A Field of Dreams in Organic Farming
Recently I was introduced to Karen and Colin Archipley, founders of Archi’s Acres in San Diego County California. They have worked to transform a run-down avocado farm into an organic, hydroponic green house operation. In less than six short years, they have become a trusted supplier to Whole Foods, supplying their stores with living basil year round.
But there’s more to the story than that.
They have applied innovative proprietary hydroponic technologies to create something that is unique. At the core, their business mission is to train veterans for careers in sustainable agriculture. Archi’s Acres is quickly growing into a company with a national footprint as over 100 veterans who have graduated from Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) are now either growing and selling food, or have produced organic products that are selling in markets within communities communities around the country.
So, why is this a Field of Dreams?
First and foremost, this innovative business model represents a very tangible way to support the integration of veterans back into their communities. Just think about it. How does a neighborhood change when you have the opportunity to buy great veggies at a reasonable price from your neighbor who has sacrificed so much for our country? For the veteran, this gives you a new focus, new meaning, and gives you a way to transition back to civilian life with a clear line of site to income and security for your family.
Second, Archi’s Acres has developed innovative ways to farm using hydroponic methods that take up only a fraction of the space of a traditional farm. It’s not cost prohibitive either. This gives the average person the ability to grow their own organic produce, thereby removing the challenge of cost and access to quality foods that face many lower and middle class families. Imagine being able to grow enough vegetables to feed your family on your balcony!
Third, they have learned how to better manage water resources because of the hydroponic technologies they have created. Using their unique system, a plant only takes what water it needs, and then the rest is recycled and is able to be used again and again. Think about how this would benefit the many draught plagued areas around the world!
Not to mention how many US cities, such as Detroit are seeking to transform large plots of abandoned land into urban gardens as a means of rebuilding the economic eco system, attracting residential and business renewal and finding more control over the produce supply chain.
How much better would all of us be if we all had enough food to eat at a price we could afford? And, not just any food. Amazing tasting, great quality, organic food grown right in our very own neighborhoods.
There is so much more to the potential value proposition.
Think about the farm to market to table trend with grocery stores and restaurants. You are a chief seeking to build a name for yourself. You leverage this technology on the rooftop of your restaurant to grow all the veggies you need to differentiate your menu. And, you could further support the transfer of this capability to your staff so that they could not only feed their families, but also their friends and neighbors.
Now, take this idea and transfer it to a different industry such as healthcare. You are a healthcare system wanting to reduce the cost and improve the quality of food served to patients and their families. No problem, find a sufficient space on the roof or on the ground to construct a green house to grow all you need. You might ever be able to allocate a couple more acres and benefit from a ROI on non-healthcare revenue associated with selling to the public.
There are so many more ideas….
This isn’t a dream. This really is reality. And they are doing it at Archi’s Acres.
Do me a favor. Check out http://archisacres.com. I would love to hear what you think.
At a minimum, email Colin and Karen and offer your congratulations for all they have accomplished and best wishes for all they will in the future.