Farm on four wheels changing the landscape of urban farming

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Farms are usually found on acres of land tucked away in North Carolina’s rural communities.

But more urban cities are looking to have their own harvest.

The problem – residents can’t typically grow a bed of arugula in between skyscrapers.

They can, however, in a shipping container on wheels.

Research Triangle Park (RTP) is making a major investment in a new popular twist to the farm to table concept.

Photo Courtesy: CBS North Carolina
Photo Courtesy: CBS North Carolina

It’s a new way of urban farming, designed to grow, sell and cook local produce.

“These are just traditional hydroponic growing systems that’d you’d find in a greenhouse and we layered it,” explained Ben Greene, CEO and Founder of The Farmery.

CBS North Carolina’s Beairshelle Edmé went inside the farm on four wheels, where Greene is using vertical farming to grow his crops.

He starts producing baby-sized greens and herbs by first laying down burlap in trays inside the 320 square foot CropBox, which The Farmery developed in partnership with Williamson Greenhouses.

Later, a tank down at the bottom of the CropBox recirculates the water and irrigates the produce. LED lights serve as the sunlight.

“As soon as we harvest it, we put it in their salads,” Greene said.

For $7 to $10, customers get a locally-grown fresh meal.

“Kind of like farm at your table, where the farm is next to you while you’re eating your food,” he described.
The Farmery’s goal is to create an affordable, healthy option, and Greene and his team say they couldn’t do that if they didn’t grow the food themselves.

The advantage is their ability to control inventory and harvest exactly what they need; there’s little food waste and they spend half as much as major restaurants.

“We’re able to compete by eliminating that long journey from the farm to the restaurant by putting it at the same site,” Greene said.

Greene says the farming concept has been successful across the nation and as well with his effort. By August, he plans to start expanding to a much larger facility at RTP.

For more information on this project, click here.

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