GREEN BAY - There are a lot of ways to measure success. For The Farmory — part of NeighborWorks Green Bay — it's measured in pounds of greens.
The Farmory, an indoor aquaponics farm project on Chicago Street, completed its first-ever sale, delivering five pounds of freshly grown mixed salad greens to The Cannery Public Market in Downtown Green Bay.
The sale is part of a partnership between the restaurant and the new farm. A volunteer from The Farmory will hand-deliver bins of the greens to the Cannery each week, which the downtown Green Bay restaurant will use in various menu items.
Alex Smith, The Farmory's director, said the sale marks a highly-anticipated transition from the farm's testing and free sampling phase, to a credible business growing high-quality locally grown produce.
Adrienne Winter, Cannery general manager, said the partnership helps fill a notorious gap in the supply of produce during Wisconsin's cold winter months.
"Anytime there's a vendor who has something available during this season, we get really excited here at the Cannery," she said. She added The Farmory's close proximity to the restaurant helps with diners' growing interest in knowing exactly where food comes from and how it's grown.
Right now, the farm is growing salad greens, herbs, sprouts and microgreens.
Joe Schmidt, the Cannery's executive chef, said as Farmory operations expand, so will the restaurant's produce orders.
The Farmory currently operates a single aquaponics system in the old National Guard Armory building on the city's east side. The system pumps water from large tanks of yellow perch to the plant beds, where the waste is a natural fertilizer.
"So the fish help the plants by providing nutrients," Smith said. "And the plants help the fish by filtering out that water."
Moving forward, Smith said The Farmory will continue to raise the $3.4 million that's estimated to be needed to develop The Farmory as a year-round indoor farm that will have more than 50 aquaponics systems, a state-of-the-art perch hatchery and an educational curriculum.
Last year, the farm received a $50,000 grant part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo's Outstanding Achievement Community WINS Award. WINS stands for Working/Investing in Neighborhood Stabilization. Another $500,000 was raised through community donations.
The Farmory also has set up a separate crowdfunding page to raise $20,000, which Smith said will be used to install solar panels.