Very Local Greens' very urban farm

Phil Hatcher wants to make friends with salad via his shipping container crops.

click to enlarge Phil Hatcher will soon be planting his first round of seeds on the Dartmouth waterfront - LENNY MULLINS
Lenny Mullins
Phil Hatcher will soon be planting his first round of seeds on the Dartmouth waterfront
"My agricultural background is planting peas and stealing peas from my grandfather’s garden growing up,” says Phil Hatcher with a laugh. After 18 years in the film industry, he’s switching gears and getting back to the land. Sort of. This summer Hatcher will launch Very Local Greens, a farm that lives inside a repurposed shipping container that’s been plunked at King’s Wharf on the Dartmouth waterfront.

“This was something I haven’t seen before, something Halifax doesn’t have,” he says of the project, which was inspired by a viral video that lead Hatcher to Freight Farms, makers of the “Leafy Green Machine” AKA Very Local Greens’ home. Aiming to create a local version of Brooklyn’s popular curated (indoor) greens farm, Square Roots, he started crunching numbers.

“I’m kind of going through a little fairytale in my head. I had a dream list in my mind and King’s Wharf was one of my first thoughts,” he says. “I wanted to utilize an unused space. We’re portable, we’re mobile, we’re a crane lift away. We have the privilege to be able to move and adapt with the development.”

Very Local Greens’ sustainable space offers a hydroponic, climate-controlled system that grows its herbs and various greens in vertical towers, watering and feeding them on a schedule. It can help 500-1,000 heads of lettuce grow per week.

“The whole thing is 100 percent traceable and trackable and controllable by an app,” says Hatcher. “The great thing is when I’m at home I can see security footage, adjust my lights, temperature, humidity...right in the palm of my hand. It’s just really smart.”

The aim is for his container farm to work with restaurants, not just providing them locally grown greens, but also growing based on need—and want—if there’s a particular, let’s say, arugula a chef is after. A CSA of some kind is also on the to-do list. Mostly, Hatcher says, he’s just excited to see where the project takes him. (Which is, hopefully, the addition of another container.)

“I think it’ll adapt and become its own thing. We’re just trying to find out where our niche is going to be and grow with it. There’ll be surprises along the way.”

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