Edmond native and NBA power forward Ekpe Udoh has launched LGR Farms in south Edmond. The son of Nigerian immigrant parents, Udoh was a standout player at Edmond Santa Fe High School before playing at the University of Michigan and Baylor and being drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2010. He now plays for the Utah Jazz, but his family still lives in the metro.
LGR Farms is a hydroponic container farming operation, which means that all the plants are grown inside a repurposed shipping container. The hydroponic operations are controlled via an iPhone app, or manually via a unit inside the container.
“The only non-automated parts of the operation are seeding and harvesting,” Udoh says. “We even have Bluetooth speakers so our produce gets the best music, too.”
Udoh was planting seeds in the container when we spoke with him, and he said the first harvest is expected the first week of July.
“When we are up and running on our full schedule, we’ll have greens and herbs available every week,” he says. “Right now, we have already seeded kale, spinach, romaine, butter lettuce, arugula and collard greens.”
Seeds remain in small containers until the hydroponic towers are installed, which will be June 4 at LGR. An automated system supplies the plants with water and nutrients on a set schedule, and UV lights and an air system replicate sunlight and wind. All of this is done in a 40’ x 8’ x 9.5’ operations center.
When fully operational, the farm will supply more than 50 varieties of leafy greens and herbs, and Udoh hopes to sell them locally to restaurants and schools. One of his primary missions is to spread the word about healthy eating – especially fresh, local produce.
“I went to Edmond Santa Fe, so we had a salad bar and all kinds of choices,” he says. “Not every school has those kinds of options. I’ve seen viral photos and videos of what kids eat in schools these days. We want to provide better choices.”
In fact, while LGR Farms is a for-profit operation, Udoh intends to donate a percentage of produce from each harvest to at-risk schools and homeless shelters. This program will be over and above what he does with his non-profit organization.
“I just believe that eating healthy gives you the nutrition and energy you need to be a better student,” he says. “Every kid should have access to that.”
Education is a key component in Udoh’s mission, both at the community level and for students. “As soon as the towers are in, we’ll be able to have school kids in here, to let them see the operation, to pick a leaf and taste fresh produce.”
While the current operation is one storage container, LGR has secured property on the city’s east side, and Udoh said a groundbreaking is planned in early fall to introduce local chefs, restaurateurs and school administrators to the operation. The new land will allow for immediate expansion if the demand is there. He also said a new business partnership to facilitate that growth will be announced “in the next couple of weeks.”
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