Modernature: Julie Buisson

Julie Buisson is the co-founder of the agricultural development business Modernature, which garnered a $10,000 MICA LAB Award as well as $25,000 in funding during the College's Up/Start Venture Competition.

A small seed has begun a new journey for alumna Julie Buisson '15 (Design Leadership MA/MBA), growing into an agricultural development business called Modernature. Buisson and business partner and scientist Mark Verdecia are creating a sustainable food ecosystem in Baltimore with funding from MICA's Launch Artists in Baltimore (LAB) Award as well as $30,000 in funding during the College's Up/Start Venture competition.

At the root of Buisson's venture is hydroponics, growing plants without soil-specifically, microgreens. She explained, "Microgreens are the first stage of any plant growth. The microgreen stage happens after sprouting has occurred when the first leaves are on the stem."

Using seeds and recyclable and biodegradable materials, Buisson's Baltimore-based microgreen company focuses on environmentally conscious growth. Modernature uses a trailer as an urban agriculture grow room that fits 40 microgreen trays, which equals 480 servings every two weeks (year-round) of tiny produce that contains four to 32 times as many nutrients as its fully grown counterpart. The partners plan to sell the gorgeously hued, early-harvested produce to local restaurants. After learning from MICA to look at the big picture of the design process, the founders also ensured they were reducing their environmental impact by growing local, reusing water, and using biodegradable inputs.

The return on investment from MICA and The Johns Hopkins University's Design Leadership graduate program has proven to be invaluable. "MICA taught really valuable manual skills that I am now able to apply-using 3-D printing and making renderings-things that allowed me to become a maker and take my idea beyond the idea stage," Buisson said.