Four years ago, Chris Corkery, founder and owner of Hundred Acre Farm, bought a five-year lease at Century City Business Park without ever seeing the space, neighborhood, or even the city of Milwaukee. In October of this year, Hundred Acre Farm planted its first seeds in that building. With the growth now underway, Hundred Acre is one of the largest indoor vertical hydroponic farms in Wisconsin.
The farm is responding to food insecurity by growing greens that are sold to local food businesses within a 100-mile radius. The 5,000 square foot farm will offer a year-round, made-to-order supply of food. “The greens are means to an end,” Corkery said. “Don’t think about the crops, think about the impact.”
One of the farm’s main goals is to improve supply-chain resilience by offering educational and career opportunities to the Milwaukee community. “We hope there can almost be a renaissance in our operation,” Corkery said. “Century City and this neighborhood's mission, what they’re hoping to create, it’s a really strong fit.”
From corporate job to urban farm
Angela Sprau left Johnson Controls after 30 years in corporate America to join the team at Hundred Acre. “As we build this out and partner with local schools, I think there’s a ton of opportunity for students to learn about agriculture and to provide greens to different areas of the community,” Sprau said.
Before establishing the farm, Corkery was a classically trained chef in New York. He began looking into ways to source food, specifically in the urban agriculture industry. That search led him to Milwaukee, partly because of its rich heritage in manufacturing and agriculture.
The farm is focusing on growing two main products in the beginning: spring mix and holy basil. These two crops will be the foundation of the farm and will stabilize the operation, Corkery said.
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