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US (MI): Workers grow food and develop skills at plant factory

Agencies serving people with disabilities often have piecework projects with workers packaging materials in large quantities. Locally, the Arnold Center is in their second year of a new effort to grow plants in a process that combines recycled water and gravity.

Arnold Center President Craig Varterian, who began this hydroponic business, called Arnold Farms after growing plants in his basement, likens the facility to a ‘plant factory’.

For several years before starting Arnold Farms, Varterian read plant journals, consulted experts and grew plants in his basement, often using simple equipment and bins to hold the soil and greens. By the time Arnold Farms launched in 2018, he had done enough background research to design the hydroponic system with help from a couple of other staff members.

We brought in parts from all over the world – China, Korea,” Varterian says, noting the necessary LED bulbs give off very intense amounts light in optimal spectrums. “With some of the parts, you can’t buy in the U.S.”

Read the full article at Catalyst (Cheryl Wade)

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