Partner Profile | Sky Vegetables & +Farm
At The Sonic Jungle, we believe that eating healthy and in a sustainable way are two very important keys to maintaining a healthy life of wellness. We are grateful to have some of the most innovative eco-tech teams involved in our community. Did you know you can get locally sourced vegetables that are sustainably grown right here in NYC? Read more below:
Sky Vegetables develops and operates urban hydroponic rooftop farms with +Farm as part of its mission to grow fresh and local produce sustainably. Sky Vegetables and its produce are pesticide-free and naturally organic. Hydroponics use 95% less water than regular agriculture, making it a highly sustainable growing method. Sky currently operates an ~8,000 sf rooftop farm in the Bronx, twenty minutes from Manhattan. The Bronx greenhouse is currently being operated in partnership with Blue Planet Consulting.
+Farm is a DIY system that democratizes vertical farming and hydroponics by making it easier for people to learn about the topic and get involved in a hands-on way. Coming soon on its website (www.plus.farm), users will be able to custom design a +Farm based on their needs, and get instructions on how to build and maintain it.
+Farm grows plants locally using hydroponics, which reduces some of the negative environmental impacts associated with conventional agriculture, such as: soil erosion, fertilizer runoff, energy used for transportation, and pesticide use. Vegetables that were used in the +Farm installation came from our hydroponic greenhouse, Sky Vegetables, in the Bronx.
At Sonic Jungle, we used +Farm as a way of reimagining how a space can be used for agriculture (beyond just horizontally and vertically). It's a way for us to decentralize food production, keep money circulated within the local community, and increase self-sufficiency.
We had the opportunity to ask some questions from Sky Vegetables about hydroponics, local veggies and consciously sourced foods. Check out our short interview below:
1. What tips do you have for someone who lives in the city and is just starting to eat more consciously sourced foods?
I think a good rule of thumb is that if you know where your food is coming from, the nutritious value in that food will probably be higher. Even if local or consciously sourced food is not always affordable, try to include it your diet whenever you have the ability to. Growing fresher food has a cost on farms, but there are some great organizations doing great work in making sure that your markets are filled with local produce. Hopefully the value of those benefits can outweigh everything else.
2. Why do you think its important that we start using Hydroponically grown vegetables instead of regularly grown vegetables?
I don't think one is necessarily more important than the other; the two methods of growing go hand in hand.
With hydroponics, food is grown without soil and through a water recycling system, so issues like top soil erosion or excess water usage are removed. We also have a strict no-pesticide policy, which is a big benefit. Additionally, growing in a somewhat controlled environment means that good quality produce can be provided all year. However, with an increased demand for heating and lighting in the winter, the energy usage can also get high. So I think I would say find the balance, support your local farmers, and don't be afraid to buy hydroponic produce.
3. Where do your vegetables go after they grow in your roof garden in the Bronx?
On the same day the crops are harvested from the farm, they are delivered directly to our consumers. We serve local grocery stores, restaurants, pesto-producers, and food banks.
4. Are local people able to get them directly from your garden?
We have an open door policy for the people from our local community. Pick-ups from the greenhouse are always welcome.
5. Was it difficult to build the first ever sky garden?
There is always difficulty when building a farming operation in the city. This operation was especially unique as it is situated on top of a Platinum LEED Certified affordable housing unit, so more efficient technology for using energy and water were incorporated into the structure. Making sure we control our environment in the most efficient manner is an ongoing task, but the challenge is well worth it.
6. How many more sky gardens do you have planned to build in the future? Where will they be located?
We're currently in the midst of getting investors for our next farm. We want to build upon this model and expand our reach. A location is not yet finalized, but make sure to stay tuned!