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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Near Eastside Warehouse Converted to Hydroponic Urban Farm

Oct 08, 2015 04:56PM ● By Lanette Er

One of the main arguments often stated by pro-GMO advocates is that we cannot feed the world without genetically modified crops grown on a large scale. This model, though, is proving unsustainable as the safety of GMO crops is questioned, soil health declines, pests become pesticide resistant, nitrate pollution increases in our waterways, and crop pollinators, like honeybees, are dying due to overuse of chemicals. It’s time to stop trying to figure out how to apply more chemical inputs to large farming operations, and instead, figure out a completely different way to grow food.

Sustainable Local Foods of Indiana (SLF) is doing just that by turning a 61,000-square-foot warehouse on Converted to Hydroponic Urban Farm South Rural Street into an urban farm. Using a tiered, organic, hydroponic growing system, the farm will grow produce year-round to be sold in Indiana grocery stores.

Hydroponic systems feed plants directly with nutrients they would normally get out of the earth. The plants use less energy since the nutrients are dissolved into the water that is directly fed to them, allowing the operation to use 90 percent less water than traditional soil growing. The plants will also enjoy a significantly reduced or pest-free environment, negating the need for harmful chemicals that are eventually introduced into the food system with field-grown crops.

The indoor urban farm will use renewable energy to power the operation wherever possible. SLF will integrate LED lighting—supported by Fishers-based Eco Lighting Solutions— and environmental efficiencies to produce an efficient hybrid growing environment. The ECO Grow LED consumes 25 percent less energy than the current grow lights being used in the industry.

With these types of eco-friendly growing systems in place, there can be year-around production and a predictable yield, and with outside climate extremes having no bearing on the production or quality of the produce.

Located on the Near Eastside, the warehouse falls within the bounds of a federally designated Promise Zone, meaning the area was singled out by the Obama administration as a prime place for redevelopment. The neighborhood is also one of the city’s Great Places 2020, signaling the city is actively focused on planning and investment toward the redevelopment of the area.

As the instability of current agricultural practices continues to grow, it’s becoming more evident that initiatives like these are needed to feed the world’s growing population.

To learn more, visit SLFIndy.com.
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