Ag Weekly: When a farm isn’t a farm

The future of farming
Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 7:00 AM EDT
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LYONS FALLS, New York (WWNY) - Believe it or not, there’s three acres of produce growing in a parking lot in Lyons Falls. They’re inside a 500-foot shipping container.

“Humblebee Farms is classified as a vertical hydroponic farm and we grow lettuce, leafy greens, vegetables, edible flowers,” owner Brandon Cunningham said.

The Cunningham family noticed that while living in the north country, fresh greens are only really available through the harvesting season. During the rest of the year, its produce shipped in from thousands of miles away, which leaves behind a huge carbon footprint and doesn’t last in the fridge. They took matters into their own hands.

“This is about 95% more efficient than soil farming,” Cunningham said. “The HVAC system sucks the water out of the air and returns it to our water tank, and as for space, 500 feet compared to 3 acres. And it’s available year-round.

So how does it work?

“We have four walls in here and two are for plants and the other two are for the lights,” Cunningham said. “The lights are blue and red LED. It’s a light spectrum perfectly suitable for plants.”

With these conditions, the farm can produce 250 pounds of produce each week.

“Our produce is harvested the night before or the morning of the day it’s sold and consumed.”

The farm is also aiming to start a not-for-profit sector to help youth and veterans get into farming.

“What we’re going to be able to provide is, to have veterans come in, do an internship with them, and provide everything they need to know to accomplish something like this,” Cunningham said.

As for the youth program:

“Today’s kids, we have a 16-year-old at home, he’s not interested in dirt farming,” Cunningham said. “But he can control this right from his iPad, iPhone, so were trying to attract the younger generation to come back into farming.”

The future of farming — it might not look like a farm at all.