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New Age Provisions Farms

Leading by Example
Farmer grows fresh produce in the heart of Indianapolis

Meeting his downtown Indianapolis community’s need for fresh food fueled DeMario Vitalis’ journey into farming.

“I wanted to develop a business system that would operate without the effort of my being there, while also providing for my community,” says Vitalis. “We are in a food desert, and my goal is to help solve that problem through my business.”

Vitalis wants people to know that farming is possible in urban areas, although it may look a bit different.

His entire farm exists inside two shipping containers. Each container produces about the same amount of leafy greens as three acres of farmland.

Vitalis, who began container farming in 2020, is the first Indianan and first African American to purchase the system from Freight Farming in Boston. He added a second container at the end of 2021.

“I want to show people of color that there are alternative ways of farming, and this is one path to better nutrition in urban food deserts,” he says. “We farm 365 days a year because our entire operation is enclosed.”

The unique hydroponic farm is located within the walls of high-tech shipping containers, much like you might see on a cargo ship. Hydroponics uses only water to grow plants with water supplying all plant nutrients.

Within the container, seedlings planted on vertical panels are spoon-fed computer-optimized amounts of water, nutrients and light — no soil is required.

Panels of tiny blue and red LED lights provide exactly the light spectrum plants need for growth. The lighting system also provides the containers' only heat source.

Nutrient and water rates along with lighting are programmed on computer timers, which run on a mobile app.

Vitalis supplies the containers with water and power.

He built a 400-amp power service because each container requires 100 amps of electricity and he wants to have the potential to grow vertically with four stacked containers. The farm is connected to city water, which is fed through a hose to a 275-gallon reserve water tank.

Hydroponics actually uses less water than traditional farming because water is recycled through the HVAC system. It cools and dehumidifies, and air circulated around the coils, condenses and creates water, which returns into the water storage tank.

“We actually create excess water in the summer due to increased condensation,” Vitalis says.

The farm grows herbs, including basil and thyme, as well as lettuces and leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens and mustard greens.

New Age Provisions sells its lettuce and kale mixes online through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and the farm’s website. Downtown Indianapolis is the farm’s primary market.

The urban farm also offers quarterly farm share programs, in which customers receive 10 weeks of fresh produce. All produce is delivered free within 24 hours after harvest.

To learn more visit New Age Provisions on Facebook , TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, or its website at https://www.newageprovisions.com/.

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