Student innovator designs easy way to bring fresh food to urbanites

Farmery 1The idea of having farm fresh, healthy food available to inner city urbanites has been growing steadily. Inner-city gardens are springing up in major cities across the U.S., offering fresh produce to people who for so long had no easy access to it. But even this has its problems, including seasonality. Now a student in North Carolina has designed an innovative way to dramatically decrease product loss and offer fresh produce yer round. Young entrepreneur/inventor Ben Greene has created The Farmery, which bring vegetable production, harvest and distribution together in a single location, right in the middle of town. A modified farmer’s market, The Farmery eliminates the middle man and brings fresh-picked produce almost directly to the consumer’s doorstep. Constructed primarily from repurposed shipping containers and greenhouse implements, herbs, strawberries and greens are grown via aquaponics. a practice that raises fish in the water supply to provide nutrients and keep disease in check. A highly efficient use of space, fresh growing vegetables hang on vertical gardens, available for handpicking as desired. Gourmet mushrooms grow on the insides of the shipping containers. Customers can literally harvest his or her meal and consume it the same day, without ever having to leave the neighborhood. Greene has even bigger plans. The future Farmery will include a cafe and a grocery, for those who don’t prefer to pick their own produce. http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUm-hRl2anCpcXfkoyQ9YsWg&v=IkpRtgapboE&feature=player_embedded Traditional urban farms, farmers’ markets and CSA’s provide an alternative to agro-chemical products, but because of transportation costs, labor and the loss of spoiled product, the price of fresh, organic produce goes up exponentially fur urban dwellers. “You’re looking at 36 percent inventory loss from the farm to the retailer,” Green explains, “and we eliminate most of that.” Because the produce is picked once the customer has made a purchasing decision, product loss practically disappears. Anything that must be picked before it’s sold can be used in the cafe.

Farmery inventor / entrepreneur Ben Greene

Farmery inventor / entrepreneur Ben Greene

“The focus is on enabling small, artisanal farmers and enabling that farm culture,” Greene explains. “By having a grocery store on site, you have a much higher traffic flow, so you can sell more product.” And this means fresh produce can be sold at much more reasonable prices, something unique for inner city urbanites who have become used to too high prices for anything fresh. That’s important to Greene, who wants to see his product made available to people of all socio-economic backgrounds. The current Farmery prototype – the Mini-Farmery – is located in front of Burt’s Bees Headquarters at American Tobacco Campus in the middle of Downtown Durham, NC. Made possible by Kickstarter contributors, a sponsorship from Burt’s Bees and the progressive thinkers at American Tobacco Campus, this definitely sounds like a useful and exciting opportunity. Let’s hope this idea takes off and becomes available in every major metropolitan area.

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