Join the Mission: the City that Feeds Itself™
As regular readers of the blog know, we are on a mission to create the City that Feeds Itself™. We are using our new flagship location at 290 Pratt St. in Meriden, CT, as the launching grounds for this mission. This space will be showcasing Controlled Environment Agriculture with a focus on aquaponics as an example of an urban farm of the future. In addition to a commercial scale urban aquaponics farm, we will be using the space to inspire, train, and empower hidden farmer groups to also take the baton and start growing food for themselves, their communities in Meriden, and throughout the state. Our goal is to create as many ways as possible for others to join the mission: the City that Feeds Itself™.
In order to create the City that Feeds Itself™, a lot of different parts need to come together and work in a symbiotic way to actually be able to meet the food demands of an entire city. The first major hurdle for this mission is bringing farms into the city itself, ending a reliance on food that is grown hundreds or thousands of miles away. Not only is this current model extremely insecure, it also makes it difficult for those in cities to have reliable access to fresh, local, and nutritious foods. According to the USDA Census, the United States has lost 40 million acres of farmland over the past 15 years! With urbanization on the rise, we can only expect this number to continue to increase as cities bulldoze our world’s fertile soil. Cities themselves are incapable of utilizing traditional farming methods for this very reason: a lack of available and farmable soil. But that is all about to change!
New Farming Techniques Like Aquaponics Allow Anyone Anywhere to Grow
With the advent of new growing techniques, like aquaponics, no longer do we need large plots of fertile soil to be able to grow large volumes of fresh food. In fact, we don’t need any soil at all! Farms of the future will be in warehouses new and old, rooftops, basements, lobbies of buildings, classrooms, and just about anywhere there is extra space and access to power and water. By leveraging together all these available spaces in the city we can create the economies of scale to meet and exceed the production needed to feed the residents of a city.
Unfortunately, it will take more than just a creative use of underutilized spaces in the city to grow all of its food requirements. Just because we have all of this space does not mean we will be able to grow all the food we need. For starters, who is going to grow all this food? Current farmers are not likely to just up and abandon their fields, homes, and livelihoods to become city dwellers and learn a whole new style of farming. Instead, we will need to inspire a new generation of people to become farmers, growers, and producers of food for their communities within cities. We’ll also be seeing a shift in the image and definition of what a farmer is as new technologies like aquaponics empower those who previously were not capable of growing food to be able to grow large volumes of high-quality food in small spaces all throughout the city.
We’ve identified several hidden farmer groups that we believe will lead the way in growing their own food using methods like aquaponics. Empowering these groups to grow, providing the platform for them to sell and distribute what they grow, and connecting them directly to consumers in the city will become the foundation to creating the City that Feeds Itself™.
Establishing a Repeatable Model
Our new location, 290 Pratt St. in Meriden, CT, is the first step of many in making this vision a reality. We have a lot of goals for our new space that we hope will facilitate
and accelerate the necessary changes to make Meriden the first City that Feeds Itself™ of many. First, we want to prove that urban farming is not only viable in terms of high volume production but that it is also viable economically. One of the biggest hurdles for the new hidden farmers is battling the increased costs of production one faces in an urban environment. When you aren’t growing using sun and soil on large plots of land you have increased costs to overcome those lack of resources. You need to build a system that can grow plants without soil, you need to replace the sun with lighting to be able to grow your plants, you need to buy or rent a space in the city, and you have to pay higher utility costs to make it all happen.
On the outset, these can seem like insurmountable challenges when trying to create a profitable and repeatable model. Which is where we and our new location come in. We’ll prove that with the right planning, design, and use new technologies, it is possible to grow enough food in an urban environment to overcome these upfront and ongoing expenses and still make a profit on your farm.
Establishing a Framework for Growth
But we won’t stop with just proving that it can be done once. Our lone pilot farm is simply not able to meet the requirements an entire city needs! That’s why our new space will not only include an urban farm, but also a workshop and training area, our own Trifecta Lab, so we can teach and train others everything they need to know in order to be able to replicate our model and start growing food themselves. We’ll be focused on working with our hidden farmer groups and empowering them to become farmers and start providing food for their communities.
We aim to create a repeatable model for them to follow, breaking down the barriers to success and lowering the risk for those who want to become food producers in the city. We also aim to connect these new producers to their customers directly through an online distribution platform we are developing in our new space. By ensuring these new producers have access to their customers, not only will it make it easier for them to sell and distribute their produce, they can also gain valuable insights into what their local residents are looking to consume. This allows our hidden farmers to grow what’s in demand, as opposed to hoping what they grow will sell when it comes time to harvest.
We hope by giving them the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to succeed we can inspire a whole new generation of urban farmers in Meriden, in cities across Connecticut, and the world to join us and make the City that Feeds Itself™ a reality. It is an admittedly lofty goal and one that won’t be accomplished without overcoming many challenges, obstacles, and setbacks along the way. But with focused determination, relentless hard work, and likely a little luck along the way we know we can persevere and create a brighter, more food secure future for ourselves and future generations.
Inspiring Others to Join the Mission
One amazing outcome since we’ve started this mission publicly and began taking the first steps to make it happen has been the overwhelming support we’ve received. We have folks from all over the world reaching out to support this mission. While we are still weeks away from completing the buildout at the new space we have come up with a great way to support our mission and join us in fostering the first City that Feeds Itself™.
We’ve opened up a new shop on our website and are starting to roll out a bunch of awesome new Trifecta Ecosystems swag! Starting this week we’ll be rolling out a few new products every couple of weeks to help our fans show their support for our mission. All proceeds from these sales will be funneled directly towards our buildout efforts enabling you to join directly into our mission while showing your support with some cool new swag. If you’ve identified with our cause and have been looking for a way to show your support this is a great way to do it! If swag just isn’t for you, you can still show your support by sharing this post, following us on facebook and Instagram, dropping us a line in the chat box to the right, or coming out to see us for our grand opening in a few weeks. We thank you for believing in our goals and we’ll continue to stay vigilant in making this mission a reality!