When it comes to farming, Chris Corkery
, founder of New York-based Planet to Plate Inc.
, believes you need to have a calm demeanor to handle the challenges thrown your way. This is still very much true for urban farming techniques.
Corkery has been running Hundred Acre,
an indoor urban farm located in Milwaukee's 30th
Street Industrial Corridor, for the last 14 months. Despite having to navigate record-level inflation, supply shortages and a lack of qualified workers, Hundred Acre has found success. Corkery said the company is just a few months away from securing its second location.
“We’re focused heavily on the city limits and would be going into an industrial style warehouse and/or a discontinued type office space. It’s kind of the solution we provide on the real estate front because those spaces are otherwise vacant,” said Corkery.
He declined to share the specific location of the new building as negotiations are still ongoing but did say the company is working with a real estate investment group that would purchase the building and serve as landlord. Hundred Acre is targeting a grand opening this year.
The company plans to launch a funding round this May to help raise capital for the second location.
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Hundred Acre's current indoor farming facility
, located at 3945 N. 31st
St., is 5,000 square feet. The building also includes warehouse space and a dedicated community center that’s another 5,000 square feet. That building will become a training ground for apprentices looking to get into the urban farming industry.
“The intent is to keep the current facility operational as a training and research and development lab,” said Corkery. “We are committed to the community.”
The company is targeting production of four times more product with the opening of the second location. Right now, Hundred Acre produces about 1,500 pounds of greens weekly.
The vision of the enterprise is to address food insecurity and build a more sustainable supply chain for food businesses, according to Corkery. He said the city of Milwaukee is simultaneously a food hub and a food desert. Hundred Acre provides a solution for existing food businesses to create a more resilient supply chain.
“Hundred Acre exists as a rapid response to an ailing food system,” said Corkery. “The catalyst was the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic. You had a lot of unused real estate, distribution problems from A to Z for various products, growing environmental concerns and social unrest growing across the country.”
Since its inception, Hundred Acre has forged several new relationships, including with Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin. Both organizations distributed 20,000 salads in 2022 to underserved populations.
Some of Hundred Acre's newer customers include the Milwaukee Brewers, Outpost and Milwaukee Public Schools. The company's flagship products, grown in vertical hydroponics, include a salad mix and Italian large leaf basil. There are plans to offer arugula and micro-greens this winter.
In the meantime, Corkery said Hundred Acre is not only focused on growing its customer base but having a positive impact on the community. He pointed to Hundred Acres’ training program, which is exposing more people to careers in the trades, and the company’s growing partnerships that give Milwaukeeans from all socioeconomic backgrounds access to fresh, healthy foods.