A northeast Indiana native and Purdue graduate, Clint Crowe, with an extensive background in health technology, is bringing his innovative and high-tech urban-farming concept to Electric Works.
Sweetwater Urban Farms, an Atlanta-based company founded in 2017 that uses aeroponic technology, helped by with proven Internet of Things — no human interaction to transfer data — to produce nutrient-rich greens and herbs, will open a greenhouse in the food hall at the planned Electric Works, according to a statement from a spokesman for the developer, RTM Ventures.
The greenhouse uses a “zero-mile delivery” system, so food is available closer to where it is consumed. It will also offer retail sales of its produce at Electric Works, a mixed-use project that reuses the former General Electric complex on Broadway. As of Aug. 29, the project had up to 15 leases or letters of intent for leases on between 200,000 and 225,000 square feet at Electric Works.
Sweetwater Urban Farms plans to make produce available for delivery to local restaurants, hotels, health care institutions and schools.
The greenhouse is expected to house up to 400 patented commercial Tower Gardens and produce an estimated 47,000 pounds of produce a year, according to the statement. Tower Garden aeroponic technology re-circulates valuable water, requiring only 10% of the land and water of traditional growing methods.
Crowe, a Decatur native with nearly 18 years of experience in health care technology, founded the company with his wife, Sheree.
“When we visited the Electric Works site, we immediately saw the unique potential it offered our company and the community,” Crowe said in the statement. “Being from the region, it’s exciting to come back and see the momentum in the city. Food security is at the heart of any community’s long-term plan, and we see Sweetwater Urban Farms and Electric Works as a strategic starting point and will play a key role in ensuring this community’s future food security.”
Crowe expects to partner with area healthcare and educational institutions, and fellow agricultural-business entities to support increased awareness and education of the value of locally sourced food and its impact on health and wellness. The company may also support a planned agriculture-technology program that Fort Wayne Community Schools is exploring for its planned STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics — school at Electric Works.
“At the intersection of agriculture and technology, Sweetwater Urban Farms is the kind of innovative company that we want to bring to Electric Works and Northeast Indiana,” said Jeff Kingsbury of the Electric Works development team in the statement. “Clint’s unique background — both in health care technology and as a regional native — makes the company a perfect fit for Electric Works. The food hall and public market are important to building community within the Electric Works district. But, it’s also about enhancing access to healthy food to address this neighborhood’s long standing status as a food desert – Clint and his team will play an important role in that from the beginning.”