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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Growing AND Selling Produce at The Farmery

Farmery pic 2 herbs growing on wallWhat if you could take shipping containers and grow produce on the walls inside them and then sell the produce right from in the shipping container, minimizing inventory loss and eliminating packing, shipping and storage expenses?

Well, you could get really fresh, local food to people in a very different way than they are accessing food currently, according to Ben Greene, founder of The Farmery. The Mini-Farmery, a prototype, was open for business for a few months at the Raleigh City Farm and then moved to North Hills this summer. The Mini Farmery has worked in partnership with the Midtown Farmers Market by not only selling herbs  grown inside the shipping container and some local label jams and jellies, but also some unsold produce from market vendors at the weekly Saturday market.

Greene said the Mini Farmery at North Hills will close next month, but it has been an effective tool as a stepping stone to developing interest and funds for The Farmery concept, which ultimately would involve not only growing and selling the food in a grocery store, but also including the harvest in a café.

The Farmery pic 1Greene and a team of entrepreneurs have developed a new growing system for a greenhouse company as well and they are currently exploring the opportunities for The Farmery in another mid-sized urban community.

Because the shipping containers are relatively inexpensive and because they can span wide spaces resting on four corner supports, they can be easily modified to have a greenhouse roof to allow the growing to occur in the upper portion and the selling in the lower portion. “The food is growing on the living walls, and customers can still walk through,” Greene said. It’s a model that may work well to increase access in food deserts.

Greene noted that grocery stores cannot scale down and that they make money by leasing out store shelf space. This alternative provides a much less costly way to grow and sell food.

Visit The Farmery’s website to see a video about the concept and learn more, and follow The Farmery on social media.

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