Three days a week in downtown Raleigh, N.C., fans of fresh fruits and veggies can pick up their local tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, potatoes, squash, and blackberries inside a 200-square-foot shipping container. The unconventional farm stand is no rigged-together gimmick. It’s actually the first prototype of something called the Farmery, a combined grocery store and urban farm where grocery shoppers not only get a glimpse of how their food is grown, but also get to harvest some of their own ingredients; herbs and other leafy vegetables are grown on the inside walls and the roof.
“The Farmery is really a model to make the first locally sourced grocery store,” says Ben Greene, the project’s founder and one of a team of eight people attempting to reimagine what eating healthy means for city neighborhoods.
Greene calls the shipping container prototype, which sits on the grounds of the downtown Raleigh City Farm, the Mini-Farmery. Greenhouse windows line much of the 8-by-20-foot structure. Hanging on one wall are panels where greens are grown on-site. Shelving on the opposite side holds food grown at local farms, including the urban farm in which it sits.
In the 8,000-square-foot, scaled-up version, Greene imagines an open bottom floor that would hold the main grocery and a café for selling drinks and deli meats. Above that, eight shipping containers supported by beams and equipped with side panels for growing herbs and greens, nourished by what Greene calls the “Living River Growing System” -- a raceway tank that looks and acts like a stream, filtering and channeling nutrient-filled water to the seven-foot-high growing panels. On top of all this would sit a greenhouse roof.