- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Two clusters of silos owned by Missouri State University could soon be used to grow lettuce, mushrooms and other vegetables downtown.

The Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/1KsSybk ) reports that the university’s governing board voted Wednesday to lease the 21 silos to a Springfield startup, which plans to use water-based methods to grow food.

“We want to see if we can redefine urban farming,” said David Geisler, manager and general counsel for the company. “Our interest is very high. We are very much looking forward to putting a new twist on a staple in the agriculture industry in his country.”

The five-year lease agreement, which can be extended up to 35 years, will cost the company nearly $42,000 per year. Geisler said the company is expected to invest between $500,000 to $1 million to get the project started.

The company hopes to replicate the effort in other abandoned storage silos if the project is successful.

“They see this project as a first step, to see if their technology will work in a silo environment,” said Allen Kunkel, director of MSU’s Jordan Valley Innovation Center, which is adjacent to the silo clusters.

Kunkel said the company could gain an advantage in the market if it’s able to grow food year-round in a safe, controlled environment.

“We are excited about it,” Kunkel said. “It’s great to take an old agriculture facility and turn it into something new.”

The lease starts March 1 and runs through early 2021. The earliest vegetables could be produced this fall.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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