What if you could grow and sell food in the same place? What would that look like? That is the radical idea behind Ben Greene's innovative sustainable agriculture project, called The Farmery.
When you consider how far food has to travel to get from the field it is grown in to a retail shelf and the amount of energy used in that process, it is one of those things that can leave you dumbfounded that we've ever arrived at a situation where this is the norm.
"It has to be harvested, packed, transported and cooled," Greene says about how food makes it to a grocery store. "And at every step, there is massive inventory loss. What if this entire system could be consolidated into one site?"
Greene envisions a system where you can grow food and have a market to buy it in the same building. He even calls it the Willy Wonka's Factory of sustainable agriculture, where customers could pick or cut their own crops.
We get pitched a lot of conceptual ideas regarding vertical farms or futuristic new designs and as a thought experiment alone, this idea was super compelling to me, but I have to admit that my jaw dropped when I played the video below and saw Greene harvesting giant gourmet mushrooms and cutting bushy stems of herbs and realized that this concept already exists in real life.
Using a system of stacked shipping containers, hanging planters and modular greenhouse structures, Greene is already growing a significant amount of food as he tests his concept.
In the video below, you'll see inside The Farmery and hear Greene explain his vision for how this model can work in cities and food deserts across the United States.
In a time when food and energy prices are rising and the allure of dense, urban living is enticing more and more people, a system like this could be a brilliant melding of the futuristic vertical farm with a more pragmatic scale and model. With low construction costs due to the materials, it would be great to see a few more of these pop-up in cities around the US to see how they are received.
To learn more visit The Farmery website.