Urban Farming Spotlight: Seeds are Springin'!

SpringUps Team: Christian Golofaro, Jenny Blake, John Scaife Things are cookin' behind-the-scenes at SpringUps!

As you might remember, I surprised even myself with my most recent pivot in June: joining SpringUps as Director of Operations to help the two awesome co-founders, Christian Golofaro and John Scaife, launch their business.

If you told any of us we'd be (urban) farmers a year ago, we would have laughed and said you're crazy . . . now we're three peas in a hydroponic pod!

I love working with these two—their vision and work ethic inspires me every day, and we're all having a blast working hard to get SpringUps ready for show time. As we approach our first harvest in a few short weeks, I thought it would be fun to share a behind-the-scenes peek at what we've been up to . . .

What is hydroponic farming, you ask?

Hydroponic refers to growing plants indoors with water, without soil or sunlight. Instead of pulling nutrients from the ground, our plants grow by absorbing a nutrient-rich solution that is recirculated by an irrigation system.

Our "farm" consists of two 40-foot shipping containers that are formatted for growing crops in vertical towers, with LED lights hanging inbeween. For comparison, ten of our containers are equivalent to one acre of traditional farmland. Here's a look at our lot in Red Hook, Brooklyn:

SpringUps Containers—Red Hook, Brooklyn

What makes hydroponic farming unique, particularly for urban environments, is that we can provide locally-grown pesticide-free produce year-round, which will be very advantageous in the Winter. And because our containers are sitting in a parking lot in Brooklyn, there's very little land impact—another great bonus for growing produce in a densely packed metropolis like New York City.

Almost all of the 300 vertical towers in our shipping containers are full of sweet and Thai basil, and will be ready to harvest in the coming weeks. We've designed the first set of labels, and are reaching out to grocery stores to get SpringUps on shelves by September. This is a 3D rendering of what the inside looks like:

SpringUps - Farm Interior (3D Rendering)

If you're interested in following our urban farming adventures, we'd love to have you join us on Twitter and our monthly newsletter!

A few more excerpts below, and a special shout-out to John and Mary Scaife, who have been reading this blog since I joined the team—thank you! :)

John, Jenny & Christian — Celebrating Two Months of the Power Trio at Frankie's in the West Village:


SpringUps Team: John Scaife, Jenny Blake, Christian Golofaro

What We're Reading: Healthy Living & Eating Edition

  • I'm loving Robin Shulman's book, Eat The City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York.
  • Salon.com: The world's ten most dangerous foods people actually eat. Includes puffer fish, blood clams, African bullfrog, and rotten maggot cheese (?!?! #nowayjose)
  • Pacific Standard: Broccoli Eaters Get More Out of Life. "People who ate more fruits and vegetables over the 13-day period reported higher average levels of curiosity, creativity, and positive emotions, as well as engagement, meaning, and purpose."
  • International Business Times: Indoor Farming: Future Takes Root In Abandoned Buildings, Warehouses, Empty Lots & High Rises. "Long shelves thick with fresh herbs and salad greens sit beneath hundreds of fluorescent grow lights. There are planters of basil, watercress and kale stacked in neat rows reaching the ceiling, afloat in a nutrient-rich stream of water fed by large blue tanks filled with tilapia. It’s an eerily beautiful scene, interrupted only by the occasional worker driving an aerial lift through the aisles, stopping to pluck handfuls of greens ready to be packaged and distributed throughout the city. Welcome to the world of vertical farming."

Stay tuned for more adventures in basil! Now I just need to learn how to cook . . . ;)