Urban farms one solution for ailing food system, Colorado agriculture activist says
Olson says banks will eventually lend money to urban farmers — if they see examples of urban agriculture success.
Colorado Public Radio
June 18, 2014
Now Olson wants to prove that farmers — specifically of what he calls “high-value” leafy green crops like kale, Swiss chard, and spinach — can grow produce more efficiently in urban greenhouses than on large rural farms. Consequently, they can make a better living, he says. Olson says a farmer makes about $1500 harvesting an acre of commodity corn; a grower of organic corn may make $15,000 from an acre harvest. In contrast, he claims an urban farmer growing leafy greens vertically in a greenhouse can earn a quarter of a million dollars in revenue per acre.
Furthermore, farmers raising crops in this manner — called aeroponic farming — can harvest 11 or 12 times a year, Olson says.
Two Denver-area farmers, both of whom are veterans trained by the nonprofit Veterans to Farmers program, are already raising crops in small vertical greenhouses. Aero Farm, in Lakewood, provides produce to Denver restaurants Linger and Root Down, among others. The other grows vegetables for Sushi Den.
Olson plans in the fall to open a large model greenhouse in east Denver to prove the concept.