LEXINGTON, Ky. — From the outside, this old bread factory in Lexington blends right into the neighborhood where it stands, but on the inside, it is home to some cutting-edge methods.
FoodChain's executive director, Rebecca Self says Lexington is lucky to have the facility.
"Food Chain is a nonprofit specific to Lexington, Kentucky. We were founded all the way back in 2011 and our mission is to forge connections between community and fresh food through education and demonstration of sustainable food systems."
FoodChain in downtown Lexington is a state-of-the-art urban aquaponics farm that connects fish to plants.
Morgan Miller with FoodChain explains the simplicity behind what they are doing.
"It's a gravitational system, so what that means is our tilapia are up higher than our beds, these grow beds that you see right here. We're able to use the waste from tilapia to fertilize. They have this neat little system where the fish waste turns into fertilizers for our plants."
Aquaponics is on the rise as a cultivation method in Kentucky, and is considered to be ideally suited for urban production. Indoor aquaponic systems like FoodChain can yield food year-round, making previously undesirable buildings like this one agriculturally productive.
Miller likes knowing they are utilizing a space that would normally go unused.
" So we're using a space that used to be vacant and empty and saying, 'Hey, you can use this space to grow food, instead of just sitting here and collecting dust.' The plants that you see growing here are Swiss chard, kale, varieties of lettuce, like romaine. We have different herbs, basil, chives. You can do a lot more. "
Serving as a link between the community and fresh food, FoodChain is much more than an inner-city farm, it also offers an educational platform where working with fresh ingredients is taught and made accessible to all.
"The fact that we're able to show and demonstrate a sustainable way of growing food, not only helps people understand ways in which food can be grown," said Self. "But it also empowers them to make those opportunities available to themselves."