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Frequently Asked Questions
What is vertical farming?
Vertical farming is a type of controlled environment agriculture that uses artificial lighting, typically indoors, and vertical planting systems that utilize a space’s cubic footage as opposed to square footage in traditional farming. This allows for significantly more production in a much smaller space.
Many systems utilize hydroponics. Hydroponics is the practice of growing food in a water-based mineral solution as opposed to soil. Application of hydroponics is simple. The right amount of nutrients combined with pH balanced water and the correct amount and type of light, results in consistent yields of highly nutritious leafy greens and other produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries.
The design of any vertical farm must meet specific space requirements, budgetary considerations and labor availability. All of these components allow for the environment to be specifically controlled to optimize growth, increase yield and control quality. It uses limited herbicides or pesticides and minimal space compared to traditional farming methods. Vertical farming solves four major challenges of traditional farming methods concerning water, energy, space, and quality of food.
What is the difference between hydroponics, aeroponics, & aquaponics?
Hydroponics: The “hydro,” or “water,” is key to growing in this form. Hydroponic farms do not use soil but do have a growing medium, such as Rockwool. As with aeroponics and aquaponics, hydroponic plants need nutrients and can be grown in vertical racks, towers, or vertical panels.
Aeroponics: This method does, indeed, put the air to work. Aeroponic production does not involve a growing medium; instead, roots dangle in the open air and are misted with nutrient-rich water. The plants reach maturity quickly. It uses significantly less water than comparable field crops.
Aquaponics: A combination of hydroponic growing and fish. Fish effluent is transformed into a nutrient for plants, then recycled back into the fish tank.
Who is a Flex Farm for?
Fork Farms believes that anyone can be a farmer. The Flex Farm is for anyone with a desire to grow highly nutritious, chemical-free, fresh food year-round, indoors. Its compact size and high yield capacity make it the perfect fit for educational institutions, culinary operations, healthcare organizations, nonprofits, families and more. Indoor farming is revolutionizing the way we bring fresh and healthy food to our communities.
How can I get a Flex Farm?
Flex Farms can be ordered directly through our website or through one of our Partnership Development Team Members.
If you’d like to order a Flex Farm through one of our team members, please reach out through our chat function on the website, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also reach a team member by phone at 877.886.7736 Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm. We are more than happy to assist you!
Where can I set up a Flex Farm and how much space does it take up?
A Flex Farm takes up approximately 10 square feet of floor space and can be placed in just about any temperature-controlled room with a standard ceiling, access to electricity, and ideally a nearby water source. To date, Flex Farms have been placed in all sorts of locations like classrooms, food pantries, cafeterias, libraries, corporate lobbies and more.
How many plants can I grow in the Flex Farm?
The Flex Farm has 288 unique plant spaces. Depending upon the variety of plant you are growing, you can plant all 288 spaces. For most lettuce varieties that grow large heads, we recommend planting every other space for a total of 144 plants. Herbs such as basil can typically be planted every plant spot. That means you can harvest approximately 3,400 plants every year!
Remember if you are planting every other space to use the black plant space plugs in the empty plant spots.
How many pounds of food can I grow in a Flex Farm?
That all depends on what you plant! Some plant varieties weigh more than others. It also depends if you are growing leafy greens, herbs, or fruiting plants such as strawberries and tomatoes. Overall, we say a Flex Farm has the capacity to grow more than 25 pounds of leafy greens every 28 day grow cycle.
What can I grow in a Flex Farm?
The Flex Farm is optimized to grow all varieties of leafy greens such as lettuces and culinary herbs. Our partners have seen success growing cucumbers, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and even pumpkins. Imagination and experimentation are the keys to unlocking the full potential, we’re still making discoveries ourselves!
How much time does it take to maintain?
On average, you can expect to spend about 1 – 3 hours per month maintaining your Flex Farm. This includes the time it takes to plant seeds, transplant your seedlings, and harvesting.
How much energy does it take to run?
Each Flex Farm requires a 40W pump which runs continuously and six LED lights which each draw 40W for an average of 16 hours daily. Therefore, at any given time, you’re only ever drawing 280W per Flex Farm.
How much does it cost to operate?
At the national average of $0.13 per kWh, it costs approximately $16.85 per month in electricity to operate a Flex Farm for the recommended 16 hours per daylight cycle. Other costs include, growing supplies such as seeds, nutrients, and Rockwool (grow medium). On average, most people budget about $300 per year.
What does the Flex Farm come with?
Each Flex Farm comes with everything you need to start growing for your first few months. Plus, purchase includes free access to farmative, our digital platform to access growing resources and connect with the Flex Farm community.
Each Flex Farm purchase includes:
- Light tower
- LED growing lights
- Submersible pump
- TDS meter
- pH test kit
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Small bristle brush
Grow Supply Kit
- Rockwool flats
- Nursery tray
- pH down
- pH up
- Nutrient A
- Nutrient B
- Food grade hydrogen peroxide
- Pelleted seeds
Where can I get more consumables when I run out?
You can purchase growing supplies directly through our website. We offer two supply options.
The first is a Grow Supplies Box Subscription. The Flex Farm Grow Supplies Box Subscription program delivers all the supplies you need to grow every 3 months right to your door. With automatic monthly payments, the subscription is a convenient and affordable way to stay stocked with the supplies you need to grow with the Flex Farm.
The second option is the Bulk Supply Box is designed for partners operating four or more Flex Farms. It includes all the consumable products necessary to run four Flex Farms for approximately 12 months.
Where can I find other seed varieties?
If you are interested in purchasing additional seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds is a reliable source for a wide variety of high-quality seeds. We highly recommend using pelleted seed whenever possible. Pelleted seeds are easier to handle and the clay coating provides extra moisture to the seed so it doesn’t dry out.
What do you charge for shipping?
A standard flat rate shipping charge of $133 per Flex Farm is applied to contiguous continental United States orders. Additional shipping charges apply to orders shipped to Alaska and Hawaii. Shipping charges are calculated and applied during checkout. Please contact Fork Farms directly for a shipping quote or to request expedited shipping.
Fork Farms currently only accepts online orders from the lower 48 United States, Alaska and Hawaii. Contact Fork Farms directly for international or United States territory orders.
Do you provide fundraising support to nonprofits?
Is Fork Farms on social media?
Yes! Stay connected with us and up to date on all the latest Fork Farms news! We also have a Flex Farm Growers Group on Facebook for our community of Fork Farmers to share their growing experiences.
Why did Fork Farms stop shipping 35% concentrated hydrogen peroxide? How does this impact cleaning and growing instructions?
We recently found through testing that use of 35% hydrogen peroxide has minimal impact to keep your Flex Farm clean and reduce algae growth. We stopped shipping this product effective September 6th, 2021, to reduce our environmental impact through shipped plastic, and to provide a safer and cleaner growing experience.
Please follow the deep cleaning instructions in the Grow Guide using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution available at most drug and grocery stores. There is no need to dilute the 3% solution; simply spray or wipe onto your Flex Farm to clean. For growing, we no longer recommend adding hydrogen peroxide to your water supply during the growing cycle.
If you have been using 35% hydrogen peroxide, please note that you can continue to use this safely by following previous recommendations. We suggest replacing it with a 3% hydrogen peroxide once you run out for cleaning purposes and discontinuing the addition of hydrogen peroxide in your water supply.
What is farmative?
farmative is a digital platform to access transformative and collaborative tools for your best Flex Farm growing experience. Through farmative, you can access growing resources and programming tools; purchase grow supplies easily online; and connect with the Fork Farms community. farmative is free for all Flex Farm users.