Brick Street Farms, an urban farm and market, will grow its footprint in south St. Petersburg, after a city commission approved expansion plans Wednesday.
Brick Street Farms, which grows vegetables indoors in storage containers similar to shipping containers, plans to more than double the number of containers onsite and add a warehouse as part of an overall growth plan.
The Development Review Commission voted in favor of the plan.
Brick Street Farms launched in 2016, after owners Shannon O’Malley and Brad Doyle bought the property at 2001 2nd Ave. S. for $125,000. In 2016 they secured city approval to operate a hydroponic farm using three containers, with the potential to expand to up to eight containers for farming purposes.
“When we started with three [containers] we had no idea what was going to happen within our city. We arbitrarily picked the eight number. At the time that seemed crazy big to us,” O’Malley told the Development Review Commission.
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Brick Street Farms currently has four storage containers on-site, and won approval to expand to up to 10 containers, stacked with five on the bottom and five on top. Each container is about nine feet tall.
The company also plans to build a new 4,560-square-foot warehouse with accessory retail space, and convert an existing 336-square-foot building into a commercial kitchen. An outdoor courtyard will be between the two structures.
“It is absolutely not a restaurant,” O’Malley told commissioners, in response to concerns. “We’re an indoor hydroponic farm. We use shipping containers to grow vegetables — leafy greens, herbs, beet greens, different types of microgreens.”
Brick Street Farms uses less water than traditional farming methods, while avoiding the pesticides and transportation requirements associated with traditional farming. Hydroponic farming also is very productive, O’Malley said.
“Each of our shipping containers produces the equivalent of three acres of traditional farmland. We put out a tremendous volume of produce,” she said.
The commercial kitchen will be for educational classes, teaching customers how to make salads with a variety of greens, as well as smoothies or salad dressings, O’Malley said. The warehouse is for production, with cold storage and packaging facilities.
Some of the commissioners called the business “exciting” and “amazing,” and cited the company’s deal to sell packaged lettuces at Publix Super Markets’ GreenWise Market in Lakeland.
The expansion plan allowing 10 containers and the new warehouse was approved unanimously.