For Profit Hydroponic Farm in Chicago Seeks to Increase Employment Opportunities in Underserved CommunitySeptember 7, 2017 | Charli Engelhorn
“Education is the most important thing,” says Darius Jones, general manager, vice president, and part of owner of Garfield Produce, an urban hydroponic farm located in Garfield Park, a west-side community in Chicago. “We’re trying to create an environment that inspires people to grow and feel valued.”
Since its inception in 2013, Garfield Produce has been working to improve economic growth and employment opportunities for Garfield Park community members. The for-profit business was born from a collaboration between a successful retired couple, Mark and Judy Thomas, and an engineering major from DePaul University, Steve Lu.
Through missionary work with the Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Mark and Judy saw that their misconceptions about poverty—that it is the result of laziness and not taking advantage of the same opportunities afforded to others—were inaccurate, according to Jones. What the Thomas’ discovered was that people did want to work, but there were no opportunities available and a number of systemic obstacles in place that hindered people’s ability to work.
There’s something romantic about an upcycled shipping container being transformed into a sustainable indoor growing operation. It takes would-be garbage from rotting in a port and turns it into a farm system that has the potential to lengthen growing seasons, reduce local food insecurity, and stabilize a farmer’s annual income stream. And, for some it works.
But not always. Eric Amyot was an early adopter of container farming who purchased one of the best retrofitted shipping containers available in 2014 and started SmartGreens, a Canadian operation that grows and delivers fresh greens direct to consumer.
Amyot and his team quickly exhausted the capabilities of the shipping container farm. “The concept and the approach itself were adequate in the sense that it was a good foundation,” he says. “What was lacking was what was needed to grow food consistently and adequately. The turnkey wasn’t as turnkey as we required.”
Joe Swartz is Vice President at American Hydroponics (AmHydro), a longstanding indoor agriculture consultant and supplier. Based in California, the company services clients across the world. Joe has a lengthy career as a grower, and lives with his family on his East coast family farm. Ahead of his presentation at Indoor Ag-Con in May, we posed five questions to him on the hydroponic greenhouse industry and growing on Mars.
Indoor Ag-Con Returns to Las Vegas to Discuss Farm Economics and New Technology Trends in Hydroponics, Aquaponics & AeroponicsMarch 14, 2017 | Nicola Kerslake
News Release — Las Vegas, NV – March 14, 2017 — Indoor agriculture – growing crops using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques – has become popular as consumer demand for “local food” leads growers to add new farms in industrial and suburban areas across the country. Indoor Ag-Con – the industry’s premier conference – will be returning to Las Vegas for the fifth year on May 3-4, 2017 to discuss the prospects for this increasingly important contributor to the global food supply chain.
The two-day event will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and is tailored toward corporate executives from the technology, investment, vertical farming, greenhouse growing, and food and beverage industries, along with hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic startups and urban farmers. It is unique in being crop-agnostic, covering crops from leafy greens and mushrooms to alternate proteins and legal cannabis. Participants will receive an exclusive hard copy of the newest edition in a popular white paper series, which is sponsored by Urban Crops and will focus on the US industry’s development.
Matt Powell opens the door to his hydroponic lettuce farm, housed in a used refrigerated storage container on the corner of his Casper, Wyoming property, and the Marriage of Figaro fills the air.
“My little Mp3 there is loaded up with Mozart and Bach. The study I heard said they tested growing plants in three sound proof environments. They had classical in one, death metal in another and silence in a third. Classical did the best, death metal did the second best,” laughs Powell explaining how his fresh hyperlocal greens are grown with the aid of some classic tunes as they stay cool in their farm-in-a-box environment.