Youth Development Corporation builds ‘automated indoor farm’ in Saginaw


SAGINAW, MI – Saginaw Youth Development Corporation, a non-profit YouthBuild skilled trades organization for high school dropouts and at-risk youth, is partnering with a Midland company to build a pilot version of an automated indoor farm.

YDC is teaming up with Agrolytics Corp., a company specializing in control systems, to implement the project.

The farm will use a system developed by Agrolytics that allows operators to control all elements of the growing process while reducing energy consumption, according to a press release.

“Our technology enables growers to operate closer to the consumer, in secure locations, urban food deserts and extreme climate with a vision to allow any crop to be grown anywhere,” said Bob Cummer, President and CEO of Agrolytics. “We are excited to use our skills to make an impact on our community. “

YDC students will help build the facility and learn Agrolytics technology with the help of local unions, said YDC founder Eric Eggleston.

The pilot project is intended to serve as the basis for a much larger farm later built to serve the YDC food shortage initiative, thereby helping to provide access to fresh food to residents of Saginaw who do not have easy access. at grocery stores, Eggleston said.

The 7,000-square-foot facility will be located in a pre-existing building in the area of ​​5th and Janes avenues, Eggleston said. Construction is underway and should be completed in late November or early December.

The larger pilot-based farm, which will likely have three floors the same size as the pilot plant, could begin production in April 2022, Eggleston said.

A specific location has not yet been finalized for the larger facility.

YDC is funded by a $ 1.5 million grant from the United States Department of Labor that it received in February 2020. The organization opened its training center in downtown Saginaw in March.

YouthBuild has several programs focused on providing opportunities for at-risk youth, including GED assistance, vocational training and work placements to give dropouts and those in or formerly incarcerated a chance to get back on their feet.

“We are thrilled, our YouthBuild program is not one of the best, we are the best,” said Eggleston. “I’m so proud of our staff and our students, and my board of directors, to put us in this position where no one has walked in that door and said ‘this is amazing’.”

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