North St. Louis Riverfront "GreenCubator"

Project Overview

FNC19-1162
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $25,736.00
Projected End Date: 08/28/2021
Grant Recipient: Good life Growing
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
James Forbes
Good life Growing

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands
  • Production Systems: aquaponics
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, food hubs, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Summary:

    With increased population, climate change, and a globally stressed food system there is a need for innovative vertical indoor farming in both rural and urban communities. Our current agriculture system is heavily focused on commodity crops, leaving very limited options for nutritious food sources; especially in inner city communities suffering in the post industrial wake of blight and vacancy.

    The problem is that the indoor farming industry is still in its infancy. The majority of indoor farming technology and equipment is overpriced, and return on investment is not immediate.

    Inputs such as growing equipment and supplies, fertilizer, HVAC, synthetic lighting, and general overhead are out of the financial reach for most farmers not already familiar with indoor farming.

    We propose to create a modular, vertical Aquaponic Growing Rack System that can produce a broad range of vegetables, an edible fish source that doubles as the nutrient supply, and innovative LED lighting technology that is energy efficient while putting out high density lighting capable of replicating the sun.

    We intend to prove that formerly vacant property can be converted into thriving, sustainable, food-producing hubs capable of feeding the masses and creating living wage jobs.

    In 2020 our ability to complete our grant project was greatly disrupted due to Covid-19, which hit St. Louis, Missouri shortly after we submitted our 1st progress report in February 2020. All of our final objectives to host Field days and take our exploratory trips were made impossible due to shelter in place rules, travel restrictions, and limited gathering mandates.

    We were able to host a few tours in the Summer and Spring of 2020, and while they were not the intended tours/Field Days we had planned for much bigger, broader audiences they were very informative for the groups we engaged with. St. Louis was hit hard again in 2021 with the Covid-19 Delta Variant, and limited our efforts to hosting educational career specialist from Hannibal and Vandalia MO.

    Project objectives:

    Our major objectives are:

    1. Construct a modular Aquaponic Grow Rack System prototype that is easy to replicate and scale
    2. Measure yields, growth rates, and profitability per square foot utilizing the prototype
    3. Identify input and overhead expenses to operate the system
    4. Test for quality of crops to consist of taste, appearance, and storage
    5. Host 5 public presentations at the "GreenCubator" facility showcasing the prototype
    6. Share findings through our media outlets and a written report to our local USDA representatives
    7. Share findings with the Missouri Department of Agriculture
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.