Turning Old Factories into High Tech Lettuce Farms

Our high tech Grow Rig produces lettuce year round, creates urban jobs and saves old factories. Join us!
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Steve Domyan
Technology
Norwalk, Connecticut
United States
1 Team Member

We are a small Connecticut company that wants to convert unused factory buildings into indoor farms. We have done our research. We’ve proved that this is possible. And, now we need your help to make it happen.

 

MetroCrops, LLC is an urban, high density, indoor (UHDI) farming initiative. Through a research grant from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture we have spent the last 2 years studying the feasibility of growing lettuce hydroponically under LED lights indoors in converted, old factory buildings.

Our work to date shows that the liabilities of post-industrial cities can become valuable assets. The abundant supply of abandoned or empty factory buildings can become low-cost resources to establish UHDI farms. And, unemployed urban residents can be trained to become full-time UHDI farm technicians.

 

         One of the Empty Factory Buildings in Bridgeport, CT

 

The jobs created by UHDI farms will be permanent, full-time, 12-month a year jobs paying above minimum wage. Because of their location and the nature of these jobs, they cannot be outsourced to other countries.

Because there is an unfulfilled demand for year round, locally grown produce in the northeast, our project is both timely and innovative. Small-to-medium size UHDI farms will be able to fulfill this need in a never-before tried way using technology.


What We Need

We have been growing lettuce crops in a leased space at UConn (Storrs, CT). The building that we occupy was built in 1952. Our room came without heat and air conditioning. And, it had no sink, running water or drain. This has taught us a great deal about adapting an old building to our concept of a UHDI farm. We improvised the plumbing and installed a water filtration system as part of our hydroponics setup.

 

Our equipment was pieced together from commercially available items that were not designed for growing indoors. We adapted the growing frame to include custom LED lights that we designed and built ourselves. And, we outfitted our grow space with climate control devices and a computer controlled monitoring system.

                       MetroCrops Lettuce in Grow Trays

                 (The LED Grow lights make everything look pink.)

 

What we need to do is to design a new, streamlined grow rig and to create the documentation for manufacturing it. The new design will allow the rig to be mass produced.

It will take $60,000 to pay for the engineering, design and prototype development of the new grow rig. $40,000 of this amount will cover the cost of parts and the assembly of two prototype units. And, the remaining $20,000 is for the mechanical and electrical engineering and the mechanical design and documentation. An angel has underwritten much of the cost of gift fillfillment.

       Artist's Concept of New Rig Growing Baby Salad Greens

 

Starting in Bridgeport

All work for the new grow rig will be done in the USA. Our first indoor farm will be in Bridgeport, CT. And, that is where the new rigs will be installed.

 Why Bridgeport?

Bridgeport is typical of the post-industrial cities that once had robust manufacturing economies. Now these cities have many empty factory buildings and a high unemployment rate.

Schedule

As soon as we have raised our “rig fund” the design of the new grow rig can begin. We anticipate that we will start the design in late May or early June of this year. We have already located the personnel for the job.

We are looking forward to introducing our baby mesclun lettuce mix in the late fall of this year. This means that the design and the installation of the first new grow rigs must be completed in the early fall.

 

              Close Up of Baby Mesclun Mix Under Grow Lights

Helpers and Others

During the time we have been working on our dream, we have encountered many individuals who immediately caught the excitement of MetroCrops’ potential. In many cases they volunteered their time and services to help us along. This has included everything from mechanical and electrical engineering and plant science to the design of our website, logo and brand identity.

We were also helped by an energy consultant who gave us the opportunity to study the potential for using a fuel cell to generate electricity, heat, pure water and carbon dioxide (CO2) for plant photosynthesis for our pilot UHDI farm. These people have supported us generously with their time and have been a source of the encouragement which has helped us to get this far. Now we need money ($60,000) to move to the next step with our grow rig.

Please join us !

We are hoping that you will become a part of MetroCrops’ mission to make urban high density indoor (UHDI) farming a reality. No matter what amount you can afford, it will help us. Your contribution shows others that this is a serious effort to make the future better.

 Thank you for supporting us in our effort to

  • Find a use for empty factory buildings.

  • Create year round, quality, urban jobs.

  • Grow highly nutritious, local, fresh salad greens 12 months a year.

 

            Our Baby Mesclun Mix that was Taste Tested in January

Find This Campaign On
$5,355USD
raised in 1 month
9% funded
0 time left
$60,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on May 25, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $5USD
    Special Supporter

    Our sincere thanks and your name on our website.

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $10USD
    MetroCrops Button

    Our full color MetroCrops logo on a button and your name on our website.

    4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $15USD
    Lettuce

    3 packages of live mesclun mix lettuce for you or to gift to friends or a charity. Local pick up or shipping cost additional

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $25USD
    MetroCrops T-shirt

    The official MetroCrops T-shirt in green with our logo on the front and the list of the phytonutrients contained in our lettuce on the back. (Gildan brand, 100% cotton, heavy weight shirt) One of a kind we promise. And, your name on our website.

    7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $60USD
    MetroCrops Bamboo Water Bottle

    Bamboo and glass water bottle with MetroCrops logo laser engraved in the wood. A unique, non-plastic, sustainable way to carry your beverage. And, your name on our website.

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $100USD
    Your Name on Rig

    Your name embossed on the first 100 rigs built (or make your children/grandchildren’s names part of history). Shows “you were there” at the start. You also get an official MetroCrops T-shirt and your name on our website.

    7 out of 320 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $250USD
    Rig Unveiling Reception - One

    Admission for you to our wine and cheese (and salad) “Unveiling of the Rig” reception held at the P.T. Barnum museum in Bridgeport, CT. (Barnum was an industrialist – the circus was his hobby.) And, your name embossed on the first 100 rigs built and your name on our website.

    0 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $500USD
    Rig Unveiling Reception

    Admission for you and your guest to our wine and cheese (and salad) “Unveiling of the Rig” reception held at the P.T. Barnum museum in Bridgeport, CT. (Barnum was an industrialist – the circus was his hobby.) And, your name embossed on the first 100 rigs built and your name on our website.

    2 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $1,500USD
    VIP Factory Tour

    Visit behind the scenes with the originators. Spend a half-day with the owners / inventors at the pilot lettuce factory building in Bridgeport, CT where the rigs you helped finance are being installed. Tour includes lunch (a MetroCrops salad, of course!). You also get admission for you and your guest to our “Unveiling of the Rig” reception, your name embossed on the first 100 rigs built, and your name on our website.

    1 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $2,500USD
    Rig Partner

    You are designated as a “Rig Partner” on our website and you receive a very unique bookshelf size scale model of an old factory building converted to a MetroCrops indoor farm. The model is lit with our red and blue LED grow lights and comes ready to be plugged in. You also get a VIP Factory Tour, admission for you and your guest to our “Unveiling of the Rig” reception, and your “Rig Partner” designation on the first 100 rigs built.

    0 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
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