CORE Electric, FarmBox Foods announce partnership to grow trees for reforestation​

CORE Electric, FarmBox Foods announce partnership to grow trees for reforestation

A groundbreaking reforestation program launched by CORE Electric Cooperative and FarmBox Foods is using innovation to achieve a new form of environmental stewardship.

 

On Nov. 17, the electricity provider finalized a contract with FarmBox Foods, a Colorado-based manufacturer of controlled-climate farms, to grow trees in a Vertical Hydroponic Farm housed inside an upcycled, insulated shipping container.  CORE plans to use the trees to rehabilitate forests within its service area, which covers 5,000 square miles along Colorado’s Front Range.

 

“CORE’s partnership with FarmBox to support reforestation efforts in our service territory advances our work to be responsible stewards of the environment,” said Jeff Baudier, CORE Electric Cooperative CEO. “As a member-owned cooperative, protecting the natural resources of the communities where we live and serve is a cornerstone of our mission.”

 

In the first three years of the initiative, CORE plans to plant 15,000 blue spruces and ponderosa pines, both native species in Colorado.FarmBox Foods began successfully growing tree seedlings and saplings in the controlled-climate container farm in 2021, but the Vertical Hydroponic Farm purchased by CORE is the first to be solely dedicated to tree propagation.  Under the terms of the agreement, FarmBox Foods will operate the indoor tree farm at its home base in Sedalia and conduct research on drought resistance, nutrient dosing, lighting and other growing parameters.  The trees will then be transferred to hoop houses to allow the root systems to grow out before being planted.

 

“We’re really excited to see the positive impacts that will come from this unique partnership,” said Rusty Walker, CEO of FarmBox Foods. “CORE recognizes its role in helping to maintain healthy forests and I think this is going to be a model for other electric cooperatives going forward.”

 

The partnership allows CORE to “play its part in keeping its service territory beautiful for generations of future members,” the cooperative said in a statement.  To keep powerline corridors safe and free of potential hazards, CORE responsibly removes vegetation.  It’s putting a renewed focus on rehabilitating areas that have been damaged by wildfires.

 

“This first-of-its-kind program exemplifies how CORE is leading the way to a more sustainable future and our mission of innovation,” said Amber King, communications manager for CORE.

 

CORE Electric, which supplies the energy that powers FarmBox Foods’ operating farms that grow nutritious produce in Sedalia, will work with local partners to identify areas in need of reforestation.


Evolving Labor Trends Turn Mushroom Farming into Viable and Profitable Option​

Chestnut mushrooms in a fruiting chamber

Evolving Labor Trends Turn Mushroom Farming into Viable & Profitable Option

Chestnut mushrooms in a fruiting chamber

Nearly everyone has heard about recent workplace trends said to have arisen from the pandemic, like “quiet quitting,” when in fact people have been re-assessing their priorities and career choices for years in an effort to strike a more equitable work-life balance.

 

There’s generally more awareness about workers leaving their jobs in pursuit of something more fulfilling. Finding a passion and turning it into a lucrative source of income is the goal, and turnkey solutions like container-based mushroom farming are receiving more recognition and acceptance as a low-overhead avenue to success.

 

Starting a career in farming might sound daunting, but a Denver-area company called FarmBox Foods makes it accessible, even for those with no prior experience in agriculture. FarmBox Foods manufactures high-yield Gourmet Mushroom Farms inside insulated shipping containers, allowing people to grow popular varieties of mushrooms year-round and create multiple revenue streams in the process. The privately owned company also trains you how to do it.

 

It’s a viable solution for those who don’t have millions of dollars to invest in a new business venture. There’s no need to buy farmland (the containers have a footprint of 320 square-feet) and all of the necessary equipment for start-to-finish mushroom cultivation is included. And customers can even finance the container farms, which generate more than $1.2 million in profits over their projected 10-year lifespan.

 

The farms open up opportunities for sustainable food production in places that currently lack access to fresh food, including islands. More than 90 percent of food consumed on islands is imported, which increases costs, reduces quality and results in food miles that impact the environment.

 

“It’s something that people can really pour their heart and soul into,” said Rusty Walker, CEO of FarmBox Foods. “It’s not just a new career. It allows you to live and work where you want to and get a good return on your investment while doing something that gives back to the community.”

 

The controlled-climate mushroom farms use a digital control panel and a network of sensors to monitor and automatically adjust conditions inside the farm for optimal growing. The farms can grow nearly 20 varieties of mushrooms, including lion’s mane, oysters, king trumpets and reishi, and yield around 400 pounds of mushrooms per week.

 

To learn more about purchasing or leasing a Gourmet Mushroom Farm, or to schedule an in-person or virtual tour, visit farmboxfoods.com/gourmet-mushroom-farm/.

FarmBox Foods launches indoor farm that grows livestock feed

Trays of hydroponic fodder growing in an indoor farm.

FarmBox Foods Launches Indoor Farm That Grows Livestock Feed

Trays of hydroponic fodder growing in an indoor farm.

FarmBox Foods LLC is excited to announce the official launch of its Hydroponic Fodder Farm.

The company hosted a public open house on Sept. 27 at our home base in Sedalia, CO. Guided tours of the new indoor farm — the third product line offered by FarmBox Foods — were provided. Attendees also received a tour of the company’s other tech-assisted, containerized farms: the Vertical Hydroponic Farm and Gourmet Mushroom Farm.

What exactly is fodder? It’s a nutrient-dense hay that’s used as a dietary supplement for horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, sheep, rabbits and alpacas.

(Want to learn more about FarmBox Foods? Watch our July appearance on ABC News here)

By growing fodder on site year-round, farmers and ranchers can avoid supply chain disruptions, sourcing issues and spikes in hay prices. The controlled-climate farms provide a reliable, hyperlocal source of fresh food while shielding the barley fodder from weather and climate impacts, including drought, heat waves, freezes and floods. The farms are housed inside upcycled, insulated shipping containers outfitted with plumbing, electrical and sensors to control conditions inside. The 320 square-foot farms also capture, filter and recycle water for maximum water efficiency. 

Protein-rich fodder improves the overall health of livestock, supplements hydration and adds weight to beef cattle. It also promotes the production of better-quality milk for dairy cows and goats, improves fertility rates, reduces the likelihood of illness, and decreases methane output because of its superior digestibility compared to traditional alfalfa hay.

Because barley fodder requires only a 7-day growth cycle, a staggered schedule allows farmers and ranchers to harvest around 880 pounds of fodder per day.

What makes FarmBox Foods a green-oriented company?

A cow eating hydroponic fodder

What makes FarmBox Foods a green-oriented company?

A cow eating hydroponic fodder
We use only upcycled shipping containers.
We give used, insulated shipping containers a new life: growing food at scale in areas that struggle with reliable cultivation and/or access. By outfitting them with the components to grow produce, the repurposed containers are kept out of landfills and scrap heaps.
 
The farms we build are designed to promote efficient water usage.
We capture, filter and reuse water in both our Hydroponic Fodder Farm and our Vertical Hydroponic Farm, which requires only about 5 gallons of water per day. Water is often lost to evaporation and transpiration in traditional farm settings. By recycling the water, our farms get the most out of every drop. In times of severe drought and diminishing water supplies, this efficiency is critically important. 
 
The farms were built to reduce energy usage associated with agricultural production.
Our Vertical Hydroponic Farm uses around 190 kwh per day, the energy equivalent of two loads of laundry. The Gourmet Mushroom Farm uses even less, drawing an average of only 80 kilowatt-hours of electricity each day. High-efficiency, low-energy LED lights are used in FarmBox containers to reduce energy consumption.
 
Reduced need for fossil fuels.
Every kilogram/pound of food waste has a corresponding waste factor for energy, labor, water, carbon emissions, etc. It takes a lot to get produce from point A to point B, including diesel fuel to power trucks and trains. Transporting goods across long distances could be a thing of the past, as our portable container farms enable people to grow food near the consumer, thereby reducing emissions and expenses. Hyper-local growing almost entirely removes the supply chain — and its ongoing issues — from the equation.
 
Indoor farms don’t require the use of pesticides.
Because our farms are enclosed, they’re protected from many of the variables that keep traditional farmers up at night, like drought, flooding, heat waves and hail. But it also prevents impacts from pests, and therefore, pesticides are not required in our farms. As a result, the water discharged from the Vertical Hydroponic Farms and Hydroponic Fodder Farms we build does not contribute to groundwater contamination.
 
Fodder consumption by livestock reduces methane output.
Barley fodder is easier to digest than traditional alfalfa hay and other nutritional supplements, and because of this, less methane is emitted into the atmosphere. We’re in the process of gathering more specific data to quantify the reduction of methane from different types of animals, and how that reduction corresponds with their respective intake of protein-rich fodder.
 
Growing near the consumer reduces the likelihood of food waste.
After being harvested, produce grown in traditional outdoor settings often spends a few days on trucks and in distribution centers before it arrives at the store. Hyperlocal growing helps fresh veggies arrive on consumers’ plates and in their refrigerators much sooner — often within 24 hours of being harvested. The produce maintains its shelf life, which provides a longer period of time to eat the food. This results in less food waste at the consumer level.
 
Our farms can run off solar power.
Anyone who wants to grow nutrient-dense food off-grid can do so by hooking their farm up to a small solar grid. 
 
Compost from our Gourmet Mushroom Farms helps promote soil health.
The spent substrate from FarmBox Foods’ GMF showroom model is donated to the local community to be used as nutrient-rich compost. The seedling pods and spent mushroom substrate can be used for further plant-growing compost once they are removed from the farms. The spent mushroom substrate, in particular, is quite sought after for this purpose. These eco-friendly by-products can also be incorporated into the soil, and the substrate will continue to grow mushrooms if properly managed.
 
Soil rejuvenation and less need for agricultural acreage.
Millions of acres of America’s traditionally fertile soil have been stripped of vital nutrients, and farmers are compelled to implement crop rotation and remediation steps like composting to regenerate agricultural land. A FarmBox occupies only 320 square-feet of space (they can also be stacked), does not need soil, and allows farmers to revitalize oft-used ag soil.
Furthermore, clear-cutting forests to make room for agriculture is not necessary for some crops. Farmers can utilize available vertical space to grow more food on a smaller footprint.

Farming Solutions for a Sustainable (and Less Scary) Future

Farming Solutions - FarmBox Foods

Farming Solutions are needed – It seems every day you come across a news story that paints a very bleak future for traditional farming and the consumers who benefit from it.

We’ll briefly explore the many challenges facing the agricultural industry, but we’ll also posit some potential ways for farming operations large and small to adapt to changing times and conditions.

Shifting climate patterns are making it vastly more difficult to predict whether a crop will make it to harvest. Heat waves, hail storms, cold snaps and floods have become more pervasive and intense in recent years. Even crops that may not be directly affected by catastrophes, like the severe drought currently gripping the western portion of the U.S., are being indirectly impacted by residual factors, like smoke from wildfires.

We’re also facing other crippling issues without a foreseeable fix. Supply chains that support agriculture have been stretched to their limit since the beginning of the pandemic for a variety of reasons, including transportation availability, labor shortages, and associated delays affecting raw material sourcing. And the skyrocketing cost of fertilizer is further complicating matters for traditional farming operations and having an outsized impact on already-thin profit margins.

But what if there was a way to circumvent these issues using innovations in agtech? It sounds impossible, and while it comes with its own set of challenges, indoor growing, especially in urban areas, could be a big part of the answer going forward. 

Science and tech have come a long way in the last decade (hello, sensor technology!), allowing growers to do much more with much less in a smaller footprint. And hyperlocal farming means produce grows near the consumer, eliminating supply chain-related woes. Instead of spending the first half of its shelf life in transit, veggies get to the end user much quicker, resulting in less food waste. Local growing also reduces the need to burn fossil fuels to get food to its destination, and empowers communities to gain more control over their own food supply.

It’s hard to put a value on security and reliability, and we certainly won’t attempt to, but controlled-environment agriculture allows people to harvest large yields year-round without external variables getting in the way. There’s also no need for fertilizers or pesticides, which takes possible contamination of drinking water out of the equation. 

The practice is gaining momentum worldwide and already having an impact on sourcing for grocery chains, hotels, hospitals, restaurants and food banks. Likewise, farmers are embracing the technology because it provides a security blanket in uncertain times.

Container Farms on School Campuses – Community Supported Agriculture

Container Farms on School Campuses

With a foundation in technology and science, there’s greater interest in container farming among students of all ages. Controlled-climate farming enables people to grow food almost anywhere in the world, helping to eliminate food deserts.

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