Here at Bright Agrotech headquarters, we spend our days writing content to empower, creating products to equip, and troubleshooting with our farmers. We come in early and stay late, and we do it with a purpose. All of that hard work is rewarded with the knowledge that every act helps transform the lives of our farmers and their families. When we pause to look back on the results left in our wake, we see over fifty farms launched, profitable, and gaining speed.
That's enough to make a person proud and inspire even the most doubtful.
So we're sharing a few of those farms with you. Each of these farms has launched or expanded significantly this year. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that each of these farmers started as you. A normal person with a quiet dream to start a farm.
1- Lee Speigel, Pulaski Grow: Launched a farm
Pulaski Grow started as the desire to empower the youth of Pulaski County, Virginia. Lee Speigel, founder and owner of the farm, built the operation with volunteer help in tough conditions, a testament to her dedication and commitment to Pulaski Grow's mission. Now the farm trains youth for job readiness and is inarguably enriching the community of Pulaski County. Pulaski Grow launched in October, 2015, and is still going strong.
We look forward to see how Pulaski Grow's juggernaut momentum brings the farm to even brighter and bigger things in 2016.
2- Tom Deacon, Fable: From Farm to Table: Launched a farm
Hudson Valley, New York
Fable: From Farm to Table officially launched in August, 2015, and since has expanded into a 960 square foot greenhouse.
Here's what Tom Deacon had to say about Fable's growth this year:
"Since Fable’s launch in August we attended our first Farmers’ Market (selling out of basil and rainbow swiss chard within 4 hours!), added a third team member, and started delivering sleeved basil to a local grocery store. We’ve also been approved by corporate at two other grocery store chains that we are hoping to deliver to in 2016.
Next year we plan on delivering sleeved basil to other local stores and plan on bringing the live sales ('cut your own') model to a major nationwide grocery store chain that we are finalizing discussions with right now. A local hospital has also asked us to attend their bi-monthly farmer’s market and provide them with a consistent supply of vegetables for their kitchen. We are also excited to install bee hives and bring in our first set of chickens for egg sales."
We know Fable will continue to grow in 2016.
3- Brian Evans, Halo Greens: Launched a farm
Charleston, South Carolina
Brian Evans found a passion for sustianability and healthy living during a stint in the Navy. He chose friendly and welcoming Charleston as his home and the birthplace of his farm, Halo Greens.
Though it began as a small test aquaponic system, the farm has grown into a full aquaponic farm with catfish and launched this December with a healthy pool of restaurants and stores interested in its fresh produce and local food.
4- Anne Marie Blinco, Amaryllis Garden Greens: Launched a farm
Milton, Ontario, Canada
Anne Marie Blinco chose a Frieght Farm to house her crops and feed her hometown of Milton. Formerly an EMT, Anne Marie moved on to greener pastures... er, ZipGrows with the launch of Amaryllis Garden Greens in July. She has started a CSA with several Cross Fit groups near her farm and specializes in spinach and bib lettuce.
“Together we are creating social change through food.” – Anne Marie Blinco
In the new year, Anne Marie will be selling her fresh produce at the farmer's market at well. And who knows? Maybe an expansion is in her future.
5- Jerry Martin, Vet Veggies: Launched a farm
Vietnam vet Jerry Martin and co-owner Darryl Hill started Vet Veggies in an effort to help younger veteran farms gain marketing momentum. The Vet Veggies brand was designed to give hydroponics farmers and advantage with a widely recognized brand.
"Any veteran who decided that they wanted to raise vegetable hydroponically, I would allow [those veterans] to use this brand of Vet Veggies free of charge to them. And as more of us do it, then maybe the brand would get noticed and it would be easier to market the vegetables," says Jerry.
Jerry and Darryl are off to a great start in that effort. The first Vet Veggies farm is situated in a Freight Farm and grows unique, fresh produce for local buyer. We look forward to seeing the Vet Veggies expand to more farms.
6- Sylvie Chaumont and Frank Maly, Bare Greens: Launched a ZipGrow aquaponic system
Morton Park, NSW, Australia
Bare Greens, run by team Frank Maly and Sylvie Chaumont, launched last August on their 130-acre stead, Morton Park in the Southern Highlands of NSW. The farm includes a ZipGrow aquaponics system, which provides food for a CSA, restaurants, and farmer's market sales.
Frank and Slyvie's farming goals are to provide fresh, environmentally fresh produce in way that benefits both the consumer and the farmer.
We look forward to working more with Bare Greens. Look for a spotlight post on this unique farm soon!
7- Eric Amyot and Eric Bergeron, Modular Farms: Became Canada's ZipGrow manufacturer
Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
Eric Amyot and Eric Bergeron founded their farm Smart Greens in 2014, but 2015 brought even bigger things for the business partners. Noticing the shipping and customs difficulties that most Canadian farmers faced when ordering ZipGrow from the US, Bergeron and Amyot decided to help them out. Starting in December of this year, the two partners will be manufacturing and distributing the full suite of ZipGrow products right from Ontario.
We're excited to see Canadian grower more empowered than ever before. And from what we know of Amyot and Bergeron, we expect to see even more expansion and ingenuity from them in 2016.
You can read more about Modular Farms on their site, or even give them a call at 888-255-0405.
Bonus! - Marre Seleska, Green Wolf Vertical Farm: Started planning a farm
2015 has been a year of challenges for Marre Seleska, founder of Green Wolf Vertical Farm.
Though Marre's original plan to convert an existing steel garage into a ZipGrow farm was delayed by wiring and plumbing issues , she continues to adapt to the circumstances. While building out her facility, Marre has learned a lot.
"Thanks to the USU courses, Upstart Farmer support and Bright Agrotech’s blogs I’ve been able to learn the nuts and bolts of the growing, system maintenance and learning to read the market trends in my area and avoid some major setbacks."
Marre has big plans for this year. "2016 is the growth year," says Marre. Between setting up her vertical farm to becoming involved in local programs to selling at farmers markets, Green Wolf Vertical Farm has a big year ahead of it.
"We expect to double our tower production before the end of 2016 and are looking into leasing one of the many buildings standing empty in our little downtown area."
We can't wait to see Marre get started. Stay posted for more of Marre's story and farm updates!
As you can see, these farmers come from every background, generation, and lifestyle. They all started with a passion and a dream, and they all made it come true.
Start by making a resolution to start that farm.Congratulations! You're that much closer to becoming a farmer.