Terra Firma Foods (TFF) has developed a “back to the future” approach in growing produce, using advanced controlled-environment technologies and methods while maintaining the use of natural,
Instead of hydroponics or aquaponics, we use terraponics, a hybrid growing method that combines the
concepts of hydroponics and traditional soil-growing methods. We grow food in soil the way it’s meant to
be. Living soil is a medium that breathes, thrives, and allows us to consistently grow produce with the
best color and taste and highest nutritional value.
We grow our produce in an enclosed environment, eliminating the need for pesticides. This makes our
crops 100% organic. In addition, this environment allows us to cultivate our produce in any climate,
whether it is 150 degrees or -150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Food That’s Available 365 Days a Year – There’s no need to import or export food just because it can’t
grow in certain climates.
The Freshest Organic Produce Available – Terraponics allow the cultivation of 100% organic produce.
Better-Tasting Produce – Nutrient-rich soil leads to well-nourished plants, which yield food with high nutritional content and the best flavor.
“Just in Time” (JIT) Freshness – To ensure the freshest food possible, our farms will be located 30
minutes from our clients.
Longer Shelf Life – When food is imported from other countries, it goes through climate changes, freezing,
overhandling during transportation, defrosting, refreezing, etc. As such, their normal shelf life is a week at
best. With our fresh produce, shelf life could quadruple, helping you save money.
Job Creation – Our terraponic farms will generate employment opportunities for local farmers.
Carbon Footprint Reduction – We help save the planet since our farming practices neither produce a lot of
carbon emissions nor require hundreds of acres of land.
Terra Firma Foods is a company that was born about three years ago and the premise behind it was in soil. It is the ability to grow food faster, cleaner, and to feed more people. Terra Firma means firm ground and what that means is that is the way food is meant to be grown, is in good soil, clean soil, consistently. Like it has been done ovefr the last 12,000 years.
One, living soil, that’s where it starts. That’s the foundation. That’s the foundation to all agriculture, is soil. Two, it’s a closed environment. Three, anywhere in the world, hot or cold. Number four is that we reduce the carbon footprint because we’re going to be self-efficient in our own energy and how we deliver with EV transportation for the last mile.
Those are our objectives, to provide a better environment, better food, grown in soil, delivery consistently.
We have a lot of arms and legs in this business and each one of them has a great goal, feeding the world, feeding us healthy produce, saving the planet, eliminating carbon footprints, creating our own energy. There’s nothing bad about this. And the agriculture industry is predicted to grow exponentially in the next 10 years, everybody is becoming more involved with saving the planet and reducing our carbon footprint. And I think we’ve touched on all of these, so we’re worth looking at.
If you look at Terra Firma Foods, we’re conserving water in the way we’re growing, 85% less. We’re not, going to be spraying all the time. It’s managed, it’s predictable and we’re taking condensation and humidity – water to water our plants. Secondly, we’re providing recyclable energy to reduce waste in the communities where we are located. If you look at recyclable energy, it’s been around for a while, 25 years plus. It’s actually getting the equipment down to a size where it’s more attainable for more companies and more people. That’s the other part of it. And then the Third leg of meeting certain criterions and metrics for a smaller carbon footprint is actually the use electric vehicles. And for all the auto manufacturers out there, I don’t know if you see the press, but every one of them has come up electric vehicle of some way, shape or form.
The differential is that terraponics is grown in soil. Again, terra, meaning ground and the soil is the methodology in which we grow and it’s all indoors in a controlled environment. When you look at clean food, what does that really mean? As a kid, if we got hungry, we just pulled the vegetables right out of the ground and eat them. Today, you can’t do that. One of the reasons is, is that when you look at pesticides and chemicals, some have been banned, but when you look at that, those things were introduced to our society and to our agriculture system starting in the 1930s. It was designed to grow food faster and better at that moment in time, but through that period of timing, a lot of the pesticides were not good for us and they knew that and they banned them. As you get the 50’s and 60’s, pesticides went rampant and one of the reasons is, it makes sense.
We’re having more people and the more people you have, the more food you must produce, and the more food you produce, you must produce it faster, they have to grow at such a pace that one of the luxuries we have in the United States, we walk into a store, nothing is bare. Now, right now, we’re kind of experiencing that because of supply chain, but we’re so comfortable with walking into any store in the United States, coupled with 60% of organic food imported and having food on our shelves and that’s because of the farmer’s methods and practice.
Now – You have terraponics, you have hydroponics. Terra meaning soil, firm ground, which is the way we’ve always grown food. Hydroponics is a technology that uses water to grow its food. So if you take India, India has a hydroponics facility or a methodology that they’re taking old mattresses and putting these little pods and just using water to grow them. They’ll grow. But what you’re missing is the nutrients, the consistency of nutrient, consistency of taste, color harvest time. You’re going to get a vegetable out of it, but it may not be the best harvest you’re going to get at that moment in time. Folks I’ve talked to in the hydroponics world say that they can grow it, they can grow abundance, but it’s not always consistent.
Every third harvest may be a grand slam where it meets all the metrics, taste, color, and nutrition, growth, all the things we talked about. With terraponics, we can be consistent every single day, every single month of harvest, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. That consistency for strawberries … who doesn’t like strawberries? The strawberries grown in a hydroponics plant or facility may not have the consistency and color that it would if it was in the ground. With us, because we’re using ground, living soil, we’re using earth, soil, we can maintain the color, the taste and the richness and the vibrancy of that particular strawberry. It’s not predictable in terms of, are we going to hit or not? It’s predictable from the standpoint of, how many can we grow and how fast can we grow them?
The science has been behind us for since 2008. We believe, we bring it inside, we can manage it better, we can amend it better, and give us sustainability. So the things we’ve been working on is getting the sustainability up to five years with soil by adding amendments. It’s already being done, but now we want to make sure that we can, I don’t want to use the word perfect, because nothing’s perfect. But yes, perfect the process to attain the yields we are looking for. And if we can do that successfully, I believe that no matter where we go in the world inside these 10,000 square foot facilities, whether it’s minus 150 or plus 150 degrees Fahrenheit, we can deliver that. And that’s the beauty of what we’re bring to the table.
I believe the benefit to a customer of ours, whether it’s a large restaurant chain or it’s a large grocery store, there’s two things. There’s food safety, which is how we protect the food and keep it free of any contaminants, and then there’s food security. Food security is delivery on time all the time and with no break in that supply chain. With Terra Firma Foods, we can deliver good product consistently and not break either the food security or violate food safety requirements.
Because of that, that’s where living soil comes back again as the foundation of what we’re doing, because we’re growing it in a good, rich environments that will produce the best quality in food that we can deliver. And for primary greens, and then you get into peppers, strawberries, and the blueberries, and the raspberries. The only thing we can’t predict … If I have greens as an example, I know that with all the right ingredients that we have, we can produce 250,000 plus pounds every 30 days. It may not be the same case as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, or cucumbers, or peppers because they grow differently. If you ever had a side garden next to house or one of those window type gardens, you could probably almost harvest rosemary, or cilantro, or spinach daily because it grows so fast. Once you cut it, it grows again.
The roots are there, they stay there and they don’t move. Pour a little water on it, by the next week, next couple of days, they’re going to grow all over again. With strawberries and all that, once you pick them, you could probably grow it again but you’ve got to maintain all the things that go with it just like any vegetable that you grow. But we may not get 266,000 pounds or 50,000 pounds of strawberries. But whatever you produce will meet all the requirements that we as consumers want. We want taste, we want color, we want affordability and we want to make sure it’s nutritious. And living soil will provide that to our methods.
Living soil is soil that breathes and thrives and allows us to grow the best we want to grow to have the consistency and nutrition that is… Color, taste, and consistency in growth.
And with that being said, soil as we know it in the farms, there’s a statistic out there, at least what it said is that there’s 335 million acres of farmland, and about a percent of that is actually good for organic food. In the Midwest, you cannot grow in the winter time. Everybody’s harvesting up now or they have to finish their harvest, and once they’re done, they’re done till the spring time, and they replant again. With us, we can grow all year long because we’re not dependent on the sunshine, we’re not dependent on the rain, we’re not depending on any other nature’s gifts for us to grow food. And because we are enclosed, it’s all pretty clear of any other environments or any other contaminants.
Soil itself, if you go back thousands of years, if you can go back … I’m going to say our lifetime, there’ll be research on, over the last 100 years, 150 years, has been the point of agriculture. It’s been rototilled, it’s been tilled, it’s been grown on. Whether you’re growing vegetables or potatoes or fruit or wherever you’re growing, avocados, you name it, it’s been grown through soil. Over the past number of years, past few centuries, soil has been beaten down so often, whether it be through wars, whether it be through population, whether it be through taking the earth and putting buildings on top of it.
When you constantly beat it down to grow something on it, it takes longer. And whatever you grow on it takes more pesticides and other types of chemicals to make it grow effectively. What we’re trying to do here is bring back living soil. What is living soil? Living soil defined is that it’s actually being … it’s a living organism that allows you to grow in food in soil that makes you … provides as more nutritious, better growth opportunity, grows faster, it grows greener, tastier. All the benefits we talk about. And the way we accomplish that, believe it or not, is that worms are part of the process, because worms will take nutrients from soil, from one end to the other, like the bees do for tomatoes and lemons and you name it. It pollinates.
Well, the worms will pollinate the earth to provide that ongoing freshness and ongoing growth opportunity thru nutrients traveling, that is what we’re looking for. With Terra Firma Foods, what we’re doing is taking that process and that thought process of living soil, indoors.
When you think about doing something indoors, what’s really hard to probably imagine, was how are you going to do that if the soil is not going anywhere, is not doing anything? Well, we bring in the right environment and the right ingredients to make sure that soil is always been purposed. We amend it every now and then. Quite frankly, with the living soil we’re putting into our farms, we can actually get to five years sustainability.
It’s always clean, we always monitor it and we’re always monitoring the type of things we’re growing, from color, nutrition, height, taste, to make sure that we are delivering to our customers, that you’re going to be customers of over time, that’s consistent. Lot of other methods out there. So if you look at farming itself, a lot of the farms are grown in soil and they’re growing soybeans and a large acreage. It’s out in the weather, it’s out in the sun, so depending on what region you’re in, you’re going to have some good crops, some bad crops, some crops get flooded, some crops that get withered by the sun. Then that reduces production and then the way to keep production up, you got to keep on putting more chemicals on it to make it grow and give it all the things we’re talking about. Our methods is soil based and we’re also … it has nothing to do with the sun, the rain and the way we actually grow it. This is really something unique in the marketplace, because soil is the foundation of all agriculture going back 12,000 years. What we’re doing – going back over the last 150 years, where soil has been beaten up, to bring it back to purpose again. We could do that 10,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet.
So the Midwest, all the harvesting’s been done. You can see all the fields now being leveled. Come springtime, what they’re going to do is till that property. They’re going to take the property from the top and turn it under. Do that for acres and acres. Well, if all the chemicals are on top, the rain doesn’t get rid of all them. If it rains, it just pushes them further down the ground, so when you till it, you’re taking those chemicals and pushing them under. And then when they do a top grade to get ready for planting, they do a smaller blade at the till and then now it’s ready for planting.
So what they’ve done essentially is … especially I think more so the last 50, 60 years, they’ve done it over and over and over again. So if you look at the soil that they’re digging up and planting again, it’s damaged, it’s already contaminated. It’s even contaminated before they put the new plants in and they get contaminated again, because it gets sprayed again.
If you look at … They don’t get around here as much, but if you’re driving down to, say, Memphis, you’re driving down … Here it’s Interstate 55 or 57, a lot of farmland and you have a lot of crop dusters, airplanes, dropping chemicals onto the fields. Now, when they do that, what happens? If it’s windy or even a slight breeze, it’s blowing all over the place. If you watch them, better keep your windows up because it may blow into your car.
And as we talked about, and where the damage starts coming in, is that with organic food … is the USDA and FDA, Food Drug Administration and United States Department of Agriculture allows them to treat with pesticides yet still be called organic. So if it’s grown at a farm, it’s very unlikely that it’s going to be 100% organic.
And where we differ is we have no pesticides, we have no bugs, we’re in a contained environment. We will never have pesticides. Do we amend it? Yes, but everything’s organic and clean on the amendment side. So we’re not putting chemicals into the property. We’re amending it either with oils, other types of positive, but they’re not chemicals. I’ll get that posted once we have the right amendments that we’re going to be using. We’ll get that posted on our website over time, of what we’re actually putting in, that way everybody has a clear understanding and transparency that there’s no chemicals whatsoever.
With terraponics being in soil in an enclosed environment, what’s the difference there? We mitigate the possibility of salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. I’m not saying it will never happen because it’s still enclosed, it’s still food, and you still have human beings overseeing it, and we as human beings are very contagious with transmissible germs. But I believe with soil, because of the way we amend it and the way we monitor it, we get a couple things. We get sustainability in soil. We can get more harvest in soil than you can in, say, hydroponics. Then what we also bring to the table is the ability to automate it to have less human touch. Over and above that, what we could do with our technology is isolate the vegetables in sections.
So I’ll give you an example. If we have a customer that wants the arugula and spinach together, we can isolate both those products independently into an environment that’s only for that particular product and that produce. So if one gets contaminated, again, I believe we can mitigate that, but if it does, we can actually shut it down without shutting the rest of the system down. I believe that with hydroponics, they work very similarly, but when they get salmonella or E. coli, and recently in the last number of months, some of those folks have gotten some diseases because of the water and what they put in it, then they went up and shut down the whole crop and they have to isolate and clean it. We can clean out a tray much faster and get it back up and running than I think most markets can.
I believe the other difference is mobility. I say this many times, if we can be next to the customer, if I take a hydroponics plant, that’s typically a hundred acres, 150 acres, depending on the size they’re going for, more money to build and they still have a distribution challenge. So if they build one in Ohio, I understand somebody’s building something in Ohio, but their market is, say, one of the largest grocery store chains, you still have a shipping challenge. The carbon footprints they’ll have will be increased because right now, a lot them aren’t using electric vehicles. So they have to use diesel trucks. What we can do differently is that if we have a group that has three or 4,000 stores, and I’m being extreme here, we could do an overlay map of how we can best suit them to be within 30, 60 minutes from any one of their stores. Ideally, it would be next to distribution center. But over and above that, we could be on the same property. They could actually take a cart and wheel it in from one point to another or have their own employees do it, which is a bigger advantage because now you get really just in time freshness and that’s what we’re striving for.
Even if you take something out of the ground, or out of a watering facility, whatever method you’re going to be pursuing, when you got to ship it a week, five days, three days later, decay starts setting in. It’s just natural. We were trying to prevent that and using technology be even better. I think the other thing we bring at the table, and I’ve seen an article recently where most of the vertical farming out there is now looking at energy and becoming self-reliant. Now, we put that in our plant two and a half years ago, and then we’re going to be implementing that. The reason I went down that path in the beginning when I was very familiar with the mechanisms and the process to get there, but I knew that we had to be self-sufficient. If we’re going to be anywhere anytime, there may not be electricity where we’re going.
So we have to be able to supply it ourselves. Now there’s a lot of talk about that. Why? As you’re aware, we have some challenges in the world today and electricity prices, gas price, everything’s rising significantly, exponentially. I know that with some of the clients in Canada, their biggest expense is electricity. It used to be salaries at one time. Now it’s electricity. So how do you mitigate that? You supply your own electricity. That’s the best way of doing it. If we can do that successfully, we can be ahead of the game versus thinking about it and how we’re going to implement it or incorporate it into something that’s already built.
So even though we may not be able to get electricity on time, once we finish a plant or a farm, what we can do is retrofit it to make sure that it’s already ready, so when the equipment gets delivered, we can hook it up and get going, and then also satisfy some of our neighbors if we need to. So we have a lot of, I think, advantages, not only in soil versus water or some of the other methods, but we also have advantage by bringing our own electricity into the fold.
So we have this process called just in time freshness. I cannot take credit for it, but it really came from the auto industry, which they call just in time inventory. If you go back to the automotive area and era, what they used to do was they have a new model year. Right now, all the new cars are heading for 2022. Well, a year ago, a year and a half ago, they started stocking up on supplies to get the production to start producing these 2022s. What they did at one time was overload it on supplies because the supplier who signed these contracts, they would try to anticipate that they’re going to need X amount of parts. Well, now we’re starting to build 2023s in terms of vision and what they’re trying to accomplish. Now what do you do with all 2022 excess of parts and materials in that?
So, General Motors started this probably in the ’70s I believe, ’70s, ’80s. They came with this methodology called just in time inventory. So they would order as they need it. The new year came along and they didn’t have access anymore. They had just what they needed. So when I looked at that, I said, “Okay, if I’m a customer and right now I’m waiting to your point, if everything’s imports, 60% of it is …” And we grow a lot of vegetables here too. But if everything’s imported, for conversation, it takes two or three weeks to get here. Now we have a supply chain problem. It’ll be in 2021 in November because I see it consistently for the next three or four years personally. But that’s my own ideas based on what I know I read.
But if we look at that, the advantage of us being within a half mile from them or less than an hour from any given location, we can harvest daily if we wanted to. Unless we understand what their needs are, we can do that daily. And we could do it monthly. We could still deliver what they’re looking forward in an abundance, because we’re also going to provide them longer shelf life. Now, there is no waste, we eliminate that, we eliminate the fear of getting it in and having it to go to waste as it’s in the shelves. We’re differently, we’re going to cut it and deliver it. We’re not cutting it, wet it, freeze it and cool it down and shipping it. We’re cutting and delivering. And we have a longer shelf life so the consumer gets it. They’re not bringing it back in two days, say, “Why did this go rotten on me?”
We are going to provide private labeling for the customer. Our customer is the distribution model, the grocery stores, the restaurants, or whoever’s involved. By private labeling that, now we create stronger brand loyalty to the store. They already have a following. They already have people going to shop there and they got the foot traffic. But now we have their own brand of high quality, nutritious, organic, truly organic food. What does that do to their brand?
So when I walk into a store and I start using their products, I know it’s fresh every time I get it. Whether you have it in a bunch, or you have it in a plastic container, we know it’s fresh. They can actually look at a lot number. Our goal is when they look at a lot number, they can look at that camera when that was actually harvest. So that way we strengthen the loyalty to the brand to them, but also to the vegetable itself being grown. So there’s a lot of different things we’re trying to accomplish to have the consumer feel more comfortable to have confidence that when we say truly organic, they can see that we’re truly organic. So it’s not just a label stuck on something that somebody approved.
One of the things we’re going to be providing customers, importantly and the consumer, is we’re going to have every farm monitored with cameras, sensors. That’s for a couple of reasons. One, we’re creating a system that will give us all the feedback we’re looking for, all the data we’re looking for, any farm, any given time around the world, I don’t care where they’re located.
So the benefit of that is, it’s consistency again. Secondly, from a consumer standpoint, when they click on our website or the TFF App and they want to see what’s at the local farmer in their area or what’s the closest one, they’ll be able to see how the plants are growing and what they’re eating, where it’s growing, how it’s growing. And from a customer standpoint, if they could show this to their teams at any given time, they say, “Look, we work with Terra Firma Foods, we have 30 farmers out there. We have complete access to them via video, being monitored all the time.” So what is the benefits to that?
Well, they physically see it, but are we hitting the food safety requirements they have. Are we covering the food security? Are we actually using and keeping a low carbon footprint? How are we utilizing less water? Because if I look at the future, all those questions are going to come up of how much water are you using? How much energy are you using?
If we show them how we produce our own energy and we’re also helping the environment by managing the local municipality waste, we’re taking feed stock locally, whether it’s medical waste, or landfill, or whatever it is and burning it to create energy for our farms, now we’re hitting all the various metric metrics out there that people are looking for.
So recyclable energy, you have a couple different energy sources. You have renewable energy which is hydro, air, and solar, which depends on the sun, the wind, and the water. Then you have recyclable energy that takes waste to energy. So every community has a waste problem. If you look at New York city, look at Chicago, and you have 9 million to 15 million people in the surrounding area that generate a lot of garbage every single day. I think there’s a commercial out there in New York. I want to say it’s 12 million tons every week that they’re generating and they have to process it, have to get rid of it. There’s new works, a lot of cement, lot of concrete, there’s layers, and all the things that go with it. If you look at a small community also, like Aurora, they have 265,000 people. But I know when talking to some of these folks, they cannot take all the recyclables. They take them, that’s their responsibility with the garbage collector, but how do they get rid of it?
We have a solution. We come to your community, we can take your waste and recycle it. Now, some cities are paying other cities to take it for them, because they’re out of room. So we can actually create another revenue stream in that particular area because we could take it probably cheaper, on one hand. Also, we’re going to burn about 18 tons a day of waste. So how does that help the environment? We eliminate landfills, for the most part. We take care of the plastic, we take care of the wood, the tires, just pure garbage that we can actually compress into a fine ash. So we could take 18 tons and have about 4% ash to what it originally weighed. So that also helps.
The other benefit of us being self-powered, we have enough electricity being generated we can actually hopefully take care of some of our neighbors, whether it’s some subdivisions or some other business facilities. There’s different ways for us to do that. We can either market through the city, let them take the excess, let them charge and we share some of this revenue there, or maybe the benefit is, let them take. It’s excess. How can we help them to help us and promote what we’re doing? I see a city like Aurora, Illinois with 265,000 people, probably having maybe three or four farms, because of the population, the way they’re dispersed, and the grocery stores, and things of that nature. We can help them and their communities have better eating habits. We can’t change their eating habits, but hopefully they’ll be better.
Fast forward in time, is that how do we grow food cleaner? You have terraponics, which is grown on soil, you have hydroponics, which is grown in greenhouses using water, and then you also have aquaponics, which is in water as well with fish, and you have some aeroponics. When you look at those four methods, they serve the same purpose, that’s growing food cleaner. The difference is soil is richer. It’s healthier for you and it’s greener and it tastes better.
The one challenge with hydroponics is consistency. It’s consistency of flavor, the nutrition, color, and taste. We compliment that with what we’re doing, to provide all the things that they can’t and also grow it in an environment that’s safe, it’s indoors, it’s controlled. We could actually isolate our produce in separate rooms.
What the benefit of that is, we’re keeping any type of diseases, any type of contamination from happening long term and if it’s just one vegetable, then we can have it open space and then we could also break that down if we need to, to make sure that every hundred thousand pounds is actually free from any type of harmful touch or aerosols or anything else that takes place within a closed environment. The other thing about terraponics is that because it’s soil, one of the things that Terra Firma Foods is working on, as we get ready to create our R&D center and until we test this, it has sustainability. We can have soil up to five years.
What does that mean to you as a consumer? We are amending it every so often to make sure that it stays pure and that we are, from the sustainability standpoint, using the same soil for a long period of time, but we’re amending it to make sure that we always have the consistency that we’re going to promote out there as far as being nutritious, as far as being colorful, taste and also more bountiful than you can in other types of environments.
We all heard of various parts of the world having famines for six, seven years. It’s either because the weather wasn’t cooperating, it’s the environment itself, the whatever it was at that moment in time. One of the things that we’re doing here is that we’re not storing it, but we’re able to grow it faster because we can grow about 200 and some plus thousand pounds every 30 days. If you look at some of the other methods out there, they don’t get to achieve the same results.
Now they’re working at it, of course, don’t get me wrong, because again, they’re very complimentary to what we’re doing and we’re complimentary to what they’re doing, but at the same time, we want to grow faster more often. If you have 10,000 square feet, and we want to multiply that, we can go up to a 30-foot ceiling height to achieve more production or different types of vegetables to grow the same facility. That’s going to be customer dependent, but terraponics is a source for this.
If you grow into an open field of farms, they’re not going to stop growing the rest of their foods to accommodate organic food. They use pesticides and chemicals to keep the bugs off the food and to assist their growth. They’ll still grow other types of foods. You look at organic food, if it’s within a distance where there’s a high wind or just shifting of rains, those type of things, that will take those pesticides, they actually do an over spray. And plus it seeps into the ground, they have to do a certain amount of fertilizing, and that’s where sometimes the problems come in. If they’re using horse manure, other types of species to fertilize, when that gets wet, that’s where your salmonella and E. coli come from. Ray Urrutia: And then every single vegetable in the field, it will affect a majority of it, and you don’t see that right away till they cut it and ship it, if somebody gets sick.
Our primary focus has been in the green area as a farm, and then from there, we can go into the fruits of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries. We can go into cucumbers, and we can go into peppers. The green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, where are more commonly used within restaurants, commonly sold in grocery stores for salads, and we can grow those in abundance. We can grow 266,000 pounds every 30 days, the cucumbers, the peppers, and the berries are a different model, and we might have to separate that out according to the customer wants and needs, but we can do it.
We’re looking at buying technology, technology being robotics from a growing standpoint. We’re looking at monitoring, again, remotely. And our goal there is to make sure we can, at every farm that we have, and with monitors and sensors, we’re able to do that. We’ll also use robotics for harvesting.
We can get 10 days shelf life from time of harvest. We are working on to get that to 15 day shelf life. The grocery stores, when they sell it, they need to turn their inventory over all the time. That’s how they make money. But when the consumer gets it, if you don’t eat it right away, it goes bad and then you’re like, okay, a thing of kale cost a $1.69 per bunch, but if you don’t use it all, it’s a $1.69 wasted.
Then you also have, like with spinach with some of the packaging, it also can go bad pretty quickly too, even though it’s in a package because the challenge with taking things out this soil, once you harvest it, and also as a note, 60% of all organic food this moment in time gets imported, so if you see some of the shelves going bare, it’s because it’s not getting here fast enough. We also know that 50% of all produce is bad, between 35 and 50% is bad by the time the grocery stores get it. It’s the harvester, the grower, who’s missing on profits, and you got the grocery stores missing on profits because they don’t have as much to sell, but it’s still in demand.
Because we have no climate restrictions. We can grow in extreme cold or extreme hot. We maintain 70 degrees every single day, and when we harvest, because we can harvest 12 times out of the year and we’re trying to get that to be like 13 or 14 times, so what that means from the customer standpoint, the consistency of the delivery, consistency of freshness, consistency for strawberries in the wintertime and they’re fresh, you’re going to get it. And think of strawberries down in Florida, even they have a cold season down there where the strawberries don’t grow as well or as fast or as often. Then you have California, but they don’t grow strawberries, they grow a lot of greens. They can, but again, they have the rain, the water, the sun, the heat, the fires, everything else that goes around their system that prevents them from growing in an abundance.
Soil is the way to grow food. It always has been for the last 8 to 12,000 years. For the last, probably, 100 year, we’ve putting pesticides in them and when you turn that ground over, you’re taking the top layer of pesticides and putting it 12 inches under as you till it, and then it’s still there, then you spray it over again. We’re not helping it and don’t get me wrong, all soil can be repurposed, but it takes time and the question is, if you’re on 335 million acres of farmland, where do you start? And how do you get to repurpose it to grow healthier food again. I think also too, a soil, it’s been started 12,000 years ago, and the reason we’re starting to do it again today, is because we can make it healthier and we can have sustainability.
Well, I think the other part of Terra Firma Foods is not only providing healthier food with no pesticides, no bugs, because the definition from the USDA, the United States Department of Agriculture, we did our research on this and we’re not going to say something that’s not true. They allow up to three pesticides to be called organic and they have the pesticides listed. If anybody wants to get the information, I’ll make sure they get it and know where to get it from and it’s from the Food and Drug Administration. The second part of that is, when you look at healthy USDA, the challenge that we face as a society, especially in the United States, how to feed our economically challenged neighborhoods and getting healthy food. How can we help them? Because they don’t have access the way a lot of people do.
Take people in the food banks, they’re not getting their best food. Even though a lot of people are donating, they’re still not getting the best food, so how do we help that? Over time we will try to assist in that to make sure that that all gets passed down and passed on. If we believe that pesticides in our system affect us from mental health, from diseases, etc. now the ones they banned so far, they knew what it was causing and they knew it was causing death.
When we first got involved in this, as a note, is that we got some patents that were created that grow in a container, about 40-foot container, but when we looked at it, the talk was going to a farm type facility, but it wasn’t designed that way. So when I looked at it and my team looked at it, we said, we can grow in larger facilities from 5,000 square feet up to a 100,000 square feet if we wanted to. That was all about consumption and about serving the customer. What we decided on was go to 10,000 square foot facility and go these 20 feet high in ceiling height and possibly 30, but for more commonly, 20, so if we wanted to have more production and more farming, we just go up.
The other benefit of that is that because of soil, we can grow anywhere from a five inch pan to a 12 inch pan, depending on what we’re growing and the need of the customer, we can actually build a facility pertaining to the customer. We don’t have to be worried about constraints of travel because if a customer has 10 locations, we could be right smack dab in the middle of those 10 locations to satisfy all those 10 within a 30 minute to an hour ride. That way they have the freshest produce they can get, we’re not cutting and freezing it or watering it the way other companies will do that. We could be there fresher, timelier, and then also deliver longer shelf life.
When you look at harvesting, there’s two ways we could do this. One, we could do it manually, which has more jobs available and another way is do it through robotics.
Now, some of the larger organizations out there in the grocery store area, they require automation. The reason being, they don’t want any human being touching it so when it gets cut, gets harvested, it goes into a container, nobody touches it and they ship it out and it’s one of their food safety requirements.
The other way of doing that is still having food safety in mind, as well as food security that makes sure that once we were there, that we always have foods in that facility for a customer. We can always be there on time and reduce their waste because if you look at harvesting, especially some of the places around the world, once you cut a vegetable, it starts dying. That’s the reality. You cut it, you water it, you put it in a cooler, so you cool it down, by the time it gets to the destination and that’s going to be the distributor, they also cool it, or maybe not freeze it, but just cool it enough where it’s like 32 degrees, 30 degrees, and then they ship it out.
Now it gets warm again. Even though they might ship it a cold storage truck, by the time it gets to the store, now they put it in the open, now it’s room temperature. All those various steps cause decay. By the time it gets to consumers, we take it off the shelves and put it in our refrigerator, now we’re cooling it again, so it’s this vicious cycle. What we’re saying is, we’re in soil, we harvest, there’s no cooling, we’re direct to the customer within 30-60 minutes. That’s our goal. If it’s a big store environment, then like I said, they have 10 stores maybe within an hour, but we could actually, once we get our cycle going, we could actually harvest every single day to deliver daily if we needed to.
We have soil as our foundation, we have sustainable soil, up to five years, seeds are going to be customized, so we have better nutritious food that’s being grown. Then from a carbon footprint perspective we’re going to use our own self-generation of power, depending on the municipality, and its recyclable energy. Then we’re also going to use electric vehicles for that last mile. I think in today’s environment, and I know that our government’s overseas right now talk about climate change and what we’re going to do to help. I think Terra Firma Foods is putting that front of mind to help now and not try to grow into it, but start from the beginning. Overall, we’re providing soil for growing, we’re going to provide our own self energy through recyclable energy. What I mean by that, people are unaware of it, but recycled energy is recycled plastic garbage, tires, wood chips from deforesting or forest management, coconut dryings, you name it, we can recycle it, even go to landfills.
We can help the environment by doing that and at the same time, provide energy for our facility. So we could be off grid to a point and have a low carbon footprint and then also with electric vehicles, is also delivering with low carbon footprint again, because if you look at the way it works today, you have facilities out in California, ships come in, they take it, they truck it to various destinations, and then from there they have to truck it for that distribution center back out to the stores. All the time you got these diesel trucks, just powering, powering, powering. That’s what we know. I think with some electric vehicle manufacturers, whether it be Ford or Mercedes or Tesla, as they get these big trucks out there, they’re going to reduce that too because that’s time.
Recyclable energy is done by what they call pyrolysis equipment and paralysis is high compression, high heat, so you must burn each of the feed stock to a certain temperature to get the output you’re looking for. Sometimes it could be a byproduct, could be diesel fuel, electricity, in certain cases, depending where you’re at, you can tie that into generating water in some areas. But the purpose is that typically these are bigger plants that’ll do this. We found some equipment that will make it more advantageous to put it locally, right next to a farm. If we have a two- or three-acre footprint for our farm, the equipment sitting right next to our farm, and then we have the feed stock that comes in to keep it constantly fed to provide the energy we’re looking for.
The reason that came about, is I was working some energy companies that were doing recyclable energy and for me it just made sense.
I think if you look at the environment we’re living in right now, and we have food supply chain or a supply chain is broken, I think what the pandemic did for me, it showed all the weaknesses in our system. From financials, to food, to supply chain and I believe, we need to become more dependent ourselves as a country. And don’t mistake me here, I know that we are just going to be one company and our one company can do X. What we said, for the thousands of you out there, we couldn’t feed the whole world because one of the things I am aware of is by the year 2035, 2040, we’re going to go to 10 and a half billion people. So as fast as we can grow food, we’re multiplying by people that much faster.
The question is if you have countries that are very rocky, like if we take Europe and Spain, you got some of France, you have some of the UK, some of them are islands and they only have so much acres they could actually grow from, so for us to work with them long term, not now, we’re work here with folks in the United States, but long term we can go overseas and supply farms there too and then also grow their food.
I think people are starting to really wake up and say, okay, we have a serious problem here and it’s about saving the planet. COVID if anything, it taught us be healthy. You have to build your immune system to really fight off all of this crazy stuff that’s being thrown at us these days. It’s interesting how Terra Firma Foods ties into a lot of this. It’s definitely an eye opener and I think things that people should pay attention to.
Food will never go out of style. We all have to eat. I think with that being said, we need to have better choices to what we’re going to eat, not just to eat. I’ll look at the lower to special economics of certain neighborhoods, they eat filler food because it’s a choice between spending five bucks for five ounces or four bucks for five ounces of spinach or kale, whatever that’s going to be, versus buying something that could feed a family of four and may not be healthy, but it actually fills them up.
How do families make sure their kids not only get enough to eat, but eat healthy food as well? It can be a challenge, to say the least, and parents often can feel pulled in opposite directions.
For many American families, it seems like the food we can afford isn’t always the healthiest. More nutritious options often appear to be out of reach. Processed foods are often more affordable than fresh produce and meat. In addition, many urban areas lack local, accessible supermarkets, which creates “food deserts” in the middle of struggling communities. These roadblocks to healthy choices tend to reinforce eating habits that are less than ideal. It’s a complicated problem.
A lot of us have been there. Many parents work multiple jobs to make ends meet. At the end of the day, we might have to travel miles through heavy traffic to get to the grocery store. But there’s usually a fast-food restaurant nearby and—god bless them—that’s usually what the kids want for dinner anyway. When budgets for both money and time are already stretched tight, it’s easy for a more nutritious diet to fall off the priority list. But, people need to prioritize healthy eats. People don’t realize but you can actually afford to feed a family of 5 on a $100 a week budget, if you put in the effort. One woman stated, “”We don’t buy junk food and tend to only shop around the outside of the store,” she explains. “That means — when we used to actually walk in the store — you would find us in the outer sections where the produce, dairy, and meat are.”
And did you know?
A new study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that healthy food isn’t any more expensive than junk food.
Planning in advance and preparing yourself, as opposed to buying pre-made meals and snacks can go a long way. Snacks? The sweetness of fruit over chocolate is a prime example.
Skip unhealthy ingredients and replace candy with fruit, nature’s sweet treat. While fruit contains natural sugars, it also delivers beneficial nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The fiber in fruit also makes you feel full, unlike most candy. The first step to replacing candy with fruit is to remove temptation.
In a global sense, we’d work with anybody. In a marketing sense, we’re looking for large environments that have already decided that, one, they need to reduce their carbon footprint on what food they buy. Secondly, that it needs to be clean. Thirdly, they have decentralized decision making of who their stores or franchises, whoever they work with, to produce and bring the food to the table. If you take the large grocery store chains, they’re already working on this. I believe most of them are going to have their own farms adjacent to a store or distribution center. We can accommodate that too. But I think the thing we can actually do better is actually bring it next to the store itself.
You save time, gas, energy, to get from point A to point B. There is NO transportation cost because we’re right there. I think the other area that we can work with are long-term homeless shelters, people in need, because my long-term goal of all this is to actually donate farms. Right now, we want to get 10% of all the production and we can’t do that right now in terms of donating farms because of cost and things that go with it. We’re not in a position to do that. But I think if we started giving food away, the need itself over and above what we’re doing with consumers in the marketplace, we can bring farms to the needy to be self-sufficient too.
Because then we could provide electricity and food simultaneously, and also create jobs.
Business franchising or “branchising” is the licensing of a NexGen farm to an entrepreneur through a branchise agreement, which involves a joint venture focusing on intellectual licensing. The company-owned units are called branchises.
It allows a company to sell company-owned units to branchisees or licensees and realize an immediate infusion of capital while still retaining control and ongoing profits from the units in the form of shared profits and sales.
Important advantages of branchising include eliminating day-to-day management, personnel programs, receivables, overhead expenses, etc. And when owners with a financial investment operate your existing units, sales historically increase 35% to 55%. Branchising company-owned units results in higher sales price per unit than by selling them outright, and it also acts as a firm foundation on which we can build your expansion branchise or licensing program.
The TFF program brings local ownership as required by some restaurants and groceries; our objective is to hire and own locally
Interviewer: I think it’s great because you have a lot of problems that you’re solving. It’s not just a matter of feeding people better, it’s helping saving the planet by not having to import or export. It’s creating jobs locally for helping to grow these. You’re feeding the world, creating jobs, helping to save the planet, so I think you have a great story. You’re accomplishing a lot. It’s a lot of work, it’s not just one or two things. But I think you encapsulate the entire project. I think it’s a great opportunity because you’re really helping so many different areas, and all are needed. Ray Urrutia: Yeah. And food is the nucleus.
So when you look at that, what we’re really bringing to the table is a faster, more productive way of producing food. And I think that’s what people need to know about us. And the byproduct of that is in a single layer of farming, we can produce a 200 to 6,000 pounds a month, which is equivalent to 40 acres. If we want to go three levels up, we create 220 acres of land and grow 900,000 pounds of food every single month. And it could be your most 14 popular greens. Some will grow faster than others like spinach, kale, and arugula would grow faster than say bibb lettuce or just lettuce. And cilantro will just be like wildfire because it just goes all the time. You can harvest almost every day if you wanted to. So we have those going for us.
The other side of what we do is that as a farm, we’re very mobile. So our footprint’s only an acre a half or two acres. And we build our own property, we build our own plants on here so it’s windproof and hurricane proof. And it’s also to handle subzero temperatures with up to -150 or +150 degrees. And we maintain 70 degrees all of that at all points. And then the CO2 process we use as nutrients and life to the plants to help it grow to the way we want to grow. And it’s all monitored inside by cameras. We can monitor up to the height that we got to harvest it and we have backup to the backup, and all that data is fed back to a central system. Again, going back to technology again, whatever those stats teach us will help us for the future either to grow differently or to grow more abundantly.
The real key is the scientists on the quality of the seed and the consistency of the seed. We already know your status of sustainability on soil. We know that already. But the seeds are the unique piece of all this. I know that as we move forward in time, there’s other things that are going to be added to our stable of produce we’re going to produce. I’m not going to go into that right now, until we get everything firmed up, but I think people are going to be surprised and going to be also very well accepting to the new things were going to bring to the table.
Contact us to learn how you can be part of our growing TFF family as an investor, branchizer, or client. You can also inquire about the organic produce we grow, sell, and deliver. Let’s feed people worldwide so they can be the best they can be while saving the planet, creating jobs, and using recyclable energy.