Urban farming isn't an urban myth
I'm not being funny. I garden. I grow my own micro greens from Hamama. And I buy my eggs from Farmer Aaron - a man who admits readily to treating his chickens like egg-laying pets. My front display pots have pansies, ranunculus, herbs and lettuces. However, I live out in the countryside.
I have an embarrassment of choices when it comes to healthy options, including my own deck. But many inner city families do not. Their fruits and veggies can't be harvested near real time because they have to be picked and trucked and held at stores... which is not just less sustainable economically (and has more waste), it's less valuable to their bodies. I came into this cause when I saw a TED talk years ago by Ron Finley.
"He created initially started gardening to decrease the effects of the food apartheid in which his own neighborhood existed, encourage healthy eating habits, and beautify the land. Finley encourages people of all backgrounds – not just the poor – to grow their own food. He is a self titled “ecolutionary — someone who gives a f— about this planet and is fighting for it.He believes that “health is not just what you eat. It’s what you see, what you smell, what you feel.” (Thanks, wikipedia)
I love the idea of vertical farming and rooftop farming (in Paris!) and espadrilled walls for fruit... (aka espalier). When food is grown closer to those who will eat it, it is fresher and healthier. I also think it's more attractive but that might be subjective. So, its with great joy that I watch vertical gardens companies (often B-corps and start ups), expand and bring an end to food deserts.
Consider that late last year, in a pandemic, grower Bowery went to Bethlehem: "This year, we’re laying down new roots. Our next farm will be located in Bethlehem, PA—a location that will give us the opportunity to bring Protected Produce to almost 50 million people living within the farm’s 200-mile radius. With this expanded reach and scale, it’s safe to say we can’t wait to open our doors...This farm will also be our largest and most technologically-advanced, featuring a number of developments that lay the groundwork for the next chapter in smart, scalable indoor farming"
Aero Farms chose Newark, New Jersey: "At AeroFarms, we are on a mission to grow the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity. We are a global, mission-driven company, Certified B Corporation and proud to be named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company. Our patented, award winning aeroponic technology provides the perfect conditions for healthy plants to thrive, taking indoor vertical farming to a new level of precision and productivity with minimal environmental impact and virtually zero risk. Through our retail brand Dream Greens, you can enjoy locally grown, pesticide-free produce that bursts with flavor and nutrition, all year round."
And the arugula from Dream Greens is full of tender leaves with plenty of pepper-y bite.
While I think we still have to work on pricing and storage models, on packaging for sustainability and getting fresh green goodies to communities, I'm excited to see the progresss.
Where would you want a farm? What would you want to grow? What business model do you think it should have? Drop me a note. Thanks - big earth day hug! -c-