INDIANAPOLIS--He wanted to farm, but had no land of any size. So, DeMario Vitalis became the first person in Indiana to try urban hydroponic farming. New Age Provisions farm on 10th St., in Indianapolis, consists of two large shipping containers.
“It’s specially outfitted with hydroponic technology that allows us to grow 365 days a year, so no matter what the weather is outside,” said Vitalis, interviewed on WIBC’s Home and Garden show at the Indiana State Fair, where he was a featured farmer.
“It has an HVAC system on it that cools it down and also dehumidifies,” said Vitalis, describing the tech inside the containers. “Whenever it gets hot inside the HVAC system will kick on and it’ll keep it controlled at a certain temperature that we program it to.”
Hydroponics is a way of growing without soil, said Vitalis. But, the plants do need fertilizer.
“We mix the fertilizers up and we have a dosing system,” he said. “So, we have the EC and PH programmed and any time it fluctuates the system automatically doses the nutrients inside the water.”
Vitalis, who has degrees from Purdue and Wayne State, was born in San Francisco. But, his roots are in Mississippi, where his ancestors were slaves and then sharecroppers. His try at hydroponic farming was necessitated by his not having access to land, yet still wanting to farm.
“I’m the first one in Indiana to do it, the first African-American to do it,” he said.
He grows greens, lettuce and kale and hopes to get a third shipping container soon.
“It’s something I’m excited about. It’s pretty cool. Anytime you go inside you see the lights. You see the wind.”
Vitalis has written a book to help teach the method called “Shipping Container Farming”.