Triple Threat Mentoring Builds Chicago's First ZipFarm

Posted by Amy Storey on February 26, 2016

Behind the scenes: Chicago's First ZipFarm

Last November, our team was contacted by Nick Marasco, a Chicagoan looking for somebody to partner with him and Triple Threat Triple-Threat-1.jpgMentoring - a mission-driven organization striving to fight poverty by connecting at-risk youth to passionate volunteers. Marasco's goal was to broaden the impact of Triple Threat's program by building a farm capable of growing fresh food for their local community.

Having experimented with hydroponics and aquaponics for years, and having been a teacher for over a decade, Nick knew that a farm could impact the youth in the Aurora (a suburb of Chicago) in a big way.

So on January 17th, Sean, Trapper, and Tyler left the windy state and went to the windy city to set up Chicago’s first Triple Threat ZipFarm.

This series of videos gives you a behind the scenes look at the Triple Threat Mentoring ZipFarm build.

Triple Threat Mentoring ZipFarm Installation (1 of 3) 

 

 

The man behind Triple Threat's vertical farm.

2016.01.21.TripleThreat-2868.jpgNick Marasco is a former teacher, turned urban farmer.

Once Nick has the hang of operating the ZipFarm, he plans on scaling to more farms.

The end goal: strengthening the community not only in Aurora but in similar communities across the country.

 

First step: assembling the Light Rack.

The ZipFarm consists of two basic parts: the ZipRacks and the Light Rack. The Light Rack is a tall, open frame that hangs over the farm, providing a framework for the LED lights. It can also be used in larger warehouses (like our own ZipFarm) to draw walls or curtains for environment control. 

After meeting Nick and unpacking the truck, Tyler, Sean, and Trapper assembled the Light Rack in Triple Threat's warehouse.

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Triple Threat Mentoring ZipFarm Installation (2 of 3) 

 

 

Second step: prepping gutters, headers, and Z-Racks 

The gutter is the part of the ZipRack that supports the towers from below and sends used water back to the nutrient reservoir to be re-used.

The header at the top of the ZipRack delivers nutrients and water to each ZipGrow Tower through simple plumbing, and keeps the towers upright.

The team spent the better part of day two assembling headers and gutters.

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The frame of the ZipRack is a sturdy z-shaped frame on wheels. Each length of the frame is a separate piece.

To assemble the Z-Rack, Trapper and Sean slid each bar into it's match and secured them with nuts and bolts.

While assembling, we got to know more about Triple Threat, a Chicago-based mentoring program.

 
“Triple Threat is an organization that’s all about passion and cause,” said Nick.
 
“If we’re doing our job well, we are connecting people’s passion through them volunteering (and providing opportunities for them to volunteer) and connecting it with the cause. The cause in our case is under-resourced youth. That’s Triple Threat.”
 
“We’re repurposing property that didn’t have a whole lot of value and we’re hoping to provide a tremendous value to the community by bringing Bright Agrotech in and… grow a tremendous amount of food right in the middle of an urban landscape.” 
 
After all the parts of the system had been assembled, the team connected everything.
 
To connect the ZipRacks and their plumbing into one continuous water delivery system, quick-connect fittings snap together, creating a daisy chain of ZipRacks.
 

ZipGrow Towers brought the system to completion

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The last step in assembly is adding the ZipGrow Towers.

Moving towers in and out of the ZipRacks is simple, and this step took the guys less than half an hour.

Triple Threat Mentoring ZipFarm Installation (3 of 3) 

 
  
After putting final touches and fitting the plumbing, the system was all set up.
 
To make sure that everything is just right, the team filled the sump tank and started running water through the system. If any leaks appear, Trapper, Sean, and Tyler will fix them so that the farm is leak-free for Triple Threat.
 
Before packing up, seeing a bit of Chicago, and catching the flight home, the team ran final tests and checklists to be sure that Triple Threat's ZipFarm was perfect and ready to run.
 
 

What’s next for the Triple Threat Farm?

Nick Marasco sees this farm as being a model that will be used to create similar farms as Triple Threat grows. As seedlings grow, the system is planted, and the old storehouse is filled with living crops, the community will use the farm for education, training, and of course, food.

We can’t wait to check back in with the Triple Threat Mentoring Farm and see their progress in the following weeks.

 

Ready to start your ZipFarm?

As you can see, our installation schedule is filling up fast!

So... let's get to work. Call us today and book your installation. 307-288-1188

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Learn more

 

Topics: Upstart Farmers

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