Newark, New Jersey: Farming Mecca?

Detroit’s downfall paved the way for an urban farming revival. Now Newark, New Jersey–another ailing urban center–is aiming for an agricultural revolution of its own. St. Philips Academy, a private school in the city, this week became home to the first commercial aeroponic farm in New Jersey. The soil-free farm system was made possible by EcoVeggies, a company that invests in urban farming as a means to revitalize the Newark area.

The aeroponic farm, designed by AeroFarms, features leafy greens planted in a cloth bed. The greens are watered by a nutrient-filled mist, and LED lamps provide both light and pest control. St. Philips’s  7′ by 10″ aeroponic unit, which will be tended to by the students, can generate 20 pounds of produce for each harvest. Eventually, produce grown in the unit will go into school lunches.

The St. Philips aeroponics initiative is not the only urban farming movement in the Newark Area. St. Philips itself already has a 4,500 square foot rooftop garden, a teaching kitchen, and a composting system. And Weber Thompson is in the planning stages of a massive vertical farm in the city. When completed, the  demonstration project could contain both a vertical greenhouse as well as multiple research laboratories.

All of which means New Jersey’s motto–“The Garden State”– might not sound so ridiculous after all.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.AS