combine all those unique inputs, you’ve really got an ag tech dream lab.
So with that as the background, Team Fresno trundled off to the BlueTech Valley Water Conference, to learn about innovation in this area. We learned about drip tape manufacturing (Jain Irrigation is an Indian company that has moved some manufacturing capacity into Fresno), and technologies that will process waste water on prem, reducing the reliance on city processing facilities and maybe even opening up where value added processing plants can be located. We heard about VC investment in this area and had a particularly interesting keynote from the former president of Trader Joes.
Heading back to the Lofts, we got ourselves changed into Red Helmet Gear and cruised down the mall to Chukchansi Park for the Grizzlies game. Sadly, the Grizzlies lost 4-1, but it was still a great time and another awesome chance to be a part of this community. Watching with Carolyn and her family and Craig was awesome.