“If a company works primarily in an area where seismic calculations are not needed then they probably do not have the calculations to give you because… The company also lacks the experience or knowledge that will guide you through a successful process of procuring permits…”

Every grower has to start out somewhere and most of the growers out there start out by ordering something on Amazon. They figure, correctly, that they can see if they like growing, if they are capable of doing it, and what it is like overall. It is a smart idea altogether. Why waste time in a profession where it is not going to pan out. However, if you get past this stage and realize that you want more from the industry then you are going to have to start looking at growing vertically in a rack. You are also going to have to figure out how you can do it more efficiently.

One of the biggest problems you face when you go from being a hobbyist into a bigger business is the amount of consumer-level products that will be pitched to you. The truth is that there are a lot more entry-level consumers than there are businesses that make it in this industry. Many of the businesses building rack or shelving tend to focus on this segment which means that you might be out of luck when it comes to finding what you want. You will have to comb through the hundreds of consumer-level products to find a few that are capable of doing the level of growing that you have in mind.

Industrial strength is not industrial strength in the consumer market. Many of the products they have in the marketplace tout “industrial strength”. Much of those products have a limit somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 lbs. The weight sounds impressive until you find out that professional growers can handle up to 2500 lbs per level with their racks. They can also stack their grows vertically to the limits allowed by their local governments. If you are stuck with a rack or shelf that only does 800 lbs and your competition has a shelf that can do 2500 lbs per level while maintaining the ability to grow vertically then you can guess how much bigger of a yield and profit they have above you.

“If you still intend on using it legally in your business then you may have to have it modified. It may end up being more expensive than just buying a vertical farming rack that has seismic calculations already included.”

Money is always a factor and you should do what is profitable for you but you should not cut corners because that is where you start to have trouble. If you start looking into the used vertical farming rack or discount racks that are new then you can run into trouble. It is because not all racks have the necessary documentation that will allow them to be used, legally, in your location. Not all areas have the same seismic activity happening underneath their businesses. It is because of this fact that not all rack or shelving should or can be used in your business. If they do not have a need for seismic calculations in their respective area then it is unlikely they will have the calculations for you. If you need calculations for your permit process then you might be out of luck. You will have to get them so that you can prove that your newly bought used rack is up to code. If it is not up to code then you will have to store it. There are some cases where you might be forced to disassemble it and then store it away. If you still intend on using it legally in your business then you may have to have it modified. Of course, this is all dependent on what your seismic calculations say. It may end up being more expensive than just buying a vertical farming rack that has seismic calculations already included.

Remember, this is also possible with a new rack. If a company works primarily in an area where seismic calculations are not needed then they probably do not have the calculations to give you because it is unnecessary for them or the clientele they deal with on a day to day basis. The company also lacks the experience or knowledge that will guide you through a successful process of procuring permits for your area. You should always ask about seismic calculations before you buy a new or used rack so you know what you are getting into before you buy anything.

If you are looking for a vertical farming rack with seismic calculations and a company that can help you with permitting then you want to talk to us. Give us a call at 503-536-7218. You can also look at this vertical farming rack or mobile grow rack by clicking the respective links.

80 Acres Farms is growing produce as part of an art show in New York. It is on one of the busiest streets, Fifth Avenue. It will grow tomatoes continuously for the next six months. New Yorkers will be able to look in on the crop during the exhibition which will run through August. It is another step towards indoor gardening/farming as a mainstay of crop production in the future.

Key Takeaways:

  • 80 Acres Farm is producing crops of tomatoes for an art show in New York.
  • The crops will grow continuously for six months until the end of the exhibition in August.
  • The production of tomatoes will be visible on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Quote: “For the Guggenheim exhibition, 80 Acres Farms, Infinite Acres, and its Priva partners have collaborated on the 700-square-foot grow center, which is expected to grow 50,000 tomatoes in six months. ” (Schwartzberg, 2020)

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A new indoor growing facility has caught the attention of some in Long Island. It is a business growing produce and it is named Urban Fields Agriculture. It is part of a movement that is starting to gain traction and that is indoor farming and gardening techniques. It is using hydroponic growing methods to grow its wares. The owner used to grow at home with 15 plants. He is set up to grow 1800 plants now thanks to good stewardship of his business.

Key Takeaways:

  • Indoor farming/gardening is an emerging technique that is gaining more and more traction and attention.
  • Urban Fields Agriculture has grown from an in-home 15 plant venture to one that is growing 1800 plants.
  • It uses hydroponic techniques to grow its produce.

“The farm is carefully curated and controlled through lighting, humidity and temperature. There are seeds that sprout in a controlled environment (mostly with humidity levels) and then are moved to a larger bed to grow to full size. ” (Long Island Advance, 2020)

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Cheviot plays host to an indoor farm using aquaponics techniques to grow its wares. However, not only is it using fish to grow produce twice as much produce in half the time, but it is also employing adults with disabilities.

Key Takeaways:

  • An indoor farm in Cheviot, Ohio is using fish and hydroponics to grow produce twice as much and in half the time through a technique called aquaponics.
  • It also is using a company that hires adults with disabilities to harvest the greens.
  • It has been open since 2018 and provides those greens to local restaurants.

Quote: “By growing indoors, the facility is wheelchair accessible and climate controlled. Kevin Potts, executive director of the Ken Anderson Alliance, says the aquaponics system allows them to grow twice as much produce as an outdoor farm in half the time.” (Monks, 2020)

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(Josh Elstro/WVXU)

The world is becoming more and more aware of the benefits of indoor growing/vertical farming. Another piece of evidence for this is the fact that MSU just received a four-year grant from the US Department of Agriculture to study the production of indoor leafy greens. The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Speciality Crop Research Initiative and other organizations had made the grant worth over $5.4 million. The money will be used to find out what the optimal indoor environment conditions are, what the optimal profit on yield should be, and to have indoor farming stakeholders collaborate with learning initiatives.

Key Takeaways:

  • MSU received a four-year grant.
  • The grant was from the USDA and other organizations.
  • The grant, because of matching funding, is over $5.4 million.

Quote: “Erik Runkle, a professor in the MSU Department of Horticulture, was awarded the grant by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Others in the industry have matched funding, making the total grant top $5.4 million.” (Schellong, 2020)

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People are becoming more and more interested in indoor growing and vertical farming. A report came forth during August 2019 that said that there is a multibillion-dollar growth potential if farmers, old and new, or companies can use the new tech coming forth for agriculture. However, a shortage of agricultural laborers seems to be a problem as the article reports that ¼ of farmers in Canada will be 65 by 2025. The shortage for farmers is going to grow to 123,000 by 2030. The current output from the sector is $40 billion but that could easily reach $51 billion if money was put into the right places.

Key Takeaways:

  • Indoor gardening/farming is growing. Predictions say that agricultural production in Canada could see the industry grow from $41 billion to $51 billion.
  • There is also a shortage of people in the field as it seems as if ¼ of farmers in Canada will be 65 by 2025.
  • Reports say that there will be 123,000 jobs in the sector with no one to fill them by 2030.

Quote: “The bank’s Farmer 4.0 study estimated that in Canada, where one-quarter of farmers will be 65 or older by 2025, the agricultural labour shortage is expected to grow to 123,000 positions by 2030. However, Royal Bank determined that the sector’s GDP output could grow from $40 billion to $51 billion over the next decade if the right investments are made in people, skills and technology.” (Orton, 2020)

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An innovative program is teaching kids with disabilities about the advantages of indoor farming while keeping costs down for the school cafeteria. Although, these are only some of the benefits the program is building as social skills and making good nutritional choices are also being taught in the program.

Key Takeaways:

  • The crops are harvested every two weeks.
  • vThe yield is 70 bowls of salad.
  • It only takes 20 days to harvest from start to finish.

Quote: “The garden, a dozen trays in a special, stainless steel shelving unit inside the school, include basil and a few varieties of lettuce. Students with intellectual disabilities in the district’s prevocational program plant the seeds, water regularly, harvest, and mix the compost.” (Bosma, 2020)

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Freshness is the hallmark of any chef. You buy local, you support local farms, you are into sustainability. All things that a chef should be interested in because we all know the fresher the food the better the product. It is why you get up early and obsess over the produce and food coming into your kitchen. Have you ever thought about growing your own produce or herbs? Maybe you do not get the product you want all the time because it is not in season or maybe you want something to be your signature but you cannot get it from your local farmer all the time. It could be time to start thinking about growing your own produce to supplement your regular food intake patterns from your vendors.

It has gotten easier to produce just about any product you want because of the introduction of hydroponic growing. You can, space permitting, grow just about anything you want as long as you can put the work into it. Of course, as a chef, you know all about work. The holidays when people are off you and your kitchen are making money. You love and hate this industry at the same time because of the satisfaction it brings you but the work required and the hours can get grating. However, it is with that in mind that we can definitely tell that extra work does not scare you. A little extra work is worth it if the product ends up being good and up to your standards. The same reason that Chef Morimoto is taking brown rice and making his own sushi rice by processing it by hand. Integrity of flavors and passion is the name of the game. If you want a fresh strawberry in the dead of winter then you can grow it thanks to the help of modern technology like LED lights, hydroponic growing methods, and the like. It does not have to be summer because you can mimic summer all year round with the right equipment.

We, as trained chefs, love our rolling racks. We put our food on them and we move them around. The truth is that many of these racks, modified, would be perfect to grow our own produce in and still have the mobility to pull it towards a station where things will be used. Of course, there is always mise en place, but it is nice to move it to a place where it a component be easily accessed if you start running out of it at your station. You know that getting that restocked as quickly as possible is essential and getting to other items that are running out is important. Rolling racks just might be the thing you need to make sure that your kitchen runs efficiently while still growing the product you need to make the best dish you can possibly make in the kitchen.

What about volume?

If you are growing an herb or some other type of product with the intention of serving people then you are probably going to have to plan to have enough for everyone, within reason. How do you do that with the limited space you have, especially if you are trying to use most of your room to create another table so that you can fit extra seating in your restaurant. One table setting can make a huge difference in your business at the end of the year or even your monthly take-home vs bills ratio. The answer is what most New Yorkers know. You build up. You start developing vertical grow racks. You do have to be mindful of what your state says about how high you can grow product but, most of the time, if you are going for volume of a product then you want to grow your product higher because it does not take extra seating away from you. Your sous chef and staff can still move around. Things are produced at a good clip and you are making money. You also have as fresh as can be food because it is coming straight from your kitchen. You can, in a pinch, supplement gaps of production from your regular farmers or vendors because you may have planned to grow it yourself as a back-up in case they could not meet the demand. In short, you have options all because you made the smart choice of growing your own produce or herbs.

What to watch out for when using these racks

The vertical growing racks, if you choose the bigger ones, are not as mobile as the mobile rack systems. The mobile rack systems can be also used to grow products higher but you have to keep in mind that these are not small either. If you are going to make a system where they have the led lights, hydroponics, have enough volume to support hungry customers, and so forth, then you are going to want them to be sturdy. They may not be as small as you would like, say, that chrome rack you have been using to transport your produce or meat around your restaurant. However, they will grow the items sufficiently as long as you have your methods dialed in and in a way that will give you enough product to make it worthwhile, while possibly charging more because of the scarcity of the item involved. It really depends on the size of your restaurant and how you want it run. Although, if you are looking for a way to blow away your competition and put out high-quality food then marketing that you grow much of your own food may be the edge you need.

Check out our vertical grow racks and Rolling racks by clicking those links.