Jake King-Gilbert wants to shave a few more miles off the local farm to table movement. He's planning an indoor urban farm in Deep Ellum with a goal of producing fresh produce year-round.
King-Gilbert has been experimenting with hydroponics in his apartment with synthetic lighting for the past year. Now the budding agrarian is ready to shift to commercial scale production in a space he's leased on Elm Street, just outside of Deep Ellum.
His Kickstarter campaign, which seeks to raise a modest and precise $8,976, will be used to purchase lighting, plumbing, pumps, insulation and other materials to build out the space. It he meets his goal, King-Gilbert hopes to be farming by the end of the summer, with his first harvest sometime in the early fall.
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While using synthetic lights may seem crazy given the amount of sun potential farmers in Dallas have access too, King-Gilbert says his setup is actually more efficient. Using lights allows him to garden in layers, stacking plants and lighting vertically to make better use of limited space. "My 50 feet by 8 feet system will grow the equivalent of one acre of land," he said. His setup also uses less energy than greenhouses which typically have no insulation and larger heating and cooling requirements.
As for the quality of his products (hydroponic produce has a reputation for lesser flavor) King-Gilbert says hyper freshness makes up for any shortcomings. "The quality is so much better," he said pointing out that salads at restaurants could be served just hours after the plants are harvested. He's also planning on selling at local farmers markets.
If you're interested in King-Gilbert's efforts, check out his web page.