"It's not easy to describe how it felt when I first entered the Livelihood Education and Rehabilitation Center (LERC) in Caloocan, North Manila. Words like despair, hopelessness, and sadness could have easily come to mind. Nevertheless, I saw potential, opportunity, growth, and hope," says Ralph Becker, CEO of Urban Greens, a Manila-based vertical farming company.
Ralph Becker, German-Filipino, born and raised in Luxembourg and now based in the Manila, Philippines, is a former Tokyo and Silicon Valley-based Corporate Tech- Business Development manager now turned indoor vertical Farming entrepreneur. His long career in Tech-Corporate Business Development saw him living in Tokyo and the Silicon Valley Bay Area before moving to the Philippines.
Left, a work colleague is joining Ralph Becker, CEO, and founder (middle), and Dominique Florendo, Head of Engineering (right)
Creating income and healthy food
The system used is designed by Ralph Becker, and the custom frame is built by Mark Bautista, Executive Director at MDDI Manufactured Dream Design Innovations Inc. With this new growing opportunity, it makes four active sites now for Urban Greens in the Philippines.
The project is designed to provide livelihood and income for the PWD center and a source of inspiration and learning for the community involved. Not only is the project intended to give the community income but access to fresh and healthy greens, as well as more awareness of the provenance of the food.
Trying out the produce
According to Ralph, it took a village to come together here and create this. "But here we are just a few months into the project with fresh plants grown, hope sown, and pride and purpose harvested!"
As Ralph puts it, "growing food is not just for profit, the value of being part of this project is unmeasurable. Thank you all for helping us make this happen. We've come a long way and yet just scratched the surface."
Ralph resumes thanking the Department of Agriculture Director, Gerald Glenn Panganiban, and the team for introducing him to this project. As well as the unconditional support of Elder Steve Leininger and The Church of Latter Day Saints with all its volunteers!
"Big shout out, of course, to my Urban Greens Hydroponic Systems Inc. team, particularly Hasmaye Marie Pinto and Dominique Florendo, and Mark Anthony Cuarteros, for making the endless trips up there and lending your patience to train the kind people at LERC!"
An idea born in 2016, Urban Greens is an urban farm running on hydroponic tech to produce fresh greens. Ralph and his company continue to solve for sustainable city farming to feed urban homes and F&B businesses and to make non-agri cities sufficient in times of calamity.
Their process ensures cleaner, fresher, smarter-grown greens in a transformed 700sqm warehouse--the country's first mid-sized indoor vertical farm, with plans to scale--all at a fraction of the energy consumed by other vertical farms. Urban Greens is currently securing angel investment funding to set up more units and farms to cover their ever-growing demand in an underserved market.