THE URBANPONICS STORY
One day, altruistic visionary, Webb Stone, was shaking his head wishing things could be different — better, fairer, healthier. “We need to change the way we get our food,” he declared. Food deserts and inequitable access to healthy food is a reality. And, there is tremendous food wastage. Growing food where you live, no matter where you live is possible and necessary, and it’s good for the planet too!
Listening to Webb’s impassioned perspective, Barbara, aka, The Work Goddess, and known for her feisty, direct, no-nonsense style, countered
“So let’s stop talking and start working! I’ll help!!!”
And with that, UrbanPonics was born. Very soon, seven other like-minded professionals volunteered to help, bringing along their talents, experience and common passion for food security, healthy eating and natural resource sustainability.
UrbanPonics created an exhibit at the Middletown Grange Fair attended by 60,000 people. Demonstrations on hydro and aquaponics wowed children, families and local educators, who asked about workshops, tours and curricula development.
Partnering with Bucks County Technical School, UrbanPonics created a customized, hands-on learning, hydroponics program for students, generating excitement for the prospect of pursuing a career in vertical, indoor growing.
Webb Stone, CEO, UrbanPonics
Visionary Altruist | Builder | Innovative Problem-solver
Webb is passionate about improving our food system, creating careers in urban indoor farming and developing equitable access to nutrient-rich food. He applies his 30+ years of diverse experience in the design, development, and implementation of multi-faceted technological solutions, to provide systems that serve social food needs. A forward-thinker and problem-solver, his vision is to advance sustainability, support our neighborhoods and create jobs for the next generation of farmers. The pillars of his focus are education, advocacy and hands-on experience.
Work Goddess | Project Management | Fundraising
Barbara is a “work goddess” who ensures her clients stay on-track, get tasks done and grow their businesses. In addition to helping business owners succeed, she enjoys cooking intuitively, gardening and wildcrafting to support her herbalism interest, and promoting live jazz events. Barbara sees the synergy of all she does – growing food year-round, supporting people’s visions and living artfully.
Photography | Videography | Social Media
Laura is a visual storyteller, documenting life events as a photojournalist for over 30 years, twenty of those for The New York Times. She is happy to capture the UrbanPonics’ story from seed to blossom and to put it out into the world loud and proud!
Ponics’ Engineer | Instructor | Curricula Development
Merrill has been excited about gardening since the successful cultivation of his first radish crop at the age of 7. In his youth, he was a member of the 4-H and had a summer job working in the fields, pollinating corn for Louisiana State University (LSU) Agricultural Extension Station. In the Marines, he performed educational and instructional duties, including curricula development and content creation. Merrill has an M.S. degree in Computer Information Systems. He brings his project organizational skills, knowledge of information management and love of gardening to the UrbanPonics initiatives.
Ann E Martin
Horticultural Consultant | Volunteer | Instructor
Ann applies her “best of both worlds” talents for UrbanPonics as a professional gardener and therapeutic educator. Her love of gardening led her to start Ann E M Landscape Design in 2003. Prior to that, she worked in recreation therapy at mental health and geriatrics facilities. She works artfully with soulful connections to people and plants.
Treasurer | Fundraiser | Volunteer
Larry is currently a Major Gifts Officer for Temple University College of Public Health, and previously, the CEO for Adults with Developmental Disabilities (AADD) where he committed 14 years to overcoming challenges and moving the organization forward. Prior to AADD, Larry spent 15 years with the American Red Cross, Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, as the Director of Volunteers and Human Resources. Larry is a graduate of Temple University with a B.S in Public Health Education.
Content Creator | Creative Design | 3D/CGI/Motion Graphics
Bill is the owner, studio director and lead artist of VisualWright Inc., a multi-disciplinary creative commercial art studio in the heart of Chicago. He oversees the design of UrbanPonics’ website, presentations and marketing materials. He is also an amateur astronomer and telescope builder, gardener, mushroom hunter and grower, poulterer, home chef, beekeeper, and conservationist!
The Middletown Grange
A Grange is a grassroots, non-partisan, nonsectarian, fraternal organization with roots in agriculture. The Middletown Grange #684 is UrbanPonics’ current location, where they have a permanent Sustainable Farming Exhibit. The exhibit demonstrates five, (5) high density indoor farming units and fosters high levels of community engagement. During the August 2022 Middletown Grange Fair, over 60,000 fair attendees visited our UrbanPonics sustainable farming display.
Bucks County Technical High School
Bucks County Technical High School began in 1955 when seven school districts voted to support an area Technical School. Shortly after that, a 47-acre site was chosen on Wistar Road in Fairless Hills, PA. UrbanPonics partnered with BCTHS in 2022 to develop an educational, hands-on, indoor-farming program. This cross-disciplinary curriculum helps expand the reality of growing food indoors, ensuring the community has sufficient, and equitable access to locally-grown food resources. The program emphasizes and integrates STEM education elements. The program gives students the training and knowledge they need to secure jobs or develop entrepreneurial activities for indoor farming. Bucks County Technical High School is currently under the leadership of Mr. Henry (Hank) DeGeorge, Administrative Director.
Matthew Braud, Hollow House Farm
Commercial Farming Consultant | Sustainability Awareness | Community Advocate
Matthew has spent the last eight years helping communities throughout Texas and the Southeast cultivate healthy lifestyles by raising sustainability awareness and developing educational partnerships with school districts. He has promoted greenhouse tours and has raised donations to underserved neighborhoods. Operating a 20,000 Sq/Ft Aquaponic greenhouse operation, Matthew has managed all areas of small specialty crop production and successfully conveys the value-added benefits of consistency, sustainability and quality of fresh produce.
Devon McGuinness, Data Storytelling, LLC
Grant Development | Data Research | Organizational Strategy
Devon is forever seeking a better way to do what we do daily and looking deeper into issues to uncover existing technology to resolve complex problems. While serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, she experienced the importance of local community-oriented and personal food systems. As a data storyteller, she synthesizes business analysis and organizational strategy to help her clients turn their data into knowledge and knowledge into success.
Eileen N. Sinett
Messaging | Editing | Networking
Eileen is a communications professional with expertise in speech-communications, language and presentation. Her business, Speaking that Connects, promotes speaker confidence, message clarity and audience connection. Her extensive experience working with individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations supports her clients’ overall communication performance