© 2015 LoCo Urban Farms Limited
These are the cornerstones of our mission. They are all interconnected with one another and provide a set of values that we want to be pervasive among ownership, workers, friends, business partners and the community at large. If we strive to accomplish these throughout the farm side, business side, community outreach and as well as in our own daily lives, failure is not an option. Our success will be gauged on the impact we make in the hearts and minds of those that we interact with. No one says that changing long standing beliefs will be easy, or an overnight success but if we dedicate ourselves to working hard, not taking what we are doing for granted and allowing the inevitable small failures to not break us down, but the learn and grow from them, we CAN do this!
For a lot of my formative years I was the epitome of a "consumer". I never gave a thought to the single use plastic bottle that got thrown away in the trash instead of being recycled or reused. I had a very selfish, entitled and self righteous view that if something didn't directly interfere with what I was doing at that moment, it didn't really matter. They say that age begets wisdom and in my later years I realized that there are a great number of joys one can gain by helping others. The addition of a few ups and downs both personally and professionally have brought me to this point in my life where creating a greater good and being part of the solution is paramount in my thinking and actions and hence the conception of my transformation into a farmer started.
I have spent the last year and a half delving as deeply into anything and everything I can read, listen to, volunteer, attend or watch that pertains to sustainability, responsible farming, urban farming operations and existing grow-tech equipment. I have a business school background and have always been a bit of an inventor as well. During the past year and a half, I have also done extensive R & D on my own version of vertical tower gardens, produced prototypes and conducted testing and development of processes that will produce maximum results while using the least possible amount of resources. I personally feel that the time is right to seek out a means of initial farm capital requirements to begin moving forward with this project. Working with industry consultants and other farmers has allowed the somewhat steep leaning curve to be moderately lowered and has expedited the process of getting the farm into the implementation phase.
I would like to take this time to introduce myself, my name is Steve Czok. I was born in a small town in southern Minnesota to a farmers daughter and a German immigrant who was a born entrepreneur. My Mom's parents lived a long life with many years spent working in the fields, hands in the dirt of their respective family farms in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. I always knew growing up that one day I would follow in my Dad's footsteps and own my own business, I just didn't know at the time that my path would also follow in my Grandparents footsteps as well. It has been a dream to be my own boss, see direct results and the fruits (and vegetables, in this case) of my labor.
I am embarking out on this new adventure with high hopes, determination and a level of exuberance that lets me know each day that this is the correct decision and direction for my future. I am, however under no misconception that farming, in this day in age is the path to wealth and riches in the monetary sense of the word, but a hard painstaking project that rewards the purveyor with a wealth of knowledge that, if done correctly and responsibly can positively impact myself, the community around me and perhaps in some small way benefit the earth by leaving it just a little bit better that it was when I got here.
Q. What is a Urban Farm?
A. Exactly what you picture in your mind. A farm in an urban, city environment that focuses on supplying the local community healthy, fresh produce that typically has its food trucked in from hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from where it is grown. Focus on sustainability and solid resource conservation practices melds the best parts of fresh food that is locally grown to areas that would not normally have them available.
Q. Are you organic?
A. In a word, No. Although we strive to grow in an organic style, certification is a costly, time consuming, red tape maze that we chose not to pursue. Instead, we focus our energy and efforts on using as many natural alternatives to chemicals as possible. Instead of having to pass on the costs of certification to the consumer just to have a sticker that says organic, we chose to focus on local, responsible growing practices.
Q. When do you plan on opening to the public?
A. That is a tricky question. The easy answer is ASAP, but there are quite a few hurdles to getting up and running with a newer enterprise like a farm in the city; zoning and code issues with each particular municipality, land and equipment procurement, budget constraints to name a few. The plan is to launch our Barnraiser crowd funding campaign in the next few weeks and if we can reach our goal amount we should be able to have everything rocking and rolling by mid to late summer. Our time frame and window to grow this season will be limited, but that will give us ample time to work out and foreseeable and the unforeseeable kinks that arise in any new venture.
Q. I see you reference a "phased and scalable growth" business model, whats that?
A. Well, the easiest way to describe it would be that we have different models for different markets that we hope to enter over time. Some farming activities are better suited for different regions and climates, some are just plain illegal in some areas. If we look at developing a solid base in at our flagship farm, it will give us a great template to use when we decide to expand into other areas such as honey and bee, live stock, apuaponic and mushroom production. There are many examples of upstart farms taking on way too much at the onset and their growing pains usually resulted in heavy financial losses and even bankruptcies. We are taking the tortoise approach vs. the hare.
Q. Are you crazy?
A. Yeah, probably a little.
If you have any other questions, any at all, please feel free to email or call us and we will be happy to try to answer them!
The initial plan is to use the capital raised from our Barnraiser crowd funding campaign along with personal financing to fund the procurement of land and necessary equipment for the farm. We are hoping to be able to build out a boundary wall, vertical towers as well as raised beds along with associated soil, irrigation, water collection and storage methods, drainage substrate and ground cover that will encompass a three quarter to a 1 full acre lot for our flagship farm. Locating the farm in close proximity to a USDA food desert will be crucial in providing the local community with a source for fresh, delicious and healthy food options, a learning center and safe zone that would otherwise be inconvenient or completely unavailable to locals altogether. The farm will be owner operated with open volunteer opportunities for the first phase of development which will keep expenses to an absolute minimum during those crucial first few months. After the farm starts producing a marginal profit, part-time employees will be added, sourced entirely from the local community on a need basis.
-Creating locavore communities-