Indoor Farming Operation Being Built At Ivy Tech South Bend
By Mark Peterson | Posted: Wed 6:22 PM, Jul 19, 2017
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – A farm is being built on Ivy Tech’s South Bend campus at a cost of up to $4 million.
The farm will span just 20,000 square feet because all the growing will take place indoors, hydroponically, under L.E.D. lights. It was somewhat ironic that the soil ceremoniously overturned during groundbreaking ceremonies today won’t be used to grow a thing.
“We are at the tip of the spear of a brand new industry, we’re leaders in an emerging market,” said Green Sense Farm’s Founding Farmer Robert Colangelo. “We’re like Steve Jobs making computers in your garage. This field is just at the beginning of the beginning.”
The Green Sense search to find an academic partner for the project was not an easy one. “We went to a number of four year institutions looking to transform farming at agricultural schools but hit walls of bureaucracy and Chancellor Coley took a risk, he saw that there was a real need to train students with two year degrees to work in the produce food service and agricultural sectors.”
Chancellor Coley refers to the leader at Ivy Tech South Bend, Dr. Thomas Coley: “They set up a real live production and then our students get to train in a live production that’s a very unique arrangement, it’s probably one, if not few in the country that would have this kind of partnership.”
And the partnering doesn’t end there. The facility’s produce production capacity has already been purchased by a half dozen entities including Martin’s Super Markets.
“When you harvest produce it starts dying and losing its nutritional value as soon as it’s cut,” said Colangelo. “So if it travels from the west coast to the Midwest it could take three days, so it’s less nutritious. If it’s harvested and it’s at your table in hours, because it’s locally grown it’s much more nutritious and you can see that in the taste and in the color of the produce as well as the shelf life, it’ll last much longer.”
The list of sponsors also includes the wing of Sodexo and serves the St. Mary’s Campus: “No, I don’t think dirt farms are doomed, so this is just something else that’s different. You’ve got limited growing products that are in there you know, more on the lettuces the micro greens, the enhanced flavors of herbs, stuff like that, but you aren’t going to able to take corn and wheat and all that other stuff out of the system,” said Sodexo General Manager Kenneth Acosta.