A Seattle-based charity has launched an urban farming initiative to build Seattle’s first commercial hydroponic farms.
The program, which was started by Millionair Club Charity [sic], will supply homeless individuals and families with donated fresh produce.
The fully operational hydroponic urban farm doesn’t need large tracks of land to grow quality crops. The first 250-square-foot garden, located in the basement of the Millionair Club Charity, was completed in November.
Lettuces, kale and bok choy are grown using energy efficient LumiGrow LED grow lights and nutrient-rich water. The garden is able to grow about 800 plants per month, which can produce 1,600 bowls of salad per month or 19,200 bowls annually.
While most of the salad greens produced from the garden will be sold commercially to generate revenues, 10 percent will be served in the charity’s meals program and donated to partner nonprofit organizations.
The program is in keeping with the charity’s mission of rebuilding the lives of men and women experiencing unemployment and homelessness in the community.
“We can serve fresh produce year-round to folks experiencing homelessness or unemployment,” says Chris Bajuk of the Millionair Club Charity.
Bajuk is also the owner of UrbanHarvest, a Seattle-based, for-profit urban farming business.
The Millionair Club Charity has partnered with UrbanHarvest to launch the program. Bajuk was hired by the charity to design, build and operate the first farm.
Not only will the urban farm help the organization serve approximately 90,000 meals every year, but it will also create job training and employment opportunities.
Participants of the charity’s jobs program will have access to part- and full-time urban farming jobs that pay a fair wage.
“Being a productive worker requires being well-fed. Our farming program will create job opportunities directly associated with farming,” says Bajuk. “But many more indirect jobs will be created by the cash flows from our farming operations. Those cash flows will be used in our employment program to positively affect the lives of hundreds of people.”
The charity is working to raise funds to expand the program into larger warehouses or greenhouses within Seattle. The long-term vision is to have several commercial urban farms operating that employ workers, feed area food banks and meal programs and sell to restaurants.
For information about the program, contact Chris Bajuk at [email protected]