FORK FARMS LLC

  • Agriculture technology company
  • Located in Appleton, Wisconsin
  • Founded in 2010 and officially established in 2012
  • All products are currently manufactured and assembled in the United States

FLEX FARM

  • 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

FORK FARMS

  • Insight Innovation Award – 2018
  • Wisconsin Innovation Award Finalist – 2019

FORK FARMS TEAM MEMBERS

  • Alex Tyink, Fox Cities Future 15 – 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, 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
Joey.

Gil Shaw, Partnership Development

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, Partnership 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, Partnership Development

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!

“At St. Joe’s, we constantly focus on providing the best nutrition we can for our client families. That’s why we are excited to have a long and beneficial partnership with Fork Farms to continue to positively impact the lives of the people we serve.”

– Monica Clare Executive Director, St. Joseph’s Food Program

“Our Flex Farms have greatly enhanced our ability to provide fresh, long-lasting produce to the food pantry recipients. We have been able to provide lettuce even when there is no other produce available from donations and our other resources. This has been a great way to encourage good nutrition at our food pantry, and demonstrate love by giving the best we have to offer.”

– Abigail Miedaner Volunteer at Jericho Road Ministries Food Pantry, Oshkosh WI

“The Flex Farm is revolutionary for education because it allows students and teachers to use it as a flexible, hands-on and interdisciplinary tool for teaching that goes beyond traditional ‘sit and get’ teaching methods.”

– Wendell Willis Former Chief Operations Officer, Milwaukee Public Schools

“We’re in business to change lives. That’s what we are doing, changing lives. This product is changing the lives of educators, kids, food service providers and everyone else it reaches.”

– Steve Tyink Board Member, Fork Farms

“I knew we were onto something when we discovered the Flex Farm was more resource-efficient and cost-effective than any other indoor farming system on our radar. Being able to help change the lives of so many through relationships with all of our wonderful partners is extremely rewarding.”

– Alex Tyink President, Fork Farms

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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 the plants’ 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 homes, farms, classrooms, cafeterias, restaurants and community service organizations. 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?

The Flex Farm 144 is 4 feet tall holds up to 144 plants. If you’re looking to grow even more produce, the 6-foot tall Flex Farm 288 is capable of growing up to 288 plants at a time and can double your production.

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 Flex Farm’s full potential, we’re still making discoveries ourselves!

How much time does it take to maintain?

On average, you can expect to spend about 4 hours per month maintaining your Flex Farm.

How much energy does it take to run?

The Flex Farm 288 uses a 40W pump which runs continuously and three LED lights which each draw 80W for an average of 16 hours daily. Therefore, at any given time, you’re only ever drawing 280W per Flex Farm. That’s it!

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 Pro for the recommended 16 hours per daylight cycle. Other costs include, consumable items such as seeds, nutrients and grow medium. On average, most people spend between $300-$500 per year in utilities and consumables.

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 Kit
  • TDS meter
  • Measuring cup
  • Bristle brush (for cleaning)
  • Resupply Kit
  • Rockwool (grow medium)
  • Nursery tray
  • Nutrients
  • pH kit
  • Food grade hydrogen peroxide (for cleaning)
  • Seeds
  • Assembly Guides and Growing Resources
  • 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 Resupply Kit. Each Resupply Kit is designed to last 4 – 6 months, costs $149.95 and can be purchased directly through our website.

Where can I find other seed varieties?

Fork Farms currently provides green leaf lettuce seeds which in Resupply 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?

Not one penny! We provide free shipping to all of our partners (you) throughout the continental United States. Free shipping is not applicable to partners in Alaska, Hawaii or Canada. Additional shipping charges will apply.

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.

HISTORY

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.

TIMELINE

2012

  • Fork Farms LLC officially established

2013

  • 26 product prototype iterations built
  • Core IP discovered

2014

  • Patent awarded
  • Fork Farms moved to Wisconsin
  • First Flex Farm prototype (wood) built

2015

  • 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

2016

  • Generation 2 Flex Farm (recyclable plastic) engineered
  • Partnership with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin developed

2017

  • 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

2018

  • 95 Generation 2 Flex Farms installed
  • Fork Farms wins Insight Innovation Award

2019

  • 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
  • Distribution partnerships established with Taher, Inc., A’viands, Chartwells and more

2019

2018

2017

2015

Videos

Play Video

Appleton Central High School

Play Video

Multi-Sector Partnership in Action - Jericho Road Ministries, UW-Oshkosh & Aurora Health Care

Play Video

Walt Whitman Elementary School

Audio

Wisconsin Public Radio: Farm-To-Lunchroom Using Hydroponics