INDIANAPOLIS — The east side of Indianapolis doesn’t exactly have a lot of land for developing acres of produce. DeMario Vitalis had to get creative farming three and a half acres inside shipping containers.
Vitalis said he wanted an opportunity to get into farming, an opportunity to establish a business system, and also to have a business that gives back to the community. He’s doing just that with an urban farm on East Tenth Street he calls New Age Provisions.
According to Vitalis, he didn’t have any experience with farming but knew he wanted to provide fresh produce to his community. So to get started, he turned to a unique solution…
hydroponic farming inside shipping containers.
“These containers are a turnkey solution," Vitalis said. "It's a freight farm shipping container we purchased from a company in Boston, Massachusetts.”
Inside the container is decked out with temperature and humidity sensors, as well as automated nutrient and light systems.
In a way, this allows Vitalis to control the weather.
He can grow lettuce, kale and other leafy greens whether we’re experiencing extreme heat and drought or the frigid temperatures of an Indiana winter.
“We have the ability to program the temperature," Vitalis said. "We can keep it the same temperature year-round. We have the ability to control the humidity. We have the ability to control the PH. The nutrients that the plants receive."
Vitalis oversees the entire growing process with the help of just one other employee. From seed to harvest, that’s about six to eight weeks.
“We take our seeds, we put them into the grow pods, let them grow to become seedlings, and then from the seedling stage we'll transfer them into the towers,” Vitalis said.
The growth towers are where the crops mature and get ready for harvest. Stacking the plants vertically means each shipping container can grow up to 13,000 plants at once. This allows him to continuously have crops growing at various stages.
“When we harvest, within 24 hours it's in the hands of the consumer," Vitalis said. "So you get the opportunity to try some of the freshest lettuce, some of the freshest kale, some of the freshest leafy greens you ever had.”
Vitalis is leading the way with his unique operation. He’s the first person to bring container farming to Indiana, and his efforts are being recognized. Vitalis is being honored as a featured farmer at this year’s Indiana State Fair.
An honor he says he’s excited about.
“It just gives me a feeling of pride that I can represent for the city and for my people," Vitalis said.
If you would like to order lettuce or kale from New Age Provisions, just go to MarketWagon.com to place your order for delivery.
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