July 25, 2016 was probably the greatest day of my life… okay, maybe not the greatest but it’s in the competition. The launching of our Chartwells Freight Farm made for an exceptional day. But wait, let’s start at the beginning – the arrival of our farm
Our Freight Farm arrived June 27th and was placed on the University of Arkansas campus behind the Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences Building.
Some may ask why this location was chosen and our reasoning is simple – with the farm on campus, we are able to harvest lettuce and immediately serve the same day. Produce doesn’t get any fresher than that! Your lettuce may have grown a little bit this morning before you ate it.
Upon arrival, the farm was a little bent out of shape. A large piece of equipment traveling approximately 1,536 miles is bound to endure rough conditions.
I went to see the farm on arrival day and it’s a good thing there happened to be a UA maintenance worker present to open the door which had been knocked off of its hinges because we all know that I totally would’ve knocked myself out otherwise.
I couldn’t wait for launch day when we would actually get the farm up and running!
Before launch day could happen, a few things needed to be done. Installing and conditioning the towers containing grow medium was one of the most important tasks. The towers are what the lettuce is transplanted into after the seedlings have reached maturity.
Conditioning is a process of continuously running hot water through the towers and setting the farm temperature to heat for 24-48 hours. Conditioning is required to remove any debris or substances from manufacturing and ensure that the grow medium is in the proper condition for transplanting crops.
Launch day came and was an intense, overwhelming experience. It was so worth it though because Chartwells can now serve this rockin’ lettuce!
Freight Farms also sends an employee to help launch farms. Thank goodness because I was so clueless! Launching includes setting up the all the technology that operates the farm, managing settings, and basically making sure everything is working properly and ready for farming!
Our day was filled with sorting through chemicals, storing materials and carrying out processes to power up the farm. One of my tasks was hydro-sensor calibration – sounds foreign, huh? Hydro sensor calibration is a lengthy process of testing and re-adjusting sensors. It’s vital to have accurate readings from these sensors such as pH level and water temperature so we can produce fresh, high quality lettuce.
Aside from the craziness, launch day was beyond cool! We were finally able to plant some lettuce seedlings and now we’re almost ready to harvest those first seedlings!!
To kick off our 1st harvest, I’ll be doing an Instagram takeover, Thursday, September 30th! Follow our Instagram account, @UA_Food, so you can watch the first harvest throughout the day!