Growing Local with Imagine Farms
Lisa Merkle and Cheryl Arnold, sisters, started Imagine Farms to revolutionize local farming by building an indoor, vertical, hydroponic farm right in Little Haiti! They’re able to grow an incredible amount of food on a compact footprint without any pesticides or harsh chemicals. Imagine Farms’ salad mixes and microgreens are delivered throughout our community hours after harvest (instead of weeks), ready-to-eat, no need to wash - full of flavor and robust with nutrition. The ability to grow fresh produce 365 days a year using 97% less water than a conventional farm is revolutionary. Cheryl and Lisa are pioneering a new way of growing food.
The future of “farm to table” is cultivated by Miami’s favorite sisters, Lisa Merkle and Cheryl Arnold, who set out on a mission to revolutionize local farming. They imagined being able to harvest greens in their hometown in a way that does not negatively impact our environment. “Ninety-five percent of leafy greens are grown in California. That’s 3,000 miles away from South Florida, and they degrade in flavor and nutrition as they transport,” says Lisa. By growing locally, they determined they could not only reduce their carbon footprint but could also deliver fresh, healthy food to the community without harsh chemicals or pesticides.
About five years ago, they purchased their first shipping container and built an indoor, hydroponic farm. To grow vertically inside, all Imagine Farms needed was light, a tiny bit of water (97% less than traditional farming), minerals, and lots of love. Word quickly spread amongst the community about this incredible, new farming practice and local restaurants, Milam’s Market, and customers at farmers markets wanted to join in on the support.
At full capacity, their current facility in Little Haiti produces 1,600 pounds of leafy greens per week on just over 2,000 square feet of growing space. Because it is a vertical farm, their yield is 55x that of a traditional field farm of the same size. Imagine Farms delivers salad mixes throughout Miami just hours after harvest, instead of weeks, that are ready-to eat, do not need to be washed, are full of flavor, and are robust with nutrition.
The ability to grow fresh produce 365 days a year using 97% less water than a conventional farm is revolutionary.
Looking for a delicious dressing to go on top of your favorite Imagine Farms leafy greens, try their very own Market Dressing recipe below!
Market Dressing Recipe:
- ½ clove garlic, crushed and minced
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Blend all ingredients on medium for 1 minute.
- Store in refrigerator.
*Imagine Farms clamshell packages of greens can be found in select Milam’s Market locations