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Hydroponic Heroes: Meet Archi's Acres

Here at the Local Producer Loan Program, we interact with mission-driven companies working to change the way the world eats. These are some of the brightest social entrepreneurs in the country with relentless passion for environmental stewardship, socially conscious business practices and community connections.

Archi’s Acres in Escondido, California, was started in 2005 by Colin and Karen Archipley. The couple grows organic living basil in hydroponic greenhouses. Hydroponics is a method of farming that saves water and produces 5 to 10 times the yield of conventional crop production. Growing in greenhouses lets Archi’s Acres grow certified organic living basil year-round. A recent Local Producer Loan from Whole Foods Market™ will help purchase hydroponic greenhouse equipment to outfit a new 30,000 square foot greenhouse and bring Archi’s Acres basil into all Whole Foods Market stores in Southern California.

Archi’s Acres went a step further with their mission and created Veteran’s Sustainability Agriculture Training (VSAT). Colin is a Marine Corps Veteran with three tours in Iraq. When he settled back into agricultural life in Escondido, he realized that he and Karen could serve a larger cause. Veteran unemployment rates are twice the national average, and our country needs new farmers. By turning Archi’s Acres into an educational farm, they are able to offer a vocational and entrepreneurial incubator for transitioning veterans. To date, Archi’s Acres has trained over 160 military veterans on their farm. To learn more, watch this video.

Colin and Karen’s ultimate vision is to replicate their greenhouses and VSAT program across the US. Hydroponic greenhouses are ideal in urban environments; in fact, empty warehouse spaces are ideal spaces to repurpose into greenhouses. The folks at Archi’s Acres believe returning military veterans are an untapped resource of trained leaders motivated to serve a larger cause. The VSAT program can channel their patriotism to aid the critical mission of building a localized food infrastructure and providing nourishment to people nationwide.

Recently, the Archipleys visited Washington, D.C., to tell their story to elected officials and address growing concerns about the future of food and veterans. They even helped First Lady Michelle Obama and school children from around the country plant the 5th annual White House kitchen garden! Whole Foods Market is proud to partner with Archi’s Acres; their organization is a great representation of our Local Producer Loan Program. Through these loans, small, mission-driven entrepreneurs can grow and make the world a better place to eat…and to live.

Do you have a favorite mission-driven small business?  Be sure to check out our Local Producer Loan recipients and see what great organizations are doing in your area.