Re-Envisioning Urban Farming With Direct To Consumer Urban Hubs
Q & A With Brick Street Farms CEO Shannon O’Malley
Indoor Ag-Con is excited to welcome Brick Street Farms CEO Shannon O’Malley to our speaker roster for the October 4-5, 2021 edition at the Hilton Orlando. Based in St. Petersburg, FL, O’Malley and her growing company are on a mission to “ignite a sustainable farm revolution by dramatically reshaping the global population’s ability to access clean, healthy food.” We caught up with Shannon to learn more about the multi-million investment Florida agribusiness leader Lykes Bros. has recently made in Brick Street Farms; her company’s THRIVE Containers division, and its non-profit Desert Farms Foundation.
Read our Q&A here AND learn more next month in Orlando as Shannon joins our “Women in Ag” panel discussion
Congratulations on the recent news that Lykes Bros. Inc has made a significant investment in Brick Street Farms! What does this mean for your company and how does it play into your mission.
Brick Street Farms could not be more thrilled about the investment from Lykes Bros. Inc. We both inherently believe that within the agriculture space there is room for traditional farming models and urban community models. With our Lykes Bros.Inc. investment, Brick Street Farms will be bringing the first large-scale direct to consumer urban community model to the forefront: Brick Street Farms Urban Hubs.
With this model, we have the privilege of contributing to the local economy by empowering and investing in our urban communities in as many ways as possible. We provide nutritional and medicinal food that has not been compromised by traditional agriculture supply chain issues, grown on-site, in one of the most advanced environmentally sustainable arenas in agriculture. With harvest to home in 24 hours, we take pride in leading the way in the evolution of how people connect to their food. We are growing 16-20 acres of farmland in 1/3 acre lots and could not be more excited. Brick Street Farms is defining what urban agriculture is with our urban hubs. These hubs are the truest form of bringing mass food production to the point of consumption. And the best way to sustainably feed more people from urban locations.
From a financial standpoint, this model is scalable, replicable, and sustainable. Below is a graph from the Artemis State of Indoor Farming 2020. We have added the Brick Street Farms direct to consumer model to this graph as shown below:
What was the rationale behind the launch of your THRIVE division and what makes your containers different than others on the market today?
When my husband, Brad, and I started Brick Street Farms, we had no idea how quickly our business would scale. With this scale and both of us having backgrounds in engineering, the obvious next step was to design and manufacture our own containers. As we thought through the designs, there were key areas that we knew needed improvements. Our main objective was, and still is, to build containers for growers, by growers. The maximization of plant sites was important, so we added a sixth row of channels and turned other excess space into plant sites. We significantly reduced the amount of components in the container that require maintenance.
Our THRIVE Containers provide a one pump, one reservoir, one dosing station system for the complete grow cycle. Improving water sanitation through the use of nanobubble technology was a no brainer because it cleanses the water and eliminates toxins so we don’t have to use chemicals for cleansing. Those are just some of the ways our THRIVE Containers are different from those on the market today.
Tell us about the Brick Street Farms membership model and how it plays into both your business growth plan as well as the support of your overall mission.
We knew fairly early on that the only financially successful and sustainable model in this space is a direct to consumer model. That’s why we had to design the best in class containers in order to build the first of its kind direct to consumer Brick Street Farms urban hubs. Our membership program is similar to a gym with both individual memberships and corporate level memberships. This provides a recurring stream of revenue and is not a CSA model. Our customers are very community driven, hyper-local and support advanced environmental sustainability. Introducing the membership model was just a perfect way for them to connect with us and for us to connect with them and it supports the part of our mission which focuses on being good to our community and planet Earth.
Can you tell us about your non-profit Desert Farms Foundation – why you started it and what you hope to accomplish through it?
Bringing our Desert Farms Foundation to life has been such a neat experience. The foundation is really growing faster than we expected. We don’t even have the Desert Farms Foundation website live yet, however, we have received a great kick-start to our operations budget and are already delivering to three major non-profit food organizations. It’s really important to recognize that we are a start-up and to be able to bring a non-profit to life in such a quick amount of time is super commendable and not easy. We all have so much on our plates and I am so proud that we got this off the ground and I look forward to witnessing the impact this foundation makes by working to provide nutritional wellness for ALL.
Learn more about Shannon and Brick Street Farms by visiting their website here.