Author: Schyler Norton
Everyone loves local produce, but if you live in the north, buying local in the winter is nearly impossible, until just recently. With the advent of vertical farming, restaurants and markets are finally able to source locally throughout the year (for certain farm products). Now, one local farmer is taking the scene to the next level. What started out as a small hobby has grown into much more.
Richard Stapleton of GrowTech Industries started growing crops in upcycled shipping containers two years ago. Since then, Stapleton has expanded from his original ten foot container and now has one 40 foot container with a second arriving next week. In the container he uses LED lighting with only blue and violet light to grow microgreens and lettuce.
From a 40 foot container, Stapleton gets about 70,000 heads of lettuce a year.
From a 40 foot container, Stapleton gets about 70,000 heads of lettuce a year. The way in which Stapleton is growing the crops is environmentally friendly, and can be done year round. He buys shipping containers from a port in New Jersey – these containers are used once to import goods and then left as garbage until someone buys them.
Stapleton’s growing method also uses 90% less water and 75% less energy than traditional growing methods.
Stapleton’s containers (Farm Boxes) are located in South Buffalo right outside of the Hayes Place Management Group formerly known as the Buffalo China/Buffalo Pottery Complex (learn more). As of right now he supplies some local restaurants with his microgreens and lettuce. Stapleton is looking to expand and is currently working on getting his Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certificate, to be able to sell to more restaurants and hopefully supermarkets.
Once that happens, and he gets his next shipping container, Stapleton is going to start growing different types of tomatoes and peppers. Expansion into other cities is also to be expected later this year. Stapleton is looking to start other locations in Rochester and Syracuse all while sticking with the shipping container model. This is an exciting development, especially in the northeast, it will provide local restaurants with local produce year round, and is environmentally friendly to boot.