Urban Food Lab's Creative Approach To Farming

Urban Food Lab's philanthropic mission to supply fresh fruits and veggies to Philadelphia's Cobb neighborhood is taking on a whole new "green" approach to farming: the use of marijuana growing equipment. The Pennsylvania non-profit recently acquired new high-tech aquatic farming equipment after a police raid of a former drugstore in May 2011. Commercial-grade grow lamps, industrial generators, and yards of PVC pipe found in latent use after the raid were going to be destroyed until detective Michael Jay came up with an idea.

The equipment, which was once used to grow $43,000 worth of marijuana, is now helping Urban Food Lab grow greens — of the legal variety, that is. The ten feet of PVC pipe supports plants such as kale, collard greens, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and basil, while live tilapia swim in a 4,200-gallon tank.

Ultimately, the Urban Food Lab's goal is to hire 50 workers and harvest more than 7,000 pounds of produce that will benefit the food deserts of Philadelphia. With the new and unconventional high-tech horticulture equipment, they're are a bit closer to their goal.