We are big fans of Sustainable America and not just because they featured Agri-tecture’s post on food deserts. They are great because they produce content like this infographic that explains that we do indeed have the space for urban farming and what the benefits are. Check it out:
Not sure about the “not getting his hands dirty” part of this article (we have seen plenty of greenhouses and know just how messy the work can get) but nevertheless this is a nice read about an up and coming farm in upstate NY. It is great to see young people getting jobs in the industry and landowners diversifying their property to include a space for local, healthy food production.
Michael Suter raises fresh vegetables without ever having to get his hands dirty or work outside in the hot sun.
That’s one of the benefits of Stone Bridge Farm’s hydroponic greenhouse system that went into production early this summer.
When temperatures dip into the single digits this winter, Suter will be warm and cozy. In fact, he starts each day early and leaves by mid-afternoon before the spacious greenhouse gets too hot.
“I’m way too Irish for the 80s,” said Suter, a red-headed, fair-skinned Boston native.
In 2012, he graduated from Delaware Valley College near Philadelphia, where he studied commercial crop production with a specialty in greenhouse operations. By chance, the same person that installed the school’s hydroponic system built one for Stone Bridge Farm, off Route 32 in Gansevoort.
It’s just the kind of opportunity Suter was looking for, so at 23, when many recent graduates are still trying to find work, he already has a head grower’s position.
Plants are started, fed and grown in a liquid nutrient solution comprised of various minerals such as potassium, nitrogen, iron, sulfur and magnesium.
“I’m controlling exactly what ions are in the plants’ diet as opposed to what happens to be in the soil,” he said. “I’ve been tweaking the nutrient feed to get them to all be happy. It’s indoors so you don’t have to worry about disease or bugs. Every week I plant a group and every week I harvest a group, so it’s perpetual.”
Crops grown inside also reach maturity more quickly. Some greens are ready to pick in 42 days, at least two weeks sooner than conventional outdoor growing, Suter said.
The larger of two greenhouses, which cost about $175,000 including growing apparatus, is used for raising greens such as lettuce, Genovese basil, kale, Swiss chard and arugula. An automated heating and cooling system keeps things at 67 degrees.
A smaller “high-tunnel”-type structure, where temperatures are in the low 80s, has 200 tomato plants.
“Once they get established, it’s amazing how fast they grow,” Operations Manager Ron Mattia said.
Stone Bridge Farm, a thoroughbred racing business, has three separate Gansevoort properties. Greenhouses are located at the yearling facility near the corner of Route 32 and Clark Road in Moreau.
Farm owner Jeffrey Tucker is an investor in Toronto-based Blue Planet Environmental Inc., whose patented oxygenation micro-bubble technology improves taste through greater nutrient absorption and healthier root systems.
“I am a believer in eating healthy and wanted to be able to provide locally-grown produce in an environment as pesticide free as possible, which could be available year round,” Tucker said. “In working with greenhouse growers seeking to improve their businesses, I became interested in building a greenhouse complex at the farm. We plan to begin growing micro-greens shortly to complement our tomatoes, lettuces and other greens.”
Stone Bridge Farm produce is sold at Saratoga Healthy Living Market, at Wilton Mall and several area farmers’ markets including the Spa City market, held on Sundays at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs. Long-range plans call for more greenhouses and selling to local restaurants as well, Mattia said.
One of the challenges is simply getting people to try food grown in an unconventional way.
“Most people go by the quality of the plant,” Suter said. “If it looks good, they’ll try it. One bite and you can taste the difference.”
One of the most incredible #urbanagriculture projects we have ever seen is #localgarden in #vancouver - read all about this #verticalfarm http://www.agri-tecture.com/post/39233689423/local-garden #agritecture