2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6, Page #06[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Way To "Farm" In Urban Areas
“The ‘Farmery’ will be a hybrid of a farm and a store,” Greene says of the growing-and-retail concept they’re building. They already have a couple prototypes of shipping containers for growing mushrooms, with greens, strawberries, herbs and flowers growing on a vertical panel system on the outside wall within a greenhouse frame.
“The panels are movable, and creating them was one of the most challenging jobs,” Greene said. His expertise is industrial design – the Farmery was part of his Master’s thesis project. Nethers has greenhouse experience and currently manages the aquaculture facilities at North Carolina State University. Both grew up on farms.
The concept is to lease land in dense, urban neighborhoods with few high rises that would block the sun. Costs are reduced because the produce doesn’t need to be transported, and electricity and lights do double duty – growing crops and lighting the retail store.
Customers will find added value in the shopping experience because they can see the produce growing and pick it themselves. The produce can’t get any fresher, and there’s less waste because it doesn’t have to be picked and shipped.
“By eliminating the middle man, we create a much more efficient system that gives the grower and the retailer higher margins,” Greene says.
The Farmery will also use aquaculture to raise fish and hydroponics to grow the produce in nutrient-rich run-off water.
The business partners say the system is modular so it can grow to accommodate increasing local need. Shipping containers are inexpensive, stackable, perfect for mushroom growing and easy to retrofit with the panels and greenhouse frames.
Greene and Nethers have been busy promoting their idea, and by mid-October, investors pledged about 40 percent of the $300,000 cost to set up the first Farmery. The cities of Durham, N.C., and Peekskill, N.Y., have expressed interest in assisting them set up.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ben Greene, Farmery, 3125 Tryon Rd., Raleigh, N.C. 27603 (ph 864 921-7967; www.thefarmery.com).
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