- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Preliminary discussions have begun over a proposal to place a hydroponic, vertical farming operation along the Davenport riverfront.

Friday’s Fresh Market operation is in a 40-foot, insulated shipping container according to the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/2ehYV4D). Local farm owner and manufacturing consultant Andrew Freitag said the container is one of the models his company uses to promote sustainable farming practices.

The company and the Davenport Levee Commission are discussing the proposal. Commission executive director Steve Ahrens said there are many details to be worked out before any plan could come to fruition.

According to Freitag, the shipping container uses an LED lighting system as well as 90 percent less water and 50 percent less nutrients than traditional farming methods.

Freitag has operated another growing operation in Davenport for the past year and a half, and supplies fresh crops to multiple organizations.

“Our initiative is to help supplement a health food source and reduce carbon footprint,” Freitag said. “We’re trying to implement these efficient methods and go away from traditional farming, which leads to soil erosion and water loss.”

Freitag said the operations could be a year-round source for the Food Hub and farmers market. The operation has the ability to potentially grow more than 30,000 pounds of food in a year.

Levee commissioner Bill Ashton warned against getting too far into proposal discussions without checking with other regulatory bodies, in case there were other factors that could halt the venture.

“I just think the whole idea of something so innovative and to showcase it down at the farmers market would really speak to the innovation of the city for taking on something like that,” commissioner Shelley Chambers said.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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