Four acres in a box: Wykoff couple venture into vertical hydroponic farming

In his high-tech cargo container behind Wykoff's Minnwest Bank branch, Tony Rahe takes a tray of greens off a nursery shelf and places it on a counter. The tray and its clear lid are used to keep humidity in while the plants emerge and grow, looking somewhat like casserole pans. In a few weeks, those green sprouts will become food.

"I have six types of lettuces," Tony said. "I got summer crisp, and we got Romaine, oak leaf and a purple leaf, and a red butter and a green butter. And then I got some arugula, basil, and chives."

Over the past two weeks, Tony and his wife, Kelly Rahe, have planted their initial crop on Rahe of Sunshine Farms, which is entirely contained in a 40-by-8-foot cargo container-turned-hydroponic grow lab from Freight Farms. They plan to harvest their first crop by the end of the year.

"You can grow about 4 acres of crop in eight weeks," Tony said. "That's a lot of crops."

The couple intends to sell their produce year-round, thanks to the farm's climate-control system, and offer their greens to individuals and restaurants through their website, area farmers' markets, and a soon-to-be-built farm stand in Wykoff. For online sales, Rahe of Sunshine Farms uses a website called Barn2Door. Through that, Tony said, people will be able to place orders and pick them up at a designated pick-up point a few days later.

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