The Phoenix City Council has approved seven recipients of the Agri-Food Tech Innovation Grant to help them adopt agri-food technologies and innovations into their operations.
The grant is part of the ARPA-funded Phoenix Resilient Food System Initiative, which provides “for increased local food production and access to healthy foods; support for food banks, food pantries and community agencies; and business and employment opportunities throughout the food system spectrum,” city officials stated in a release.
The Office of Environmental Programs selected five recipients that are committed to advancing food equity through their modern methods and processes:
- Arizona State University Indoor Farming Lab is focusing on indoor vertical farming. The grant will help the research lab conduct two, three-day workshops about the benefits of IVF within the food system. Funds will pay for personnel, publication and training expenses. ASU is also providing a 100 percent cost share match.
- FreshKube Inc. will put the grant funding toward sensors, refrigeration and solar panels as it helps small growers and distributors. The money will allow them to build six mini containers and a portable micro-solar farm, giving growers “cost-effective, transportable, temperature-controlled containers that can be powered by renewable energy.”
- Lehr Innovations LLC , with its existing Linking Ecosystem and Hardware for Regeneration Gardens, will be able to improve growing efficiency by building a testing site to measure the differences in water usage, soil carbon sequestration, costs and productivity between its LEHR gardens and traditional, in-ground farming methods.
- NxT Horizon LLC uses aquaponics to help urban farmers maximize food yield without toxic wastes or chemical runoffs. Funds awarded to NxT Horizon will go toward developing a pilot program to demonstrate methods using the giant freshwater prawn within the Phoenix Backyard Garden Program’s aquaponics garden system.
- YoBro Farms will expand its vertical microgreen growing business by implementing an outdoor, solar-powered farming system that will enhance resiliency and expand sustainable food production practices. The farm will use funds to buy photovoltaic supplies, a shed and other materials.
The Office of Mayor Kate Gallego is awarding funds to the following:
- Phoenix Food Cooperative will create the “Phoenix Cooperative Food Hub,” a tech-enabled online directory and marketplace for producers, consumers and distributors “in the Phoenix food system.” Grant funds will be used primarily for labor costs as Phoenix Food Cooperative establishes Phoenix’s first cooperative grocery store that aggregates local food sources from Phoenix growers and producers and connects residents, retailers and other consumers.
- Homer Farms Inc., a vertical farm startup, will locate in Phoenix to build the first vertical farm in Phoenix. The facility will use LED lights and deep-water hydroponic cultivation technologies, which will produce a minimum of 500,000 pounds of produce per year while using 95 percent less water than traditional agriculture. Grant funds will be used for equipment such as growing racks and lighting.
The total available grant funding for 2022 is $400,000 with awards ranging from $1,000 to $99,000.