When asked why he chose the building on Artesian, Jeff Adams, founder of Artesian Farms, replied: “We wanted to be in the neighborhood where the people who need the food are.” Jeff sees Artesian Farms not just as a farm that provides fresh produce, but as a way to address multiple issues: Young people need an opportunity to create financial stability, blighted buildings need to be addressed, and people need access to good, quality food that doesn’t negatively affect the environment. It’s about food sovereignty."
Jeff used to sell technologies to the automobile industry before he made a perspective-altering mission trip to Brazil. “It was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Jeff. “But on returning, I looked at my wife and said, ‘how could we travel all the way to Brazil to help people when there are people right in our neighborhood who need the help just as much?’” So, with the aim of creating jobs and providing highly nutritious produce year-round, Adams decided to build a vertical hydroponic farm not far from where he lived in Detroit. First, he bought a blighted building; next, he licensed hydroponic growing technology from Green Spirit Farms, a leader in the field. Last summer, he planted his first crops—a colorful mesclun called “Motown Mix,” a fragrant, large-leaf variety of basil, spinach and Blue Scotch kale—all cultivated using organic practices.
Living in Michigan where we have a climate with a short growing season and when our country’s most productive agricultural zone continues to suffer a devastating drought – the benefits of hydroponic, vertical farming is very clear. Having trouble visualizing a vertical hydroponic farm? Think long bunk beds, light, the sound of water gurgling, and hundreds of healthy green lettuce leaves growing in evenly spaced holes in beds and you’ll get a good idea of what Artesian Farms looks like.
On less than 1500 square feet, Jeff can harvest about 1200 pounds of vegetables every 21 days: that’s 17 times per year, instead of two or three harvests for conventional Michigan farmers. In his carefully controlled indoor setting, Jeff has no need for pesticides or fertilizers. He uses only natural compounds and Detroit city water in the nutrient solution. And, because the hydroponic technology allows him to reuse most of his water, he uses 90% less of it than conventional agriculture in Michigan.
Jeff currently supplies to several local restaurants, including Republic and the Henry Ford Museum; several other partnerships are in the pipeline. Detroit’s Whole Foods will begin carrying his products in October. Artesian Farms has 1500 ft. now, but with his recent $55,000 motor city match grant, he will triple his production of lettuce and other veggies. Detroit’s urban farmers have proven to be some of the most innovative people in the city. They’ve reclaimed vacant lots and blighted property and learned how to bring fresh, nutritious food to neighborhoods in need of it.