FORK FARMS LLC
- Agriculture technology company
- Headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin
- Founded in 2012
- All products currently manufactured and assembled in the United States
- Patented indoor agriculture technology that takes advantage of nature’s design by carefully controlling everything plants need to thrive and optimizing growth while minimizing inputs required
- Produces more than 300 pounds of leafy greens annually
- 95% more energy efficient, 99% more land efficient and 97% more water efficient when compared to conventional farming
- 40% more energy efficient than any other known indoor farming system on the market
- Costs less than $1.50 per day to operate
- Requires less than 60 minutes per week to maintain
During the summer of 2010, Fork Farms co-founder Alex Tyink volunteered at a rooftop garden in Brooklyn, New York. It overlooked the New York City skyline and was a place of tranquility amid the busy grey of the city. The garden was created by an eccentric local artist as a summer hobby meant to feed hungry families at the food pantry on a lower floor of the building. At the end of the summer, Tyink was given a portion of the food to take home as a token of appreciation for his service. He had never grown his own food before. And as simple and silly as it sounds, that bag of lettuce that he carried home on the subway that day changed him forever.
When you put your own sweat into something you can’t help but become more emotionally attached. Involvement and engagement breeds connection and connection leads to real, sustainable change. Eating fresh food he had grown led Tyink to continue eating fresher food. He became hooked because of his involvement. The better he ate, the better he felt. The fresh food unearthed and helped relieve his unrecognized depression symptoms. He decided he needed to help other people experience the same thing. By putting the power to grow lots of fresh, good food in ordinary people’s hands, he believed that more people would grow to appreciate good food and change their eating habits – not because they felt like they needed to, but because they wanted to. This hypothesis proved to be true.
Since then, Fork Farms has been involved in hundreds of indoor farm installations across the United States with people at schools, food pantries, family homes, cafeterias and more. We believe in the power of good food, and we have made it our mission to Grow Happier, Healthier People.
- Fork Farms LLC officially established
- 26 product prototype iterations built
- Core IP discovered
- Patent awarded
- Fork Farms moved to Wisconsin
- First Flex Farm prototype (wood) built
- Generation 1 Flex Farm (stainless steel) prototype donated by Bassett Mechanical
- Generation 1 Flex Farm field-tested at 8 locations with support from Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin
- Generation 2 Flex Farm (recyclable plastic) engineered
- Partnership with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin developed
- Generation 2 Flex Farm launched
- Over 30 Generation 2 Flex Farms installed at locations throughout Wisconsin
- Environmental efficiencies and commercial viability of Flex Farm proven
- 95 Generation 2 Flex Farms installed
- Fork Farms wins Insight Innovation Award
- Generation 3 Flex Farm launched, opening global shipping capabilities
- More than 200 Flex Farms now installed in over 15 states
- Customized K-12 curriculum developed by FIRST Educational Resources
- Food service partnerships established with Taher, Inc., A’viands, Chartwells and more
- Wisconsin Innovation Award – 2019
- TEDx Featured Speaker – 2019
- Insight Innovation Award – 2018
Alex Tyink, President
Alex is the co-founder of Fork Farms and the inventor of its farming technology and methods. He is a former opera singer with 10 years of leadership experience in the social service sector, who works to inspire vast food system change across communities.
He began his urban agriculture career in Brooklyn, New York where he first worked on rooftop gardens and then started building indoor growing systems of his own for educational and food security purposes. This eventually led to the development of Fork Farms intellectual property, and the rest is history.
After relocating back to Wisconsin, Alex continued his work as program director at Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin and as director of innovation and programs for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. In 2018, he was a Fox Cities Future 15 winner and featured as Fox Cities Magazine’s ‘Big Idea’. Alex currently lives in Appleton, Wisconsin with his wife, son and their dog Maya.
Ashley Ponschok, Director of Operations
Ashley has always called the Midwest home. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, she relocated to northeast Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin Green Bay where she earned her undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry. She decided to stay in the area to remain close to her relatives and of course, the Green Bay Packers.
Ashley has spent the majority of her professional career in the nonprofit sector where she developed a passion for building healthier food systems. In 2018, Ashley earned her MBA at St. Norbert College.
She currently leads all operational efforts for Fork Farms. In her free time, Ashley enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with her family and friends. She is also a lover of all animals, particularly her two cats Scooter and
Gil Shaw, director of strategic partnerships
Gil is a self-proclaimed recovering attorney with more than three decades of management, partnership development, and hydroponics experience. Hailing from the Southwest, Gil farmed and gardened in the Arizona Highlands for over 30 years.
He says he primarily started gardening to keep his sanity while practicing law. In 2014, Gil retired from law and moved to Wisconsin to enjoy the vast array of wilderness and water the state has to offer. Shortly after moving, Gil started working with veterans as manager of the largest hydroponic production operation in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Joining Fork Farms in 2017, he initially managed the commercial farm side of the business until moving to a full-time partnership development and sales role. He happily lives in Appleton with his two retired ranch dogs.
Steve Tyink, director of Business Development
Steve is widely known for his work with experience-based design methodology and creating thought-leading, innovative customer experiences in a wide variety of industries. His professional experience includes vice president of business innovation – Miron Construction, founder – Attach (nationally recognized industrial design firm), vice president of Saturn operations and leadership development – Bergstrom Corporation and general manager of numerous private country clubs.
meGAN Pirelli, Director Of Communications
Megan originally hails from the northern suburbs of Chicago, but for the last 10 years, she has called Wisconsin home. Megan graduated from St. Norbert College with a B.S in philosophy and political science. She returned to her alma mater to complete her M.B.A in 2019.
Megan has always been passionate about helping people lead healthy lives through access to healthy food. Before joining the partnership development team at Fork Farms, she interned for the Organic Trade Board of the UK in 2008, started a successful organic community garden at a Florida nonprofit and led a grants program for a regional nonprofit to help solve hunger in Wisconsin.
If you are looking for Megan outside of work, you will most likely find her in one of these five places – riding her horses, gardening in her backyard, kayaking or paddle-boarding in one of her favorite hidden spots in Florida, hiking “up north” with her dogs or catching a flight for her next adventure!
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil. Instead, you add nutrients directly into the water supply. Liquid nutrients enable the plants to spend less time extracting food from the soil and more time growing great big delicious leaves and fruit. This growing method allows you to grow plants indoors all year round, minimizing plant exposure to environmental damage, disease and insects.
Who is a Flex Farm for?
The Flex Farm is for anyone with a desire to grow healthy, pesticide-free plants any time of the year. Its compact size and high yield capacity make it the perfect fit for educational institutions, culinary operations, healthcare organizations, nonprofits, families and more. Indoor farming is revolutionizing the way we bring fresh and healthy food to our communities.
Where can I set up a Flex Farm and how much space does it take up?
Flex Farms need about 10 square feet of floor space and can be placed in just about any temperature-controlled room with a standard ceiling and access to water and electricity. To date, Flex Farms have been placed in all sorts of locations like classrooms, food pantries, cafeterias, libraries, corporate lobbies and more.
How much food can I grow in a Flex Farm?
Each Flex Farm can grow more than 20 pounds of leafy greens every 28 day plant cycle. That means you can harvest approximately 3,400 plants every year!
What can I grow in a Flex Farm?
The Flex Farm is optimized to grow leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and arugula. It also excels at growing herbs like basil, cilantro and tarragon. Our partners have seen success growing strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and even pumpkins. Imagination and experimentation are the keys to unlocking the full potential, we’re still making discoveries ourselves!
How much time does it take to maintain?
On average, you can expect to spend about 2 – 3 hours per month maintaining your Flex Farm. That’s less than 5 minutes per day!
How much energy does it take to run?
Each Flex Farm requires a 40W pump which runs continuously and six LED lights which each draw 40W for an average of 16 hours daily. Therefore, at any given time, you’re only ever drawing 280W per Flex Farm.
How much does it cost to operate?
At the national average of $0.13 per kWh, it costs $16.85 per month in electricity to operate a Flex Farm for the recommended 16 hours per daylight cycle. Other costs include, growing supplies such as seeds, nutrients and rockwool (grow medium). On average, most people spend about $300 – $500 per year in utilities and growing supplies.
What does the Flex Farm come with?
Each Flex Farm comes with everything you need to start growing except the water. Each Flex Farm includes:
- Light Tower
- LED Growing Lights
- Submersible Pump
- Grower Toolkit
- TDS Meter
- Measuring Cup
- Measuring Spoons
- Bristle Brush (for cleaning)
- Supply Kit
- Rockwool Flats (4)
- Nursery Tray (1)
- pH Test Kit
- pH Down (1 qt)
- pH Up (1 qt)
- Nutrient A (1 lb)
- Nutrient B (1 lb)
- Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide (1 qt)
- Seeds (1000)
- Assembly guides, growing resources and videos
- All of our outstanding customer support. We’ll be with you every step of your agricultural journey!
Where can I get more consumables when I run out?
Right here! We offer all of the items you need to keep growing in our convenient Supply Kit. Each Supply Kit is designed to last 6 months, costs $179.95 and can be purchased directly through our website.
Where can I find other seed varieties?
Fork Farms currently provides green leaf lettuce seeds in Supply Kits. If you are interested in purchasing additional seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds is a reliable source for a wide variety of high-quality seeds. We highly recommend using pelleted seed whenever possible. Pelleted seeds are easier to handle and the clay coating provides extra moisture to the seed so it doesn’t dry out. They are definitely worth the additional expense!
What do you charge for shipping?
A standard flat rate shipping charge of $150 per Flex Farm is applied to contiguous continental United States orders. Additional shipping charges apply to orders shipped to Alaska, Hawaii, United States territories and international orders. Please contact Fork Farms directly for a shipping quote or to request expedited shipping.
I know a great nonprofit organization that would love one of these. Are there grants available for something like this?
Absolutely! We are experienced in helping organizations connect with funding opportunities. We offer a Philanthropy Tool Kit and fundraising assistance for qualifying organizations. Contact us at [email protected] or give us a call at 877.886.7736.
How can I get a Flex Farm?
Flex Farms can be ordered directly through our website. You can also contact us at [email protected] or by phone at 877.886.7736. We are more than happy to assist you!
Is Fork Farms on social media?
Yes! Check us out on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest Fork Farms news.
- Growing Fresh Food and Local Partnerships – 04.14.2020
- Fork Farms LLC Announced as Winner of the Wisconsin Innovation Award – 10.10.2019
- Growing for Good at Goodrich Elementary – 10.07.2019
- Farming for the Hungry – Fork Farms hosts an indoor hydroponic farm tour at St. Joseph Food Program for Wisconsin Secretary of Revenue Peter Barca – 07.29.2019
- Fork Farms LLC Announced as Wisconsin Innovation Award Finalist – 07.24.2019
- Novo Live (pg. 10-15) – May 2020
- Fresh Take – 05.19.2020
- Conversactions – 05.07.2020
- WBAY – 05.04.2020
- NBC 26 – 04.27.2020
- Fox 11 News – 04.27.2020
- Post Crescent – 04.21.2020
- Golf Kitchen Magazine (pg. 38 – 41) – April 2020
- Insight Publications – April 2020
- Wausau Pilot & Review – 04.01.2020
- WAOW ABC News 9 – 04.01.2020
- WCCO CBS Minnesota – 02.20.2020
- Ladysmith News – 01.30.2020
- The Chronotype – 01.02.2020
- Milwaukee Business Journal – 12.30.2019
- Ladysmith News – 12.12.2019
- Kare 11 – Grow with Care – 10.18.2019
- FOX 11 Live Segments – 10.15.2019
- Daily Herald – 10.11.2019
- Goodrich Elementary School News – 10.11.2019
- Insight Magazine – 10.11.2019
- Green Bay Press Gazette – 10.09.2019
- Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly (pg. 2) – Fall 2019
- Food Service News – Fall 2019
- WPR – 09.19.2019
- KNEB TV News – 09.13.2019
- KTIC – 09.13.2019
- Today’s News-Herald – 09.08.2019
- Powtoon – 09.06.2019
- Strides – Viterbo University (pg. 5) – Fall 2019
- GSNN – 09.05.2019
- The River Food Pantry Blog – 08.01.2019
- Oconto County Reporter – 07.30.2019
- Lawrence University News – 07.17.2019
- Post Crescent – 06.28.2019
- Insight Magazine – 05.30.2019
- Appleton Post Crescent – 05.28.2019
- Winneconne School District News – 04.05.2019
- Shawano Leader – 04.03.2019
- UW Oshkosh Today – 04.19.2019
- Royal Purple – 04.04.2019
- La Crosse Tribune – 02.09.2019
- FOX11 News – 11.25.2019
- Action News 2 – 10.29.2019
- FOX11 Online – 10.29.2018
- WASBO Taking Care of Business (pg. 18 – 19) – 08.01.2018
- Official Government Communication: Senator Lena Taylor – 08.26.2018
- We Are Green Bay – 06.16.2018
- Insight Magazine – 05.02.2018
- Wisconsin Rapids City Times – 04.22.2018
- WTMJ-TV Milwaukee – 03.15.2018
- We Are Green Bay – 01.12.2018
- Waupaca County News – 12.21.2017
- Merrill Foto News – 12.08.2017
- Sheboygan Press – 12.04.2017
- Post Crescent – 11.13.2017
- iGrow News – 11.03.2017
- SmarterSTEM Podcast – 06.20.2017