Urban Tech Farm

Vertical urban farms operating at 100% sustainability while revitalizing abandoned buildings.

What's the big idea?

We’re starting small and scaling linearly. We have home setups that we’re using for research & learning. We plan to transition what we learn to a beta prototype - to grow and distribute samples; then a shipping container - to prove sustainability; and finally to abandoned buildings. Growing indoors allows for year-round production, higher efficiency than traditional farming, better control of variables, greater yields, & minimal transportation costs.  Using aquaponics (growing veggies with fish) food can be grown in a symbiotic closed loop system without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.

Describe the nearest player in your field.

In Chicago, there is currently a project called The Plant (http://www.plantchicago.com)  Their goal is to pair tenants’ waste inputs/outputs to create a closed-loop sustainable ecosystem that is net zero energy usage. i.e. Spent barley from the brewery is used to feed Tilapia in the aquaponics farm.

How are you different from that player?

The tech farm in Grand Rapids would be designed to fully integrate automation within the system to control the farming environment & labor needs.  We’d like to see robotic: planting, harvesting, packing, shipping, etc.

How's the world different with your idea in it?

By 2050, there will be over 9 billion people. There isn’t enough arable land left on Earth to accommodate this predicted population growth.  Our current food production methods are not sustainable and have been causing devastating effects to our environment. The time to change and prepare is now.

Why are you the one to run with this idea?

One of my goals in life is to be part of an industry that can change the lives of billions.  For me it’s not about the money, it’s about providing a solution to a serious need in which the majority of people don’t even recognize yet.  I have the passion, ambition, & foresight to make this a reality.

There have been 7 replies to this idea

  1. Nathan Berning

    Great concept! It would require some thought process into how you will acquire the abandoned buildings and such, but I am sure you’ve thought about that by now! Endorsed.

  2. Brian Falther

    Owner

    Thanks Nathan!

  3. David Page

    There are thousands of blighted warehouses and industrial sites around the state of Michigan that might provide inexpensive space to experiment. In addition to the potential environmental benefits, this type of approach may increase food safety and security. I wonder at what scale this becomes economically feasible?

  4. Brian Falther

    Owner

    We agree David, this WILL increase food safety and security.  I wonder incessantly at what scale this becomes economically feasible ;)  We’re in it to find out; we’re a ground level startup with an idea and we’re looking to grow to make a significant difference in the way our world understands food production.

  5. Will Vanden Breul

    I saw your idea on the main page and came here specifically to mention The Plant in Chicago. Glad you’ve already heard about it. What are your plans for distribution? I can’t claim to know much about food access issues in Michigan, but it would be cool if you could get your produce into corner stores, something like what’s being done in Philadelphia with the Corner Store Initiative ( http://www.thefoodtrust.org/php/programs/corner.store.campaign.php). Something more directly relevant to Michigan to look at might be a partnership with farmers markets and the Fair Food Network’s “Double Up Food Bucks” program which essentially matches or doubles a SNAP participants benefits when spent at farmers markets (http://www.doubleupfoodbucks.org). I think there are a lot of people and funding institutions out there interested in increasing access to the kind of fresh sustainable produce you want to grow. I’m going to endorse you but also encourage you to look into tapping other sources of funding to increase your chances of success.  Great idea, keep working on developing it.

  6. Brian Falther

    Owner

    Will, thank you for your support.  The beauty of being able to post our idea to a fund like Start Garden is having the opportunity to share with the public our idea at the ground level.  We’re not sure yet what our plans for distribution will be, but I can guarantee that we’ll find out as our company grows and develops.  There are so many options that I’m sure it will be hard to pick just one.  Our philosophy is constant iteration; and with that in mind we’ll try out all avenues and undoubtedly build some of our own along the way - the bottom line importance will always be to get healthier food to people for less expense, both financially and in energy consumption.

  7. Nate Fruin

    Absolutely fantastic concept, would love to see it implemented! when you can’t go out, go up. And when you can’t move it any further away, do it right there. I can see many, many advantages to this, I wish you guys good luck!

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