October 3, 2017 - Comments Off on Q&A with Brent McClenahan of The Food Dudes
- What made you decide to get a Modular Farm at The Food Dudes HQ?
We wanted a Modular Farm at Food Dudes HQ because we see Eric and his team as the manifestation of forward-looking companies actively trying to tackle the challenges facing our society. We see this partnership as a significant step in achieving hyper-local food sources and as a jump-off point for building a community (both peers and patrons) who share our vision of creating a food culture based on innovation and efficiency.
- What is it about Modular Farms that inspires you?
Eric and his team are an incredibly driven, inspired, and resourceful group of individuals. They’re the real deal. The concept of micro-farming has been floating around the industry for a while, but I feel like Modular Farms are the integrating force combining the technology, vision, and ideals required to elevate the concepts to where it needs to be in order for it to be actualized on a larger scale.
During our meetings and sessions, we’re constantly collaborating to build this into a system that makes sense on all fronts (commercial, social, environmental). Just sit down with them, learn about their mindset and ideas, and you’ll understand why their approach is the catalyst to which can permanently change our stagnant relationship with food production.
This is collaboration in its truest form; we’re trying to build a scalable system that improves our personal and communal quality of living.
- What kinds of crops do you plan on growing in The Food Dudes farm? What are you most excited for?
To start, we plan on growing kale, greens, and herbs. What we’re most excited for is the capabilities of the Modular Farm system to grow greens with incredibly unique characteristics, and be farm-to-table in a matter of hours. That means we’ll serve the freshest produce in the city of such caliber and variety, that it becomes an experience only The Food Dudes can offer. First we do greens, then veggies, fruits, and (hopefully, one day soon) proteins.
Also, by tweaking just a few environmental conditions, we’re able to naturally heighten flavors and colours. The fact it’s a closed system means we can offer these different types of produce year round. It truly is a game changer for us.
- Do you plan on experimenting with plant hybrids?
We definitely plan on experimenting with hybrids. Modular Farms has a master grower and horticulturalist, while we have impassioned chefs eager to create world class dishes and flavor profiles, it’s a perfect match. We’re looking at splicing complimenting breeds to really make this whole experience truly impactful.
- How important is it to you to support sustainability initiatives?
I wouldn’t necessarily use the term ‘sustainability’, but what we’re going for is ‘efficiency’. We’re a functional node in our social system, and every process that comes through us will be adapted and structured to act as a closed-loop, optimized process. The idea is to create as many of these self-sustaining systems as possible, so that we build a machine that maintains itself while satisfying the macro needs and pressures (both social and commercial).This entire approach begins in thought, and is followed by action. Right now, we’re still in the process of implementing these actions, but we’ve made immense progress within a short timeframe.For us, efficiency isn’t some abstract differentiating buzzword, it’s simply an ideal we value and believe individuals and communities should strive for. We’re hoping to bring the concept into people’s daily lives, because something as simple as acknowledging that our actions have consequences grounds us in the present reality. We’re actively trying to structure our workflows and processes to not only minimize our direct footprint, but to inspire others in doing the same. In short, if we lead by example, hopefully others will be inspired and seek it out in their own lives.
Some other sustainability initiatives we engage in include buying local meats and produce, utilizing reclaimed building fixtures and materials, advanced recycling and waste programs. We’re also leading a not-for-profit think tank called “Stage” where we plan and workshop massive initiatives around food security, sustainability, and getting humanity off this rock! It’s exhilarating.
- When did you first start learning about vertical farming solutions like Modular Farms Co.?
The first time I became heavily engaged in the concept of vertical farming was when I heard Kimbal Musk’s TED Talk, and he was discussing the future of food and food security. He was discussing Square Roots, an urban grow op based in NYC, and I began to recall all the moments I’ve encountered micro farms (on Kickstarter, in articles, and more), and then Kimbal said that the future of food is going to be the ‘next internet’, it all fell into place.
For us, there’s no turning back. This is the solution.
- How do you see Vertical Farming answering the challenges faced by food insecure Canadians?
From a resource perspective, although vertical farming uses a fraction of the water and land than that of a conventional farm, it still uses a lot of electricity. We acknowledge this, and are working to bring energy consumption down. For us, installing a modular farm at the Food Dudes HQ is the beginning and early stages of a larger agricultural solution.
For us, vertical farms will be a major contributing initiative aimed to reduce society’s dependence on factory farming. It’s less pollution and waste, can be utilized in all environments (from the arctic to the desert), all while employing local people (in the harvest, maintenance, and fabrication of these modules). Most importantly, it engages people to develop a relationship with their food; a crucial step in building a net positive system moving forward.
- What are your future plans for the Modular Farm? Any expansion plans?
This partnership with Modular Farms is our prototype of building an urban agricultural model that satisfies social and commercial needs. I think that ultimately, The Food Dudes goal is to provide our produce from two means: organic farming from just outside of the city, as well as urban agriculture. That system, supplemented by roof-top gardens and our organic farming partners, is just the beginning of The Food Dudes becoming a grow-op supplying all of our produce in-house.
Published by: Ramez Moussa in News