CHICAGO (July 21, 2014) – Chicago’s first vertical organic aquaponic farm, FarmedHere®, is the latest recipient of Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan Program. The funds will be used to grow production at the commercial vertical farm.
“FarmedHere shares one of our core values of caring for our community and our environment with their creation of local produce and local jobs in a sustainable farming environment,” says Stefanie Garcia, Local Forager, Whole Foods Market Midwest region. “We are thrilled to continue to support them through our Local Producer Loan Program and help them grow their business.”
As a two-time Local Producer Loan Program recipient, FarmedHere can expand their indoor organic aquaponic growing systems to deliver more organic greens, kale, arugula and basil at an increased rate. FarmedHere’s vertical growing technology makes this model one of the most sustainable ways to guarantee access to fresh, healthy produce in city centers, in any season. FarmedHere reuses 97 percent of fresh water, uses no chemical herbicides or pesticides, grows year round and reduces their carbon footprint by eliminating long distance transportation.
“Whole Foods Market understands the importance of local urban farming and its impact on local economy and environment. This July we will celebrate a third anniversary of FarmedHere organic greens being offered at Whole Foods Market stores across Chicagoland. With the second round of financing they provided, we plan do double our harvest capacity and expand the offering with more of the freshest, most nutritious local greens year round”, says Jolanta Hardej, the Co-Founder of FarmedHere.
While not a new concept, indoor farming has advanced with technology. New lighting and farming methods allow FarmedHere produce to grow more efficiently than a traditional outdoor farm, while creating local city jobs and making post-industrial buildings alive again.
Loan recipients have a unique partnership with Whole Foods Market. Garcia and her team work with local producers to share their products with Whole Foods Market customers, help them support the communities and reinforce the value of environmental sustainability.
“The Local Producer Loan Program is another way we can help small local businesses develop and grow,” adds Garcia.
The Local Producer Loan Program allows small, local, independent producers expand their business with a small, low interest loan. In 2006, Whole Foods Market set aside $10 million for the Local Producer Loan Program to help small business farmers, growers and artisans with low-interest loans for capital expenditures and has since increased the amount available to up to $25 million. The program minimizes fees, interest rates and paperwork. Loans generally range from $10,000 to $100,000 with a five percent interest rate. Funds are typically used for expansion and capital expenditures such as buying more animals, investing in new equipment and infrastructure, or expanding crops.