By Kerry Kilpatrick
A rooftop farm in the middle of New York City, growing a million pounds of produce every year, would have been unimaginable a short time ago. It is now a reality.
There are some amazing trends emerging in a variety of farming operations that will affect where and when your produce is grown. Six key forces are driving those trends, and they are creating amazing business opportunities.
Here’s a brief description of the forces that are at work:
“Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield Township has built a $1 million greenhouse on its 160-acre campus to grow fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for use in the hospital year-around, and has hired a 'resident farmer' to tend it.”
Cozy Acres Greenhouse in North Yarmouth, Maine, utilized the USDA program to create its signature line of produce -- described as “Zero Emission” products. Cozy Acres' produce is grown in a greenhouse that uses electricity created from the sun and heat from a geothermal system. When it distributes its products to local restaurants and farmer’s markets, their carbon footprint is negligible.
One Michigan grower recently received a sizable weekly contract for produce simply because their lettuce was grown locally and year-round. Restaurants, catering to the demands of their customers, want to offer more locally-grown produce. Advances in vertical farming and hydroponics are now taking the weather variable out of farming and making predictable harvests a reality
Farm-to-table is a growing trend with no end in sight. Food that is picked, processed and served all in the same area is a trend that is economical and profitable for farmers as well as farmers markets and restaurants.
With the changes in our economy, many towns have large former industrial spaces or warehouses sitting empty. Technology now makes turning that space into a farm possible with a minimum of site changes. St. Paul, Minnesota, converted a former brewery into an organic farm capable of turning out tons of produce per year.
There are some amazing trends emerging that will affect where and when your produce is grown.
Led by changes in technology and a growing awareness of sustainability, the forces listed above will drive trends that will affect your food choices and will influence your produce buying habits in the very near future. The trends have also created a new word that best sums up the movement -- locavore!
Image Credit: Mud Lake Farms
Kerry Kilpatrick is the Social Media Director for The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan. He enjoys highlighting the amazing stories that result when businesses implement energy saving strategies and embrace renewable energy innovations. An energy philosophy best summed up by the phrase “reduce then produce."