The Villages Grown Combines Freshness, Technology
While many high-tech farms are in areas surrounding The Villages, one is right across the road from Rohan Recreation Center.
The Villages Grown is located at the corner of Morse Boulevard and State Road 44. The farm’s mission is to provide locally-grown produce that exceeds U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for organic products. And to do it, The Villages Grown taps into technology, as well as the freshness of local crops.
Every aspect of this controlled agricultural project centers on quality, said Adam Wright, The Villages Grown director of operations, who is in charge of growing, food safety, distribution and retail.
One of the top priorities is eliminating any chance of contamination, Wright said.
“Most facilities of this magnitude really don’t have a decontamination area; you just walk into an open area and get sprayed down and you have booties on,” he said. “Everyone who goes into our facility has to walk through a room and get to that certain standard before they are allowed to actually enter the facility. It’s not just for food safety. It’s for bugs, pests, anything that lands on the ground from your shoe that could get into our greenhouses.”
The Villages Grown is also situated to cut down on transit time. The biggest benefit to locally-grown produce is the preservation of nutrient density that’s otherwise lost in transit.
“It’s no secret that what you feed your body fuels it,” said Kelsea Manly, The Villages director of operations. “And as Villagers are exploring more lifestyle to love, The Villages Grown plans to be their fuel.”
The “food as medicine” approach is another facet of the community’s vision to become America’s Healthiest Hometown.
“One of our big goals is getting as much produce we can out to The Villages’ restaurants, the assisted-living facilities, hospitals and things like that,” said Ryan McCabe, The Villages operations manager, in January. “Residents also are going to have access to buy directly from The Villages Grown.”
The Villages Grown opened its first retail store last week at 2666 W. Torch Lake Drive. It’s less than 10 minutes away from the farm.