"Rochester, Minnesota Aquaponic Startup Takes Farm-to-Fork to a Whole New Level"
If there's one common trait of all Upstart Farmers, it's that they are constantly growing and improving.
As we discussed in What is an Upstart Farmer?, this innovative and impact-conscious group of commercial farmers are on the cutting edge of sustainable ag.
Their growing techniques are new, and their mission to serve their local communities the freshest, healthiest produce possible is super refreshing.
Chris Lukenbill of Fresh With Edge farms in Rochester, MN is one Upstart Farmer making headlines.
They were recently featured on Seedstock, a website highlighting sustainable agriculture startups across the nation.
From High Tech to High Yields
Neither Chris nor Lisa Lukenbill come from an agricultural background, but they built their agricultural knowledge while working with family members.
Still working full time in the field of computer science, the Lukenbill's decided to launch Fresh with Edge in 2011 but not without challenges.
“There was a learning curve in a lot of different ways,” says Chris. “Getting started was a huge hurdle.”
After meeting Nate Storey in 2012, their operation quickly grew.
Now, the Fresh With Edge greenhouse holds 300 towers.
Embracing Live Sales
Fresh with Edge soon began selling at a local food co-op, where live sales were embraced. Today, they serve two additional area restaurants.
“The towers help restaurant customers make connections with their food,” Chris says.
They've continued to pursue innovative live sales models, such as the Live CSA. From the article:
One such pursuit is in-home sales, which allows individuals to purchase their very own vertical tower with fully-grown herbs and greens, including lettuce, bok choy, kale and chard. The in-home towers are still “live”, with a working base and pumps and optional nutrients to purchase (advised if the system is run for at least one week before harvesting).
The live, home CSA model is still just starting - and Chris has encountered a fair share of challenges.
But we're excited to see the potential for reduced post-harvest costs while delivering the freshest possible produce to home consumers.
What's Next for Fresh With Edge?
We don't know... But we know it'll be BIG.
Whether it's a Live CSA or a new innovative software project that will help new aquaponic producers plan their business, Chris and the folks at Fresh With Edge will continue to make headlines in the field of revolutionary, sustainable agriculture.