Honestly, I haven’t been this immediately excited, pig-squealingly-giddy about something in a long time. I mean, you think about the future of shopping and jump to online sales, scanning your phone, no-cash transactions, but then The Farmery comes along and you realise you’re missing the point. Completely.
Ben Greene, the self-described “Willy Wonka of agriculture”, has developed The Farmery concept and is pushing to see it as one of the retail greats. He has simply combined the growing stage with the retail stage. Not reinventing the wheel, reinventing the need for wheels. From an ECO-nomic stand point, as Greene puts it, food “has to be harvested, packed, transported and cooled, and at every step, there is a massive inventory loss. What if this entire system could be consolidated into one site?”
So, instead, you drive over cycle to the store, walk inside and browse among aisles of vertical planting with a basket, picking herbs, salad leaves, strawberries and gourmet mushrooms as they catch your eye. Then, like any normal shopping excursion, bring your items to the counter and pay (he’s not THAT radical). You leave intimately connected with your food, knowledgeable of its source, engaged with your sense of self and place. You leave prouder, and with a story.
This is not just a concept, there are already two production prototypes and a retail prototype in North Carolina, and the plan is for one in every city. Fully high-tech, and efficient, Ben’s farming methods are half hydroponic, half aquaponic (Dublin’s Urban Farm also uses aquaponic methods), which means no actual soil, working instead with expanded clay pebbles. It’s an interesting introduction for urban environments, given how cut off people in cities can be from the food chain and growing process. As I said, I’m enthusiastic and plan to cheer it on as it sprouts.
Georgia Corcoran @georgiadabizz