The City that Feeds Itself: Education, community programs and build-0uts of urban farms

Opportunities & Challenges

The current state of our food system – lack of food security for so many, and an increasing loss of skilled farmers – was the true inspiration behind Trifecta Ecosystem’s mission to create The City that Feeds Itself™. Trifecta discovered that through education, community programs, and build-outs of urban farms, they can provide communities with the tools and knowledge to begin to grow their own food, placing the power of food back in the hands of the individual. Trifecta works to empower customers and clients to feed themselves and their communities, creating their own source of revenue, food security, personal fulfillment, and community impact.

Highlights

Within their mission to create The City that Feeds Itself™, Trifecta Ecosystems is providing their communities with food grown on Trifecta’s own sustainable, indoor farm in downtown Meriden. Through community events, farmers’ markets, and their monthly food subscription program, Trifecta is making fresh, healthy, locally grown food available to their neighborhood and surrounding towns.

Through The City that Feeds Itself™, Trifecta incentivizes communities to grow their own food while raising awareness about sustainable farming through education, workshops, and city projects. Trifecta’s aquaponics system gives schools, organizations, and community groups the tools they need to contribute to their local food system, while benefiting the education, therapy, and skill-training sectors in a meaningful way.

Located in an 8,000 square foot building in the Meriden Enterprise Center in the Transit-Oriented Development District, the Trifecta team, led by Eric Francis, Spencer Curry, and Kieran Foran, is not only committed to making their innovative business a success, they are working to make the downtown transformation a success as well. With the building owner providing $50,000 in leasehold improvements, Trifecta went about rehabbing the space to fit their needs, converting offices into a research facility, building out additional space behind the kitchen, upgrading the electrical to meet their farm needs, and scraping and painting the entire space, from floor to ceiling. Aside from plumbing, electrical, and sheet rock work, which Trifecta contracted with local CT businesses, staff did all the work themselves. Trifecta put in over $100,000 to build out the indoor warehouse aquaponics farm, and $10,000 for the commercial kitchen.

Not only has this exciting new firm brought innovation and leading-edge urban farming to Meriden, the Trifecta team has positively impacted economic development efforts in downtown Meriden. Trifecta Ecosystems co-founder Eric Francis helped organize a very successful downtown event, “The Intersection of Entrepreneurship and Downtown Districts”, while also serving on the panel of young entrepreneurs offering new perspectives and candid discussion.

Eric and his team also jumped in with full vigor in support of the Meriden Downtown Farmers’ Market, being appointed as Market Master in 2018 – doubling the number of weekly customers. Trifecta also participated in the inaugural downtown Meriden YuleFest which brought urban farming and the City that Feeds Itself™ mission to a whole new audience, giving the event a “touch of cool”.

Funding

Trifecta brings in revenue through multiple avenues, including a monthly subscription program called WeeklyHarvest Food Subscription. With this, members get fresh food weekly – and Trifecta incorporates food from other CT farms in each weekly share, supporting other farmers throughout the state. The City That Feeds Itself™ program generates revenue through farm projects with a multitude of businesses and organizations throughout the state, supplying schools with custom-built aquaponics systems for educational purposes. Additional systems provide skill and job training for adult resource programs and intellectual and developmental disabilities service programs.

What’s Next

In the fall of 2019, Trifecta will be opening their newest farm at the old Urban Oaks farm in New Britain, one mile from downtown. This new farm will allow Trifecta the opportunity to grow in just under 20,000 sq ft of greenhouse space which will go to the new WeeklyHarvest Market.  The WeeklyHarvest market will specialize in prepared salad subscriptions and catered lunches.