Group seeks to improve health, fight urban blight

Associated Press • Nov 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM

MEMPHIS -- A group of food professionals say they are planning a project that will help improve the health of Memphis residents while also fighting urban blight.

The Memphis Daily News (http://bit.ly/UzNv8v) reports that Green Girl Produce plans to create the city's first indoor vertical farm, which will supply residents with microgreens that are organic, cost-effective and available year-round.

"Chefs love them because they make a boring dish pop, they add intense flavor, texture and vivid color," said Emma Self, a silkscreen printer, gardener and veteran of the restaurant industry. "On top of that, they are super nutritious with up to 40 times the nutrients and vitamins of their mature counterparts."

Green Girl Produce plans to use special lighting and an automated, re-circulating hydroponic system. She said the system would use about as much light as a normal office building and 90 percent less water than conventional farming.

"It's one of these fantastic systems that's new, but it's not so new that it hasn't been tested elsewhere," Self said. "Our growing media . doesn't involve soil, so it's a very simple cleaning method. You lay it down, you feed and then you roll it up when you're done. It's literally just about 10 minutes feeding the entire space."

The company plans to lease an old 1,260-square-foot building on Broad Avenue for their farm.

Self and three others who make up Green Girl Produce, say several restaurants have expressed a desire to have local microgreens. She said the group initially wants to fill local demand but eventually would like to broaden their scope to the region and maybe even nationally.

"Since we're so close to the FedEx hub, we can leverage our proximity and get in orders six or seven hours before all of these other people all over the country that have to ship out," Self said.

Self said she is currently working with chefs to narrow the types of microgreens down to 15 varieties. The company plans to move into its location during the first quarter of next year and begin supplying restaurants by the middle of the year.


Information from: The Memphis Daily News, http://www.memphisdailynews.com

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