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Babcock Ranch moving indoors to grow fresh produce and eco-friendly farming in SWFL

Finn Farms
Posted at 7:38 AM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 07:39:56-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Finn Farm at Babcock Ranch could be changing the game for fresh produce in Southwest Florida.

Their facility is completely indoors and promises year-round vegetables.

It’s the first of its kind in Florida and the hope is that it’s a way around the problems the humidity and heat cause for traditional farmers in our area.

Finn Farm's completely indoor operation was built back in January 2021 and inside there are 12 grow lines that are producing green leafy vegetables like cilantro and popular types of lettuce.

Finn Farms says the facility has also eliminated the need for pesticides and stores rainwater, allowing them to use 95% less water than traditional farms.

On Tuesday, Finn Farms' Chief Executive Officer, Oskari Kariste, said Florida gets a lot of their produce from other states, like California, which can drive up the price of vegetables and decrease freshness.

"In California which is the biggest growing environment, they are running out of water, and then if you think about transportation and cost and being on trucks for four days, before they get to the store and then let’s say five days they get to your home and then two days they get to your plate… so the produce is not as premium," said Kariste.

Finn Farms facility is two and a half acres in size, basically equal to a soccer field, but produces the same amount of vegetables as a 60-acre traditional farm.

Finn Farms says growing locally will cut down on shipping costs and should translate to affordable prices for consumers.

"Inside this greenhouse, you have the best technology, you also have the highest yield per square footage to give a good pricing for the consumers that they can afford to eat healthily,” said Kariste.

On Tuesday, Finn Farms said they are talking with local companies and vendors in Southwest Florida who are interested in their vegetables.

Kariste said once contracts are done, Finn Farms should be able to start production immediately with room to expand if the demand is there.