Fresh produce to be grown indoors with electricity
22 Aug 2019
Ag and Forest, economic development, Todd-Wadena
Leafy greens will soon be grown 365 days of the year Minnesota.
An insulated shipping container equipped with a complete hydroponic growing system will be delivered to the Central Lakes College (CLC) Agricultural Campus as part of an Electric Power Research Institute research project with Great River Energy, Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative (TWEC), Lakewood Health System (LHS) and the college.
Each partner will play a critical role in the two-year demonstration. Students from CLC’s horticulture and agriculture degree programs will learn firsthand about sustainable agriculture practices by maintaining and harvesting the produce, which will then be delivered to LHS for its “Food Farmacy” program that feeds more than 600 people monthly.
Throughout this process, Great River Energy and TWEC will collect data for electricity load planning and evaluating beneficial rate designs.
This project will also demonstrate how indoor crop production utilizing efficient electricity, technology, plant sciences and control solutions to create microclimates can produce ideal conditions for plant growth, yield, quality and consistency.
An additional benefit to growing produce closer to home: reducing distance to market, thereby reducing net greenhouse gas emissions. Leafy greens, like those that will be growing inside the container, travel an average of 2,000 miles before reaching a store.
“Looking to the future, indoor agriculture will allow food to be produced more efficiently and water to be used more efficiently as well,” said Daniel Carlisle, TWEC president and CEO. “It is exciting to play a part in learning more about this emerging market and studying the most effective ways to grow fresh produce in Minnesota year-round.”