Crawford County Farm Receives Loan from Economic Development Organization to Implement an Innovative System of Growing

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Dutch Boy Farm receives funding to grow strawberries using an indoor aeroponic system, giving consumers the opportunity to buy local strawberries year-round.

Dutch Boy Farm in Springboro is the newest recipient of funding from Idea Foundry’s Revolving Loan Fund, a pilot fund to support innovation in food systems.

Using a system produced by Aero Development Corp out of Lancaster, Dutch Boy Farm founder and CEO Jesse Fisher began growing with an indoor aeroponic system in the Spring of 2015. Aeroponic growing is a vertical system of growing crops without soil. Plants are embedded in rockwool and sit on the outside of a vertical column, exposing the roots to nutrient-rich water circulating on the inside. Mr. Fisher’s commercial-size square vertical pods house more than 6,000 grow spots, allowing for an efficient use of space and inputs that results in a high volume of production. Housed in a greenhouse, Mr. Fisher’s aeroponic growing pods can produce year-round.

With the help of this loan, Mr. Fisher is expanding his operation by adding more pods to his greenhouse, and growing aeroponic strawberries. This is an exciting development with incredible potential; 75% of the nation’s strawberry crops are produced in California, and Pennsylvania’s season to buy locally produced strawberries only lasts about 3 short weeks. With this new system, local consumers could have access to high-quality, locally grown strawberries year-round. Jesse explains what has driven this expansion, “It is our mission at Dutch Boy Farm to grow healthy, vibrant strawberries. In addition, we hope to incorporate other crops in the future so that consumers have access to high quality, locally grown produce.”

Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, Director of Social Enterprise at Idea Foundry, explains the organizations’ enthusiasm about this project: “We’re very excited to support Dutch Boy Farm through our Food Systems Innovation Loan Program. The company fits well with our funding priorities: Jesse is creative yet level-headed, and he is open to using new technologies to grow food more efficiently, year round, which improves the sustainability and viability of our local food system.” Sharing this excitement, Mr. Fisher stated, “Mike and the team at Idea Foundry are very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. Their investment is like a breath of fresh air. The expertise they provide will help us as a company with our growth and strategic plan, thus enabling us to be more successful.”

Idea Foundry, a Pittsburgh-based economic development organization founded in 2002, is a regional pioneer in technology transfer and commercialization, having helped launch over 200 companies that have created close to a billion dollars in economic impact. Idea Foundry has created a pilot revolving loan fund designed to support Western PA entrepreneurs innovating around the regional food economy. “Dutch Boy Farm is a great example of using innovation in the capital-intensive nature of farming which enables smaller scale farms to start and grow, creating jobs and supporting local-food-systems in Western Pennsylvania”, stated Michael Matesic, Idea Foundry CEO.

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Jesse Fisher
Founder & CEO, Dutch Boy Farm
+1 814-282-6192
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Nicole Muise-Kielkucki
@InterSectorPGH
since: 06/2012
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