A commercial venture is on the move, and its timing is great, as it proposes to save water, fertilizer, and space, while providing fresh, nutrient-dense produce in urban areas.
This Southern California company is setting up an urban micro-farm -which claims to save large amounts of water- in Irvine, California during this time period when the extreme-drought of California is grabbing so many headlines.
The company is called Alegría Fresh, and they have various products on the market which are intended to grow fresh produce by using hydroponic techniques.
They have devised a mini-vertical garden system for urban dwellers for use in small spaces. Their vertical farm set-ups use coconut fiber (coir) instead of soil.
Their latest venture, Alegría Soxx Farm, uses 7500 linear feet of GardenSoxx on one-fifth of an acre in Irvine, California to grow 15 different vegetables, for a total of 13,000 plants.
They expect a 70 percent reduction in the amount of water needed to grow this produce, and a 50 percent reduction in fertilizer required because of the rich growing medium used. They also expect high yields, greater pest resistance, and faster growth rates, calling this a “paradigm shift in urban ag”.
Furthermore, they suggest that this prototype farm, and other future urban micro-farms like it have a juice bar, salad bar, and small farm stand alongside it to sell produce direct and employ local workers, creating a revenue stream that can support the farms.
All Sounds Great, But a Few Comments . . .
One question that I have, should any of the fine folks from Alegría drop by and read this, is how does this farm save water, when the GardenSoxx Q&A states, “as the mesh breathes, it will dry out sooner than normal soil.” I’d love to see an answer in the comments below, please, as many people are looking for solutions such as this to help grow food in our urban areas.
My other question is how adaptable would this system be to other regions of this nation, besides our prized Mediterranean climate growing region of Southern California?
Finally, I love innovation in food growing, but how I wish it didn’t (so often) involve greater use of plastic.
UPDATE: I’ve noticed the video isn’t working, which really is necessary to understand this set-up. See this page for another video. And here is a video of their vertical hydroponic gardening system.