By: The Social Light Media & Eeden Acres
At a time when food supply is under pressure globally, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Philip Davis and Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, the Honourable Clay Sweeting showed leadership alongside Members of the Agricultural Development Committee (President, Philip Smith and Director, Dion Smith), Ohio State government leaders, investors, supportive industry stakeholders (such as the President of Sysco Bahamas, Karen Casey), members of the private sector (including the CEO of FTX Digital Markets, Ryan Salame) and bank representatives (Jerry C. Butler, RBC Caribbean, Vice President of Corp & Invest), as they joined the owners of Eeden Farms in Hamilton, Ohio, on Friday, January 21, 2022, to tour the world-class flagship 70K Farm owned by 80 Acres Farms.
This top-class, revolutionary, commercial indoor hydroponic farm serves as a model for the Eeden Acres Farm coming to Nassau’s Gladstone Road. This farm under the banner “Eeden Acres” – a partnership between Eeden Farms and 80 Acres – will be the most advanced in the world of any of the 80 Acres farms to date, boasting the best AgTech from all around the globe under one roof. The farm will grow produce indoors without GMOs or pesticides providing a healthy diet to Bahamians and visitors. Enabled with robotics and artificial intelligence, the farm will produce over 300 times more food than a traditional outdoor farm with 100% renewable energy and 97% less water. In addition, the proprietary technology is not dependent on weather or water supply.
According to Eeden Farms Co-Founder, Carlos Palacious, “80 Acres, which already supplies over 300 Kroger Grocery Stores successfully, has produced outstanding results with similar methods currently used by Eeden Farms, so this trip was designed to show leaders of the Bahamian Agricultural Sector what is possible as Eeden Farms evolves into Eeden Acres.”
Eeden Farms began its revolutionary approach to hydroponic farming using containerized farms at the BRON Business Centre in 2021. Founder Lincoln Deal wanted to bring a farming system to The Bahamas that could withstand hurricanes and the countless other challenges that farmers had faced for decades. “I was first exposed to the concept of climate-controlled container farming in 2016,” Deal explained. “We had not yet experienced Dorian or a pandemic, but I imagined that this could be the answer to the food
security for our nation, and now, four years later, I am even more excited about the possibility of expanding Eeden Farms can mean for our nation.”
For over a year, Eeden Farms has supplied fresh greens to some of New Providence’s leading food retailers and hotels. To broaden the diversity and depth of agricultural offerings by investing in Bahamian food sustainability, Eeden Farms has expanded on its container farms business through its plans to establish a 80,000 sq. ft. world-class, robotics-enabled, and hurricane resilient hydroponic farm by the end of 2023 that will produce local food, from leafy greens and herbs to tomatoes and berries eventually.
In collaboration with BAMSI, the University of the Bahamas, BTVI, and BAIC, Eeden Farms will continue its commitment to education and training, with a comprehensive Eeden Acres Transfer of Knowledge Program in coordination with top researchers.
Eeden Acres as an environmentally friendly, carbon-conscious solution to national food security brings forth a Bahamian-led, sustainable model of food security and brand with the scope of scaling throughout the Caribbean and global small island developing states.
With a projected investment value of $60 Million, this privately funded expansion is estimated to deliver up to 2 million pounds of clean and healthy leafy greens and herbs to Bahamian communities. 2 million pounds of produce is equivalent to 10,000 acres of fully utilized farmland. By way of example, this is comparable to the entire Ragged Island being planted shore to shore.
As a result of producing crops locally, Eeden Acres founders believe the challenges associated with shipping, logistics, wastage, and short shelf life can be reduced, having less impact on the environment, and significantly reducing The Bahamas’ carbon footprint. The precision-based technology wielded by Eeden Acres is also able to remove the uncertainty around expected harvests and yields, thereby stabilizing crop pricing and mitigating crop shortages. Eeden Acres also creates new economies for small businesses, such as pursuing a program to purchase the coconut husk shells from coconut farmers – which are normally discarded – for the purpose of creating organic coco seedling plugs.
“The impact of this (Eeden Acres) is significant,” noted Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Affairs Clay Sweeting. “We’ve seen devasting effects of climate change in many of our family islands, and many island farmers know the disappointment of a failed harvest due to external factors. We intend to share the lessons learned by Eeden Acres with farmers of the nation and thereby see an improvement in agriculture across the archipelago.”
Following a tour of 80 Acres and presentations by its CEO Mike Zelkind, a welcome by Hamilton, Ohio, Mayor Pat Moeller, and presentations by Honourable Minister Clay Sweeting and Prime Minister the Honourable Philip Davis himself, Prime Minister Davis noted that “it is time that there is a paradigm shift in our pursuit of food security.” He described the months post 9/11 when the country realized it only had a 2-month supply to feed our nation and celebrated the entrepreneurs behind Eeden Farms for taking the steps necessary to change that. “The Bahamas is seeking to revolutionize the Agricultural Sector where our people will not only want to farm but see it as a means to keep our economy thriving,” the Prime Minister added.
In accordance with the Americas Business Dialogue, Eeden Acres will develop digital skills and generate employment opportunities through training, tackling growing trends of urbanization and rural impoverishment, and strengthening human capital and gender diversification. With Eeden Farms proudly boasting a current staff contingency of female farmers running the current container farms, the Bahamian company is looking for more young women as well as men to become involved in this growing industry. We project our new farm will employ up to 30 highly paid Bahamians.
Eeden Acres anticipates significantly reducing the 1-billion-dollar food import bill and increasing money retained within the local economy. Co-Founder Gil Cassar explained that while they already have great interest from investors, Eeden Acres is determined to give as many Bahamians as possible the opportunity to invest. “We want to be a company that is built for the people by the people. Food security is a driving factor for us, but so is financial opportunity for Bahamians as possible. We intend to offer investment opportunities to the public as soon as possible.”
Eeden Acres has a vision enshrined in its motto: “It’s Better, and Grown Fresher in The Bahamas.”