Named after the first root to appear from a seed, Radicle Farm Company of New Jersey is rethinking the sustainable leafy greens concept. Through an aggregated network of local hydroponic farms, Radicle offers its living salad products to the wholesale and retail market.
“We want to be large,” says Christopher Washington, Managing Director of the company that started in 2013. “All the research that we’ve done has indicated that the consumer wants to support local product; it’s not really groundbreaking. What is groundbreaking is that companies that get the most traction are private brands in agriculture.”
As urban populations grow and the demand for local food rises, agricultural innovators see opportunity atop the roofs of city buildings. Much of this space is devoted to outdoor gardens, but rooftop greenhouses are also sprouting up in cities with cold climates.
Some are large structures used for commercial purposes, some are owned by restaurants, some assist in feeding the needy, and some are used for educational purposes. But all have one thing in common—they enable growers to grow food year-round in urban settings.
Sustainable growing methods are part of the very fiber of Urban Till’s operations, but the Chicago-based hydroponics farm isn’t an outgrowth of the organic food movement. In fact, it actually has roots in the traditional food industry.
Founder Brock Leach comes from a background in food distribution. Before starting Urban Till with his friend, hydroponics expert Todd Williamson, he worked as manager of continuous improvement over at Martin Brower, a multinational company that provides supply chain management services to restaurants operators around the globe. Watching the increasing costs of moving edible goods along the supply line, he came to the conclusion that local production of food could be profitable, if it was done right.
Many restaurants boast a farm-to-fork experience, but how many diners are able to eat food harvested right before it arrives on their table? Fresh with Edge, headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota, makes it possible.
Fresh with Edge has found its niche in moving the farm indoors―to homes, restaurants and grocery stores. Its secret? Removing the need for soil by utilizing aquaponics and hydroponics to grow greens on towers. Herbs and greens at Fresh with Edge grow on 5-foot vertical towers in a greenhouse system. When ready to harvest, the towers are moved to a location where they will be consumed, such as a supermarket or restaurant.
Founder Chris Lukenbill and his wife, Lisa, came up with the idea of Fresh with Edge in 2011. Their idea grew from a desire to know where their food came from. Neither Chris nor Lisa was raised on a farm, but both have a strong base of agricultural knowledge, gleaned from aunts and uncles. Both work in computer science, and used this skill to establish a successful aquaponics enterprise.
Cedar Point Church in Maryville, Tennessee started growing its hydroponic garden for two reasons: to develop a program offering a sustainable and healthy food source to its church family, and to build a sense of partnership between church members and the community.
While the garden is still in its early stages (it was started about three months ago), Kurt Steinbach, the church’s lead pastor is enthusiastic about the growing produce. Currently, Harvest Farms Co-op, the name of the church’s hydroponic gardening operation, grows several varieties of tomato, bell pepper, hot banana peppers, Anaheim peppers, green leaf lettuce varieties, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans. In late June, the co-op was preparing for its first harvest.
“The reality is that there is just less water available for agriculture than there’s ever been. As you look to the future, the amount of food production that’s needed and the amount of water we’ll have to do it, is going to require that we grow the food with less water than we do today.”–Matt Liotta, PodPonics
Selling their tubs of mixed greens wholesale to major retailers such as Krogers, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, PodPonics has become a name to know in the world of commercial-scale hydroponic produce.
When Jeffrey Orkin started the Urban Hydro Project, he knew he wanted to test the waters of hydroponic growing on a small scale, but didn’t know exactly what the end result would be—until now. Orkin has officially made the move from small-scale hydroponic experimenter to full-scale hydroponic entrepreneur with the creation of Greener Roots Farm.
Orkin started the Urban Hydro Project in a 135 square foot utility room on the roof of a condo in downtown Nashville. For Greener Roots Farm, he plans to scale up significantly. Orkin is currently finishing the build-out on a hydroponic farm in a 6,000 square foot space.
Presenting subjects ranging from window farming to food security and lighting systems, the Indoor Agriculture Conference features two full days of education on controlled environment technologies, aero/hydro/aquaponic best practices and business models, automated nutrient systems, future trends, and financing options …