Farmed Here is located in Chicago, and practices sustainable indoor farming. Their produce is marketed directly to grocery retailers, organic and specialty stores and restaurants – some of the retail stores that sell their produce include Whole Foods and Mariano’s. Jolanta Hardej founded the company and is currently its CEO. She has graciously agreed to answer our questions about the farm and their innovative growing practices.
Interview: Jolanta Hardej, CEO
Farmed Here, LLC – Chicago based Sustainable Indoor Farming
Chicago Farm and Table: How does someone who is working in the real estate world, get into the business of vertical farming and raising Tilapia, in other words aquaponics and aeroponics?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: I was involved in mortgage financing for 13 years-after 2008 (when the market took a dive). My world took a dive as well. It was time for me to find different options for my professional life. Lots of internet reading, books, seminars and voile la! The idea came to my mind-why not?!
CF & T: Can you describe how this system of farming works?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: Vertical farming is growing greens (or other plants) vertically on levels. Our farm is indoors, vertical and USDA organic certified.
CF & T: What are the advantages of these farming methods?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: There are many positive aspects of growing indoors but the biggest are that indoor growing means a controlled environment –
- produce is grown indoors, away from the bugs, diseases, pesticides, and weather conditions-we can provide consistent crop quality
- our vertical growing technology and local distribution reduces energy use, travel time and cost,
- we are delivering fresh, healthy produce in city centers
- our technology saves about 97% of fresh water compare to traditional farming
- we have 90% crop success sate, much greater than traditional farming.
CF & T: What are the disadvantages?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: At this point none, but it is too soon to determine.
CF & T: What produce do you grow now, and what will you add to your assortment?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: Our current assortment is Lemon Basil, Thai Basil, Sweet Basil and Opal Basil, as well as Baby Arugula and salad mixes are coming soon.
CF & T: Where can we purchase your produce right now?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: Our produce is sold at all Whole Foods Stores in Chicagoland, all Mariano’s in Chicagoland, as well as lots of independent stores. (Check out our website for a more complete list of stores that sell our produce.)
CF & T: Are the Tilapia available yet at grocery stores?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: No, Tilapia is not available at the stores yet.
CF & T: What are the biggest obstacles you face in this industry?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: The only obstacle is the fact that we are one of the industry pioneers.
CF & T: How do you envision the future of aquaponics and aeroponics?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: Due to climate changes, population growth, and consumers desire to eat better, fresher greens, aquaponics is definitely the answer.
CF & T: Where else are these farming practices implemented, as far as other cities, countries?
Jolanta/Farmed Here: There are vertical aquaponics farms in Korea, Japan, and Scandinavia, China…
****For more information about Farmed Here, see their website here****