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Environment & Science

City Limits: Winners of Inaugural Agriculture Innovation Competition Aim To Change The Food System

Katie Zilcosky

By 2050, we’ll have to feed 9 billion people globally, but our current food system is already experiencing strains. And in order to feed the world, agricultural innovation will be necessary over the next few decades. 


So the state government, with a number of private and public partners, hosted a global competition in Rochester, New York with $3 million in prize money. The focus isn’t New York State as a whole, but instead three regions within the state: Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier, nicknamed the “Grow New York region.” This geographic area holds 22 of New York’s 62 counties and nearly 44% of the state’s farms.

The winners needed not only to prove they had a new and exciting idea that would benefit agriculture, but it also needed to make local impact. Whether that be sourcing locally, establishing an office in one of the three regions, or hiring more local residents to their companies. 

The grand prize winner of Grow-NY was RealEats America from Geneva, NY. They are a meal delivery service that sources their ingredients  from local farms and ships their food in a vacuum sealed package, already cooked. They're promising dozens of new jobs and research efforts to decrease their plastic usage. 

New York state is hoping the momentum and funding won't stop with these competitions. But they are using the competitions to take a lead. The 2020 competition will start taking applications in April and will culminate with a conference in Syracuse.