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Zero Footprint Organic Farm Comes to the Desert

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 6:54 AM
New “Vertical Farm” Plans to Revolutionize How Food is Grown
By Morgan Craft
The developers of a new farm in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs have a big plan; nothing less than revolutionizing the way food is farmed in America. Joint Effort Farms (JEF) is a group of collective farming businessmen who plan to remake the American hydroponic and organic farming industry by setting an example of how efficient, self-sustained farming can be brought first into our local market. The forward-thinking project’s aim is high turnover production from a small area with a radically-reduced carbon footprint, while providing work and leadership experience for a planned local collective. (Click here to read more...

The farm will combine cutting edge, hydroponic farming technology and efficient, high-density production facilities. According to founder William Woolsencroft, “Joint Effort Farms is committed to the improvement of taste, quality and nutritional value in organic vegetables, and changing how food is farmed in America. Plus, our company will provide education, experience and research in the hydroponic field to other potential growers.”

Hydroponics is the growing of high-quality vegetables in high-tech, multi-span greenhouses. The produce is grown in special trays with a medium used to support the root system. The plants are automatically fed nutrients through irrigation systems, and are grown in the best suitable growing conditions, allowing each plant to produce the maximum fruit possible.

This project will consist of two combined technologies from the leading company in the field of high efficient hydroponics, Valcent Products. JEF will install a Valcent Verticrop Greenhouse hydroponics system for herb and vegetable growth, which will be illuminated by LED lighting powered y solar panels to reduce energy costs. They also plan to erect a Vertical Algae Technology (VAT) curtain grow system for biodiesel fuel production. The “joint effort “will supply vegetables for national and local markets via satellite locations, and fuel for the alternative fuels market.
The system is designed to grow vegetables and other foods much more efficiently and with greater nutritional value than in agricultural field conditions, producing approximately 20 times the normal production volume for field crops per square foot.

The entire growing system requires 5% of the normal water requirements for field crops, does not use herbicides or pesticides, and offers significant operational and capital cost savings over traditional field agriculture.
The VertiCrop system grows plants in a suspended tray system moving on an overhead conveyor system. The system is designed to provide maximum sunlight and precisely correct nutrients to each plant. Ultraviolet light and filter systems exclude the need for herbicides and pesticides, and sophisticated control systems gain optimum growth performance through the correct misting of nutrients, the accurate balancing of PH, and the delivery of the correct amount of heat, light, and water.

The system is designed to operate in compact areas, and will utilize all available renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic (PV), wind and biofuel, creating only a very small carbon footprint. These cost reduction factors help provide a self-sustained garden which produces quality organic products in a disease-free, cost effective manner – which JEF hopes to show to anyone who has an interest.
Algae will be grown out in open field hanging production curtains and irrigated via overhead units, using the run-off water and byproducts as fertilizer for food crops. This fertilizer is highly effective and provides all the requirements the food stocks will need to grow. The Algae will be processed into biodiesel and sold by the gallon to collective members and local agricultural businesses.
The new company will concentrate on the production of tomatoes, specialty peppers and cucumbers in greenhouse “tunnels”, plus live gourmet herbs and fresh cut flowers in the solar greenhouses. JEF plans to distribute to retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets and through collectives all across Southern California, and the first crop is scheduled for February.

According to Woolsencroft, “Rapidly increasing food costs continue to cause drastic reductions in the availability and nutritional values of the foods we consume. Our high density vertical growth system offers a technological solution to the desire for high quality organic produce grown using significantly fewer resources. It’s a system that can be implemented virtually anywhere, reducing the burden of food transportation costs caused by the skyrocketing price of oil. And the vegetables are the best you’ve ever tasted.”

We’ll keep you posted on their progress.

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